Vegan Keto Diet 101 – The Definitive Beginner’s Guide

Vegan Ketogenic Diet

New diets are entering the market every year. Those most popular quickly become part of a person’s lifestyle once they notice the benefits and results it can have on the mind and on the body. Similarly, those that become popular are due to the benefits it has on existing medical conditions.

Many dieting techniques associate lowering carbohydrates, sugar, and fat intake for weight loss. Whilst limiting those factors are beneficial for weight loss, there are many more benefits that can be obtained. 

Combining two diets can be successful and is increasingly popular as it means a person can reap more benefits, either for their body or medical issues. A popular combination diet is the vegan keto diet. This diet follows a low carbohydrate and plant based plan

As the vegan diet is typically high in carbohydrates, which keto is not, it can sometimes be difficult for a vegan to follow a keto diet. However, it is extremely beneficial in many ways and simple once a meal plan is put in place and adjusted to the individuals taste.

This is a diet which is very beneficial for those who do not work well with a high-carb diet, do not agree with or want to eat animal products or for those with existing medical conditions that the diets combined can improve. 

Today, we will be sharing the ultimate beginners guide on the vegan keto diet, how it works, its benefits as well as a meal plan to get you started:

What is the Vegan Keto Diet?

A popular low carb diet is the keto diet, as known as the ketogenic diet. This is a very low carbohydrate diet where a person attains most of their energy and calories from fats and proteins. 

The keto diet varies a little depending on the amount of carbohydrates that a person wishes to restrict. More relaxed keto diets allow a person to 10-20% of their calories from carbohydrates. Whereas a stricter keto diet only allows 5-10% of calories from carbohydrates. For the most part, the typical keto diet allows 15-40 grams of carbohydrates per day. The rest of the diet is typically made up of 20% protein and the rest fats.

Research shows that the keto diet can be very beneficial for weight loss and weight management. Although weight loss is a number one priority for most people in short term dieting, long term dieting can offer more health benefits. Long term dieting is also known as making a diet a lifestyle choice.

As well as weight loss, the keto diet is said to have many other health benefits for those with diabetes, cancer, epilepsy and neurological conditions. 

Another diet beneficial in more areas than just weight management is the vegan diet. This diet is another which is prominent in today’s society due to the benefits it has on the environment as well as the body. A vegan diet is free from animal products and is often referred to as plant-based as the majority of the diet is food which are plant-based alternatives to animal products.

Studies suggest that the vegan diet is beneficial for those with high cholesterol and diabetes. In addition to that, a vegan diet offers improved heart health benefits and benefits for arthritis, cancer, kidney function and Alzeihmer’s disease. 

The two diets combined are known as the vegan keto diet. The diet follows a low carbohydrate plant based plan which is typically high in fats, a sufficient amount of protein and does not involve any animal products.

Whilst the vegan keto diet in fairly modern, let’s find out more about how it started and some history:

History of the Vegan Keto Diet

The vegan keto diet is a new and modernised diet which became popular in the past decade. However, the two diets have existed separately for much longer. 

The keto diet was popular during the 1920’s when used as a treatment for epilepsy. When a medical treatment was discovered for the condition, the keto diet was outshone by other diets from the Atkins diet to fasting. 

In the late 1960’s through to the 1970’s, the keto diet was rediscovered due to research on the process of ketones. It was suggested that low carbohydrate meals can be replaced with healthy fats and high protein which are sustainable for energy and the discovery of its health benefits began. 

For the vegan diet, this was a more commercialised diet due to it being existent but not defined for a long time. Then, in the 1940’s it was coined the vegan diet, which was similar to the vegetarian diet but also eliminated all animal produce such as eggs, dairy products and honey. During this time it was known as the non-dairy vegetarian diet, which later was shortened to the vegan diet. 

Since, the two diets have been combined for a few reasons and diet preferences. To understand more on how the diets work, here is more:

How the Vegan Keto Diet works

To begin the vegan keto diet, it is important to understand how it works and what needs to be implemented in order for it to work to its full effect

Firstly, it is important to understand that no animal products can be consumed on a vegan diet. Substituting animal products with plant based products is simple once you understand what to avoid. 

For the keto diet part of this combination diet, it is essential to limit your carbohydrate intake. Do not consider just grains, wheat and rye products to be carbohydrates. For example, carbohydrates are broader than just bread, pastas, cereals and potatoes. Vegetables and fruits can have a high carbohydrate content due to the sugars present. It is important to be aware of the amount of carbs you are consuming each day and limit it. More on the limits and restrictions are to follow.

