The Vegan Ketogenic Diet: So you’re convinced to avoid animal products, but still curious about keto? While a vegan diet and a keto diet may initially seem incompatible (after all, one conjures up images of tofu and the other bacon), a growing number of experts say they are not mutually exclusive and that a vegan keto diet has the potential to be. pretty healthy, if you do it right. Here, we explain how to go on a vegan ketogenic diet (which goes one step beyond the mostly plant-based keto 2.0 diet), the potential benefits and risks, and who may want to try it.
What is the vegan ketogenic diet?
The “regular” keto diet is a high-fat, low-carb, and moderate-protein diet that is generally based on animal products (think eggs, grass-fed dairy, plain nonfat yogurt), as these foods offer an easy way to reach your daily fat quota and are low in carbohydrates. “A vegan ketogenic diet follows the same principles [as keto] but without any animal products, such as meat and dairy,” says cardiologist and plant-based diet advocate Joel Kahn, M.D.
The ideal macronutrient breakdown (that is, the percentage of your daily calories that come from fat, protein, and carbohydrates) for a ketogenic diet generally looks like this:
- Fat: 65 to 85%
- Protein: 15 to 35%
- Carbohydrates: 0 to 10% (this generally equates to no more than 50 g of total carbohydrates or 20 to 30 g of net carbohydrates per day. Net carbohydrates = total carbohydrates – fiber).
Minimizing carbohydrates and maximizing fat shifts the body from predominantly burning sugar/carbohydrates for fuel to burning fat in the form of ketones, which are molecules produced by the liver from fatty acids. When this occurs, a person enters nutritional ketosis, a metabolic state that contributes to the keto benefits of increased satiety, weight loss, better brain health, and more.
Some experts have expressed concern that depending on how it is formulated, a traditional ketogenic diet may be too high in saturated animal fat and low in fiber that is beneficial to the heart and gut.
Vegan diets, on the other hand, do not contain animal products and often contain a lot of fiber due to a higher intake of fiber-rich plant foods. However, they are often low in fat and high in carbohydrates, especially if they rely heavily on grains, starchy vegetables, beans, lentils, and packaged goods. But if you strategically forgo these carb-rich foods in favor of healthy fats (think avocado, nuts, seeds, and certain oils), you’ll stay vegan and achieve nutritional ketosis.
Potential Health Benefits of the Vegan Ketogenic Diet.
While there have been health benefits associated with vegan diets, ketogenic diets, and various characteristics of each diet (such as eating lots of vegetables or consuming fewer carbohydrates), the studies on the vegan ketogenic diet are severely lacking, but some experts still suggest it. find it promising.
“No study demonstrates long-term results from a low-carb or ketogenic vegan diet, but people may find that their measurable health risk markers improve,” says Carrie Diulus, MD, an orthopedic spine surgeon who personally follows a diet. ketogenic vegan diet to help control your type 1 diabetes and maintain a 100-pound weight loss.
Diulus sometimes recommends vegan keto foods (and other dietary approaches) to her patients to prepare for and recover from surgery as well. “I often have patients with weight problems and diabetes, and a ketogenic diet is often beneficial,” she says. It also “has the potential to assist improve your cholesterol.” While more research is needed to truly establish any of these benefits, here are some possible ways a vegan ketogenic diet can improve your health.
The balance between diabetes and blood sugar
“For people with metabolic syndrome or diabetes, there is growing evidence that a ketogenic diet can help improve blood sugar control,” says Diulus. In fact, studies have shown that, among patients with type 2 diabetes, following a low-carb ketogenic diet improved glycemic control and reduced (or stopped) diabetes medication. Because vegan ketogenic diets are similarly low in carbohydrates and also tend to be high in fiber (which is also key to blood sugar balance), they can have a similar impact. If you have diabetes, always check with your doctor before starting a vegan ketogenic diet so that you can properly modify your medications; otherwise, serious side effects can occur.
Hunger reduction and weight loss.
Ketogenic diets are known to have an appetite-suppressing effect, which many experts attribute to the satiating nature of fats, improved blood sugar balance, and ketone production. And when you’re not hungry, it can lead to significant weight loss.
In fact, in a six-month study that compared the low-carb “Eco-Atkins” vegan diet (which was technically not keto because it was quite low-carb) to a high-carb Lacto-Ovo vegetarian diet, the Eco-Atkins diet. The Atkins dieters experienced greater weight loss.
Additionally, there are a number of anecdotal reports that the vegan ketogenic diet significantly suppresses appetite. Last year, plant cardiologist Danielle Belardo, M.D., who was initially very anti-keto, embarked on a two-week vegan keto experiment, which she detailed in this Twitter thread. Your take on it? Not only did she end up going into ketosis while she ate lots of veggies and lots of fiber, but “the appetite suppression was SO intense!” she said. “Between ketones, MUFA / PUFA, and fiber, I lost 2 pounds despite trying SO HARD not to lose weight.” Don’t lose weight. “
In addition to greater weight loss, participants on the Eco-Atkins diet in the aforementioned study also experienced better cholesterol measurements than their counterparts on the high-carbohydrate vegetarian diet. This is important, as many patients and medical experts are concerned about increases in cholesterol when they consume large amounts of animal-based fats.
