Here, we’ve broken down our protein grocery list into animal and plant sourced — so depending on where on the plant-based eating spectrum you find yourself, you have ample choices available. If you go for soy products, try to stick to non-GMO and organic options, and pick ones that are fermented as they are even more abundant in nutrients (think organic tempeh).
"I weighed 200 pounds when I had to get a hysterectomy in 2011 to undo damage caused by an infection. Afterward, I was lethargic and gained 53 pounds. I was put on two different medications for high blood pressure and another one for acid reflux, plus I had high cholesterol and was prediabetic. I was also having heart palpitations, so I went to a cardiologist and was diagnosed with sleep apnea and put on an oxygen tank at night. My family doctor told me that my sleep apnea would probably go away if I lost weight."
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.
Some do, and some don't. Similarly to sugar alcohols, different sweeteners have different glycemic indexes. Powdered versions of artificial sweeteners like splenda and even natural ones like stevia have added carbs that come from maltodextrin and other fillers, so stay away from those. Here are the best sweeteners to use while on vegetarian keto (all of them have a glycemic index of zero):
In the long term, dietitians warn that you could experience deficiencies in nutrients. “When eating a very low-carbohydrate diet, it is possible to become nutrient deficient because many of the food groups from which vegetarians get their nutrients (whole grains, legumes, root vegetables) are eliminated,” Davis notes. “So by eating vegetarian and keto, you could be at risk for nutrient deficiencies.” Learn about 11 hidden dangers of the keto diet.
When enjoyed in smaller portions, there’s such a low amount of net carbs that it can be a safe way to satisfy your sweet tooth, without kicking yourself out of your body’s state of ketosis. Enjoying a few here and there throughout your day is not as harmful as one would lead you to believe. In fact, with the amazing antioxidants and nutritional benefits of raspberries, I’d encourage it!
“Understand that it is a marathon, not a sprint. Some days may not be great but don’t beat yourself up. Also understand what works for you—maybe only for you. Tracking my food and running have been my unlock, but everyone must figure out what’s best for them. It could be meal prep, cutting out certain foods, doing more cross training... Whatever it is, do what you can practically manage, and also enjoy.”
While the jury is out on the diet’s long-term benefits, dietitians told Reader’s Digest that one of the most beneficial things about the vegetarian keto diet is that it incorporates fresh foods and eliminates many processed foods. “I encourage people to eat a whole-foods-based diet,” Vizthum says. “The parameters of a ketogenic diet are simply grams of macronutrients—protein, fat, carbs. The vegetarian ketogenic diet tries to also focus on the quality of foods eaten, increasing the micronutrient content of the diet.” Read more about 10 surprising health benefits of the keto diet.
“The original keto diet is extremely high in fatty meats, which is not good for our cardiovascular system,” says Melissa Bailey, RD, creator of the Nourished Fork. “The vegetarian version eliminates these meats and allows for more plant-based options, such as avocado and nuts and seeds. In general, the population is going towards a more plant-based, whole-foods diet, which is why the ketotarian diet is emerging.” Luckily, you'll find that many of the best foods for weight loss are inexpensive, convenient, and easy to find in your local grocery store. When you learn how to plan and prepare meals in advance and fill your refrigerator with diet-friendly foods, you can even save time and money while you slim down.