Sep, 29th 2019 10:44 am, Article Recommended by Dr. J. Smith
At first blush, vegans and ketogenic dieters dont have a lot in common. One eats no meat; the other eats tons of it. One loads up on carbs; the other takes pains to avoid them. They seem to be on opposite ends of the eating spectrum.But what if youre passionate about animal rights and still want to be lean and healthy, and youve found that your body just doesnt do well on carbs? Is it possible to combine these approaches? Can a person go vegan as a keto dieter or keto as a vegan?The short answer is yes, but its not easy. Trying to align two disparate eating philosophies will force you to walk a fine lineparticularly in a world of readily-available animal products and high-carb foods. Its an impressive feat to pull off.And, potentially, great for both your health and the environment.
So, if youre interested in being vegan and keto, heres how to do it.
First, lets be clear about what these terms vegan and keto really mean.
Vegans consume no animal products. Like vegetarians, they dont eat meat, poultry, or fish, but they also avoid dairy, eggs, and other foods that contain even trace amounts of animal ingredients. Most vegans wont eat gelatin (made from bones), casein (a milk protein), and fish oil supplements, or refined sugar (some brands of which use cow bones as a whitening agent).
There are many benefits to a vegan diet, including some that affect health and longevity. The authors of a 2016 study found evidence that reducing animal-based foods (when theyre conventionally raised on factory farms, that is, not organic) may reduce the incidence of diabetes, obesity, cataracts, and heart disease. Other people go vegan for ethical reasons, believing animal consumption to be cruel and harmful to the environment.
Now, what about those keto guys and gals?
Ketogenic diets originated in the 1920s as a treatment for epilepsy, but theyve since been credited for promoting a number of health benefits ranging from improved insulin sensitivity to everyday mental clarity, in addition to fast weight loss. Strict ketogenicor ketodieters limit carbohydrate intake to about 5% of their daily calories while keeping protein intake at around 20%. Fats, then, make up close to 75% of their calories. (For more details on setting up various ketogenic diets, see our guide HERE.)
Restricting carbs and relying on dietary fat causes the liver to convert fat into molecules called ketones, which are used as fuel. When ketones show up above a certain threshold in your urine or in a breath test, youre officially in whats known as ketosis, and your body is running on ketones.
One big reason people go keto is sustained energy. When you dont eat copious amounts of carbs, levels of insulinthe hormone that controls blood sugarremain much steadier than they do on the carbohydrate-based diet most people are used to. When your blood sugar is stable, you dont have afternoon energy crashes that make you want to fall asleep at your desk. A study in the Annals of Internal Medicine showed that a ketogenic diet controlled blood sugar more effectively than a more standard, low-calorie diet that was high in carbs.
Keto diets may also make it easier to burn extra fat off your waistline. Research from 2013 in the British Journal of Nutrition found that keto dieters lost more weight long-term than those who ate a low-fat diet.
Of course, one of the big complaints about a keto diet is thatlike a vegan approachits very restrictive and can be hard to stick to. Thats why we like to make people aware of a slightly less rigid approach we call Mod Keto that offers much of the same benefits as a strict keto diet but is much easier to follow long-term. With Mod Keto, carbs are raised to about 20% of your total caloric intake, protein to 2040%, and fat is reduced to 4060%. While not technically ketogenic (your body will probably not produce appreciable ketones at these levels), the higher protein and carb allowance supports workouts and activity better while still stabilizing blood sugar and promoting fat burning.
So weve got vegan and weve got keto Put them together and youve got a plan that has you eating a higher-fat, lower-carb menu that is also devoid of animal products.
It sounds simple enough in theory, but the two approaches can be contradictory. Low-carb, high-fat meat, fish, and poultry are staples for keto dieters, but they dont work at all for vegans. Meanwhile, high-protein legumes and meat substitutes are go-tos for vegans, but their carb content makes them verboten for keto adherents.
How, then, does a person balance the two?
The goal for the vegan keto-dieter is to eat:
Below are some foods that fit the vegan-keto bill nicely, courtesy of Liz MacDowell, N.C., founder of meatfreeketo.com. This is basically every vegan keto-friendly whole food in your typical North American grocery store, she says, which can help take care of the what-can-you-eat-on-vegan-keto question.
Good protein sources are marked with a p, while foods that have a higher-carb content (and should, therefore, be eaten sparingly) are marked with an asterisk (*).
**Even though theyre not derived from animals and are high in fat, oils such as canola, corn, rapeseed, and margarine are highly processed and have a poor ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids. They promote inflammation in the body. Because they have low smoke points, these oils are also terrible choices for cooking. High heat will turn the fats in the oil rancid, and make it even more unhealthy, causing damage to your heart, neurological problems, and other health woes. Always cook with saturated fats, such as those found in coconut and red palm oil.
