Are you a vegetarian interested in experiencing the many benefits of a keto diet? Contrary to popular belief, the vegetarian keto lifestyle is definitely doable. Here’s our version of a vegetarian’s guide to the keto diet.
What is a Keto Diet?
The ketogenic, or keto, diet is a high-fat, low-carb diet. It is very beneficial not just for weight loss, but also for people suffering from diabetes, PCOS, etc. It is a way of eating which rains your body to use fats as a source of energy, which greatly accelerates the process of fat burning. This ultra-low-carb intake prompts ketosis, a metabolic state in which your body starts burning fat for fuel instead of glucose.
The ketogenic diet, for example, has been found to be very effective than the vegetarian diet for weight loss. It also helps with blood sugar levels and reducing the severity of diseases like type 2 diabetes, obesity, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, polycystic ovary syndrome, and some types of cancer.
What is the vegetarian keto diet?
The vegetarian keto diet is an eating plan that combines aspects of vegetarianism and keto dieting. Most vegetarians eat animal products like eggs and dairy but avoid meat and fish. In a traditional ketogenic diet, around 70% of your total daily calories should come from fat, including sources like oils, meat, fish, and full-fat dairy. However, the vegetarian keto diet eliminates meat and fish, relying instead on other healthy fats, such as coconut oil, eggs, avocados, nuts, and seeds.
Benefits of the Keto Diet
Promotes weight loss
Both vegetarian and ketogenic diets are associated with weight loss. This diet’s high amount of healthy fats may also keep you feeling fuller for longer to reduce hunger and appetite.
Protects against chronic diseases
Vegetarian diets have been linked to a reduced risk of several chronic conditions. Thy are also associated with a lower risk of cancer and improved levels of several heart disease risk factors, including BMI, cholesterol, and blood pressure
Supports blood sugar control
Vegetarian and keto diets each support blood sugar control. The keto diet may improve your body’s blood sugar regulation and increase its sensitivity to insulin, a hormone involved in blood sugar control
Foods To Eat
A healthy vegetarian keto diet should include a variety of non-starchy vegetables, healthy fats, and protein sources, such as:
- Non-starchy vegetables: spinach, broccoli, mushrooms, kale, cauliflower, zucchini, and bell peppers
- Healthy fats: olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, MCT oil, and avocado oil
- Nuts: almonds, walnuts, cashews, macadamia nuts, pistachios, and Brazil nuts
- Seeds: chia, hemp, flax, and pumpkin seeds
- Nut butter: almond, peanut, pecan, and hazelnut butter
- Full-fat dairy products: milk, yogurt, and cheese
- Protein: eggs, tofu, tempeh, natto, and nutritional yeast
- Low-carb fruits: berries, lemons, and limes
- Herbs and seasonings: basil, paprika, pepper, turmeric, salt, oregano, rosemary, and thyme
Foods to avoid
High-carb foods like grains, legumes, fruits, and starchy vegetables are permitted only in small amounts, as long as they fit into your daily carb allotment.
You should eliminate the following foods:
- Meat: beef, pork, lamb, goat, and veal
- Poultry: chicken, turkey, duck, and goose
- Fish and shellfish: salmon, tuna, sardines, anchovies, and lobster
Here are some foods that you should limit:
- Starchy vegetables: potatoes, yams, beets, parsnips, carrots, and sweet potatoes
- Sugar-sweetened beverages: soda, sweet tea, sports drinks, juice, and energy drinks
- Grains: bread, rice, quinoa, oats, millet, rye, barley, buckwheat, and pasta
- Legumes: beans, peas, lentils, and chickpeas
- Fruits: apples, bananas, oranges, berries, melon, apricots, plums, and peaches
- Condiments: barbecue sauce, honey mustard, ketchup, marinades, and sweetened salad dressings
- Processed foods: granola, chips, cookies, crackers, and baked goods
- Sweeteners: brown sugar, white sugar, honey, maple syrup, and agave nectar
- Alcoholic beverages: beer, wine, and sweetened cocktails
Vegetarian keto snack options
Here are a few simple snacks that you can enjoy between meals:
- zucchini chips
- celery with peanut butter
- roasted pumpkin seeds
- flax crackers with sliced cheese
- mixed nuts
- chia seed pudding topped with unsweetened coconut
- carrots with guacamole
- whipped cream with blackberries
- full-fat cottage cheese with black pepper
- full-fat Greek yogurt with walnuts
Which vegetarian diets work best with keto?
Keto can be incorporated into most vegetarian lifestyles. Even a vegan-keto approach is possible, but it’s a little more challenging. By excluding all animal products, vegans typically rely on a combination of grains, legumes, and seeds to meet their essential amino acid needs. These foods aren’t a good fit on a keto diet, which is usually restricted to 20 grams of net carbs. The “Eco-Atkins” is one option for those who want to avoid all animal products.
An Overview of The Keto Diet For Vegetarians
To implement the diet correctly, follow these rules:
- Limit your total carbohydrate consumption to 35 grams or less per day.
- Eliminate all animal flesh from your diet (e.g., meat, fish, and poultry).
- Eat plenty of low-carb vegetables.
- Get at least 70% of your calories from fat.
- Consume plant-based proteins, eggs, and high-fat dairy to meet your protein needs
- Supplement with nutrients that you may not be getting enough of like vitamins D3, DHA & EPA, iron, and zinc.
- Use the keto calculator to figure out your calorie and macronutrient needs.
