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Is It Possible To Follow A Vegetarian Keto Diet?

Published November 20, 2018 (Revised: July 27, 2019)
<article> <section> <p>Human beings have reached a marvelous time in the development of civilization. Never before has a living being been able to go to the same spot over and over again and know that they will discover food to eat, and yet here we are, calling it a simple <a target="_blank" href="">grocery</a> run! With this modern opportunity and power, many people have developed a sense of responsibility. Among the rising diet trends, vegetarianism, not eating meat, is gaining ground fast. Six percent of the US population identifies as vegetarian, and within the past decade, vegetarian and vegan food product sales have doubled. Similarly, the ketogenic diet is gaining a great deal of popularity as people attempt to live healthy lives. The keto diet is a low-carb diet that promotes protein and fat (often, meat protein and fat) over carbs, which leaves a lot of vegetarians questioning if keto is a diet option for them.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>Why is this diet becoming so popular?</header> <p>First, let’s look at why the vegetarian diet is becoming so popular. With the rise of global media coverage and easily accessible knowledge (via the internet), some people who really give a hoot about animals can now make more conscious choices about whether keeping animals out of of their diet is an ethical lifestyle worth adhering to. Conventional animal agriculture has turned an ancient relationship between farmer and animal into a sloppy factory process that a lot of people literally cannot stomach. A common ethical solution is to abstain from the animal agriculture industry altogether, by removing meat from one’s diet. It’s a smart way to “vote with your purse,” if you will.</p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset=""> <img src="" class="img-fluid" alt="group-of-cows"> </picture> <p>Opting out of the meat industry comes in two diet forms: vegetarian and vegan. A vegetarian diet doesn’t include eating animals and fish, but may still include animal products like cheese, eggs, and honey. A vegan diet adheres to an entirely plant-based diet. The kitchen of a vegan or vegetarian is generally a healthy one: chock full of <a target="_blank" href="">vegetables</a>, legumes, grains, nuts, seeds, and <a target="_blank" href="">fruits</a>. Basically, anything that grew out of the ground is on the menu for these ethical warriors. </p> <p>Next, we can look at why low-carb and keto diets are so popular. Though it may not stem as much from an ethical viewpoint, keto, like vegetarianism, is attractive to those conscious about nutrition. Science has helped us see that a low-carb, and/or keto diet can increase one’s energy, help promote weight loss, and decrease blood sugar and insulin levels. Because the keto diet typically promotes the consumption of fat and protein from animal sources, and is <a target="_blank" href="">low-carb</a>, vegetarians are curious if it’s a diet they can adhere to. Before we answer whether or not ketogenic is a good fit, let’s look a little deeper at vegetarianism. </p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>Can Vegetarians Eat Keto?</header> <p>The answer is yes, but you need to be prepared for a few hurdles along the way.</p> <p>If you are on a vegetarian diet, the most common question you probably get is “where do you get your <a target="_blank" href="">protein</a>?” You know where, but for those unfamiliar with the diet, it’s simple: plant-based eaters get all of their protein from combining different grains, legumes, soy products, and veggies. Animal products are not the only form of protein out there; they just happen to be the most protein-dense. </p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset=""> <img src="" class="img-fluid" alt="protein-cell"> </picture> <p>The protein-combining aspect in a plant-based eater's diet is essential; you see, protein is made up of little building blocks called <i>amino acids</i>, and there are six amino acids found in animal meat that human bodies cannot create on their own. These six are called <i>essential</i> amino acids, and by combining different plant-based protein sources, you can make up the difference in your diet, regarding what you’re missing. </p> <p>The vegetarian diet sounds like a hard diet to maintain, right? For some it is, and for others, it’s such an ingrained part of their life that the plant-combining just ensures that each meal within their diet is as diverse and delicious as possible. </p> <p>Ok, so that was the first big hurdle in a diet without meat, and here's the second: those protein sources, especially legumes and grains, contain an awful lot of carbohydrates. In fact, a lot of people who go on a diet that is vegetarian, discover that they gain a bit of weight from all the excess carbs. This doesn’t mean that plant-based diets automatically make you fat, but if you choose this way of life, it has to be followed correctly to maintain a healthy body, heart, and mind. </p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>How do vegetarians get Keto?