In our sandwich-with-a-side-of-bread culture, cutting carbs down to the wire trips many people up. Exact numbers vary person to person, but in general, strict keto dieters need to consume less than 50 grams of carbs a day, says exercise physiologist Michael T. Nelson, Ph.D. (miketnelson.com). Some people need to go as low as 30 grams. The Mod Keto approach allows two to three times as many, but its still very low-carb compared to the diet of the average American. (For reference, one banana, one apple, or a single slice of bread would put you over your daily carb allowance on a strict keto diet.)
Cutting out grains, rice, bread, and pasta will reduce your carb intake substantially, but youll also have to cut way back on nearly all fruits (exceptions are in the food list above, though even those should be eaten sparingly). Starchy vegetables like potatoes and yams are out, too. And the sugary dressings and sauces you may be so accustomed to that you dont even question them anymore well, start questioning them.
If youre longing for carbs so badly that you feel your resolve to stay on the diet is breaking, its possible to trick your brain that youre eating them by making approved foods look more like your starchy favorites. Cauliflower can be grated into rice, or boiled and mashed like potatoes. You can slice zucchini into noodles to (sort of) replicate pasta. See Vegan Substitutions for the Keto Diet below.But by and large, youll simply have to develop a taste for fattier foods and rely on them to supply energy in place of carbs. Avocados, coconut oil, and nuts are all filling, flavorful options that can also power your workouts.
And speaking of working out, if youre a gym rat or avid runner, prepare for your workouts to suck for a while until your body fully adapts to the diet. If youre cutting out carbs for the first time, your body will need two weeks or more (and sometimes months) to fully support the demands of exercise with ketones. And if youve been relying on animal products, you may find it difficult to recover without the full array of amino acids that every serving of animal protein provides. Youve chosen a hard road to travel, nutritionally, but dont lose heart. Time and persistence will force your body to accommodate just about any regimen you subject it to, and there are plenty of people whose performance has thrived on unconventional diets.
A 2012 study found that gymnasts on a strict ketogenic diet for only 30 days lost weight without losing strength. The researchers concluded that keto eating may actually prove advantageous to athletes in weight-class sports since it could allow them to keep their strength up when competing at lighter body weights.
For anyone following any vegan diet, and athletes especially, the question always comes up: How do you get enough protein? Nelson recommends about 0.7g of protein per pound of your goal body weight as a baseline daily intake for active peopleand most nutritionists recommend up to one gram per pound if youre weight training. (Goal body weight means the amount you want to weighnot the number that currently comes up on the scale. So, if you weigh 205 pounds but remember looking and feeling your best when you weighed 175, eat 0.7g of protein x 175, or about 120 grams daily.)
Your main challenge will be to find plant-based protein sources to hit that number that isnt also high in carbs.
To get an idea of what that entails, consider that an average-sized person who eats about 2,000 calories a day will need 100200g protein daily (on the lower end for strict keto dieters, and on the higher side for those going the Mod Keto route). A three-quarter cup serving of sunflower seeds nets you 2530g protein, but also costs you 10g of carbs. Almonds have a similar protein-to-carb ratio at 30g to 15g per cup. The key is to accumulate enough protein from vegan sources without letting your carbs creep up too high.
Your best bet for low-carb vegan protein may be hemp seeds, which provides 30g protein and 8g fiber (NOT counted as carbs) in a mere half cup. Seitan, which is made from wheat, is another good choice and offers about 18g protein and 2g carbs every three ounces. Tofu and tempeh rank high as well (tofu has an 8:1 ratio of protein to carbs; tempeh is about 6:1).
If youre willing to go the supplement route, hemp and other vegan-sourced protein powders such as rice and pea, which have about a 5:1 protein-to-carb ratio, are the best choices and may be indispensable for athletes and workout fiends.
If you were doing a more conventional ketogenic diet previously and relying on animal foods, you may have only counted the protein in those foods toward your allotment for the day because they are complete sources. In other words, the protein in animal products contains all the essential amino acids that your body needs from food and in substantial amounts. This is a rare find in plant foods, and the reason that bodybuilders have historically kept track of the protein they eat from chicken, beef, and fish, but dont consider the amount they take in from vegetables, grains, and nuts. The thing is, though, while they may be less bioavailable than animal foods, plant proteins are still usable by your body and still count toward your totaland if youre going to forgo animal products entirely, youll need to get them in to support muscle, performance, and general health. Otherwise, youll be protein deficient.
