Vegetarian and Ketogenic – Can it be Done?

Vegetarian and Ketogenic Diet – Can it be Done?

Many people ask if you can follow a ketogenic diet if you don’t eat meat. This is a fair question, since the ketogenic diet is based on eating a fair amount of meat as well as getting high fat sources and essential amino acids. So following a ketogenic diet while being vegetarian might seem unachievable. However, looking into the nutrition of plant based foods it is possible and can be done. Incorporating a vegetarian and ketogenic way of eating requires awareness and conscious food choices and decisions to ensure you receive the right nutrition to ensure your body is nourished well.vegetarian and ketogenic

 

To start, you need to know what macro nutrients are.

These are:

  • Carbohydrates
  • Protein
  • Healthy Fats

It’s also important to be aware of what nutrients are required and where they are found to ensure you get those that are being left out from a meat based diet.

Below, we’ll cover both of these issues.

First, lets look at what it means to adopt a vegetarian diet.

What Does Vegetarian Mean?

One’s beliefs, lifestyle principles and values are usually what determines one’s decision of whether to follow a vegetarian diet or not. When one identifies as being vegetarian, one chooses not to consume animal meat and products. Depending on individual choices, this may or may not include products from animals such as eggs.

There are 3 main reasons people decide to not eat meat:

1 . Ethical values: Not killing for the sake of human consumption. There is also concern for animal welfare and being confined to small spaces or cages.

2. Environmental Concerns: One doesn’t want to contribute to unsustainable environmental practices which mass producing meat contributes to.

3. Health Related: Belief that eating meat isn’t healthy for humans and eating meat free can prevent health concerns such as cancer and other illnesses.

The different ways of following a vegetarian diet:

Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian: where one consumes dairy and eggs

Lacto-Vegetarian: where one eats dairy but not eggs

Ovo-Vegetarian: where one eats eggs but not dairy

Vegan: where one doesn’t eat meat from all animals and animal products such as eggs, dairy and for some honey. Vegans also don’t use any items or products made from animals including leather or suede as well as products that contain ingredients from animal sources including household cleaners, shampoo and moisturizers etc.

Can Vegetarians Be Overweight?

For most people who follow a vegetarian diet, due to their diligence in what they choose to consume, can manage weight issues and are aware of not eating unhealthy options.  However, for some, following a vegetarian woe, weight can become an issue. Generally, a vegetarian diet can be carb-heavy, and contain insufficient healthy fats.  The balance of carbs:protein:fat may also contribute to weight gain.

People following the vegetarian diet might also consume some processed foods that although vegetarian, may also contain high carbs, sugar and unhealthy fats which can lead to excess weight and inflammation.

In light of scientific evidence where excess sugar and carbs have been shown to lead to weight gain, following a ketogenic diet can help manage weight.vegetarian and ketogenic

A vegetarian diet can lead to weight loss and reduction in inflammation.

Fat burning happens when the body goes into ketosis to produce ketones. How is this done without the consumption of meat?

Things Vegetarians Need to Consider

Without considering any carb:protein:fat ratio, vegetarians run the risk of being deficient in a few key nutrients commonly found in animal meat. These include iron, b12, zinc, calcium, vitamin D, amino acids and omega 3. It is possible to obtain omega 3 on a vegetarian diet, however our body converts it less effectively. The essential fatty acid required for this process is alpha linoleic acid or ALA.

For a vegetarian considering a ketogenic diet these particular nutrients need to be sourced from alternative foods. While grains are a good source of protein, amino acids, and magnesium they are not part of a ketogenic diet. Therefore, to ensure these nutrients are included in a balanced vegetarian and ketogenic diet, it’s important to find where else these can be obtained from. Such sources can be from leafy dark green vegetables, cottage cheese, eggs, and nut butters.

The problem with plant protein sources is they aren’t easily digested. Ideally, it is better to eat a wide range of protein foods to increase the bioavailability of plant based protein.

One of the goals of a ketogenic diet is to ensure the daily protein amounts are not exceeded. This is why it’s necessary to monitor and be mindful of where protein is in meals, and whether it’s low carb, medium protein and high fat. It’s also good to know how to adjust the meal to get the balance right.

