by Ali Holden
3 months ago
The Ketogenic diet has become extremely popular, but is it possible to do on a vegan basis?
Since both Vegan AND Ketogenic ways of eating have been linked to good health, then combining them could potentially compound these benefits!
In a nutshell, what is the Ketogenic diet?
The Ketogenic diet is a high (good) fat, moderate protein and low carbohydrate diet. The aim is to persuade the Mitochondria in the cell to change from using carbohydrates as its first choice for fuel – to switching and begin burning fat for fuel instead.
To keep Keto simple…in a nutshell think of this diet as largely fats and greens!
Why burn fat for fuel?
Fat is a much cleaner source of fuel for our body and even when we are not eating food, we are still being fueled by the fat stores. As with every diet there is a healthy route and an unhealthy route. The quality of foods eaten; particularly the fats, is crucial for good health and the success of the Keto dietary approach. When following a Keto diet, the goal is to keep the carbs low, this is why people rigorously count the amount of carbohydrates they eat, aiming to keep it between 25g – 50g of carbohydrate a day.
To make life easier, there are several Apps which can be used to monitor carb, protein and fat intake. ‘Cronometer’ and ‘Stupid Simple Keto’ are very helpful in this respect!
3 main ways a vegan Ketogenic diet can be good for us?
Weight loss – when we use fat for fuel, we also break down the fat cells in our body, helping to shed excess weight if that’s needed.
Cleansing – toxins are stored in our fat cells, so as we break these down, we will be releasing stored toxins that can be the source of much ill health.
Balancing blood sugar – reducing carbohydrate intake helps balance blood sugar levels and decrease insulin resistance.
Other research has shown this diet to be successfully for people with epilepsy and cancer (by starving cancer cells of its food – glucose).
What can you eat on a Vegan Keto diet?
Low carb vegetables include:
Occasional Brussel sprouts, carrots, celeriac, onions, parsnips and squash in small portions.
Low carb fruits include:
Cranberries (fresh or unsweetened dry)
Lemons and Limes
Raspberries and Stawberries
Occasional Blueberries and watermelon in small portions.
Nuts and seeds include:
Hemp…an AMAZING SEED!
Fat for Fuel
Fat is satiating and generally tasty, so it is possible to eat foods that are satisfying and delicious. It is crucial to eat the right types of fats, which include:
• Macadamia nuts
• Coconut butter
• Cacao butter
• Coconut full fat milk
• Coconut oil, olive oil and avocado oil
• Nuts and seeds or tahini, nut butters – the fattier nuts and seeds the better
• MCT OIL (start with 1 teaspoon and build to 1-2 tablespoons daily)
• 80-100% dark chocolate / raw cacao
Protein Sources include:
Nuts & Seeds
Fermented soya such as tempeh or natto
Superfoods such as spirulina, wheatgrass, barleygrass
All vegetables, sea vegetables and fruits
Vegan protein powders such as pea and hemp
Nut butters/tahini with veg crudites such as celery, cucumber, courgette
Plain dairy free yogurt such as coconut mylk yogurt with berries
Make a trail mix with nuts, seeds, cacao nibs, unsweetened coconut pieces
How does the body transition to burning fat for fuel?
Although every individual will tend to take different lengths of time, after eating high fat, medium protein and low carb for a few days, the body will start to transition towards using fat for fuel. As the body uses up its last stores of glucose before converting to using fat, you may experience various symptoms such as aches in muscles, brain fog, nausea, weakness. This is what is described as keto flu! This is a very common and usual part of the process and will generally clear within twenty-four hours.
How do I know when I am ‘fat adapted’?
There are many different devices which can be purchased to check blood, saliva or urine Ketone levels and this can be useful to monitor progress. Some people love getting into the nitty gritty of things, whereas others like to keep it simple and tune into their body and take time to look for symptoms and connect with how they are feeling.
We know we are ‘fat adapted’ when:
· We have more clarity in our brain, and it feels less cluttered
· We can go longer periods without eating with no drop in energy levels
· Our urine might have a stronger smell due to the ketones
· We start to crave high fat foods – finding ourselves with a spoon in the jar of nut butter!
· We may feel more energised and clear-headed
Examples of a daily Keto/Vegan diet:
Smoothie (low carb/high fat – there is no end to the different combinations you can try!)
Superfood milkshake e.g. Organic vegan superfood protein powder such as www.supernovaliving.com with hemp mylk, dollop of nut butter and raw cacao.
Fermented tofu scramble with turmeric, nutritional yeast and mushrooms, served on a bed of spinach with sliced tomato.
In the summer…a variety of salads with avocado, soaked nuts and seeds drizzled with an oily dressing.
In the winter…a variety of soups made with greens and full fat coconut milk and seed bread.
Vegetable curry made with full fat coconut milk with cauliflower rice
Cauliflower crust pizza piled high with keto-friendly goodies
Wild garlic pesto with walnuts stirred into courgetti noodles
In conclusion: It certainly IS possible to eat in a plant-based Ketogenic way!
Extra Important Considerations:
1. It is imperative to eat organic, GOOD QUALITY FATS…no hydrogenated or trans fats or fats/oils damaged in any way by processing or heating. Olive oil or Coconut oil are OK to use for cooking, but do not burn your food!
2. It is also important to ensure the correct ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6 essenentail fatty acid. It is very easy to consume far too much Omega 6, which contributes to inflammation in the body. Focus on increasing Omega 3 intake, which may require supplementation with a GOOD QUALITY supplement such as Omega3 Vegan capsules from www.cytoplan.co.uk
Experiencing different ways of eating can be a WONDERFUL way to learn more about ourselves and our own bodies. Remember that we never need to stick with one particular way of eating permanently…it is good to STRETCH our immune systems but not to STRESS it out!!!
HAVE FUN experimenting with plant-based Keto and please leave any comments or recipes below.