The keto diet works well for vegetarians. Sometimes a vegetarian diet ends up being high in carbohydrates if it’s lacking in protein. A lack of protein can cause you to crave carbs to feel full, resulting in weight gain and low energy. On the flip side, a low carb vegetarian diet can help you get back on track with your weight and help you maintain a healthy lifestyle overall. It can curb your cravings and help you get into the habit of eating healthy foods that will fill you up, without going overboard.
While it hasn’t been formally studied, “it is generally observed that, if you are keto-adapted,” says D’Agostino, “it is easy to fast for prolonged periods of time. This has practical benefits for occupations where stopping to eat would be an inconvenience—such as for military personnel—and jobs where you do not want to lose the flow of productivity.” If you do get hungry during a fast, D’Agostino recommends taking a supplement that provides ketones (known as exogenous ketones), which will help sustain ketosis and energy. “I typically take a ketone supplement late afternoon and follow up with a whole-food meal in the evening,” he says.
Processed soy-based meat substitutes (such as Boca Burgers) and protein powders are major go-to’s for people transitioning to vegan diets, but they come with a catch. A 2016 position paper published by Virginia State University explains that soy contains isoflavones, a kind of plant estrogen that can act like the female hormone in humans. While typical serving sizes (one to three of soy foods, or less than 25g of soy protein from non-concentrated sources like tofu) have not been shown to be problematic, amounts more than that (totaling around 100mg isoflavones or greater daily) could negatively impact testosterone. To our thinking, why take the risk? It may be best for a keto dieter to get the majority of his/her protein from nuts, seeds, vegetables, and supplements and less from soy products, apart from the occasional slice of tofu.
Although fat makes a low-carb diet filling, studies show that protein is the most sating macronutrient by far. A common mistake for low-carbers is that they eat less protein in fear that they will go out of ketosis (as a result of gluconeogenesis). However, the truth is that you'd have to eat significantly more protein consistently to disrupt ketosis.
Fasting may sound crazy, but it has its benefits. Intermittent fasting makes it easier to restrict your calories by limiting the amount of time you have to eat. This also makes it tough to over-eat at meals since you have less meals to get to your macros, which will greatly aid you in your weight loss journey. Fasting can help you enter ketosis sooner, especially if your fasting window is large.
I learned that I don’t need to be obsessive about exercise or my diet in order to lose weight. I learned how to balance the amount of food I eat with the amount of exercise that I do. I have so much more control of my body now. I feel empowered. I feel that I can continue to monitor myself and continue to lose weight. I’m looking forward to the day when I can fit into the size I wore in college! Thank you Samantha, for teaching me how to find balance.
First, even nonvegetarian keto eaters shouldn’t focus too much on meat: “The misconception that keto diets require huge amounts of meat or meat products may scare off vegetarians, those concerned about the environment, or people that want to eat healthier,” says Bobbie Henry-Barron, a dietitian at the Adult Epilepsy Diet Center at Johns Hopkins University. “A vegetarian version of the ketogenic diet may be appealing for its weight loss and other health benefits.” Check out 12 things that happen to your body on the keto diet.
You tell yourself you're not going to order dessert, but the minute you see the fudgy chocolate cake delivered to the table next to you, all your good intentions go out the door. To help you ward off temptations, Abbey Sharp, RD, a nutrition consultant in Toronto, recommends having a treat waiting at home. "Before you go out to eat, put aside a portion-controlled sweet for yourself at home, like a small cookie or a square of melted dark chocolate with fresh berries," says Sharp. Or try whipping up a dessert for the entire family, like a light angel food cake with fresh berries, that will give everyone something to look forward to.
Meat is a cornerstone of the ketogenic diet, but that doesn’t mean the diet is off-limits for the vegetarian population. As the high-fat, low-carb approach has grown in popularity, many vegetarians have wanted in on the hype and have found a way to make it work for them, tweaking the typical keto diet menu and food list to fit within their meat-free lifestyles.
Vegetable-sourced iron, known as non-heme iron, is harder to absorb than heme iron, which is found in animal products. This is why iron levels can plummet even when a plant-based dieter eats iron-rich foods like Swiss chard, nuts, and seeds. It’s wise, then, for vegan keto eaters to add a vegan-based iron supplement to their diets. This goes double for women, who lose some iron every month through menstruation. For women 19–50, 18mg of iron per day is recommended.
And it could be especially startling for vegetarians. Fort Lauderdale, Florida–based Jaime Mass, RDN, founder of Jaime Mass Nutritionals, LLC, says vegetarians commonly become “pasta-tarians.” Instead of replacing meat with healthy plant-based foods and whole grains, many load up on pasta, crackers, and other carb-heavy items. Transitioning to keto could be difficult for these pasta-tarians, but it could also be beneficial in helping them cut back on processed carbs.