Vegetarian Foods to Include for Ketogenic Diet

vegetarian and ketogenic

To ensure you meet your nutritional needs, you need to be mindful and aware of what nutrients are in what foods. Obvious right? Yes, but it can be hard to remember what’s in each food.

So here’s a guide of what to include.

Fat Sources: eggs, avocados, walnuts, macadamias, olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil. For a comprehensive list of nuts on the keto diet read this. There is also information on healthy fats and options here.

Good Carbs: Tempeh, seitan (wheat meat), strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and sweet potato.

Low Carb, High Protein: Cottage cheese, cheese including brie, camembert, gouda etc, Greek yogurt, seitan, eggs, nut butters, brussel sprouts, mushrooms, kale, and spinach.

Omega 3 Fats: Hemp seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds, brussel sprouts, walnuts.

Iron-rich foods: lentils, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, dark leafy greens such as spinach and kale, tofu, bean sprouts.

Zinc sources: Egg yolks, dark chocolate, mushrooms.

Calcium and Vitamin D food sources: Tempeh, almond milk and butter, sesame seeds, dark leafy greens, kale.

vegetarian and ketogenic

When looking for processed protein options, be sure to look at the carb value to monitor how many carbs to consume for your daily macro balance.

Guidance is here

For guidance on following a vegetarian weight loss program I recommend the guide below. It considers the carb:protein:fat ratio, and the nutritional needs on a vegetarian diet while focusing on a raw foods diet.

 

Do you follow a vegetarian keto diet? If so I would love to hear your experiences and how you manage to ensure you consume your nutritional needs. Feel free to comment below.

17 thoughts on “Vegetarian and Ketogenic – Can it be Done?

