The benefits of the ketogenic diet are many, especially if weight loss is one of your goals. But the keto diet isn’t the only diet out there, and it certainly isn’t the only one that actually works. Another popular diet that offers myriad health benefits is the vegetarian diet.
When people think of the keto diet, they often picture heaping plates of bacon and other types of meat. In reality, however, it is entirely possible to follow a vegetarian keto diet – it just might be a little tricky. Keep reading to learn how.
Understanding the Different Types of Vegetarian
Not all vegetarians are alike and, in fact, many vegetarians eat some animal foods. There are four different types of vegetarian diet – here is a quick overview:
- Vegan – This type of vegetarian avoids all animal products including dairy, eggs, poultry, meat, and seafood as well as honey.
- Lacto-Vegetarian – People who follow this diet may eat dairy but avoid eggs, poultry, meat, and seafood.
- Lacto-Ovo-Vegetarian – This type of vegetarian will eat dairy products and eggs, but will avoid poultry, meat, and seafood.
- Pescatarian – This type of vegetarian will avoid poultry and red meat but may eat seafood, dairy products, and eggs.
Now that you have a better understanding of the different types of vegetarian, you can see how some of them might actually fit well with the keto diet. If you still choose to consume dairy products, eggs, or seafood, you’ll have plenty of options on the keto diet.
Though some types of vegetarian diets work well with keto, some do not. The vegan diet, for example, does not work well with the keto diet for a number of reasons. First and foremost, there is an issue of getting enough complete protein without going overboard on carbs. A complete protein contains all 9 essential amino acids and most complete proteins are animal-based. There are some plant-based complete proteins like quinoa, but it will be difficult to meet your protein needs with a limit of 20 grams net carbs per day.
Tips for Getting Started on a Keto Vegetarian Diet
If you choose not to eat certain animal products, you can still follow the keto diet – you just have to take certain steps to make it work. Here are some simple tips to follow if you want to go keto while maintaining a vegetarian diet:
- Decide which proteins you are going to prioritize – you’ll probably need to avoid plant-based proteins like legumes and quinoa, but if you still eat dairy products and eggs you’ll be able to meet your daily protein needs.
- Determine your macronutrient ratios and figure out how much protein you need – most people need between 60 and 100 grams of protein a day and you should be able to meet that goal with the protein you choose to consume on a vegetarian diet.
- Be sure to include one high-quality protein in every meal – depending which type of vegetarian you are, this could include things like eggs, Greek yogurt, or hemp seeds.
- Choose protein-rich vegetables as much as you can – they may not be as high in protein as meat and eggs, but some vegetables contain as much as 2 grams of protein per cup.
- Enjoy up to 3 servings of low-carb veggies twice a day to meet your needs for micronutrients while staying within the confines of your vegetarian diet – the best low-carb, nutrient-rich veggies for the keto diet are zucchini, avocado, spinach, brussels sprouts, and cauliflower.
- Consume plenty of healthy fats along with your proteins and veggies – you can do this by using healthy cooking oils and by eating salads dressed with olive oil.
- Use herbs and spices to flavor your foods – in addition to making your dishes taste great, herbs and spices add essential micronutrients to your diet that you might otherwise be lacking on a vegetarian keto diet.
As a vegetarian, you are already fairly proactive and decisive about the foods you choose to eat and avoid. In order to follow a keto vegetarian diet, all you have to do is adapt your current eating principles to the ketogenic way of eating.
Tips for Avoiding Nutritional Deficiencies
A traditional vegetarian diet is rich in vegetables, fruits, beans, legumes, and grains – basically, all of the most nutrient-rich foods. When you restrict your intake of carbohydrates on the keto diet, you restrict your intake of these nutritious foods as well.
So, how do you avoid nutritional deficiencies on a keto vegetarian diet? Here are some ideas:
- Educate yourself about the nutrients you are most likely to be deficient in on a keto diet – some of the most common deficiencies are for sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, B vitamin, iron, iodine, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin C.
- Consider taking nutritional supplements for specific nutrients you are lacking – you may need to talk to your doctor to determine which ones are recommended.
- Consume as many vegetables and low-carb fruits as you can while staying within your macronutrient ratios.
- Eat a variety of foods on a daily basis to ensure balance in your diet – you can also include fortified dairy products for a boost of nutrition.
- Don’t be afraid to get creative with your meal preparation – cauliflower can be used in a variety of ways such as in pizza crust, side dishes, and more.
- Consider changing your way of eating – if you are a strict vegan but you want to go keto, you may need to make some compromises and include at least one source of animal protein in your diet to meet your daily needs.
- Track your daily intake of food in a food journal or a mobile app so you can track your micronutrient intake and make adjustments if needed.
Maintaining a keto vegetarian diet can be a challenge, but if you put your mind to it you can certainly make it work. To get started, use the tips provided in this article and apply them to what you already know of the ketogenic diet. Best of luck!