“In people who want to lower their LDL, a plant-based ketogenic diet can be very high in fiber, low in saturated fat, and has polyunsaturated fat in whole food forms like those found in nuts and seeds,” says Diulus. . “All of these things have been shown to help lower blood lipids.”
Other experts, such as Dr. Ethan Weiss, agree that vegan ketogenic diets and mostly plant-based keto 2.0 diets can be significantly better for cardiovascular health: “As a cardiologist, I am concerned about the tremendous increases in the LDL cholesterol that some people see when eating conventional ketogenic diets, “he explains. “Replacing foods high in saturated fat of animal origin with foods that come mainly from plant and fish sources mitigates this and leads to improvements in the cardiovascular risk markers that we are interested in.”
While there are no actual studies linking vegan ketogenic diets to pain reduction, it is one of the main reasons Diulus sometimes recommends them in his practice. It occurs because certain ketones produced by the liver during ketogenic diets are strong anti-inflammatories. Beta-hydroxybutyrate, for example, inhibits COX2, inhibits the NLRP-3 inflammasome, and activates AMPK, all of which are helpful in reducing pain, she says.
Sometimes the pain reduction is enough to avoid surgery.”I had a patient who was scheduled for complex surgery to fuse the spine from the front and back thanks to severe nerve pain,” says Diulus. “The patient started the ketogenic, plant-rich, high-omega-3 diet that she placed on her, and she or he improved such a lot after six weeks on the diet that we ended up canceling her surgery.” With the utilization of ketogenic diets, she has also seen that patients use much fewer pain relievers after surgery and have lower rates of surgical complications.
Side Effects of the Vegan Ketogenic Diet.
While Diulus personally benefits from a vegan keto diet, as do some of her patients, she emphasizes that there is a spectrum when it comes to dieting, and it may not be for you.” Some people do incredibly well on a low-fat, plant-based diet, et al. do alright on a carnivorous diet. It’s about figuring out what works best for your body and how you feel best,” she says.
Registered dietitian Abby Cannon, R.D., also advises people not to jump on the vegan keto train without thinking hard about why they want to do it and weighing the potential risks, because there are some major concerns.
“It’s very difficult to stay to and at an equivalent time confirm you’re getting enough nutrients and not developing messy eating habits,” Cannon says. “If you do not eat soy products, it’s hard to form sure you’re getting enough protein since you’ve got to chop out whole grains and beans, basic protein sources on a vegan diet!” Like all vegan diets, the vegan ketogenic diet also will be deficient in vitamin B12 and potentially low in iron and other nutrients, which is why Canon recommends a
Complete multivitamin if she tries it.
The vegan ketogenic diet can also be quite difficult to stick to unless you are particularly motivated. “It’s unlikely that anyone will be able to maintain it long-term, and any rapid weight loss you experience is likely to rebound once you return to your normal eating habits,” Cannon says, noting that many of the healthiest and longest-lived people in the world eat legumes, whole grains, starchy fruits, and vegetables, all of which are banned on a vegan ketogenic diet.
If there is a medical reason for needing a ketogenic diet, the vegan ketogenic diet could be an option, Cannon says, but it is extremely important that when trying a restrictive diet you do so with the support of professionals to ensure that you are meeting your nutritional needs and do it for the right reasons. That said, if you’re pregnant, nursing, or have a history of eating disorders, you should definitely decline this diet, she says.
Additionally, your vegan ketogenic diet can also lead to side effects that are somewhat typical of all keto diets, especially those that are not balanced, including a temporary but drastic increase in cravings, bad moods, and fatigue (often called the “flu ketogenic “); too much weight loss; hair loss (especially if you don’t get enough protein); and electrolyte imbalances, which are eliminated when water weight is lost. To compensate for electrolyte imbalances, Diulus recommends increasing your sodium intake slightly and supplementing with magnesium.
And, if you’re doing everything “right” and still not feeling well, vegan keto may not be for you, and that’s okay. In fact, Belardo returned to her high-carb vegan diet after her two-week vegan ketogenic experiment because she was losing too much weight and missing some of her favorite foods, including fruits. (Here are some signs that a ketogenic diet just isn’t working for you.)
What to eat on a vegan ketogenic diet.
To help ensure you get a variety of nutrients on a vegan ketogenic diet, “it’s essential to eat a variety of non-starchy vegetables, nuts, seeds, and low-carb protein sources,” says Diulus. The good news: While the vegan ketogenic diet is low in carbohydrates, it doesn’t have to be low in fiber. This is because as long as you don’t go over 20-30 grams of net carbs (which is total carbs minus fiber), you will still enter ketosis. Just be sure to eat foods high in fiber and low in net carbs, like green leafy vegetables and non-starchy vegetables like broccoli, spinach, and cauliflower. If you find that a vegan ketogenic diet is too restrictive and you are willing to include some animal products, you can also experiment with a vegetarian ketogenic diet.