  1. Great article, I like the fact that you point out vegetarians can be overweight. I know some vegans who are overweight, like you say they can go carb heavy. I always say a wide and varied diet is the best for the body, eating fresh and avoiding processed foods.
    1. Hi Andy, thanks for your comment. It definitely helps to have a wide variety of food to help the body absorb the different nutrients it needs for optimum health, especially when cutting out animal products. Processed foods are also something to be wary of and have in moderation, especially if it's carb heavy. Fresh real food is the best! All the best to you :)
  2. Every one needs proteins and carbohydrates in their diet but going fully vegetarian is an individual choice. Cutting out meat altogether to try and lose weight seems a bit over the top, as i believe you need a balanced diet. The term katogenic is a new concept to me but it looks like the combination of vegetarian and meat consumption in the right quantity.
    1. Hi Andrew, thanks for dropping by. Yes, a balance diet is definitely the key. You're correct about ketogenic - it's a combination of low carb vegetables, medium protein and high fats. It does tend to be predominantly meat based, so for a vegetarian to follow ketogenic, it takes more awareness and attention to the foods they consume. Thanks for contributing to the discussion :).
  3. Excellent article. I am on the keto diet, but was not aware of how do so in a vegetarian diet. this is site in general is a great resource, as someone who enjoys the keto diet. have you been able to try a full vegetarian diet keto diet for a sustained period yourself? keep up the good work!
    1. Hi JP, thanks for stopping by! Feels fabulous following the keto diet hey! I haven't followed a vegetarian diet for any extended length of time, but did for a month where I felt great. I incorporate many of the food sources from a vegetarian diet, and struggle with the ethical and environmental dilemma of eating meat but managing family meal times can be tricky with doing more than one meal at at time. All the best :).
  4. I have been looking to add many more vegetables and fruits to my diet and have had a lot of success it so far. I have not eliminated all animal proteins yet but i do see the benefits of going to more of a plant based diet. thank you for the information.
    1. Hi Rick, thanks for stopping by. It's good to add more vegetables into your diet, as they have a lot of nutrients in them. If you remove meat from your diet, that's when you've got to be more mindful of how you will benefit from the foods you eat in a way that can convert the essential fats and amino acids for the body to be able to use them. Hope this makes sense. All the best.
  5. Dieting is not just a socialite's problem anymore but also others who are struggling with their weight. In the age of fast food and instant meals people are packing in the calories with no known effective way of shedding off. I like your post, it's very interesting. Cheers!
    1. Hi Marios, thanks for your comment. You're right, so much food is at our disposal that if we aren't aware or more mindful of what we are eating, it's very easy to put our body under a lot of stress without realising.
  6. wow, i didn't know that being a vegetarian of some sort would be this strict. very informative article though. i learned a lot about the keto diet. my question is, and forgive me if this was answered in the article, but i don't think it was. my question is, how do you consume the nutrients you can only get from meat? is that kind of what you were talking about with listing the various vegetarian foods a vegetarian can have? or do you have to take something like supplements from the store to get the nutrients from meat? i've always wondered about that. i'm glad managing weight is easier on a ketogenic diet. maybe i need to go on that one cause i do have problems with my weight.
    1. Hi Jake, thanks for stopping by. The way around not getting the nutrients from meat is to have the foods that contain ALA which gets converted to EPA and DHA as well as other plant based foods that have the nutrients that would be lower than meat based foods such as b12, iron, calcium and zinc. Variety is also important as this helps with the absorption of nutrients. I hope this helps. I would definitely recommend a Ketogenic diet if you're having weight issues. Here's some information to help you get started. All the best. Feel free to leave a comment if you have any further questions.
  7. Thanks for the info. AS SOMEONE WHO IS FEELING THE CALL OF PLANT BASED, BUT FINDING THE TRANSITION DIFFICULT, the information reminded me that all the nutrients found in meat, can be found in our plants, we just need to me more mindful and aware of what we are eating to get everything we need :)
    1. Hi Leanne, thanks for your comment. It’s great to hear that you’re wanting to change your diet and finding a way to ensure you continue to consume the nutrients for when you omit meat. I’m glad this post resonated with you. All the best :).
  8. YOUR POST HAS GIVEN ME A CLEAR PICTURE OF THE VEGETARIAN AND KETOGENIC DIETS. I AM FAMILIAR WITH THESE TWO TERMS BUT NOT QUITE CLEAR OF HOW THEY ARE ACTUALLY APPLIED IN REAL LIFE, LOL. THANK YOU FOR THIS, GAINED NEW INFORMATION HERE. : ) IT'S NOT THAT I DO NOT HAVE CARE ABOUT MY HEALTH, IT'S JUST THAT I DO BELIEVE THAT THE MORE YOU WORRY ABOUT THINGS, THE MORE YOU ATTRACT THOSE THINGS, HEALTH ISSUES, AND WEIGHT GAINS INCLUDED. I JUST MINIMIZE EATING PROCESSED FOOD, SUGARY PRODUCTS ESPECIALLY BEVERAGES, MORE ON WATER CONSUMPTION AND JUST A BALANCE BETWEEN MEAT AND VEGGIES, I DON'T DEPEND ON MEDICINES NOR SUPPLEMENTS AS WELL. AS FAR AS MY ANNUAL CHECK-UP, I'M GRATEFUL TO HAVE NORMAL STATS RELATIVE TO MY AGE, WEIGHT, AND HEIGHT. I ADMIRE PEOPLE WHO FOLLOW STRICT DIETS, I BELIEVE THEY'RE THE MOST DISCIPLINEd ONES BECAUSE, FOR ME, FOOD IS LOVE. (Wink)
  9. Thanks for the informative post, Kat. I am a vegan myself and try to follow a healthy diet, but i probably do eat too many carbs. This post gives me some ideas for how I can add more healthy fats and protein to my diet. I am wondering, since beans are one of the highest protein vegan foods, can they be included on a keto diet?
    1. Hi Bailey, thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. In answer to your question, beans aren't considered a keto friendly food source, even though they are high in protein, because they would kick one out of ketosis. Ketosis is the metabolic process that converts fat to ketones which then helps burn fat for energy, leading to weight loss. So if your goal wasn't to be in ketosis, then you could have beans. However, as people get older, it's very common for the body to not be able to handle the insulin release in response to the carbs from the beans as effectively, which leads to gradual weight gain over time. All the best :).

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