- Continue reading for more precise vegetarian keto diet recommendations
Action Plan to Begin a Vegetarian Keto Diet
In order to get into ketosis and remain there, it’s best to limit your net carb intake to 20 grams per day. This means you’ll need to avoid many popular vegetarian protein sources, such as quinoa, buckwheat, legumes, and pulses. These foods are too high in carbs to be part of a ketogenic lifestyle. Also steer clear of milk, starchy vegetables, and fruits, other than perhaps a small amount of berries.
Include a high-quality protein source at every meal
Combining keto-friendly low-carb plant proteins, such as nuts and seeds, with animal protein sources like dairy and eggs can improve the protein quality of a vegetarian diet. You can opt for the following vegetarian protein sources:
- Greek Yogurt
- Hemp Seeds
- Cottage Cheese
- Peanut Butter
- Almond Butter
Keep in mind that you’ll get small amounts of protein from vegetables as well. Most vegetables provide about 2 grams of protein per cup. Soy products, such as tofu, can also be a good source of plant-based protein.
Best Vegetables for Keto
- Spinach: rich in iron, potassium, and magnesium, with 1 gram of net carb per serving
- Zucchini: a good source of vitamin B6, vitamin C, and potassium, as well as a fantastic noodle substitute, with 3 grams of net carbs per serving
- Avocado: excellent source of potassium, magnesium, and fiber, with 2 grams of net carbs per serving
- Brussels sprouts: rich in vitamin C, potassium, and folate, with 5 grams of net carbs per serving
- Cauliflower: a great source of vitamin C and fiber and the perfect keto-friendly sub for mashed potatoes and rice, with 4 grams of net carbs per serving
Use healthy oils for cooking and when making salad dressings
Healthy fats improve food’s texture and can help you stay full and satisfied for hours. In addition, they’re necessary for proper absorption of the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.
Since fats contribute most of your calories on a keto diet, it’s important to choose healthy keto fats and condiments, such as butter, ghee, coconut oil, olive oil, and avocado oil for meal preparation and at the table.
Season your food with different herbs and spices
Cooking with herbs and spices can help increase the variety of a vegetarian diet. They are also an additional source of micronutrients and provide very few net carbs.
How to avoid nutrient deficiencies on a vegetarian keto diet
Vegetarians often rely on grains and legumes to meet their daily micronutrient needs. On a vegetarian keto diet, where these foods are restricted, make sure to consume adequate amounts of omega-3 fats, iron, calcium, vitamin B12, vitamin D, zinc, potassium, and magnesium.
Try to include the foods below on a regular basis to provide your body with the micronutrients keto vegetarians sometimes don’t get enough of:
Nuts & seeds
- Chia seeds
- Flax seeds
- Hemp seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
- 100% dark chocolate
- Unsweetened cocoa
- Brussels sprouts
- Swiss chard
- Plain greek yogurt
How to Get Enough Fat on the Vegetarian Keto Diet
Eggs and high-fat dairy will be a significant component of most of your keto meals, but might not be able to source your fat requirement entirely. Here’s a brief list of the oils you can use and what you can use them for:
- Avocado Oil
Avocado oil has a ton of healthy monounsaturated fats. It is perfect for cooking, baking, and deep-frying. You can use it to fry the vegetarian tater tots that you’ll learn about later in the article.
- Coconut Oil.
This oil provides you with an abundance of fatty acids that are the ideal fuel sources for keto dieters. It is an excellent oil for fat bombs, desserts, and cooking and baking.
- MCT Oil.
This oil is commonly derived from coconut oil and palm oil. Add it to your salad dressings, sauces, smoothies, fat bombs, and hot drinks like coffee or tea for a potent energy boost.
- Olive Oil.
Olive oil is one of the healthiest oils you can consume. In fact, a recent 2018 study found extra virgin olive oil to be the safest and healthiest oil for cooking, baking, and deep-frying.
By incorporating a combination of these plant-based oils and fat-packed plant foods, you won’t even need eggs and high-fat dairy to meet your fat needs.
The Best Vegetarian-Friendly Protein Sources for The Ketogenic Diet
Regardless of how much you love cheese and how many ways you can prepare eggs, relying on them is not necessary either. You can just as easily meet your protein needs with these vegan protein sources:
Tofu is made from soybeans and is high in protein and calcium. The best part is you can use it as a convincingly tasty substitute for meat, poultry, and fish.
Tempeh is a fermented form of soy that is firmer than tofu and has a more grainy texture, making it a great substitute for fish and ground beef.
Seitan or “wheat meat” is a vegetarian meat substitute made from wheat gluten, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and seaweed. This vegan “meat” is high in protein, low in fat, and a good source of iron.
- Nuts And Seeds
Many nuts and seeds are packed with protein as well. They are packed with protein and are relatively low in carbs.
- Protein Powders
When it comes to buying protein powder, 100% grass-fed whey protein and organic pea protein isolate tend to be the best options.
If you incorporate all the above-mentioned factors in your diet, you would surely be able to achieve your health goals, without the consumption of any form of meat. A vegetarian keto diet is extremely doable, provided you are well informed. We hope you found all your answers here, and are now sure of what to eat and what not to on a low carb diet.
Do you wish to embark on this low-carb journey too? Get yourself started today and Stay tuned for more such keto weight loss journeys, health content, and recipes! Also, don’t forget to follow us on Instagram for the daily dose of the Keto Lifestyle!