Although it’s just recently entered the limelight in the past few years, the ketogenic diet actually has a pretty extensive history that stretches back for centuries. Since at least 500 B.C., fasting has been used as a natural method to treat epilepsy. In the 1920s, the ketogenic diet was developed as a way to mimic the effects of fasting and aid in the treatment of seizures in children. (1)
According to nutritionist Isabel Smith, MS, RD, CDN, the ketogenic diet "is basically low-carb, high-fat, and moderate protein." Generally, it consists of 70% fat, 20% protein, and 10% carbohydrates. The goal of this diet is to put the body in a state of ketosis, which means you're body burns fat as its main energy source—not carbs or protein. People say it could aid in healthy weight loss, decrease inflammation, and more. But what many people don't know is if it can pair with a vegetarian lifestyle since it so strictly emphasizes fat and protein over carbohydrate consumption. It's no secret that many followers of the keto diet load up on meat and fish, which makes the diet seem rather murky and unapproachable for vegetarians.
In order to get into ketosis and remain there, limit your net carb intake to 20 grams per day. This means you’ll need to avoid many popular vegetarian protein sources, such as quinoa, buckwheat, legumes, and pulses. These foods are simply too high in carbs to be included on a ketogenic lifestyle. Also be sure to steer clear of milk and low fat dairy products, starchy vegetables, and fruits, other than perhaps a few berries.
Study author Nicholas Rule is an associate professor and Canada Research Chair in Social Perception and Cognition at the University of Toronto. In a release, he explained that they investigated facial adiposity (the amount of fatness in your face) because it is a "robust indicator of one's health." He went on to provide some good news for women. "Women's facial attractiveness may be more sensitive to changes in weight," said Rule. "This just means women attempting to lose weight need to shed slightly fewer pounds than men for people to find them more attractive."
There are plenty of plant-based fat sources but in order to meet your protein needs you will need to incorporate high protein, vegan friendly foods such as nuts and seeds, tempeh, tofu, and vegan protein powder. Food companies such as Beyond Meat are now providing alternative meat products that are a great source of protein while still relatively low in carb. Unlike meat, some of these vegetable based proteins do not contain complete proteins but if you are good about eating a variety of plant-based foods you can meet all of your essential amino acids needs.
This is where it gets a little more complicated, and where a list can come in very handy. It’s important to add healthy low-carb veggies to your meals while on the keto diet, so you still receive enough healthy fiber to keep you feeling full. Fruit can also be incorporated into your meal plan, but you have to be selective as the fructose content in a lot of fruit can easily tip you over your daily carbohydrate ration and kick you out of ketosis. Make these veggies and fruits your friends:
“The weight starting coming off,” she says. “I remember I lost 9 lbs. my first week. After I had lost 100 lbs., I started trying more adventurous exercise. I became fascinated by fitness and seeing what new things I could accomplish with my body. I do things that I never dreamed were possible like running races, lifting heavy weights, and completing a sprint triathlon.”
A lot of this initial weight loss is water. Your fluid levels fluctuate often and can change dramatically when you alter your diet. For example, when you start a low-carbohydrate diet, you deplete the stored glycogen in your muscles. When you lose this glycogen, you also lose the water it retains. As a result of this loss of water weight, you may experience a flatter-feeling tummy and the first pounds lost on your scale. Lose just 2 cups of water, and it results in a pound lost on the scale, but it's not actual fat loss.
As with any new diet, you should consult a professional before committing, as it might not necessarily apply to extenuating health circumstances. It's also helpful to hear an expert's opinion firsthand. As for Smith, she's not entirely sold on the keto diet in the first place. "Some principles of the keto diet can be helpful," she says, such as few refined carbs and sugars. "When done right (more plant-based that is) it can be a great way to get some healthy fats in, but I don't find, especially for women, that it contributes to significant weight loss if that's a goal." While we're on the topic, it's also possible that you might need supplementation to your diet to achieve utmost wellness. "this is case by case, but often, in general, vegans/vegetarians need iron, B complex, b12, extra protein, and potentially zinc and biotin as well," Smith tells us. This is just another reason consulting an expert can be so helpful.
I want to be totally honest about what I experienced on a vegan keto diet so that you know what you are getting into. My intention is not to turn anyone away from the diet, just be transparent about my experience with it. I would do a lot of research before starting it so that you know what you are getting into and how to maintain it without any symptoms. Now, there's nothing wrong with training in a fed state. Any exercise burns energy, which supports your weight-loss efforts. What many people don't know, however, is that training in a fasted state offers several unique fat loss benefits.