Vegans have long known that they cant get all the amino acids they need from one source of plant protein, so they make an effort to eat a diverse selection of them and often combine foods in the same meal to get a complimentary assortment of aminos. You dont need to do this at every mealyour body can hold on to the aminos from one food a few hours until you eat another food with aminos that complement them and form a complete protein. But dont get in the habit of basing your meals around only tofu or only hemp. Eat as broad a menu as you can to ensure the richest nutritional intake you can. (See more reasons to limit tofu under the vegan substitutes list below.)
If youre already a keto eater used to animal products, the list below will give you ideas on how to switch to zero-cruelty food options while keeping carbs low. (Likewise, it will help vegans find lower-carb alternatives to their starchy or sugary favorites.) As always, be extra sure youre staying faithful to the diet by checking labels for the presence of added sugar, carbs, and hydrogenated oils (harmful, processed fats that have no place in any healthy diet).
Replace the foods youre currently eating in the left-hand column with those in the right-hand one.
Processed soy-based meat substitutes (such as Boca Burgers) and protein powders are major go-tos for people transitioning to vegan diets, but they come with a catch. A 2016 position paper published by Virginia State University explains that soy contains isoflavones, a kind of plant estrogen that can act like the female hormone in humans. While typical serving sizes (one to three of soy foods, or less than 25g of soy protein from non-concentrated sources like tofu) have not been shown to be problematic, amounts more than that (totaling around 100mg isoflavones or greater daily) could negatively impact testosterone. To our thinking, why take the risk? It may be best for a keto dieter to get the majority of his/her protein from nuts, seeds, vegetables, and supplements and less from soy products, apart from the occasional slice of tofu.
Dominic DAgostino, Ph.D., one of the worlds foremost ketogenic diet researchers and founder of ketonutrition.org, agrees. I generally avoid soy isolate and soy milk, he says. But I dont think this is a major concern unless you are consuming large amounts of soy. Note that fermented soy productssuch as soy sauce and tempehdont pose the same risk, and can, therefore, be eaten more liberally.
The following menu, courtesy of Dr. Nelson, will give you an idea of how a day of eating on a vegan keto diet could look (with a Mod Keto carb allowance). One things for sure: you can eat a high volume of food without having to worry about taking in too many calories, so youre unlikely to gain weight by accident with this style of eating. Its easy to stay satiated due to the fat content and the abundance of fresh vegetables makes this diet rich in phytonutrients and fiber. On the downside, its very tough to get enough protein in. As you can see, aiming for the bare minimum amount20% of caloriesalmost certainly requires supplementation.
Smoothie made with:Rice protein powder (30g protein) cup mixed berries1 tbsp MCT oil***1 tbsp almond butter1 cup chaga tea
3 servings tofu (300g)2 cups asparagus, baked2 tbsp MCT oil, as dressing
Salad with:1 green bell pepper2 cups cremini mushrooms4 oz chopped onion1 serving tempeh (100g)1 tbsp olive oil2 oz vegan teriyaki sauce
Salad with:2 cups spinach4 oz cucumber4 oz tomato1 cup red cabbage, chopped1 tbsp olive oil cup walnuts
Totals: 1,728 calories, 86g protein, 78g carbs, and 125g fat
***Whether you go full or Mod Keto, supplementing with MCT oil can help support ketosis by providing a quick-burning fat for fuel, says DAgostino. Other helpful strategies for making a keto diet more user-friendly, he says, include eating in a time-restricted window [such as 16 hours of fasting followed by an eight-hour period in which you get all your food in], and breaking the fast with a ketone supplement. You can have a whole-food vegan keto meal a few hours later.
While it hasnt been formally studied, it is generally observed that, if you are keto-adapted, says DAgostino, it is easy to fast for prolonged periods of time. This has practical benefits for occupations where stopping to eat would be an inconveniencesuch as for military personneland jobs where you do not want to lose the flow of productivity. If you do get hungry during a fast, DAgostino recommends taking a supplement that provides ketones (known as exogenous ketones), which will help sustain ketosis and energy. I typically take a ketone supplement late afternoon and follow up with a whole-food meal in the evening, he says.
OK, youve banished nearly all carbs from your diet, kicked out the animal products, found a way to get all your protein in, and have fallen in love with avocados. Youve pulled off the triple-Axel of diets or have you?