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).
If you feel like everything is off limits, we're here to help. Yes, following a keto diet when you're vegan is difficult...but not impossible! You may not be living off bacon and eggs like some of your other keto friends, but with these avocado, almond butter, and coconut milk-filled recipes, your stomach will still be full and happy. And if you're vegan-ish, be sure to check out our vegetarian keto recipes too, for those times you want to slip in a little dairy.
If you follow our 5-step plan, eating good-quality vegetarian protein sources and plenty of very-low-carb vegetables, you should manage your micronutrient intake well on a keto vegetarian diet. If you want to be extra sure, eating a range of the following nutrient-dense foods on a daily basis will ensure that you provide your body with the range of micronutrients that keto vegetarians are most at risk of being deficient in.
My mouth is watering thinking about how savory and cheesy this keto-friendly monkey bread is. The outside stays soft due to the texture and water content of the eggplant, but you will get a little crust on the edge and bottom of the monkey bread. The inside is cheesy and buttery with a hint of garlic. There’s no way you will miss the gluten with this recipe.
aThese results were from a 56-week trial of adults with excess weight (BMI ≥27) with at least 1 weight-related condition, or obesity (BMI ≥30), not including patients with type 2 diabetes. On average, 27% of people on Saxenda® and 34% on placebo did not complete the study. In the study, 62% of patients on Saxenda® lost ≥5% of their body weight (vs 34% placebo) and 34% lost ≥10% body weight (vs 15% placebo). Significant weight loss was only evaluated at 56 weeks, as per study design.
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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)
The research on vegetarian keto diets is limited, but anecdotally speaking, MacDowell says she noticed a handful of positive changes once she started following the diet. “I found that not only did I lose weight very quickly [though in a healthy amount of time], I also noticed things like joint pain was disappearing, my digestion was normalizing, little things that I didn’t at all expect,” MacDowell says.
Reading ingredient labels is also important. You should know what’s in the food that you put into your body! Those following a vegan or vegetarian diet are used to checking ingredient labels to make sure that they’re not unknowingly consuming an animal product or byproduct. When on the keto diet, you have to look out for food that contains sugar and flours. They can interfere with ketosis. “Don’t consume any added sugar from desserts, juice or soft drinks, grains, beans or legumes. Instead of consuming sugar or even honey, try using stevia extract or monk fruit to sweeten meals,” says Dr. Axe. “Even starchy veggies like sweet potatoes, butternut squash, and beets provide carbs that can interfere with ketosis. These should be avoided or [eaten] in very small amounts.”
Jay Te thank you for pointing out the health concerns of some of the recommendations on the site. I have to admit that a red flag went off for me but still is unsure of piecing together a healthy meal plan for vegetarians or pescetarian. I have to admit I wasn’t impressed with the meal plans here on my own account of not liking several of the ingredients. Can you recommend a healthy list that is not in contradiction to health risk for others like me? Thank you.
“It’s been a real confidence builder to realize that I can set goals and accomplish them. I was never athletic as a kid, and now as a person eligible for Social Security, I’m signed up for two 10 mile races and a half marathon in 2017—and I know I’ll finish them. As a matter of fact, running has improved my mental health as much or more as my physical health. Running is the one thing that I do just for me, which is needed in a life full of stress.”
The ketogenic diet is a high-fat diet, but it’s crucial to be smart about what types of fat you’re including. Filling up on fatty foods like processed faux meats may help you hit your goals for fat intake, but they can also negate the potential health-promoting properties of the ketogenic diet, so make sure you’re opting for more healthy keto friendly fats instead.
If you’re already a keto eater used to animal products, the list below will give you ideas on how to switch to zero-cruelty food options while keeping carbs low. (Likewise, it will help vegans find lower-carb alternatives to their starchy or sugary favorites.) As always, be extra sure you’re staying faithful to the diet by checking labels for the presence of added sugar, carbs, and hydrogenated oils (harmful, processed fats that have no place in any healthy diet).
The beauty of a ketogenic diet is that you often don’t need to be too exact with your calories. You can just keep carbs low, fat high, and everything works itself out over time. If you want to figure out how much you should be eating(it’s worth knowing), then try our Keto Macro Calculator. It takes about 3 minutes to calculate and there is a how-to video explaining how to come up with an accurate calculation.
“I have had people I’ve known for years but haven’t seen in awhile not recognize me. I love that. I love the way I feel, the way clothes fit, and being able to shop in regular clothing stores. Mostly I stay motivated for the years, days, hours and minutes I’m hopefully putting on the end of my life. I’ve got two adult daughters and amazing wife, and I want to be here with them for as long as possible.” #keto