Keto is a popular diet and lifestyle that's meant to be followed by those who want to lose weight. The diet is based on the understanding that the way you digest your food affects how you feel and how you look. By eating fewer carbs and staying away from simple sugars, you'll burn fat and lose weight. But what about those who follow vegetarian diets?
Traditionally, Keto usually contains a high amount of animal protein from meat, fish, eggs, and dairy. Although it is not as common as meat-eating, vegetarians can still follow Keto. So, if you are looking for information about Keto for vegetarians or Keto for vegans the good news is that this post might be just what you are looking for.
Most people who go on the Keto diet do it because they want to lose weight. So here’s an article about whether it is possible to lose weight on the Keto diet while being a vegetarian or vegan, in case you might decide to try it out yourself.
The keto diet is a low-carbohydrate, not much protein, and high-fat diet that has been shown to have many health benefits. It’s often recommended for people with weight issues, diabetes, and other medical conditions.
The keto diet works by turning the body into a “ketone machine”, which uses fat instead of glucose as its main energy source. This way, you can maintain your body’s energy levels while reducing your overall calorie intake. I have talked about the Keto diet in much more detail in my how do keto diets work- mastering the ketogenic diet article.
The science behind the Keto diet has demonstrated this low carb diet to have many health benefits. Some of these include:
Reduced belly fat
Decreased blood glucose levels
Increased muscle mass
Improved mental clarity and concentration
If you're new to the keto diet, it can be a little tricky at first. It takes time to learn how to stick with the program, and many people find that it is not sustainable long-term.
But what about trying the keto diet as a vegetarian or vegan, is this possible? Yes, it is.
When people think about keto they usually imagine towers of bacon, burgers, and steak. However, a vegetarian keto diet without any animal products is doable, and it has become increasingly popular lately for vegetarians and vegans to adopt the keto diet, it will just take more thought and planning than a typical keto diet.
Vegetarian or vegan diets typically comprise high amount of grains and legumes, which are not suitable for Keto.
When they follow a low-fat, high-carb diet vegetarians or vegans often feel hungry and struggle to lose body weight. This is why the keto diet might be especially suitable for vegetarians or vegans that are trying to lose weight.
The keto diet is made up of three main points:
Eat a lot of fat and use it as fuel
Eat lots of protein and restrict carbohydrates and sugar
Consume adequate amounts of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients
For the typical keto diet, fat can come from many different sources. There are a variety of ways to get enough fat and protein on the keto diet; vegetarian sources of fat will include foods like dairy-cheese, milk, butter, eggs.
For vegans, these fats could come from foods like avocado, tofu and tempeh, nuts and seeds. And of course, anything that is suitable for vegans on keto will automatically be suitable for vegetarians too. As I said, it will just take a little more effort for vegetarians and vegans to adopt the keto diet. You often need to supplement your diets with alternative forms of protein and fats.
To be clear: I’m not saying that vegetarians and vegans won't do better than meat eaters on the ketogenic diet. What I am saying is that it will take a bit more effort to manage. Unless you buy the Custom Keto Diet, which takes all the effort out of planning and thinking about what to eat on the low carb Keto diet as a vegetarian or vegan, as it is customized to your food requirements and is filled with delicious, keto-friendly recipes.
So what are the benefits of keto for vegetarians and vegans?
I’m sure you will agree that health is an important part of life, even if you do or do not eat meat. Fitter people exercise more and stay well. And those who eat healthy tend to be healthier. Following a vegetarian or vegan diet has been shown in clinical trial studies to lower the disease risk of many chronic health conditions, such as heart disease and other cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and some cancers, like breast cancer, and to have beneficial health effects. Vegetarians tend to live longer than non-vegetarians and non-vegetarians are more likely to be overweight.
There are numerous benefits of following the keto diet for vegetarians and vegans who want to lose weight and improve their health.
These questions come up frequently because the keto diet works well for people who follow it: there is much less glycogen (blood sugar) available after meals meaning that we burn fat for fuel instead of glucose — another reason why it is easier to maintain weight loss with this approach than with more traditional diets.
There is also evidence that high carb consumption can increase insulin resistance, which increases risk of obesity and diabetes, so eating high carb foods like sweets can have serious health consequences if not carefully considered. Obesity is a risk factor for many chronic diseases so Keto is important for a variety of health conditions
As it turns out, the keto diet isn’t as easy as many people make it out to be. It’s a diet of food restriction. As a vegetarian or vegan, keto can be hard to swallow: but it can be quit simple with varied vegetable and plant-based oils in grocery stores. Keto diets have been criticized for being too restrictive however, vegetarians and vegans should be used to restrictive diets and following diet plans and reading food labels to make they are suitable.
It is probably a little harder to follow Keto as a vegan as a key source of essential fats is dairy products, but there are plenty of alternatives. The best way to overcome some of the challenges of following keto as a vegetarian or vegan is to:
1) make sure to eat a variety of whole foods, this should be relatively easy with a well-stocked grocery store - just make sure to reduce carbs from your diets and stick to healthy, high fat, whole foods.
