What Is the Vegetarian Keto Diet?
Vegetarian keto is a diet that follows the basic rules of keto, which limits carbs and focuses on protein consumption. However, as protein is often found in meat products, the keto diet can increase our consumption of these products. This is not eco-friendly, nor is it entirely healthy.
Vegan keto adheres to the keto diet by limiting carbs, but it goes a step further and eliminates animal products, as well. This means the focus will shift towards healthier proteins like tofu, egg whites, nuts, and seeds.
Why Go Keto Vegetarian?
This diet not only reduces our carbon footprint, but it also protects animals from torture and death and reduces our risk of developing diseases related to the overconsumption of meat products like gout, heart disease, and more.
How Does the Keto Diet for Vegetarians Work?
If you are already on a plant-based diet and want to try keto, you still can. As long as you are mindful of how to do so correctly, you will maximize your chances of achieving both weight loss and a healthier body with a keto diet for vegetarians.
The Benefits of the Vegetarian Keto Diet
There are many health benefits to adhering to the vegetarian keto diet. This diet may not be right for everyone, but if it right for you, here are some of the benefits you can expect:
- Reduce the Likelihood of Cancer: Preliminary studies show that a vegetarian keto diet has been linked to reducing the likelihood of developing cancer. Animal products can encourage tumor growth. Studies so far show reduced tumor growth on the vegetarian keto diet, as well.
- Control BMI: Reducing your carb intake and eliminating meat products can make a drastic difference to your body fat percentage. This diet focuses mainly on healthy fats and lean sources of protein.
- Helps Control Blood Sugar: A five-year study indicated a 53% decrease in diabetes after starting a vegetarian diet.
- Reduces High Cholesterol: Cholesterol is linked to foods that are high in fat and sugar. Elimination of these types of things through the vegetarian keto diet can help reduce bad cholesterol levels.
Vegetarian Ketogenic Diet: Foods to Eat
Consuming healthy proteins, minimal carbs (no more than 20 to 50g per day), and no meat is the definition of the keto diet for vegetarians. Here are some foods on the list that you should work into your daily meal plan:
- Nuts: Brazil nuts, cashews, almonds, walnuts, pistachios, macadamia nuts
- Lean Protein: eggs, tofu, spirulina, natto, tempeh, nutritional yeast
- Healthy Fats: avocado oil, avocados, olive oil, MCT oil, coconut oil
- Low-Carb Vegetables: spinach, kale, mushrooms, cauliflower, bell peppers
- Low-Carb Fruits: lime, berries, lemons
- Seeds: chia seeds, hemp seeds, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds
- Full-Fat Dairy Products: cheese, milk, yogurt
- Nut Butters: almond butter, pecan butter, peanut butter, hazelnut butter
- Spices and Herbs: basil, oregano, rosemary, paprika, turmeric, salt, pepper, thyme.
Vegetarian Ketogenic Diet: Foods to Avoid
Here are some of the foods that will be off-limits when following the vegetarian keto diet:
- Starchy Vegetables: potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, beets, carrots
- Animal Products: meat, poultry, fish, seafood
- Grains: bread, rice, rye, buckwheat, pasta
- Legumes: chickpeas, lentils, beans, peas
- Starchy Fruits: apples, bananas, oranges, peaches, apricot, plums, melons
- Processed Foods: condiments, prepared meals, chips, candy, cereals, baked goods, ketchup, marinades, salad dressings
- Sweeteners: natural and artificial including honey, sugar, brown sugar, maple syrup, agave nectar
- Alcoholic Beverages
Tips to Getting Started on a Vegetarian Keto Diet
For most people, even existing vegetarians, adopting the keto vegetarian diet can be an abrupt and even difficult change. Here are some tips to help you ease into this new way of life in the healthiest way possible.
You cannot eliminate all of the non-keto vegetarian-friendly foods out of your diet in a day. It will be easier for your body to adjust if you start by eliminating a little bit at a time. Start by removing one new food group per week and gradually work your way up.
Both your body and your mind will have time to adjust. Think of it as working up to something rather than making a change overnight.
Look Out for Signs of Malnutrition
Though there are several advantages to maintaining a keto vegetarian diet, this way of life isn’t for everyone. For example, it is not recommended for pregnant or nursing mothers, nor is it prescribed for anyone with chronic illnesses – unless advised by your healthcare practitioner.
Here are some signs that may indicate your body is not reacting well to the keto vegetarian switch:
- Severe nausea
- Trouble sleeping
- Mood changes
- Menstrual irregularities
- Muscle aches or cramping
The above-mentioned symptoms may be a sign that you have tried to cut too much out too fast, and your body has not yet been able to adjust or that you are not suited to the diet. Another consideration is that you have successfully eliminated foods but are not eating enough of the supporting foods you need to compensate.
Try New Things
If some of the protein sources are foreign to you, you’ll have to really make an effort to try them out and get used to them if you want to successfully switch to a vegetarian keto diet. You absolutely need to make sure your body is getting adequate nutrients from the acceptable foods.
If you do not take in enough of the foods you need to stay healthy, it will not be possible for you to maintain the vegetarian keto diet.
The Bottom Line
The vegetarian keto diet can be a healthy way of life for many people. However, it requires complete dedication at all times to work well. In some cases, you may also need to get the okay from your physician. Just because there are numerous health benefits to this diet, doesn’t mean it is beneficial to you individually.
It is best to meet with your physician beforehand and discuss your individual health profile before making any decisions. It is also advisable to meet with a dietician who can help you construct healthy meal plans and make sure you’re adhering to the diet in a healthy way.