In your admirable pursuit of both personal and planetary health, theres still a good chance you may become deficient in one or more key nutrients essential for long-term health. These nutrients include:
Its essential for your skin, eyes, hair, and nervous system, Metabolically, it helps you digest protein, fats, and carbs. Unfortunately, B12 is hard to come by in plant foods. Some decent vegan, lower-carb food sources include nutritional yeast, fortified almond milk (which only has 1g carbs/serving) and nori (purple seaweed, 0.5g carbs)Still, most plant foods that offer B12 pack a lot of carbs at the same time (youll blow through 5g carbs getting your B12 RDA in nutritional yeast), so Nelson suggests getting the vitamin via a vegan supplement. Look for one that provides 610mcg of methylcobalamin (a form of B12), as opposed to cyanocobalamin, which is absorbed more readily
These omega-3 fats provide building blocks for cellular structures throughout the body and aid in the prevention of cardiovascular disease. Fish oil is the most common source of DHA and EPA, but a good vegan sourceand one that, arguably, offers a better concentration of DHAis algae (which is where those oily fish get their omega-3s from anyway). By supplementing with algae oil, youre effectively cutting out the middle-fish. Aim for about 300mg/day.
This mineral is the key ingredient in hemoglobin, which transports oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body. When levels get low, hemoglobin drops, and energy and vitality take a nosedive. Hair and nails get brittle and weak. If youve ever met a vegetarian who looks pale and routinely complains of exhaustion, low iron is often the reason.Vegetable-sourced iron, known as non-heme iron, is harder to absorb than heme iron, which is found in animal products. This is why iron levels can plummet even when a plant-based dieter eats iron-rich foods like Swiss chard, nuts, and seeds. Its wise, then, for vegan keto eaters to add a vegan-based iron supplement to their diets. This goes double for women, who lose some iron every month through menstruation. For women 1950, 18mg of iron per day is recommended.
Being a vegan keto dieter doesnt have to limit you to salads and smoothies. It is possible to enjoy more gourmet fare by getting a little creative with how you prepare food. Liz MacDowell, a holistic nutrition consultant, and longtime keto dieter herself, offers up the following recipes, also available on her site meatfreeketo.com.
For the fish:
1 can hearts of palm, drained, rinsed, and chopped2 tbsp tamari, soy sauce, or liquid aminos tsp garlic powder tsp Sriracha or chili paste1 tbsp sesame oil
For the hempseed sour cream:
1 cup hulled hempseeds cup lemon juice cup waterpinch of salt
Romaine lettuce boats for taco shellsAbout a cup shredded purple cabbage1 scallion, choppedkelp flakes to taste (optional)juice of 1 lime
1. Add all hempseed sour cream ingredients to a blender and process until smooth. Add water if you want a smoother, creamier texture. Set aside.2. Place a saucepan over low heat and pour in the sesame oil. Add the hearts of palm mixture from step 1 and saut until everything is warm and the excess liquid is absorbed (about 5 minutes).3. Let the hearts cool a bit and then assemble tacos by layering the hearts in the lettuce boats first, then the cabbage, sour cream, and scallions. Sprinkle kelp flakes on top (if desired) and finish with lime juice.
Servings: 2, Calories per serving: 215, Protein per serving: 11g, Carbs per serving: 4g, Fat per serving: 16g
1 cups warm water cup peanut butter cup sugar substitute2 scoops plant-based protein powder cup cocoa powder2 tbsp coconut flour2 tsp baking powder
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and coat a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray. In a bowl, combine the water, peanut butter, and sugar substitute.2. In a separate bowl, sift together protein powder, cocoa, coconut flour, and baking powder.3. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ones. A thick batter with a frosting-like texture will form.4. Scoop the batter into the pan, smooth the surface, and bake 4045 minutes (check that its done by inserting a knife; it should come out clean). Let cool before serving.
Servings: 8 brownies, Calories per serving: 157, Protein per serving: 12.5g, Carbs per serving: 4.2g, Fat per serving: 9g
If going keto has you missing bread, this substitute offers much of the flavor and texture of real dough without the carbs or gluten.
cup psyllium husks3 tbsp ground flax seed1 tsp baking powderpinch of salt (add up to 1 tsp if using unsalted peanut butter)1 cup water cup peanut butter (almond and sunflower seed butter work too)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Add psyllium, ground flax seed, baking powder, and salt in a mixing bowl and whisk until thoroughly combined.2. Add water to the mixture and continue whisking until all the water has been absorbed. Mix in peanut butter until the mixture forms a uniform dough.3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Scoop mounds of the dough onto the paper and flatten them into discs that are about a quarter-inch thick. Bake 60 minutes.
Servings: 4 rolls, Calories per serving: 252, Protein per serving: 9g, Carbs per serving: 4g, Fat per serving: 12.5g
Want even more recipe options? Pick up The Ketogenic Cookbook by Jimmy Moore. Its the most comprehensive collection of tasty keto-friendly eats weve come across yet.
See the rest here:
The Complete Vegan Keto Diet and Food List | Onnit Academy