2) managing nutrient deficiencies. It is possible and common to eat a vegetarian or vegan diet and stay healthy, these diets, particularly the vegan diet, can be prone to nutrient deficiencies as it is not always possible to get complete protein that contain all essential amino acids. When combining Keto with veganism common nutrient deficiencies to watch out for include very low levels of vitamin B12 and vitamin D, reduced omega-3 fatty acids and mineral deficiencies like iron, zinc, iodine, and calcium.
3) proteins from plant-based sources should be a main focus when trying keto as a vegetarian or vegan. This could include adding hemp seeds into your diet, as these are rich in omega-3 fatty acids or meat substitutes like seitan.
When I first got into keto, I was intrigued by the prospect of going vegetarian to lose weight. The thought of having to boil my own vegetables and cook them in butter didn’t seem like much fun, but I could see how it might be helpful for me.
When I started working on the keto diet and went vegetarian, I was very surprised to see that it wasn’t as easy as I had thought.
The biggest difficulty for me was that it took a lot of planning and preparation. Having vegetables (and some fruit!) around at all times just made meal planning impossible. In addition, buying fresh produce meant that I had to buy a lot of ingredients – which added up quickly!
It seemed like the hardest part had been trying to figure out what would work best for me. And there are so many different ways of doing this, so many different levels of success… there is no one right way. What works for one person could be counterproductive for another person – and vice versa! If you are interested in trying out a vegetarian keto diet, here are some tips:
Make sure you have an adequate supply of healthy fats;
Make sure you have enough protein and carbohydrates;
Make sure you have enough fresh veggies!
Yes, it does take time to prepare food on a keto diet; yes, you will need to learn how to shop correctly; yes, it takes effort; but the results will be worth it in the end. You can’t eat processed foods or unhealthy carbs or eat too much fat – not even bacon! – without putting yourself at risk for nutrient deficiencies. Restrictive diets can also have a negative effect on your mental health, especially if you have a history of disordered eating.
So if you go vegetarian on a keto diet and don’t have enough fat in your diet – especially if you are trying to lose weight – then your body will start burning muscle tissue rather than fat . If you don’t burn off those calories fast enough, then you might start suffering from malnutrition.
The ketogenic diet is really no more than following a normal calorie-restricted plan, just with the extra layer of restricting carbs. However, it does require some modifications to get it to work for vegetarians.
So what should you do if you're a vegetarian or vegan who already follows a healthy eating plan? The goal is to simply increase your consumption of fats, especially those that come from a variety of foods from plant sources like nuts and avocados.
To go on the keto diet as a vegetarian:
Eat lots of healthy fats from nuts, seeds, or avocados;
Stay away from sugary foods like fruit and sweets;
Eat plenty of veggies (especially green leafy ones) with every meal;
Try to keep your carb intake below 50 grams per day;
Be sure to use flaxseeds instead of eggs in your recipes! Not only do they taste great but they also provide an extra source of protein as well as omega-3 fatty acids that we need for health.
Avocados are one of the staple Keto diet foods. They are loaded with vitamins and minerals including potassium and vitamins B5, B6, E, and K. They are also delicious and high in healthy unsaturated fats. As they are so nutrient and calorie dense avocados make you feel fuller for longer too, so you reduce on snacking. Avocados are a staple vegan high fat foods.
Spinach, Bok Choy, Chard, Spring Greens, and Kale are a great source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin K, as well as calcium, folate, iron, manganese, and potassium. Leafy Greens are cost-effective, need minimal preparation, and are very nutrient rich. Lightly cooking leafy greens is recommended as they are easier to digest.
These seeds are amazing. 30 grams of hemp seeds contains 10 grams of protein, and they are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and are a decent source of magnesium, potassium, and zinc. Protein is needed even on Keto for healthy adults to follow a balanced diet, so hemp seeds are perfect for this as they are versatile and can be sprinkled on nearly every meal without compromising flavor. It can also be used as an egg replacement.
High fat diets like Keto often focus solely on high fat foods, however your diets also needs foods that contain fibre. Fermented cabbage/sauerkraut is therefore particularly important as it contains a decent amount of fibre, plus the fermentation process reduces the carbohydrate content in the original cabbage to a minute amount. Fermented cabbage/sauerkraut are very low carb and full of probiotics and digestive enzymes, making it perfect for a carb restriction diet.
Nutritional yeast is high in protein and B vitamins; just 10 grams of nutritional yeast contains 8 grams of protein. It also has a consistency and texture similar to cheese so are perfect for blending into sauces and sprinkled on top of vegetables.
The two main types of Keto foods that are suitable for vegetarians but not vegans are dairy and eggs.
Cheese, milk, butter, yogurt, and cream are all great sources of vegetarian protein when on the keto diet. Most cheeses are very low or contain zero carbs, and they are of course high in fat, which makes them perfect for Keto for producing ketones.
