The ketosis diet, better known as the ‘keto diet’, became mainstream in 2018 – it was the most searched for diet. The premise is simple, cut down carbohydrate intake and force your body to rely on fat for energy. In scientific terms, when your body switches from a glycogen (carb) burning state to ketosis, ketones will be released into the blood as an energy source for your body.
It’s important to note, although keto is a popular diet, there is no ‘right’ way to be vegan. Everyone can find a vegan diet or vegan snacks that fit their lifestyle.
*Disclaimer – it is recommended to consult a dietician or your physician before making any significant dietary changes.
The basic formula looks like this:
- Low carbohydrate intake (less than 50 net carbs per day)
- High fat intake (between 111–167 grams of fat per day depending on your total calorie intake)
- Moderate protein intake (0.7 grams per pound of bodyweight)
To figure out your exact macro nutrition amounts for your body, check out this ketosis calculator.
When switching to this diet, it will take your body 1-2 days to get through all of your glycogen stores (energy from carbohydrates), and start burning fat. During this transition into the state of ‘ketosis’, you may what’s called the keto flu, where you may start to experience flu-like symptoms.
How can you tell if you’re in Ketosis?
After a couple of days on the ketogenic diet, you will be in the state of ketosis. However, if you’re eager to see when your vegan diet has kicked you into a fat-burning state by way of ketosis, you can purchase keto strips, which will detect the ketone levels in your urine. This is for those who are very serious about their ketone levels.
What side effects should you look out for?
The main side effects from switching to a vegan keto diet are (i) dry mouth, (ii) bad breath, and (iii) the keto flu (explained above). It should also be noted that you may want to increase your salt intake while on the keto diet to assist with replenishing electrolytes.
What are net carbs?
Net carbs are the total carbohydrates you intake minus the carbohydrates you intake via fiber. Let’s use brussels sprouts as an example:
A single cup of brussels sprouts has 8 grams of carbohydrates, with 3.3 coming in the form of fiber. Therefore, they would give you 4.7 net carbs.
But is this healthy?
The jury is still out on this.
Ketosis is a relatively new diet and has literature both supporting it and against it. It has shown promising signs for lowering and regulating blood sugar, as well as positively affecting cholesterol levels, by lowering LDL (bad cholesterol) levels.
The biggest concern with the keto diet is the lack of data regarding the long-term effects of following the diet.
Is a vegan keto diet possible?
It’s definitely not for everyone. Maintaining a state of ketosis on any diet is a challenge.
If you search for keto diet recommendations online, you’ll be inundated with blogs and information suggesting you eat stark amounts of meat, and cheese–both, obviously not vegan-friendly.
The good news is that a vegan keto diet is attainable and full of great food options. You need to be careful about which fruits and vegetables you put into your diet, as some are full of sugar and carbohydrates.
What vegan foods are keto friendly?
The name of the game with fat intake is to use your favorite dairy alternatives, mixed in with fats from whole foods such as nuts, and avocados. Let’s just say if you like guacamole, you’re in luck.
- Coconut yogurts and milk alternatives
- Vegan cheeses
- Coconut oil, Olive oil, MCT oil, avocado oil,
- Mixed Nuts
Your favorite vegan proteins will be essential to you getting the proper nutrition while on the vegan keto diet. If you’re buying any processed meat/dairy alternatives be on the lookout that their net carbs are low.
- Vegan eggs/meat alternatives
- Vegan protein powder
Although your carbohydrate intake will be limited while on a vegan keto diet, you will want to leverage the micronutrients and vitamins included in the food listed below. Things such as spinach cooked in coconut oil is a great side dish for any vegan dinner.
- Spinach, kale, mixed greens, etc.
- Above ground veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, asparagus, etc.
- Sauerkraut, kimchi
We recommend taking several vitamin supplements while on the vegan keto diet. That is to help you cover your bases from a nutritional standpoint as you get used to your new diet. According to Healthline, there are seven must-have supplements vegans should incorporate into their diets.
What vegan foods should you stay away from?
When it comes to vegan foods, even ones that we think of as ‘healthy’ they can be counterproductive to the vegan keto diet. Many of the foods from standard vegan diets, such as legumes, sweet potatoes, and fruits should be avoided if you want to get into a state of ketosis. That means checking your favorite vegan foods and seeing their net-carbohydrate level.
- Potatoes, Yams, etc.
- Most fruits
Keto was the craze in 2018, and many vegans took note of it. Although it was popular last year, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t maintain a balanced plant-based lifestyle, with some great tasting vegan snacks in the mix.
Ultimately, there’s no ‘right’ way to be vegan. If you’re taking steps towards reducing animal suffering through choosing a plant-based diet, with or without carbs, you’re making a positive impact.