Vegetarian Keto Diet: A Beginner’s Guide

The keto diet is trendy when it comes to weight loss as quickly as possible. But this diet mostly includes animal products, especially meat and fish. But is the ketogenic diet also possible for vegetarians?

Proteins and fats are primarily absorbed in the ketogenic diet; carbohydrates are to be avoided in this diet. Due to the reduced intake of carbohydrates, the body gets the energy from the fat (ketosis) after a specific time. That is why it makes sense to use animal products and especially meat and fish. For people who eat vegetarian food, this seems to be a problem. Or not? EAT SMARTER explains. 

1. Is a vegetarian diet possible with the keto diet?

This is a question many people who prefer a vegetarian lifestyle, but still want to lose a few pounds through the keto diet. Because, as already mentioned, 70 percent of this nutritional form consists of fats that are supplied both through plant-based foods such as nuts or avocados, but mostly via animal products such as meat, fish, or milk. 

But the ketogenic diet can also be practiced in a vegetarian form. However, you should consider a few things vegetarian before you start the keto diet and get enough information. 

Above all, the meat contains the essential iron, which our body needs for the formation of hemoglobin and the transport of oxygen. In general, with a vegetarian diet and also with this form of the keto diet, the iron level should always be kept in view. Otherwise, it can lead to a deficiency. Here it is worth talking to a doctor and having the amount of iron in the body checked before and during the diet to see if any supplements are necessary (1).

When preparing fruits and vegetables containing vitamin C, you should be careful not to heat the food for too long, as the vitamin is not heat-resistant. It is also best to use fresh fruits and vegetables (or in frozen form).

It should also be mentioned that changing the body to ketosis (energy is obtained from fat) can cause various side effects such as muscle cramps, sleep disorders, fatigue, mood swings, or nausea.

2. For whom is this form of nutrition suitable or unsuitable?

In principle, this diet is suitable for all healthy people who want to lose excess pounds and prefer a vegetarian lifestyle. Nevertheless, the mentioned form of nutrition restricts the choice of food very much and does not allow spontaneous meal appointments. Therefore, you should be aware of the extent to which this type of nutrition can be integrated into your everyday life. 

Another important aspect is the nutrient requirement. By eliminating both carbohydrates and meat, iron and calcium are only absorbed in small amounts. For people who tend to have a low level of these nutrients anyway, the vegetarian keto diet is not recommended.

Even pregnant and lactating women should under no circumstances, practice this form of nutrition since the fetus and young children rely on these nutrients. This is the only way to ensure healthy organ development. Therefore, the diet should not be practiced with children.

For people who do heavy physical work, the vegetarian version of the keto diet is also not advisable. Athletes, type 1 diabetes patients, and people with eating disorders should also avoid such food. 

3. What foods can I eat vegetarian with the keto diet?

Since carbohydrates are primarily dispensed within the keto diet, vegetables that have a low starch content (carbohydrates) should be selected in the vegetarian variant. The same applies to fruit: only varieties with a small amount of fructose may be consumed here. The central nutrient component fat should be absorbed primarily via unsaturated, i.e., healthy fatty acids. In the list below you will find all suitable foods: 

  • Dairy products with high-fat content such as milk, cheese or yogurt
  • Nuts such as almonds, walnuts, Brazil nuts, cashew nuts
  • Vegetables with low carbohydrate content such as broccoli, zucchini, bell pepper, spinach, mushrooms, cauliflower, tomatoes, kale 
  • Low-carb fruit such as lemons, limes and all berries such as raspberries and blueberries  
  • Pecan, peanut, almond or hazelnut butter
  • Flax seeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds 
  • Fats and oils from avocado, olives, coconut
  • Avocados
  • Eggs, tofu, spirulina
  • Herbs like basil, thyme, oregano 

Tip:

Food with a low carbohydrate content such as zucchini or broccoli as well as food with a high proportion of valuable fats such as walnuts are allowed.

4. These foods should be avoided

In principle, carbohydrate-rich foods such as potatoes or legumes are not allowed with the keto diet. Even those with high sugar content (another carbohydrate form) must not be on the menu during this time. These ingredients can be found mainly in processed and ready-to-eat products. These foods should be avoided: 

  • flesh
  • fish
  • Foods rich in carbohydrates such as potatoes, legumes (beans, lentils), rice, pasta, bread, buckwheat, quinoa, semolina, oatmeal  
  • Fruit with a high fructose content such as pineapple, apples, bananas, peaches, apricots, mango, cherries, oranges 
  • Heavily processed products with a high fat and carbohydrate content in combination such as fries, burgers (fast food) 
  • Sugary drinks such as soft drinks, fruit juices 
  • Sweet foods such as white and brown sugar, honey, agave syrup, maple syrup, sugar beet syrup 
  • Alcoholic beverages such as wine, beer, delicious cocktails 
  • Processed products with a high sugar content such as ketchup, barbecue sauce 

Knowledge to take away

The ketogenic diet’s diet consists mainly of animal products such as meat or fish. But a vegetarian version is also possible. It should be noted here that an iron deficiency can occur if an adequate supply of nutrients is not ensured. 

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The menu mainly includes foods containing fatty dairy products such as full-fat cheese or yogurt, nuts, and low-carbohydrate vegetables such as broccoli or zucchini.

The vegetarian keto diet can cause side effects such as muscle cramps or mood swings due to the switch to ketosis (body draws energy from fat instead of carbohydrates). 

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