A few things that need to be considered in order to ensure you are following the correct vegan keto diet intakes are:

  • Consume at least 70% of your calories from plant based fats
  • Remove meat, fish, dairy, eggs and all animal products from your diet
  • Limit carbohydrate intake to 30 grams a day or less
  • Eat low carbohydrate vegetables over high carb
  • Consume 25% of your calories from plant-based proteins
  • Ensure you are getting the nutrients you are missing out on through supplements – vitamin D’s and B’s, irons, zinc and taurine

More information on what foods to eat and what foods to avoid will be discussed later to help you with limiting your intake or certain food groups as well as protein and fat plant based substitutes. 

Keto and vegan diets have very strict limitations which are important to stick by in order to successfully follow the requirements and obtain the benefits and results.

With that in mind, let’s discuss the benefits of the vegan and keto diets:

Vegan Keto Diet Benefits

The vegan keto diet is one of the most challenging diets out there as both diets separately are quite restrictive. However, is it manageable with the right food plan, sustainable food choices and offers numerous health benefits if it works for you.

As the diets being used as a combination is quite new, there is not yet much sufficient evidence for the health benefits. However, there was a 6 month study which examined random participants who consumed the vegan keto diet and found that all of them had significant weight loss and reduction in cholesterol and triglycerides. 

These findings conclude that the diet is beneficial for heart disease as high cholesterol levels are the key cause of heart disease. 

Moreover, there is an abundance of research for the diets separately, which explores more benefits it can deliver. 

Helping with weight loss

If weight loss is your main goal for choosing the vegan keto diet, it is proven to be very successful for that. Both diets promote weight loss due to the restriction of food groups. 

In particular, keto diets are profound for its weight loss benefits due to its reduction in carbohydrates. Without heavy consumption of carbohydrates, the body goes into a state of ketosis. This is where the body burns fat for fuel instead of carbohydrates. As the body will not be consuming many carbohydrates, there will be little carbs to use for energy. Therefore, your body will automatically use the second reserve, which is fat. Burning fat is essential for weight loss

On the other hand, vegan diets have been investigated for their weight loss successes. Studies found that vegans have a naturally lower body fat mass and BMI than non-vegans. This is further proven by a study which discovered that vegans have an easier ability to lose weight and sustain a healthy weight due to the increase of glycemic control due to the food choices in the diet. The blood sugar levels being down helps a person lose weight and maintain it. 

Both diets promote weight loss and evidence proves they can both benefit in that area of dieting. Therefore, this diet can be considered a good option for those who wish to lose weight. It is important to be aware that there are other and more health promoting benefits. 

Lower risk of high blood pressure

A study found that 96%of vegans have 75% lower risk of getting high blood pressure. This is considered to be due to the elimination of animal products in the diet. Meats in particular can be high in saturated fats which are a key cause of high blood pressure and reducing heart health. 

The study found that veganism in men reduces the risk of high blood pressure more than women. As of yet, there is not enough evidence to conclude why. However, both genders saw a reduction in the risk. 

Studies that examine the benefits of the keto diet for diabetic patients, seen below, suggest that the diet lowers the chance of high blood pressure also. 

Reducing the risk or severity of type 2 diabetes

Many studies have discovered that vegans have a significantly reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes due to lower blood sugar levels. One study found that the risk of developing type 2 diabetes decreases by up to 78% for those who consume vegan diets. 

A research study investigated the reason for vegans having a significantly lower risk of type 2 diabetes and it was suggested that it may be due to a high fibre intake. Vegans eat a plant based diet which involves a lot of high fiber foods such as vegetables and fruits. Fiber works to cut the blood sugar levels by reducing their response. 

Furthermore, the keto diet has been studied for its insulin balancing benefits. One study found that the diet can improve insulin sensitivity by up to 75%. Some research even saw that one third of the type 2 diabetic patients could stop using diabetes medication whilst being on the keto diet due to its insulin benefits. 

In addition to both diets benefiting type 2 diabetes patients, both diets promote weight loss which is essential and beneficial for those who need to lower blood sugar levels and reduce the severity or risk of diabetes.

Lessening the risk/symptoms of cancer

Both diets have been individually examined for the effects on cancer. Both are slightly different in how they manage to curtail or help with cancer, but both conclude to be beneficial for cancer.

For the keto diet, one study found that the carb and calorie restrictions were effective as a therapy for brain cancer. The effects of the keto diet was more than 65% similar to medical therapies. It has since been used as an alternative or additional treatment for brain cancer patients. Many of the patients are advised to follow a keto diet.

