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).
Since successfully losing 100lbs by changing her relationship with food and her body, Sarah has taken her passion for food and balanced it between cucumbers and cupcakes. When she's not bustling her way around a kitchen, you can find her working out or winding down at home with her 3 kids and pug. Follow Sarah's journey on Instagram @TheBirdsPapaya.
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.
"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."
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.
I’ve also heard some of my vegan friends say that they’re going to give a keto lifestyle a try to help them lose weight. Personally, Travis and I don’t follow a vegan keto diet, we just live a very simple and easy vegan lifestyle and eat whatever we want (within reason). However, I wanted to put together a list of vegan keto recipes to help anyone thinking about trying a keto diet this year.
“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.”
For those already following a vegan diet, it can be especially hard to adapt to a low carb, high-fat diet. But once you know a few good substitutions, and have some amazing new vegan keto recipes under your belt, it doesn’t have to be difficult to eat well on a vegan keto diet. I’ve compiled 20 of my favorite plant-based keto recipes below to give you a head start!
Samantha gave me the tools, education and encouragement to get myself back. She has given me all that I need to go forward in my journey as a strong, healthy, empowered, slim and fit woman. I LOVE who I am and how I look. I even love how I feel after a good workout when I have proven to myself that I can do what seemed impossible just 12 weeks ago. My decision to work with Samantha was a life changing decision. What she taught me has changed how I look, feel and how I will live my life forever. Wow!!!! THANKS Samantha!" --- Leslie Atkins
Traditionally you may know them as the “ch-ch-ch-chia” plants that made it look like hair growing from a terracotta head as a child. In your diet, chia seeds are used before they sprout, and they truly are an odd little seed. You’ll know that if you’ve ever had one stuck in your teeth, only to discover it’s turned into a gelatinous mass. You see, chia seeds have the ability to absorb liquid and multiply in size.
The ketogenic diet forces your body into a metabolic state known as ketosis. Don’t let that scare you. Ketosis is a natural metabolic state. Ketones are produced when you eat minimal amounts of carbohydrates and moderate amounts of protein. When your body doesn’t have carbohydrates to burn for energy, it burns fat. Simply put, on a keto diet, you are changing your body into a fat burning machine!
Don't think we forgot about those eggs we skipped out on at breakfast! We are putting them to good use at lunch with an Asparagus and Jalapeno Frittata! Not only is this recipe high protein and deliciously simple, but it makes for an easy prep and clean up! All you have to do is combine the ingredients in an oven safe pan and bake. When did meal prep get so easy?!
With Samantha’s personal training, I feel freer than I’ve ever felt before. I’ve learned so much and I’ve become so self-sufficient that I will never again be a slave to bad eating habits or laziness. What’s even better is that, as my health has improved, I’ve found that I enjoy cycling more now than at any other time in my life. Thank you Samantha for your help and your support, I truly couldn’t have accomplished so much in so little time without you!"
You don't have to join an expensive health club or spend hours in the gym to get in shape. Simply adding some strength-training exercises, like biceps curls and pushups, to your routine can have a big impact on how you look and feel. "A few weeks in, even before you start seeing results, you're going to feel stronger," says Caroline Kaufman, MS, RDN, a nutrition consultant in Los Angeles. "It will be easier to carry groceries, or you'll finally be able to throw that heavy suitcase into the overhead bin like a pro." These exercises are easy to perform, can be done in the comfort of your own home, and can be squeezed into your schedule whenever you have a few extra minutes. As you build muscle, become more toned, and lose inches, these physical changes will keep you motivated.
On the other hand, keto and veganism don’t work very well together. As humans, we need to consume complete protein containing all nine essential amino acids (an “essential” nutrient can’t be made by the body and must instead be obtained through diet). Although animal protein provides all the essential amino acids in the amounts we need, plants only contain some of them.
Special vegetarian keto products - There are tons of non-meat snack options on Amazon like keto cookies, cheese bars, protein bars, etc. Be careful - the search results aren’t perfect, so some Paleo options might show up that aren’t supposed to or some non-vegetarian items might show up that aren’t supposed to. Almost every product has nutritional information, so make sure to consult it before making any purchases.
Nuts. Nuts are a fat-rich and healthy addition to any diet. I tend to favor macadamia nuts and cashews over any other nut because they have the highest amount of healthy monounsaturated fats and the lowest amount of inflammatory omega 6 fats. Make sure, however, that you know the carb content of these nuts. Consuming too many cashews, for example, can easily kick you out of ketosis.
The first few days of switching to a ketogenic diet sucks. You'll feel hunger pangs, cravings, grumpy and probably suffer flu-like symptoms. You may even feel light-headed, sometimes. There are a number of reasons for this, including changes in gut biota, as various colonies are "screaming at you" for food, but mainly as your body initially will be looking for a quick glucose energy source, before switching metabolic states and preferring ketones, instead. This takes some patience and discipline.
