When you think of the keto diet, you imagine a great steak with a garnish of spinach … Which brings us to the question, is it possible to follow a keto diet plan vegetarian?
Some experts say yes, but first you have to do your homework. This is what you need to know …
First of all, what is the ketogenic diet?
First, let’s see what is the foundation of the keto or keto diet.
The main goal of the keto diet is to burn more calories from healthy fats and protein than from carbohydrates. When the diet is followed correctly, the body will reach a state called ketosis.
In the average person, most calorie burning occurs when the body breaks down carbohydrates or sugars. By focusing on increasing dietary fat and protein intake and depriving the body of carbohydrates, you will begin to burn fat and protein and ultimately experience greater weight loss.
Beyond weight loss, the keto diet has been shown to improve symptoms in a number of diseases and medical problems.
Low carbohydrate diets like keto have been shown to be beneficial in alleviating diabetes symptoms , increasing good cholesterol, and even helping to manage neurological diseases like epilepsy.
Here you can read our guide on the ketogenic diet.
Can the keto diet be vegetarian?
The bottom line is yes, the keto diet is accessible to vegetarians. Although you have to work harder to ensure adequate protein, there is no reason for someone who does not eat animal protein to think that the keto diet is not for them.
“The conventional ketogenic diet can be extremely meat-based, not to mention that it can put anyone who wants to follow a more plant-based diet back,” says Dr. Will Cole of the Functional Medicine Certification Program, and author of the Ketotarian plant-based ketogenic diet book.
A vegetarian keto diet, on the other hand, has the advantages of taking a high-fat diet without the common inflammatory effects of conventional processed meats.
“Fundamentally, a plant-based diet can lead to greener eating habits and can have detoxifying properties, help fight cancer, and also keep blood sugar under control,” says Dr Cole.
As we mentioned before, healthy fats are the holy grail when it comes to the keto diet. And high-fat vegetarian types of food are easy to find.
The key is to be aware that following a keto vegetarian diet is a remarkable change from the starting point of the common vegetarian.
If you’re a vegetarian who tends to substitute meat for carbohydrate-rich alternatives like pasta, bread, and crackers, or for lower-carbohydrate sources like beans and lentils, then the transition may not be smooth.
But ultimately, the health tradeoffs make the effort worthwhile.
Important announcement: The menu included in this article should be taken only as a guide. We DO NOT recommend following any type of nutritional guideline if it is not supervised by a professional, in this case, a Nutritionist Dietitian or a Diet Technician.
Foods suitable for the vegetarian keto diet
Although animal protein is central to the keto diet, it is important to remember that this is only a small piece of the puzzle. Ultimately, what matters most are high-fat foods.
Some of the key foods in keto diets include:
- Avocados (Hydrates: 12 g, Fat: 21 g)
- Coconut oil (Hydrates: 0 g, Fat: 14 g)
- Olive oil (Hydrates: 0 g, Fat: 14 g)
- Eggs (Hydrates: 0.4 g, Fat: 5 g)
Vegetarians have to choose their protein sources carefully, but many of them can be in eggs, nuts and nut butter, dairy, seeds, etc.
Here is a list of vegetarian foods suitable for the keto diet:
Dairy products are an excellent option for those who follow a plant-based diet and who still want to incorporate this food of animal origin into their diet.
When selecting your dairy product, choose the low carb options and avoid any unnecessary calorie added from sweeteners.
You should also choose the best quality possible (i.e. fermented yogurt and kefir, cottage cheese and cheese, butter, and grass-fed animal milk).
In order from lowest to highest carbohydrate content per 30-gram serving, the best dairy products for the keto diet include:
- Butter (hydrates: 0 g, Fat: 22.7 g)
- Goat cheese (hydrates: 0.2 g, Fat: 5.9 g)
- Cheddar cheese (carbohydrates: 0.4 g, Fat: 9.3 g)
- Cottage cheese (carbohydrates: 0.9 g, fats: 1.2 g)
- Plain yogurt (carbohydrates: 1.3 g, fats: 1 g)
- Milk (hydrates: 1.5 g, Fat: 1 g)
Low carb vegetables:
Vegetables are no big deal in terms of fat content. The main thing to keep in mind when selecting vegetables for your keto diet is to focus on a low carbohydrate content.
In order from least to greatest, here is the list of carbohydrate content per 30-gram serving, the best vegetables on the keto diet include:
- Zucchini (hydrates: 0.9 g, fat: 0.1 g)
- Celery (hydrates: 1 g, Fat: 0 g)
- Cucumber (hydrates: 1 g, Fat: 0 g)
- Spinach (hydrates: 1 g, Fat: 0.1 g)
- Asparagus (hydrates: 1.1 g, Fat: 0 g)
- Cauliflower (hydrates: 1.5 g, fat: 0 g)
- Cabbage (hydrates: 1.6 g, fat: 0 g)
- Broccoli (hydrates: 1.9 g, fat: 0.1 g)
- Beans (carbohydrates: 2 g, Fat: 0 g)
- Brussels sprouts (hydrates: 2.5 g, Fat: 0.1 g)
Low sugar fruits:
A basic rule of thumb for the keto diet is that eating any source of sugar, including fruit, is strictly prohibited. Although there are many fruits low in sugar and carbohydrates that deserve to be included in the list to guarantee a balanced diet.
