Is It Possible To Follow A Vegetarian Ketogenic Diet? (Everything You Need To Know)

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by Alex Reed 

The ketogenic eating style has spread like wildfire during recent years. It’s so popular because it allows you to enjoy fatty foods which are restricted in most diets and burn fat during the same time.

You may be wondering if as a vegetarian you can follow this high-fat eating style? You may want to burn fat, reap the mental benefits and save the planet during the same time. Regardless of your motives, you can follow the ketogenic diet if you are vegetarian, but it takes little extra effort from your side.

While the traditional ketogenic diet is all heaven for meat lovers, it’s not the main ingredient in this diet. The biggest part of this eating style is fat, which is easily available in vegetarian foods.

Just like non-vegetarians, the biggest mistake vegetarians do is they eat too many vegetables thus getting too many carbohydrates which will eventually kick them out of ketosis. If you are a vegetarian, then you need to be way more careful with your carbohydrate and protein intake. For example, traditional vegetarian protein sources are beans and grains, which aren’t part of the ketogenic diet.

What is the ketogenic diet?

In a nutshell, the ketogenic diet is a high-fat diet which burns fat and makes you feel superhuman. It’s a high-fat, moderate protein and extremely low carbohydrate eating style. The main goal is to get 75% of your energy from fat, 20% of protein and 5% from carbohydrates. The ketogenic diet is so effective because removing carbs from your daily menu will cause your body to enter into a state called ketosis. During ketosis, your body produces ketone bodies and your body uses fat as the main energy source.

The ketogenic diet was first introduced during the 1920s when it was used as an epilepsy treatment for children. After that, the ketogenic diet has proven to be effective more and more times over. According to the research paper Diabetes & Metabolic Syndrome: Clinical Research & Reviews, the keto diet burns 10 times more fat as other diets. This is an effective tool to manage weight but it doesn’t mean that this eating style is the best option for everyone – including vegetarians.

Should vegetarians try the ketogenic diet?

Although a vegetarian diet can also help with weight loss, vegetarians can also be overweight. This is because the vegetarian diet focuses on fruits and vegetables, which tends to be carb-heavy. Research shows that overloading carbs and sugars can lead to weight gain. So, if a high-carb and low-fat vegetarian diet aren’t helping you to take charge of your weight, then the ketogenic diet can be the restart your system needs.

Removing carbohydrates from your menu will stimulate ketosis. As previously mentioned, it’s a metabolic state where your body switches from carbohydrate burning mode to fat burning mode as the main source of energy. As long as you remove carbs from your menu you will end up in ketosis, and it will happen whether you eat animal products or not.

What vegetarians need to know before going keto?

Following the ketogenic diet as a vegetarian is not easy. A typical vegetarian diet is full of healthy carbohydrates whereas the keto diet is extremely low in all carbs. And depending on how strict vegetarian diet you follow, you most likely avoid all meats and fish, which are the main sources of protein during the keto diet. Not to mention your main protein sources, such as beans and lentils which both are high in carbs and are totally no-go during the ketogenic diet.

At the end of the day, it is possible to combine vegetarian and the ketogenic diet together, but it will not be an easy thing to do. Fortunately, fat is very satiating. The main key is to focus on low-carb veggies, nuts, seeds, avocados and full-fat dairy. Vegetarians who will follow the ketogenic diet could also run the risk of becoming deficient in some nutrients and vitamins. For example B12, iron and omega 3 fatty acids.

During a vegetarian keto diet, you should focus on healthy plant-based fat and protein sources and it should be free from all meat, but other animal products like eggs and dairy are allowed.

Carb sources

A vegetarian diet is typically high-carb, you need to be extremely cautious about what foods you eat. Carb sources that are no-go during the keto diet are all refined carbs, starchy vegetables, beans, legumes, sugars, grains and sweet fruits.

If you don’t enjoy vegetables, then you are in a difficult position. Then, this eating style may not be for you. The fat will keep you in ketosis but the low-carb veggies will provide the volume of the food and fiber. Fiber intake during the keto diet can be insufficient even during the non-vegetarian version.

Good low-carb food sources include spinach, kale, collard greens, lettuce, asparagus, broccoli, cucumber, cauliflower, bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, eggplants, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries.

Protein sources

This is the other part of the difficulty equation. During the vegetarian diet, a major part of protein comes from beans and grains which are off the table. But worry not, you can get enough protein from eggs, and cheese. Regardless of how much you love both of them, you can build your diet around only two ingredients.

Some good protein sources include eggs, dairy, tempeh, natto, miso, nuts, tofu, tempeh, seitan.

Fat sources

Fat is the holy grail of the keto diet. This will make or break your ketogenic journey. In short, eggs and high-fat dairy products will be the main component of most of your ketogenic meals. Although following vegetarian keto diet can come with a lot of health benefits, a poorly planned diet can result in nutritional deficiencies.

Awesome fat sources include pecans, Brazil nuts, Macadamia nuts, walnuts, olive oil, coconut oil, olives, avocados, cocoa butter, hard cheeses, mayonnaise, cream cheese, heavy whipping cream, eggs, full-fat Greek yogurt.

Final thoughts

The ketogenic diet has numerous health benefits from burning fat to enhancing mental performance. It is possible to follow the ketogenic diet if you are vegetarian but you will need to be extremely cautious about the foods you eat. This is because the main mistake vegetarians do is they eat too many carbohydrates and will be kicked out of ketosis which means game over in keto terms.

During the vegetarian ketogenic diet, you should cut out all the starchy vegetables and focus on low-carb veggies, and leafy greens which are high in fiber. The main source of protein is eggs and full-fat dairy products. Thankfully fat is very satiating so you can enjoy nuts, oils, avocados, mayonnaise and hard cheese.

The keto diet is effective but it’s not for everyone. Vegetarians can also struggle with body weight and the ketogenic lifestyle can be one solution to this, but understand that following withmixed diets like vegetarian keto, is no easy job. Be sure to include a variety of nutrient-dense foods to maximize your diet and minimize any potential nutritional deficiencies.

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Author bio:

Alex Reed is a health enthusiast, who started with a mission to help you to take charge of your weight and health using the ketogenic lifestyle

Image credit: Thought Catalog

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