For the vegan diet, an observational study found that veganism can reduce the risk of developing cancer by up to 15%. This is considered to be due to the benefits for blood sugar levels and heart health. Therefore suggesting that a vegan diet can benefit cancers that are a result of bad heart health. 

Slows the development of Alzeihmer’s Disease 

The keto diet has long been studied for its effect on neurological conditions. Studies discovered that ketogenic dieting and being in the body being in ketosis state can have positive neuroprotective effects. The study found that the diet can help slow down the development and severity of Alzeihmer’s disease. A low carb intake can boost the brain’s functions and cognitive ability, which can influence the progression of a disease like Alzeihmer’s to slow down. 

Similarly, the vegan diet has benefits for Alzeihmer’s disease and can reduce the risk of developing the condition. Evidence suggests that animal products can influence neurological conditions like Alzeihmer’s. Therefore, a non animal product diet can have positive effects and limit the risk for such neurological conditions. 

The foods consumed in a vegan keto diet are suggested to be beneficial for brain health and it’s development, hence why it is beneficial for a neurological condition like Alzeihmer’s disease. 

There are other benefits of both diets which do not coincide with each other. However, by partaking in the two diets as a combination, you will still reap the separate benefits from both diets as you will be consuming both. 

The keto diet has also been proven to help with other health conditions such as epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), brain injuries and acne. The diet does not necessarily inhibit the conditions, more so it reduces symptoms and can help treat them. A keto diet is known to be best effective with heart health and neurological diseases as there is more conclusive evidence that shows results.

For the vegan diet, other health benefits of consuming it include arthritis and kidney functioning. Again, the benefits here are not to inhibit or fully treat the conditions, instead the diet can help slow the progress and severity of symptoms. 

Some of the latter health benefits mentioned for both diets are not yet conclusive to be fully effective, however there is evidence to suggest that the diets do have some effect at treating symptoms and reducing the risk of developing the conditions. By consuming the vegan keto diet as the two diets combined, a person can attain the health benefits mentioned here collectively. 

Now we’ve covered the benefits of the vegan keto diet, let’s discuss the foods advised to eat:

Food to Eat on the Diet

With any diet, there are foods that you are encouraged to consume and foods advised to avoid. 

For the vegan keto diet in particular, it is advised to eat high quality protein, low carbs and healthy fats for your meals. Although it may seem that combining the two food restrictive diets will lack a lot of exciting foods, that perception is wrong. There is an extensive list of foods that you can choose from.

Firstly it is important to consider protein. A vegan diet can be extremely lacking in protein if a person does not find protein packed substitutes. Protein from animals is known as “complete” protein which provides all of the essential amino acids a body needs in order to grow and function properly. Plant based proteins are known as “incomplete” as they lack sufficient amino acids. However, over the years there has been an abundance of new vegan packed protein options. 

Then, you need to take into consideration the recommended carbohydrate intake, which is between 15 and 40 grams per day. It is important to be aware that carbohydrates are not just high in grains, wheat and starchy products. Many vegetables can be high in carbohydrates too. 

Then, for both diets it is advised to eat as many healthy fats as possible over unhealthy fats. In the vegan keto diet it is recommended to intake around 25% of your calories from protein, 70% or more from healthy fats and the rest carbohydrates. With that in mind, here is a list of foods to eat:

  • Plant based high protein alternatives: tempeh, tofu, seitan 
  • Low carb vegetables: leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, peppers, mushrooms, cucumber
  • High-fat dairy alternatives: unsweetened coconut-based dairy (milks and creams), vegan cheeses, vegan butter
  • Nuts, seeds and nut butters: pistachios, almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds
  • Fruits: raspberries, blackberries, avocados and other low glycemic impact berries in small quantities
  • Fermented foods: natto, sauerkraut, kim chi
  • Sea vegetables: dulse, bladderwrack, kelp
  • Condiments and sweeteners: salt pepper, spices, lemon juice, fresh herbs, stevia, erythritol, nutritional yeast
  • Healthy fat oils: coconut oil, olive oil, MCT oil, avocado oil, macadamia oil, sesame oil
  • Drinks: coffee, tea, water, healthy juices with the recommend fruit/low-carb vegetables

Eating plenty of these foods will help you attain all the nutrition your body needs on a daily basis. They can be eaten at every meal, you just need to be aware of the amount you should eat to abide by the 25% protein and 70% healthy fats recommendation. It is important to ensure your body gets enough protein, so replacing animal products with tofu, tempeh and soy products as an alternative is essential. 