</header> <p>While there is no one diet to fit all body types, modern science has found that ketosis (changing from a carb burning metabolism to a fat burning one) is, across the board, the healthiest metabolic state to be in. It can likely counteract the carb-load of a diet that is plant-based. The keto diet is the diet one adheres to when entering ketosis, and it may help promote weight loss for those who have gained weight eating lots of carbs in the past. </p> <p>On keto, our <a target="_blank" href="">brain</a> function is streamlined, our hormones remain balanced, our hunger sated. All of this comes about because, when embarking upon a ketogenic life, our bodies are running off of fat for fuel instead of carbohydrates. Research is still being done on just how much good going ketogenic does for our bodies, but we already know that the keto diet can help reverse <a target="_blank" href="">diabetes</a>, slow Alzheimer’s, and even require less <a target="_blank" href="">sleep</a>! Keto can be a game changer for a lot of people who feel sluggish and foggy day in and day out. While a vegetarian has a leg up on the standard American diet (coined SAD) due to all of the <a target="_blank" href="">fiber</a> they consume, they still might be trudging through life with a sugar-burning metabolism and all that entails. They may consider a ketogenic way of life for this reason. </p> <p>This all sounds great, but if we choose to try the ketogenic way, how do we get into <a target="_blank" href="">ketosis</a>, and how does <a target="_blank" href="">keto</a> work? We turn the SAD diet on its head. Instead of a thick carb base with protein and a touch of fat, we eat as much healthy fat and protein as we’d like and let the carbs handle themselves. </p> <p>This is where the catch-22 of being a vegetarian lies. If you remember, a vegetarian needs to eat carb-heavy foods like grains and legumes to get enough protein building blocks since they don’t eat meat, the most prominent source of protein. But we here at Warrior Made believe that no person should have to choose between their principals and getting the body or level of health that they deserve.</p> <p>So, back to our initial question: is going ketogenic possible as a vegetarian? Let’s break down the relationship between the keto diet and plant-based eating. </p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>Ethical Protein Sources</header> <p>A basic foundation to understanding nutrition is that there are three <a target="_blank" href="">macronutrients</a>: protein, fat and carbs. The macronutrient a vegetarian is the most familiar with is protein---they surely get asked about it enough! Protein, again, is made up of amino acids. Those amino acids get separated by our stomach acid and utilized by the rest of the body to do necessary things like repair muscles, form new enzymes, and perform all of the tasks our DNA directs for our cells. Consuming adequate protein amounts and types is critical, but a lot of plant-based sources come with an extra helping of carbohydrates which doesn't help trigger ketosis. So, what to do on keto? </p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset=""> <img src="" class="img-fluid" alt="tofu-on-cutting-board"> </picture> <p>With the high demand for plant-based products, have come diet-friendly proteins created to give a vegetarian an extra protein-packed boost, especially those interested in keto. Products like pea protein, hemp protein, and other plant-based protein powders are a great way to get protein in a meal on keto. They are easily added to keto <a target="_blank" href="">smoothies</a>, shakes, and other meals to bridge the vegetarian gap without adding a high amount of carbohydrates. These products are also a favorite among the vegan lifting community. Yes, that’s right, there is a whole community of big, muscled individuals driven to get stronger and more sculpted without eating any animal products. Some of them perform at top levels and have even found ways to follow a ketogenic way of life. </p> <p>When meat-eaters think about a vegan or vegetarian diets, their minds immediately jump to tofu. Tofu is an excellent source of protein created from a legume, the soybean. It’s a hit in the vegan world as it can be flavored to taste like anything you want, making it a perfect meat substitute within any dish. But tofu doesn’t hold a lot of nutritional value, and it is not the cleanest source of protein available to vegans and vegetarians. In fact, unless you’ve made the tofu yourself, it’s tough to find an unprocessed brand. Highly processed doesn’t make for a clean and healthy gut nor a happy metabolism, which is our goal on the keto diet. </p> <p>So then, what are our soy options on keto? Well, soybeans, or <i>edamame</i>, can work, as it is the cleanest alternative, being just a raw bean. But, even better on keto is <i><a target="_blank" href="">tempeh</a></i>, or fermented soy. Unlike tofu, tempeh is ok on keto as it is very nutrient dense, and packs a ton of protein into a malleable meat substitute. Tempeh even contains <a target="_blank" href="">probiotics</a>, another helper on keto, as they are essential for a happy <a target="_blank" href="">gut</a>and healthy body. </p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>Healthy Fats to Burn Fat on Keto</header> <p>The second most important macronutrient in the keto diet is <a target="_blank" href="">fat</a>. Here’s the crazy thing about it: on the keto diet, eating fat makes you burn fat! Eating <i>healthy</i> fats, that is. When health professionals refer to healthy fats, they don’t mean the highly processed