In one study, eating a high-fiber, higher protein dinner (30% of total calories from fiber and 17% of total calories from protein) and less saturated fat helped adults fall asleep faster than those who ate meals that were lower in fiber and higher in saturated fat and sugar. The researchers found eating a high-fiber, higher protein meal was also associated with more time in slow wave, deep sleep, which is essential for memory consolidation and immune function. Eating more saturated fat, in contrast, led to less restful sleep and more nighttime arousals.
The bottom line? This way of eating is tough to stick with because it combines two restrictive diets. Mass believes the risks outweigh the benefits. But if you decide to try it, Mass cautions to approach the diet carefully, ideally under the guidance of a qualified registered dietitian who can help you pick your foods strategically and ensure you are supplementing the diet where needed. Mass also suggests reducing your carb intake gradually rather than going full-blown vegetarian keto overnight so you don’t completely shock your system.
Top Tip: Move more to stress less. "I've learned to exercise instead of eating when I'm stressed," Sarah says. "I've started walking two to three miles outside two to three times a week. The fresh air instantly puts me in a good mood, and I think of it as time to unplug. Now I put exercise on my to-do list just like any task—it's about committing to myself. My mom bought a Fitbit and aims for 10,000 steps per day."
“I was 18 years old and 230 pounds. I was unhappy and realized after my freshman year of college that I needed to change my lifestyle. I come from a family of marathoners, but in 2012 when I told everyone I wanted to run my first marathon, I was told I couldn’t and wouldn’t do it—by family, friends, and even professors in front of my whole class. I took that adversity and have run the Marine Corps Marathon five years in a row, competed in six half marathons, and lost 83 pounds along the way.”
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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.
Opt for low-carb and high-fat vegetables whenever possible. There's a range of low-carb fruit you can enjoy on your vegetarian ketogenic diet. You can also find a few high-fat examples with avocado being the most notable. Make sure to track your carb intake when making meals with these as it's easy to go overboard with carbs on a vegetarian ketogenic diet.
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.
I’m trying a new(ish) tactic, where I build in cheat days, trying to keep my metabolism guessing a little. On those cheat days, I eat whatever I want without overstuffing myself and I drink soda, too if I want to. That helps me feel like I’m not totally depriving myself the whole time. I can already tell that I do eat so much healthier as an overall whole, than I used to. I was getting into some seriously bad habits of snacking on sweets, carbs and soda any time I wanted to, without thinking of the consequences. The only problem was that those wants were getting more and more frequent. The desire for sugar seemed to be growing, the more I gave myself sugar.
The vegetarian diet is commonly regarded as one of the healthiest diets for humanity. Many studies have found that vegetarian diets reduce the likelihood of prevalent diseases like heart disease and diabetes and improve health more than the average non-vegetarian diet. However, this doesn’t mean that the vegetarian diet is the best diet for everyone’s health.
If you have bad memories of being yelled at for not finishing everything on your plate, forget them. "Stopping before you're full is better for your health," says Ericka Stachura, R.D., a registered dietitian in Boston. That's because it takes 20 minutes for our stomachs to tell our brains that we're full; leaving food on the plate allows your brain to play catch-up. Also, when dining out, consider sharing an entree with a friend—portion sizes are often way larger than the recommended size for one person. You'll still feel satisfied. Promise.
Using a flax seed egg is the perfect vegan substitution when a recipe calls for an egg. Simply combine 1 tablespoon of ground flax seed meal with 3 tablespoons of water and let sit at room temperature for a least 15 minutes. For every egg a recipe calls for, you will need to use this ratio, so if you need 3 eggs, use 3 tablespoons of flax meal and 9 tablespoons of water.
Any other bread addicts out there? The main thing that put me off trying out the vegan keto diet for the longest time, was the thought of giving up my daily bread fix! So you’ll know how happy I was to find this amazing healthy bread recipe that tastes better than the ‘real’ thing. And what’s even better is that its one of the best easy keto diet recipes to make!
These keto cookie recipes are all designed to use coconut or almond flour (some are even flourless!) so you don't have to worry about converting recipes. And these recipes use keto-friendly low carb sweeteners like stevia and monk fruit—or baking blends like these substitutes for white sugar, brown sugar, and powdered sugar. And of course, the chocolate chip cookies use no sugar added chocolate chips.
If you’re interested in receiving more coupons from the store you usually go to, make sure you sign up for their rewards program or at the very least you should use the same credit or debit card every time you pay. Kind of creepy, but they track your purchases based on your card number. I have started getting tons of meat substitute coupons since I pay with the same card and consistently buy them.
If you want to add a little variety of breakfast so it’s not always about eggs and you’re in the mood for some texture, this low-carb cinnamon cereal is the ideal keto breakfast to dig into. There’s something about plunging that round spoon into a cold, creamy bowl of milk and picking up crisp little squares that’ll transport you straight back to childhood. Make a big batch and store it in an air-tight jar so that the rest of the week’s breakfasts are a breeze. It’ll stay crunchy for about as long as a regular breakfast cereal.