For example, berries have the highest levels of antioxidants of all fruits and can help stabilize blood sugar due to their high fiber content.
In order from lowest to highest carbohydrate content per 100 grams (typically one-half cup), keto diet-friendly fruits include:
- Strawberries (hydrates: 7.7 g, Fat: 0.3 g)
- Grapefruit (hydrates: 8.4 g, Fat: 0.1 g)
- Blackberries (hydrates: 10.2 g, Fat: 0.5 g)
- Raspberries (hydrates: 11.9 g, Fat: 0.7 g)
- Blueberries (hydrates: 14.5 g, Fat: 0.3 g)
- Coconut (hydrates: 15.2 g, Fat: 33.5 g)
Nuts and seeds:
These crisp, healthy staples of the vegetarian diet make a great addition to any salad or snack.
The thing to always keep in mind on the keto diet is that you are looking for low-carbohydrate, high-fat foods specifically. Some nuts and seeds meet this criterion.
In order from lowest to highest carbohydrate content per 30-gram serving, the best nuts and seeds for the keto vegetarian diet include:
- Walnuts (hydrates: 2.8 g, Fat: 16.5 g)
- Brazil nuts (hydrates: 3.3 g, Fat: 19 g)
- Pine nuts (hydrates: 3.7 g, Fat: 19.1 g)
- Macadamia nuts (hydrates: 3.7 g, Fat: 21.5 g)
- Pumpkin seeds (hydrates: 3.8 g, Fat: 11.8 g)
- Pecans (hydrates: 3.8 g, Fat: 20.8 g)
- Peanuts (hydrates: 6 g, Fat: 13.9 g)
- Almonds (hydrates: 6.1 g, Fat: 14 g)
- Sesame seeds (hydrates: 6.6 g, Fat: 13.9 g)
- Sunflower seeds (hydrates: 6.7 g, Fat: 13.9 g)
- Flax seeds (hydrates: 8 g, Fat: 6 g)
- Chia seeds (hydrates: 12.3 g, Fat: 8.6 g)
Side effects of a vegetarian keto diet
For a vegetarian looking to ‘cleanse’ their diet and eliminate unhealthy and processed carbohydrates, a keto diet is the best option, but it is not the only one.
If you are sure you want to immerse yourself in a plant-based keto diet, it is important that you commit to eating a wide variety of approved foods to ensure that you are not experiencing any nutritional shortages.
Vegetarians are generally at risk of vitamin B12 deficiency since this nutrient is almost always found in meat. And so the keto vegetarian diet is especially restrictive.
It is important that you take supplements with the nutrients that you think are lacking in your diet, or at least that you take a quality multi-vitamin.
We always recommend working with a professional nutritionist to help you figure out how to formulate your keto vegetarian diet to avoid deficiencies as well as to suggest supplements.
In addition to vitamin B12, some supplement recommendations for vegetarians and vegans, in general, include vitamin D, omega-3, and vitamin K2.
Keto vegetarian menu example
Important announcement: The menu included in this article should be taken only as a guide. From Cukmi.com we DO NOT recommend following any type of nutritional guideline if it is not supervised by a professional, in this case, a Nutritionist Dietitian or a Diet Technician.×Dismiss alert
Use this three-day meal plan as the foundation you can build on.
Once you understand what an appropriate vegetarian keto diet is considered (and what is not), start experimenting with your own keto vegetarian plan.
- Breakfast: eggs with zucchini and sliced avocado.
- Appetizer: Macadamia nuts.
- Lunch: salad with various green leaves, boiled egg, tomato, cucumber, cheese and oil and vinegar dressing.
- Dinner: pizza with cauliflower dough with tomato sauce, mushrooms, peppers and other keto ingredients.
- Breakfast: frittata with spinach, olives and cheese.
- Appetizer: cottage cheese or plain yogurt with berries and nuts.
- Lunch: zucchini spaghetti with spinach, artichokes and cheese.
- Dinner: grilled cauliflower with sesame.
- Breakfast: green smoothie with whole coconut milk, green vegetables, blueberries, avocado and chia seeds.
- Appetizer: sunflower seeds.
- Lunch: fried rice with cauliflower with eggs, carrots, celery, peas and onion.
- Dinner: zucchini spaghetti with pesto and sliced cherry tomatoes.
Important announcement: The menu included in this article should be taken only as a guide. we DO NOT recommend following any type of nutritional guideline if it is not supervised by a professional, in this case, a Nutritionist Dietitian or a Diet Technician.