"I was 251 pounds at the time, so walking laps around my neighborhood was all I could muster at first. I knew I had a lot to lose, but I was starting at square one. To stay motivated, I celebrated each 10-pound loss with a new clothing item. As I slimmed down, I noticed shopping was fun again. At one point, I tried on a pair of size 16 jeans and I wasn't sure if they would fit. (I started out a size 22.) When I was able to zip and button them, I stared at the mirror with my mouth open—I couldn't believe it! I was so excited that I ran out of
But that doesn't mean it's going to be easy. Because, at their core, a typical vegetarian diet and a traditional keto diet contradict one another. "The essence of a vegetarian diet is healthful carbohydrates, and keto diets are very low in carbs," says Sharon Palmer, R.D.N. And depending how strict a vegetarian diet you follow, you most likely avoid all meats, poultry, and fish—the main sources of protein recommended in a typical ketogenic diet, adds Sheth. Not to mention that many plant-based protein sources, such as beans and lentils, are high in carbs—so they'd be a no-go on a vegetarian keto diet plan.
Still, Mass is hesitant to recommend this way of eating. “I don’t see many benefits to going keto vegetarian,” she says. The major concern is nutritional deficiencies. As Medline Plus notes, vegetarians already are at risk of being deficient in vitamin B12, vitamin D, zinc, iron, calcium, omega-3 fatty acids, and protein. Keto then puts more restrictions in place, further increasing the likelihood of being deficient in some of these nutrients. For example, breakfast cereals, which are usually rich in vitamin B12, are not allowed on keto.
Seasonings. One of the biggest complaints for people on vegetarian keto is the lack of variety. If you’re having eggs for breakfast every day, this is pretty understandable. If you pick up and experiment with different seasonings, you can create a lot of variety for yourself with the same foods. By way of example, the other day I made an egg scramble, but I added chili powder, cumin, and garlic to give it a southwestern feel.
While grains and legumes are not allowed on keto, low-carb vegetables definitely are. You need to eat at least 3 servings of vegetables a day to meet your daily needs for vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Vegetables are also rich in health-benefiting phytochemicals that research shows reduce your risk of heart attack, cancer, and cognitive decline . Examples of low-carb vegetables are:
Carbohydrate restriction can lead to quick water loss. When you lose water weight, you are likely to feel and look thinner. For some people, lost water weight can make the difference between two different clothing sizes. But losing water weight is different than losing fat. While cutting back on carbs is a smart approach to weight loss for many dieters, it needs to be part of a comprehensive program of healthy eating for sustained weight loss to occur.