Can Protein Kick You Out of Keto? The Truth

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Can Protein Kick You Out of Keto? The Truth - Thomas DeLauer

Gluco: Glucose
Neo: New
Genesis: Origin or creation

Gluconeogenesis (GNG) is a metabolic pathway that allows your liver and kidneys to make glucose from non-carbohydrate sources

It’s always happening in your body, but its rate can increase or decrease depending on your metabolic state (although seems to stay relatively constant)

It’s the creation of glucose from anything but carbs - this means that even when you are on a low carb diet, your body still manages to make enough glucose to survive by breaking down other compounds, which are called gluconeogenic substrates (gluconeogenic = can turn into glucose)

Gluconeogenic substrates:

Lactate: Lactate or lactic acid is the major gluconeogenic substrate. It’s derived from pyruvate - the direct product of glucose or glycogen breakdown

Glucogenic amino acids (aka protein): Amino acids can be divided into ketogenic (stimulate ketone production), glucogenic (stimulate glucose production), or both. Every single amino acid can be turned into glucose except for lysine and leucine, which are exclusively ketogenic

Glycerol: After lactate and glutamine, glycerol is the third most used substrate. It comes from fat breakdown

Gluconeogenesis is Necessary

Your cells use gluconeogenesis to ensure you don’t die when there are no carbs in your system

Our body can’t ever drop glucose levels to zero, even on ketosis - just as too much glucose is toxic, too little can kill you

Gluconeogenesis is always happening, however, it increases significantly when your carb consumption is low

Happens after a meal, while you sleep, during a fast, during an extended fast total glucose goes down only because glycogenolysis declines as glycogen stores run out, but GNG stays the same
*when your body runs out of glycogen, it relies completely on gluconeogenesis*

Protein, Gluconeogenesis & Ketosis

Study - The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism

6 healthy males (aged 29–55 years) were studied on three separate occasions after an overnight fast

Researchers quantified gluconeogenesis and glycogenolysis after 11 days of high carbohydrate (85% carbohydrate), control (44% carbohydrate), and very low carbohydrate (2% carbohydrate) - Diets were eucaloric and provided 15% of energy as protein

Researchers found that when on a high fat diet containing 83% of calories from fat and 2% from carbs for 11 days, they had a decrease in total glucose but a 14% increase in gluconeogenesis

So despite this increase, people on a keto a diet can still run on ketones without a problem

*Researchers found that on keto, excess glucose made from gluconeogenesis was stored as glycogen instead of being used as fuel*

These findings prove that you can actually replenish glycogen through the GNG that happens during ketosis

This doesn’t happen during fasting or in the fat adaptation period because your body is using all the glucose from gluconeogenesis for fuel

On keto, your body already has a better fuel - ketones - so it can afford to store up excess glucose as glycogen

Hormonal Response & Gluconeogenesis (Insulin & Glucagon)

“Excess protein is mainly oxidized and burned for energy. This results in lower ketone levels because ketosis relies on ‘fat derived’ fuels. The body will not create many ketones when there is an excess amount of non-fat derived energy.


1) Gluconeogenesis: What It Is and Why You Shouldn't Fear It On Keto - Perfect Keto Exogenous Ketones. (2018, July 20). Retrieved from
2) Effects of Carbohydrate Variation in Isocaloric Diets on Glycogenolysis and Gluconeogenesis in Healthy Men * | The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism | Oxford Academic. (2000, May 1). Retrieved from
3) Protein Over-consumption in Ketogenic Diets Explained - Ketogains. (2016, August 22). Retrieved from
4) Gluconeogenesis - The worst name for a rock band ever - Ketogains. (2017, July 27). Retrieved from
5) More Than You Ever Wanted to Know About Protein & Gluconeogenesis. (n.d.). Retrieved from
6) Dietary Protein and the Blood Glucose Concentration. (n.d.). Retrieved from
7) Jahoor F , et al. (n.d.). The relationship between gluconeogenic substrate supply and glucose production in humans. - PubMed - NCBI. Retrieved from
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