Though the keto diet has been shown to be exceptionally helpful with weight loss, it’s important to know that as with any radical, new nutritional approach there are always some risks involved. As insulin levels dip when you are on a ketogenic diet, your body will also start to shed excess sodium and water. This can lead to those initial weight loss results, but can ultimately have a negative impact on your body, and lead to fatigue, lightheadedness, headaches and even constipation.
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 far as calories are concerned, you will come to find that many of the high-carb foods you are cutting out were the same foods that contributed so many calories to your diet. A restriction in food groups naturally leads to a reduction in calories. Ketosis also suppresses appetite, however, so you really need to make sure you're bringing in enough calories to keep your body happy and healthy.
First things first: When you hear that the keto diet emphasizes consuming fats over carbs, that doesn't mean fats from drive-through fries or something of that sort (as sad as that may seem). It means consuming fats from things like avocado, eggs, nuts, seeds, ghee, and coconut oil. These healthy fats fuel your body's energy in replacement of carbohydrates, contributing to the aforementioned possible benefits of the diet. That's why these foods are a good place to start when talking about all things vegetarian and keto and can be considered as the building blocks of many healthy vegetarian/keto recipes.

“If you look at people who lose a lot of weight through diet alone and compare them to those who do it through diet and exercise, the latter group has better gains,” Sharp says. “That’s because exercise increases lean tissue mass, preserves your metabolism, increases energy, reduces stress and decreases cortisol, which we know is key to weight loss.”
Meat is a cornerstone of the ketogenic weight-reduction plan, however that doesn’t suggest the weight loss plan is off-limits for the vegetarian population. As the excessive-fats, low-carb approach has grown in recognition, many vegetarians have desired in on the hype and feature located a manner to make it work for them, tweaking the typical keto diet menu and food list to in shape inside their meat-loose existence.
And speaking of working out, if you’re a gym rat or avid runner, prepare for your workouts to suck for a while until your body fully adapts to the diet. If you’re cutting out carbs for the first time, your body will need two weeks or more (and sometimes months) to fully support the demands of exercise with ketones. And if you’ve been relying on animal products, you may find it difficult to recover without the full array of amino acids that every serving of animal protein provides. You’ve chosen a hard road to travel, nutritionally, but don’t lose heart. Time and persistence will force your body to accommodate just about any regimen you subject it to, and there are plenty of people whose performance has thrived on unconventional diets.

Possible thyroid tumors, including cancer. Tell your health care professional if you get a lump or swelling in your neck, hoarseness, trouble swallowing, or shortness of breath. These may be symptoms of thyroid cancer. In studies with rats and mice, Saxenda® and medicines that work like Saxenda® caused thyroid tumors, including thyroid cancer. It is not known if Saxenda® will cause thyroid tumors or a type of thyroid cancer called medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC) in people.


Because different plant foods contain different types of amino acids, in excluding all animal products, vegans come to rely on a combination of grains, legumes, and seeds to get all of the essential amino acids their bodies need. Many of these foods are too high in carbs to be included on a keto diet, which is usually restricted to 20 grams of net carbs (total carbs minus fiber) per day. However, those who want to avoid all animal products can follow a lower-carb, non-keto vegan diet, such as the “Eco-Atkins” diet.
The examination on vegan keto diets is constrained, yet narratively, MacDowell says she saw a bunch of positive changes once she began following the diet. “I discovered that in addition to the fact that I lost weight rapidly [though in a solid measure of time], I additionally have seen things like joint agony was vanishing, my processing was normalizing, easily overlooked details that I didn’t at all expect,” MacDowell says.

Reaching for a bottle of water before you sit down to eat may help you shed those pounds faster. Research in the August 2015 Obesity journal found that obese patients who drank 500 milliliters (a 16-ounce bottle) of water 30 minutes before eating lost almost 3 pounds more than those who did not. Even more promising is that those who pre-loaded with water before each of the three main meals lost an average of 10 pounds over a 12-week period (compared to a 2-pound weight loss for those who preloaded before just one meal, or not at all).
All in all, soy looks like a safe food that most people will have no problems with. However, there may be a handful of individuals that may experience thyroid issues after increasing their soy consumption. This may happen because soy contains goitrogens — plant compounds that disrupt the production of thyroid hormones by interfering with iodine uptake in the thyroid gland.
“If you look at people who lose a lot of weight through diet alone and compare them to those who do it through diet and exercise, the latter group has better gains,” Sharp says. “That’s because exercise increases lean tissue mass, preserves your metabolism, increases energy, reduces stress and decreases cortisol, which we know is key to weight loss.”

