Are you a vegetarian that wants to experience the many benefits of keto diet? Or maybe you’re already on a keto diet, but you’ve been thinking about on cutting out meat for ethical reasons. Good news – it’s possible to integrate a vegetarian diet with keto diet! However, there are a few potential health concerns to be mindful of.
This article will guide you on how to follow a keto vegetarian diet in a sustainable and healthy way.
Are There Health Risks for Keto Vegetarians?
While many people avoid consuming meat due to environmental concerns or animal welfare, others choose vegetarianism because they think it’s healthier.
Typically, however, vegetarian diets consume a lot of starchy vegetables, legumes, and grains that are not ideal for people with diabetes, who want to regulate their blood sugar without meds. Moreover, most people find that they are hungry all the time when following a high-carb, low-fat vegetarian diet.
Thus, the concept of a vegetarian keto diet may be ideal to people who would like to eat vegetarian while still benefiting from the keto lifestyle.
It is important to note that some nutrients, including vitamins and minerals, protein and certain essential fats, may be deficient on a vegetarian keto diet.
The risk of nutrient deficiencies, however, varies depending on what kind of vegetarian diet you are following and what kind of food you eat. You are more likely to develop more deficiences on a more restrictive vegetarian diet.
Different Types of Vegetarians
Here are the different vegetarian classifications, starting from the strictest to most lenient.
Vegans avoid meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, milk, and other animal products including honey.
Lacto vegetarians avoid meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs but eat dairy. Vegetarians from India primarily follow this type of vegetarian diet.
Lacto-ovo vegetarians avoid poultry, meat, and seafood but eat dairy and eggs. This is the most popular type of vegetarianism in the United States and Europe.
Pescatarians eat eggs, dairy, and seafood but avoid red meat and poultry. This diet is considered semi-vegetarian and doesn’t pose any higher risk for nutrient deficiencies than other meat-inclusive diets.
Which Vegetarian Type is Compatible with Keto?
Keto can be integrated in most vegetarian diets. The more lenient types of vegetarianism, of course, make it possible for a broader range of food options that can make meals more sustainable and enjoyable.
Veganism and keto, on the other hand, do not work together very well. As humans, it is necessary to eat complete proteins comprising all nine essential amino acids since the body can’t produce them and can only be obtained through diet. While animal protein contains all the essential amino acids in the quantities we need, plants contain only a few of them.
Since different plant-based foods contain various types of amino acids, vegans, who exclude all animal products, relied on a combination of seeds, legumes, and grains to get all the essential amino acids that they need. Most of these plant-based foods contains too much carbs to be included on a standard keto diet, which is typically limited to 20 grams of net carbs per day. However, individuals who still want to eliminate all animal products can instead follow a non-keto, lower-carb, vegan diet, like the “Eco-Atkins” diet.
Eco-Atkins is an entirely plant-based low-carb diet. Although it includes less carbs than most vegan diet plans, it can’t be considered ketogenic since it allows for more than 60 grams of net carbs a day and it does not restrict consumption of grains.
5 Steps to Follow A Healthy Vegetarian Keto Diet
Here is our 5-step strategy plan to eat a healthy, well-balanced keto vegetarian diet.
1. Limit carbohydrates
In order to get into and remain in ketosis, you should limit your net carb consumption to 20 – 25 grams per day. This implies you will need to eliminate many common sources of vegetarian protein like pulses, legumes, buckwheat, and quinoa. These foods contains too much carbs to be included on a keto lifestyle. You should also stay away from starchy vegetables, milk and low fat dairy products, and fruits, except for a few berries.
2. Consume a high-quality source of protein in each meal
As mentioned earlier, only animal protein contains all the nine essential amino acids in amounts required to sustain a healthy human body. Integrating keto-friendly plant proteins like seeds and nuts with eggs and dairy greatly improves the protein quality intake of a vegetarian diet.
3. Eat 1 to 3 portions of very low-carb veggies at least twice per day
There’s a lot of delicious keto-friendly veggies that help you reach your micronutrient requirements and provide a healthy dose of fiber.
Our top 5 keto-friendly vegetables:
- Spinach: rich in magnesium, potassium, and iron, with only 1 gram of net carb per serving.
- Zucchini: a great source of potassium, vitamin C, and vitamin B6, and can also be a fantastic noodle replacement with only 3 grams of net carbs per serving.
- Avocado: great source of fiber, magnesium, and potassium with only 2 grams of net carbs per serving. (Yes, avocado is technically a fruit)
- Brussels sprouts: good source of folate, potassium, and vitamin C with only 5 grams of net carbs per serving.
- Cauliflower: rich in fiber and vitamin C, ideal keto-friendly replacement for rice and mashed potatoes, with only 4 grams of net carbs per serving.
4. Use oils with healthy fats for cooking
Healthy fats taste great, enhance the texture of the food, and keep you feeling satisfied and full for hours. They are also necessary to properly absorb the fat-soluble vitamins E, D, A, and K.
It’s important to pick the healthiest types of fats since most calories on a keto diet comes from fat.
Seed and vegetable oils such as canola, corn, safflower, and sunflower oil are highly processed and may cause inflammation. Instead, use healthy fats, such as avocado oil, olive oil, coconut oil, ghee, and butter for preparing and cooking meals.
5. Season your meal with various spices and herbs
Using herbs and spices on your meals will help improve variety on a vegetarian diet. Moreover, they are an extra source of micronutrients and it contains only a very small amount of net carbs. Besides the more popular ones like rosemary, cinnamon, and basil, you may also try experimenting on others that you haven’t tried yet. You might find some new favorites!
Avoiding Nutrient Deficiencies on a Vegetarian Keto Diet
Vegetarians frequently rely on legumes and grains to reach their daily micronutrient needs. When such foods are limited together with seafood and meat, vegetarians must ensure that they consume sufficient quantities of magnesium, potassium, zinc, vitamin D, vitamin B12, calcium, iron, and omega-3 fatty acids.
Consuming a combination of any of the following nutrient-dense keto vegetarian foods everyday will ensure that you are feeding your body with a variety of micronutrients that keto vegetarians might be deficient at.
Nuts & Seeds
100% dark chocolate
Plain greek yogurt
Keep in mind that if you feel great and are consuming a variety of nutrient-dense foods, then you probably don’t have to be concerned about your intake of specific micronutrients.
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