and inflammatory oils like vegetable oil, rather, the naturally found fats in avocados, nuts, grains, olives, olive oil, eggs, and meats. These fats are rich in essential nutrients and fatty acids, like omega-6 and omega-3, that our brains and bodies need to produce hormones and process information. </p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset=""> <img src="" class="img-fluid" alt="nuts-in-wooden-bowl"> </picture> <p>Where this can go awry for a vegetarian is that, unless they are more of a <i>pescatarian</i> (someone who doesn’t eat meat but will partake in seafood), plant-based eaters miss out on the most accessible source of the essential nutrient omega-3, which is found in fatty fish. Meat eaters can get enough omega-3 in a single seafood dinner a week, but vegetarians have to look elsewhere to get this very essential fatty nutrient. </p> <p>Instead of eating seafood, one on a plant-based diet may get their source of omega-3s in foods like flax seeds, walnuts, and algae2, which are all keto-friendly options. However, these foods need to be consumed on keto more than once a week to obtain an adequate amount of omega-3s. Most vegetarians reach for nuts and seeds quite often, which is great because the keto diet requires a substantial ratio of fat compared to our last macronutrient, protein.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>How to Choose Your Carbohydrates on Keto</header> <p>Carbohydrates are the smallest portion of macronutrients your body will need on the keto diet, which is one reason the diet promotes weight loss. And because dieters need so few of them, they usually like to pick their carbohydrates with care. Most opt for large amounts of low-carb vegetables like dark leafy greens, zucchini, and cauliflower. Because they are eating foods with more fiber than carbs, they can eat a bit more than if they chose a handful of fruit or a spoonful of mashed potatoes, foods that have more carbs. </p> <p>The high fiber content in low-carb vegetables slows the breakdown of carbs which is important because when carbs are broken down, they get turned into glucose and absorbed quickly into the bloodstream. If absorbed too rapidly, carbs can play ping pong with nearly every part of your body from hormones to immune response. Foods with certain amounts of carbs that cause this unsavory reaction in the human body are considered <i>high glycemic</i>; they don’t contain nearly enough fiber to offset the sugar punch they pack. High glycemic foods with high amounts of carbs, like processed grains and tropical fruits, are best avoided for overall health and to keep the keto diet going.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>A Healthy Plate for a Happy Body</header> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset=""> <img src="" class="img-fluid" alt="basket-of-radishes-artichoke"> </picture> <p>Lastly, while there are no set criteria for <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer" title="micronutrients">micronutrients</a> (vitamins and minerals that make up our food) on the keto diet, like there are for macronutrients, consuming a colorful plate of low carb and nutrient-dense foods is the best way to support your body and the fast metabolism keto will bring you. The most significant concentration of nutrients is usually found in dark leafy greens like kale, chard, spinach, and collards. Kale and spinach do contain those nasty things called anti-nutrients that stop the absorption of some essential nutrients, but the nice thing about dark leafy greens is that in every grocery store you have a lot of them to choose from. And one secret bonus fibrous veggies hide? Some of them have protein! Broccoli, for example, contains two to three grams of protein per serving. </p> <p>Something fun to try in your vegetarian and keto meal endeavors may be a green protein smoothie! Grab an array of leafy greens from your grocery store and stick them in a blender with some lemon juice, avocado, and a happy helping of plant-based protein powder. This will make a delicious, creamy keto meal that will sate you for hours, and may even promote weight loss, as it is low-carb and higher fat. </p> <p>Vegetarians are principled, with a respectable ethical drive. Unfortunately, by avoiding high-protein meats, they often discover that satiating their body’s needs for essential nutrients can tip them into a higher weight class. Along with addressing the weight gain brought on by a carb-heavy lifestyle, the ketogenic diet promises dieters a healthy alternative to manage their body’s functions. And while keto can be tricky to follow while adhering to the ethics of vegetarianism, it is not out of reach. You can abstain from inhumane practices and follow a healthy nutrition practice. It’s all within your grasp. </p> <p><b>To learn more, check this out: <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer" title="nutritional advice">Our newest piece of nutritional advice is completely changing how people think about losing weight, slimming down, and feeling better!</b></a></p> <div class="sub-head">Resources</div> <ol> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer" title="Prepared Foods">Top Trends in Prepared Foods 2017</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer" title="Omega-3">Your Omega-3 Family Shopping List</a></li> </ol> </section> </article>

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