Keto Diet: Is Plant-Based Keto At All Possible?
Keto diet has been front-page news for a good decade already. But does it mean you need to eat fatty proteins all the time? One can think that vegan keto is like a unreachable goal…
When reading some newspaper articles one can think that it is some sort of an extreme low carb diet with a focus on high intake of protein and fat. And it’s not particularly clear why such a hype about its health benefits. So let’s get to the bottom of it with our short blog article on keto diet and whether it is possible as plant-based.
What is keto?
Keto is the ketogenic diet which is a high-fat, low-carb, moderate-protein diet. It has been promoted worldwide for its assumed powerful effects on weight loss and overall health.
It’s easy to see that it can be achieved mush easier if you turn to animal-derived produce, but we already know that current progress allows us to substitute some produce for 100% vegan one.
The challenge is to get all the nutrients on a low-carb diet really. Let’s check if it is at all possible.
When you reduce carbs intake to 20 to 50 grams per day, it is said that you are able to reach and maintain ketosis, which is a metabolic process in which your body burns fat for fuel instead of glucose.
This way of easting supposes high fat intake to maintain energy levels (sometime to a whopping 75% fat in one’s diet), so many keto dieters turn to meats, butter and high-fat dairy. We, advocates of plant-based regimes, need to replace those with coconut oil, avocados, seeds and nuts (including nut butters).
Let’s turn to science. There are many studies on health benefits derived from vegan or keto diets. However, no studies focus specifically on vegan keto diets.
When you follow a vegan diet, studies have shown it to lower the risk of chronic health conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes and various cancers.
Most impressive results were shown by studies that observed blood pressure and diabetes amongst vegans and non-vegans: vegans have a 75% lower risk of developing high blood pressure and up to a 78% risk reduction of type 2 diabetes. This is simply awesome!
It’s not going to be surprising but vegans tend to weigh less than non-vegans, and those who adopt vegan diets are more successful in their weight-management efforts than people who eat animal products.
When evaluating ketogenic diet, studies have underlined its effectiveness in weight loss, blood sugar control and reduced heart disease risk factors.
We are all taught to count calories, however a study in 58 obese children and teens showed that participants following a ketogenic diet lost significantly more weight and fat mass than those on a low-calorie diet.
It’s quite logical to assume that combining the two by following a vegan keto diet would positively impact one’s health as well.
Plant-based & vegan keto diet
We need to be very careful when designing such a restrictive diet as vegan keto as we need to ensure we reach ketosis but still providing ourselves with all needed nutrients.
Without careful planning, however, vegan diets can be low in essential nutrients, such as:
- omega-3 fatty acids
- vitamin B-12
- vitamin D
Those on a vegan keto diet can eat the following foods:
- Coconut products: Full-fat coconut milk, coconut cream, unsweetened coconut.
- Oils: Olive oil, nut oil, coconut oil, MCT oil, avocado oil.
- Nuts and seeds: Almonds, Brazil nuts, walnuts, hemp seeds, chia seeds, macadamia nuts, pumpkin seeds.
- Nut and seed butter: Peanut butter, almond butter, sunflower butter, cashew butter.
- Non-starchy vegetables: Leafy greens, Brussels sprouts, zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, mushrooms.
- Vegan protein sources: Full-fat tofu, tempeh.
- Vegan full-fat “dairy”: Coconut yogurt, vegan butter, cashew cheese, vegan cream cheese.
- Avocados: Whole avocados, guacamole.
- Berries: Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and strawberries can be enjoyed in moderation.
- Condiments: Nutritional yeast, fresh herbs, lemon juice, salt, pepper, spices.
On a vegan keto diet, a person will need to avoid vegan foods that are high in carbohydrates, including:
grains and starches, such as:
- baked goods
- breakfast cereals
starchy vegetables, including:
- sweet potatoes
legumes, which include:
almost all fruits and fruit juices, except avocado and limited amounts of berries
sugary foods and drinks, such as:
- maple syrup
- agave syrup
- barbecue sauce
- sports beverages
- processed and packaged foods
Summary on vegan keto diet
Vegan keto diet may offer some health benefits, such as rapid weight loss and a reduction in body fat (plant-based protein sources are important). Similar to a vegan diet, a vegan keto diet may provide some benefits to heart health.
However, it is a highly restrictive diet that is not suitable for everyone. The diet carries certain risks, including the possibility of developing nutritional deficiencies.
Apart from getting enough nutrients, vegan keto diet also might be restrictive as for your fibre intake (read here why it is very important to get enough fibre in your diet)
What you can order at Living Vino to support your vegan keto efforts:
We do not necessarily cater for keto diet as it requires a lot of planning and you should make sure you have enough various nutrients, but we source high quality non-starchy veggies like cauliflower, dark green leafy veggies like kale, high quality firm tofu freshly produced in Tbilisi, various seitan preparations in our schnitzels, burgers and wraps.
Here is a short list of the dishes which are keto friendly:
- Kale salad
- Quinoa and Muscle Bowls
- Seitanito wrap
- Zen burger
- Beyond Meat burger
Enjoy and take charge of your health and wellness!
I have accidentally come to the point of keto-friendly vegan diet by eliminating white wheat and white sugar, not eating after 9pm and getting a large protein shake in the morning.
I also love Mexican food which is high in protein (I make soya chorizo, spicy tofu crumble, mushrooms and seitan fajitas) and fatty condiments like guacamole.
Though I still eat beans, chickpeas and lentils, I drink oat milk and take a glass of beet juice for my blood pressure & sport performance. I do not know if I achieve ketosis or not, but I feel good.
It is a result of me listening to my body and its needs, and so should you.