Opting for high-fat plant foods like avocados, coconuts, and nut butters is one way to meet your keto macros on a vegetarian ketogenic diet. Making sure you're eating high-quality protein is also important. But one of the biggest concerns on a vegetarian ketogenic diet is omega-3 fatty acids intake. These essential nutrients are difficult to obtain on plant-based diets, so make sure to eat foods rich in this fatty acid or go for supplements.
“You will likely lose weight on this diet, and if that’s your only goal, then great,” says Bailey. “However, this diet is extremely hard to achieve and maintain. It eliminates a lot of really beneficial foods, such as whole grains and starchy vegetables. Based on a 2,000-calorie-per-day diet, one would need to consume 165 grams of fat, 25 grams of carbs, and 100 grams of protein. This is unrealistic and also very unhealthy for our bodies,” she says.
Replace Dairy-Based Cheese with Vegan Cheese. There are plenty of vegan cheeses on the market right now. If you want to avoid soy (for the reasons we will discover later), then you can find coconut, cashew, and other tree-nut-based cheeses. My personal favorite vegan cheese-making companies are Treeline and Miyoko’s Kitchen. Their cheeses are some of the best I’ve ever tasted. In fact, many people think that they are better than traditional dairy cheese. If Treeline or Miyoko’s Kitchen doesn’t have the cheese you are looking for, then try Follow Your Heart’s vegan cheese. Follow Your Heart is another company that makes almost every type of vegan cheese you could ever want.
Vegans have long known that they can’t get all the amino acids they need from one source of plant protein, so they make an effort to eat a diverse selection of them and often combine foods in the same meal to get a complimentary assortment of aminos. You don’t need to do this at every meal—your body can hold on to the aminos from one food a few hours until you eat another food with aminos that complement them and form a complete protein. But don’t get in the habit of basing your meals around only tofu or only hemp. Eat as broad a menu as you can to ensure the richest nutritional intake you can. (See more reasons to limit tofu under the vegan substitutes list below.)
As far as calories are concerned, you will come to find that many of the high-carb foods you are cutting out were the same foods that contributed so many calories to your diet. A restriction in food groups naturally leads to a reduction in calories. Ketosis also suppresses appetite, however, so you really need to make sure you're bringing in enough calories to keep your body happy and healthy.

Preliminary studies have also linked the keto diet to certain diseases, including diabetes. A study published in September 2016 in the Journal of Obesity and Eating Disorders, for instance, found the presence of ketones in the blood can lower HbA1c levels, potentially by way of ketone bodies decreasing glucose metabolism, and benefit people with type 2 diabetes.
This was mentioned just recently, but deserves some more spotlight. Nut milks are great for vegetarian keto. Dairy milk is more carb-heavy than many drinks, and should not be your first choice if you’re going for milk due to the lactose. Nut milks are especially good if you’re trying to accomplish vegan keto. Just make sure to avoid the sweetened versions - they contain sugar!

When it comes to buying keto-friendly vegan dairy products, make sure you are not getting any extra added sugar, hidden carbs, or unhealthy ingredients like hydrogenated oils. Some of these products may also have “gums” in them like agar agar or guar gum. These compounds are used to make the product creamier, and they are safe for most people. However, some people may get gastrointestinal discomfort from eating them, so look out for gums when switching to vegan dairy products.


Cutting out grains, rice, bread, and pasta will reduce your carb intake substantially, but you’ll also have to cut way back on nearly all fruits (exceptions are in the food list above, though even those should be eaten sparingly). Starchy vegetables like potatoes and yams are out, too. And the sugary dressings and sauces you may be so accustomed to that you don’t even question them anymore… well, start questioning them.
 Andrew Heffernan, C.S.C.S., is an award-winning health and fitness journalist whose work appears regularly in Men’s Health and Experience Life. He is the co-author of two fitness books—The Exercise Cure and Your New Prime—and is a frequent top-five finisher as an age-group triathlete and competitive obstacle-course racer. Andrew lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two children. Visit him at andrewheffernan.com.

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