Are you looking to lose weight and reduce body fat? Are you simply wanting to switch to a healthier, guilt-free nutrition plan? If so, a vegan ketogenic diet may be the right choice for you. Ketogenic or extremely low-carb diets have become increasingly popular over the past decade or so, and were first used as a treatment for epilepsy.
A standard ketogenic diet refers to one where a person gets the majority of their calories from healthy fats and protein rather than carbohydrates. A vegan ketogenic diet follows the same standard guidelines of a traditional keto diet, but with the added caveat of being plant-based.
What is a Vegan Ketogenic Diet?
More specifically, you must meet a few strict guidelines to maintain a vegan ketogenic diet. One key component is the limited intake of carbohydrates. Specifically, total daily consumption of carbs should be limited to no more than 35 grams per day, and sometimes less. The vegan component of the diet also requires that you do not consume any meat, fish, or other animal products (eggs, cheese, etc.).
Instead, most people following a ketogenic diet will get around 70% (or more) of their calories from plant-based foods. More specifically, they look for fatty plant-based foods. Another 25% or so of their diet is obtained from plant-based proteins. The remaining ~5% will be reserved for carbohydrates.
One of the greatest challenges of sticking with a vegan ketogenic diet is how restrictive the diet is. Even a standard ketogenic diet requires cutting a great deal of foods out of one’s daily rotation. Being unable to consume animal-based foods can make this even more difficult to follow. Furthermore, in order to remain healthy and to thrive on a vegan ketogenic diet, it is sometimes necessary to take nutritional supplements (including vitamin B12, DHA, iron, zinc, and the like). It is otherwise very easy to lack these nutrients.
What Are the Benefits of a Vegan Ketogenic Diet?
Despite the huge commitment that it can take to stick to a vegan ketogenic diet, there are many health benefits you can enjoy by making such a commitment. Consider first how the vegan ketogenic diet works.
When you consume low amounts of carbohydrates, your body eventually enters a state of ketosis; this can take anywhere from a few days to a week after starting the diet. When your body is in ketosis, it feeds on ketones as its main energy source. This not only reduces your body’s blood glucose levels, but improves insulin resistance (making it ideal for those with diabetes) and allows your body to burn fat.
As a result, people who have experienced difficulty losing weight with “traditional” diets in the past may have a much easier time shedding pounds and burning fat on a ketogenic diet. Furthermore, when you obtain the majority of your energy and nutrients from plant-based foods, you may also find that you enjoy:
- increased energy overall
- improved quality of sleep
- fewer health issues
- improved overall performance and cognitive function
And while it may seem like a big sacrifice to give up carbs and animal-based foods, many people who follow a vegan ketogenic diet find they enjoy a reduced overall appetite. As such, they are able to eat greater volumes of foods with fewer calories.
What Should You Eat a Vegan Ketogenic Diet?
If you’re considering a vegan ketogenic diet, you may be wondering what types of foods will become your new daily staples and which foods you’ll need to avoid. While it can take some adjustment to get used to the initial changes in your diet, the more you stick with it, the more you begin reaping the benefits of a ketogenic diet. Also, the easier it will become!
Simple Swaps to Keep in Mind
It can be helpful to initially keep a list of keto and vegan-friendly swaps for your favorite go-to foods. For example, instead of going for that glass of sweetened chocolate milk as a treat in the morning, you’ll want to train your brain to grab some unsweetened almond milk instead. You can even enjoy chocolate flavoring in your coconut milk by adding a small amount of unsweetened cocoa! When it comes to cream (such as heavy cream or whipping cream), you can also find coconut cream at most grocery stores.
What about butter? This is yet another easy swap. Coconut oil is a wonderful and vegan-friendly substitute for butter because it is high in fat and has the same smoke point. And contrary to its name, it doesn’t taste like coconut.
When it comes to cheeses, you’ll need to make the switch to vegan cheeses, which are usually made of soy, coconut, or tree nuts.
What about fruits? You might find that some of your favorite fruits are very high in carbohydrates. Fortunately, there are still plenty of fruits that have fewer than five net carbs per serving, such as:
- kiwi fruit
By making these swaps, you can keep your carbs limited and stick to your vegan diet as well.
Best Sources of Fatty Vegan Foods
Since healthy fats will become your primary source of calories in a vegan ketogenic diet, it’s important to keep your pantry and fridge stocked with some low-carb and vegan fatty food sources. Some of the best sources of fat for a vegan ketogenic diet include:
- coconut oil
- olive oil
- nuts (cashews, macadamia nuts, etc.)
- seeds (pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, etc.)
As you become accustomed to your new vegan ketogenic diet, you’ll quickly find that the many of your fats will come from cooking oils. Don’t miss an opportunity to cook some of your favorite vegan foods in a large serving of coconut or olive oil.
Don’t Forget the Protein
Of course, protein is another important part of your daily caloric intake when you’re on a vegan ketogenic diet. So, what are some of the best vegan sources of protein that are also low in carbohydrates? Consider these popular options:
- tofu (a great meat substitute)
- tempeh (a little more firm than tofu)
- nuts and seeds
Just as you will quickly learn the importance of high-fat cooking oils on a vegan ketogenic diet, the same applies to tofu and other meat substitutes. While it may take some time for you to get accustomed to cooking with tofu and tempeh, you will eventually find some recipes that really work well for you. From tofu burgers to “meat” loafs and everything in between, you can really make tofu delicious and flavorful with the right spices and cooking methods.
Supplements to Consider
As you transition to a vegan ketogenic diet, you’ll also need to be careful to supplement any nutrients you’re not getting. One of the most important supplements to consider starting on this diet is that of BHB salt supplements; the right levels of BHB can help your body begin the process of producing ketones easier and earlier, which can yield better results for you and help you stay in ketosis as well.
Check out our BHB Boost supplement, which contains:
- sodium beta-hydroxybutyrate
- calcium beta-hydroxybutyrate
- magnesium beta-hydroxybutyrate
Overall, a vegan ketogenic diet can be one of the best decisions you make for your health and wellness, but it’s important to know what you’re doing before you begin. With the right balance of foods and nutrients, as well as the right supplements, you can be in the best shape of your life.