Eggs are the perfect food, not just for Keto but in general, but eggs are especially crucial for keto vegetarians. They are nutrient rich, they contain properties that lower cholesterol levels, and they are extremely healthy, I have written an article all about how many eggs per day can someone eat on keto diet, but eating just two eggs a day will provide you with a sizeable amount of your daily recommended intake of minerals and vitamins.
You can also read my article titled: keto food list for beginners: what foods can you eat on the keto diet, which goes into detail on other keto-friendly foods, though not all of them are vegetarian or vegan friendly; it includes seafood, which some might consider suitable for a vegetarian diet as there are many different types of vegetarians. I don't consider pescatarian a form of vegetarian diet, which is why I haven't talked about it in this article.
Tofu is made from soybeans that are processed into a milk-like substance, which is cooked and curdled to produce tofu. Tofu is a very bland food by itself, which is why it is so versatile in cooking as it can be added to most things without changing how food tastes.
Most tofu is very low in carbs unlike soybeans, the cooking process removes most of the carbs, making tofu keto-friendly. Tofu contains around 2 grams of carbs in every 100 grams of tofu, which is pretty good for keto. Remember keto is low carb, not no carb. So yes, tofu is Keto-friendly, in moderation.
Short answer, no. While lentils are a staple food in both the vegetarian and vegan diets, they are unfortunately not suitable for Keto.
Lentils are high in fibre, very nutritious, and delicious, they are however also high in both total carbs and grams of net carbs, which makes it difficult to fit lentils into the Keto diet. Lentils are also low in fat and very high in protein, so they are almost the exact opposite of a keto-friendly food.
If you are trying the Keto diet as a as a vegetarian or vegan you should avoid lentils.
A simple low-carb diet meal could include half an avocado and scramble eggs.
I empty two eggs in a microwave safe bowl, add some diced spinach and a few squeezed cherry tomatoes, add some diced butter, season with salt and pepper and whisk with a fork until well blended. Microwave for two minutes, take the eggs out of the microwave and then whisk again for 90 seconds. If it still too watery, I microwave for a further 30 seconds, be careful as the bowl will be very hot to touch. While this is cooking I halve an avocado, scoop out the flesh of one half of the avocado and put the rest in the fridge. Decant the eggs onto a plate, then sprinkle the diced avocado over the eggs and season with lots of salt and pepper.
My scrambled eggs and avocado is very filling so lunch might be later than normal for you. Lunch is nearly always a salad or soup, depending on the weather. Below is my favorite salad.
I normally take a few leaves of lettuce, wash, dry and tear them into three or four pieces to act as a bedding. I slice some spring onions/scallions, halve some cherry tomatoes, quarter some raw mushrooms, and slice and quarter an inch or two of cucumber. For protein I have some brie though you can replace it with your choice of cheese, such as cottage cheese. I also add some sauerkraut on top and sprinkle some nutritional yeast and then drizzle with some extra virgin olive oil or other healthy oils like avocado oil or coconut oil.
When the weather is warm I normally have another salad. But when the weather is cooler I roast some delicious vegetables.
I normally slice two zucchini, quarter four large mushrooms, dice two bell peppers, quarter one egg plant, and also one diced squash (the kind of squash depends on the season). I drizzle with lots of light olive oil that is suitable for baking, season with salt and pepper, and two chopped garlic, and roast for an hour at 400F/200C in a fan assisted oven, mixing after 30 minutes. After the hour, I check to see how the vegetables have reduced, and if they are reduced down enough I then cover with some grated Mozzarella cheese for ten minutes, or until the cheese is lightly browned. This should be enough to serve three large portions or four smaller portions. Leftovers are refrigerated and eat the day after for dinner.
Looking for a complete ketogenic diet guide? Learn to ready your body for ketosis and reach your weight loss goals. In my FREE Keto ebook you will find plenty of easy recipes, many of them contain meat but these can be easily substituted with vegetables like egg plant, zucchini, or tofu. You can download the Keto cookbook here:
People often ask me if they can follow the keto diet without eating any animal products. The key for plant based ketogenic diets is to find high-quality, low-carb, nutrient-dense foods that provide the complete proteins and essential amino acids that are needed for a healthy diet. As this article shows it is very possible to follow Keto as a vegetarian or vegan.
Vegetarian or vegan keto diets tend to be healthier and make it easier to control blood sugar levels and weight loss. There is an increased risk of nutritional deficiencies however, and a vegetarian or vegan keto diet tend to be more effort to stay in ketosis and manage carb intake.
One way to reduce this effort is to follow a detailed, well-designed keto diet plan such as the Custom Keto Diet. This diet takes all the guesswork out of Keto, you tell the plan what foods you prefer, or in the case of vegetarians or vegans, what foods can be eaten, and you get a weekly food list and recipes to give you exactly what you need to stay in ketosis, lose weight, and eat healthily. You can read my comprehensive review here.
You can also subscribe to my YouTube channel, new videos are uploaded every Tuesday.
Finally, with the right support and guidance, you can stick with your Keto diet. At sinorslim.com we wish you good luck.