As well as foods to eat on the vegan keto diet, there are also foods essential to avoid:

Foods to Avoid on the Diet

When following a vegan keto diet, it is very important to reduce your carbohydrate intake and replace those calories with high protein and health fats. Like with any diet or food lifestyle, there are certain foods to avoid to successfully consume a vegan keto diet:

  • Grains: high carb wheat, rice, cereals, oats, quinoa, pasta
  • Legumes: high carb lentils, beans and chickpeas
  • Starchy vegetables: carrots, corn, sweet potatoes, parsnips, peas, beetroot, squash
  • Fruits: most fruits excluding avocados and berries should be avoided. This includes cherries, oranges, pears, grapefruit, dried apricot, strawberries, plums
  • Dairy: milk, butter, yoghurt
  • Eggs: egg whites and egg yolks
  • Seafood: all seafood – fish, shrimp, clams, mussels
  • Meat: all meat and poultry – beef, turkey, chicken, pork
  • Animal based ingredients: honey, agave, whey protein, egg white protein
  • Sugary foods: maple syrup, agave syrup, soda, juice, sauces, sports drinks
  • Processed and packaged foods
  • Gelatin and collagen products 
  • Alcohol 

All of the above foods are to be avoided to achieve a fully vegan ketogenic diet. Animal products are not allowed on vegan diets, which includes all meat, seafood and animal based ingredients from honey to gelatin products. 

Eliminating intake of these avoids will mean you will successfully achieve a vegan keto diet/lifestyle and also ensure you can attain the health benefits. 

With those foods in mind, let’s take a few of the drawbacks the diet can pose:

Drawbacks and Side Effects of the Vegan Keto Diet

A vegan keto is a very restrictive diet which means it may not work for everyone. Those who wish to try it and see if it suits them may experience some side effects and risks. 

Although the diet is heavily plant based, that does not mean it is the healthiest diet out there. 

All diets have their drawbacks, and here are those for this diet:

As it lacks animal products, it lacks in quite a few essential vitamins and minerals that our bodies need to function to their full potential. 

Studies show that non animal eating people can be deficient in several essential vitamins such as vitamin B12, iron, calcium and zinc. To attain these vitamins, it is advised to take supplements alongside the diet to ensure you are getting all of the vitamins your body needs.

With the supplements it is important to sustain healthy balanced meals with enough protein, healthy fats and recommended carbohydrates.

The vegan keto diet may be difficult for those with bowel issues to digest the food, even more so than a normal person as plant based proteins are harder to digest than animal proteins. Research states that plant based proteins do not undergo a sufficient sulfur muscle protein synthesis, which makes it harder for the body to break down the protein. It can cause excess gas, bloating or trouble going to the toilet. 

When your body is transitioning into the vegan keto diet, studies suggest that it may experience something known as the keto flu which involves the following side effects:

  • Weakness
  • Headaches
  • Diarrhea 
  • Irritability
  • Constipation
  • Nausea 
  • Fatigue
  • Poor concentration
  • Muscle cramps
  • Dizziness
  • Trouble sleeping

To ease the keto flu it is advised to drink plenty of water, get lots of rest, eat foods rich in fiber, take plenty of supplements your body may be lacking and do not over exercise.

This diet may not work for everyone and that is normal. Those who are advised not to partake in this diet are those who have type 1 diabetes, are pregnant, breastfeeding or those with past or present eating disorders as it can be detrimental to their health. If you are unsure if the vegan keto diet will be affected due to existing lifestyle or medical issues, then it is best to consult a doctor. 

The vegan keto diet does come with many positives from health benefits, weight management as well as helping people live a healthier and environmentally sustainable lifestyle. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics report that well planned vegan diets in particular are healthful for all stages of life. 

There are many benefits of the diet, and here are some tips to achieve the best results:

Tips for the best results 

Following the vegan keto diet is easy once you get to understand what foods to avoid and what foods to consume. It is also essential to stick to the protein, carbohydrate and healthy fat daily intake to achieve results. 

Do not exceed the carbohydrate limit 

If you consume more than the daily recommended carbohydrate intake of 40 grams per day, the results may start to decline. Staying on track with your daily intake will also help your body get used to the diet. 

Slowly decreasing your carbohydrate intake over a week or so to ease yourself into the low carb diet is advised so that your body does not go into shock. This will also allow time for your body to begin the ketosis process and use fat for fuel instead of glucose from carbohydrates.

Avoid animal product ingredients

Many recognise only meat and fish as animal products. However, veganism is more than just the meat and produce from animals like a vegetarian diet. It also includes eggs and other animal ingredients such as gelatin which is commonly found in gum sweets, cakes, ice creams and yoghurts. 

If a product is vegetarian and therefore free from meat, that does not mean it is vegan. A vegan diet eliminates all animal products from meat and fish to eggs and honey. 

Eat what feels right

Do not starve your body and deprive it of nutritional foods. Creating a meal plan is the best way to dictate what you will eat and make sure you get all of the daily nutrients your body needs. 

Even though this is a restrictive diet, there are still plenty of foods that can fulfil cravings. It’s all about trying different foods and finding what works for you. 

If you want to stick to the vegan keto diet long term, it is best to ease into the diet so that your body can get used to the new foods, routine and nutrition daily intakes. Your body will need to fully adjust and overcome keto flu before feeling satisfied.

If there are anymore concerns or questions you may have, here are some answers to the most frequently asked questions on the vegan keto diet:

FAQ

Do you lose weight being vegan?

Most studies conclude that vegans lose more weight than non-vegans or vegetarians if sticking to the daily nutritional guidelines and exercising regularly. It is also said that vegans have healthier BMI’s and less body fat than non-vegans.

Do you lose more weight or a keto or vegan diet?

There is no definite answer to which diet will achieve the most weight loss. It depends on the person and their current or previous diet. 

If a person eats a lot of carbohydrates and switches to a keto diet where carb intake is extremely decreased, a lot of weight loss will occur. 

The same happens for meat-eaters who eat a lot of saturated fatty meat and dairy products such as bacon, steak, and cheese. Once these high in fat products are eliminated from the diet, a person will lose body fat and therefore lose weight. 

The persons exercise routine and the current/previous diet will encourage how much weight a person can lose from the diets.

Can vegans eat pasta?

Most pastas are not manufactured from animal products, therefore it can be eaten by vegans. However, some pastas can be made using eggs. Therefore, always check the ingredients list before consuming as eggs are not vegan.

Do vegans age quicker?

Any diet that lacks protein and healthy fats can cause an increase in aging. Therefore, it is essential to eat protein-packed plant-based foods to ensure you are getting enough protein. Protein in foods helps the skin’s collagen and elasticity, which when decreased, will cause aging. 

Lacking in essential vitamins such as zinc and omega-3’s can also cause aging. Supplements can help a vegan get all of the essential vitamins that they miss out on and become deficient in to reduce the aging process.

How much weight can you lose on the vegan keto diet?

How much weight a person can lose from being on the vegan keto diet depends on the change from the previous diet. If a person eliminates lots of foods suddenly, especially those high in carbs and saturated fats, then weight loss will be quicker and more significant. 

Exercising regularly and replenishing your body with protein is essential in maintaining a healthy body weight and ensuring the body does not become too fatigued.

Is coffee vegan?

Coffee beans are from a plant and are therefore vegan. Consume black or with non-dairy milks such as coconut, almond or soya to ensure it is 100% vegan.

Why am I gaining weight on a vegan diet?

If a person is following a vegan only diet, sometimes lack of protein is substituted with carbohydrates and fats which can result in weight gain. Be careful what you substitute your past foods for.

Being on a vegan keto diet and combining the two diets will limit your carb and unhealthy fat intake and should not encourage weight gain or poor food substitution.

What is the lowest carb fruit?

Berries are the most popular choice when it comes to low carb fruits. Strawberries in particular have the lowest carb content and berries, in small quantities, are highly encouraged for the vegan keto diet. The carbs in fruit come from the sugar content and it is important to understand that fruits and vegetables can have a high carb content due to being high in sugar.

With the complete beginners guide in mind, let’s share our thoughts:

Conclusion

There you have it, the vegan keto diet 101. Use this as a complete beginners guide and a tool to help you understand the diet and if you wish to, try it for yourself.

It is important to understand that the vegan keto diet is a very low carbohydrate diet that eliminates consumption of all animal products. This means it is very restrictive and is not a diet that is suitable for everyone. However, those that do work well with the diet can attain many health benefits from weight loss to improving heart health and helping with neurological diseases.

The diets as a combination are more limited than them as separate diets, which means it can pose risks and the chance of being deficient in some essential vitamins.

Getting the correct amount of fat and protein is essential for the vegan keto diet in order to get the right amount of nutrition on a daily basis. There are an abundance of plant based substitutes now which means there is an extensive list of foods to choose from. 

The diet does offer many benefits but also risks. It is vital to eat your daily intake of protein and fats as well as taking supplements to ensure you do not become deficient in nutrition and essential vitamins and minerals for proper function and growth.

If you have any comments or more queries about the vegan keto diet 101, please feel free to share them with us.

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