Going on a keto diet is one of the popular health trends in recent times to lose weight fast. Concentrating on a diet that is primarily consisted of food that is low in carbohydrates, low or moderate in protein and high in fat. Bread, rice, and similar starchy foods are restricted from the diet alongside drinks containing alcohol and dairy like milk. With these restrictions a question is raised. Is it possible for those who have devoted themselves to a vegan diet go on a keto diet? Finding food and gaining enough nutrition to satisfy the diet restrictions of both is something that should be explored.
What Does It Mean to Be Vegan?
Vegans in the simplest terms, avoid all food product that is made from or produced by animals. This is different from vegetarians, who are primarily concerned with avoiding eating meat, but depending on their preference (e.g. Lacto, Lacto-Ovo or Pescatarians ) will eat other animal products. Veganism isn’t just limited to diet however, this also extends to avoiding any other products such as clothing or cosmetics that use animals or their byproducts.
Reasons why someone would go vegan vary, but common reasons for practicing it are avoiding the practice of animal slaughter, having a healthier body, or helping reduce “carbon footprint” impact on the environment. A vegan’s diet will consist of plant products and byproducts namely vegetables, fruits, grains, and nuts. All their nutritional needs will come from plants. This can present a challenge as plant-based protein sources can be a challenge to find for some.
What is the Keto Diet?
In a keto diet, the end goal is to promote the process of ketosis in our body to promote fat loss from our body fat rather than from carbohydrates. This is done by the production of ketones from our liver. As such consumption of foods high in carbohydrates is not allowed to keep the body in the state of ketosis during the duration of the diet.
The daily intake of someone on a keto diet is 70% to 75% fat, 30% to 25% protein and 10% to 5% carbohydrates. To satisfy these restrictions, examples of food that is shunned are:
- Grains (rice, corn, oatmeal, pasta, etc.)
- Fruits (due to their high sugar content)
- Potatoes and Yams
- Baked goods (bread, cakes, etc.)
Is it Possible for Vegans to Go Keto?
Vegans who want to be on a keto diet will have a difficult time. This is due to the many limitations that will be placed on them. The removal of fruits, grains, sweeteners, and other high-carbohydrate foods will already have a substantial effect on their nutritional needs. Also, as animal products such as cheese and meat are no longer available, reaching the goal of consuming high fat daily will bring the need for finding substitutes.
To reach the diet goals of the keto diet while staying, the food consumed must be plant-based while giving enough of a macronutrient. As carbohydrates are low in a keto diet, a vegan can eat leafy green vegetables as already practiced by the keto diet. For the protein requirements, the main sources will be soy-based products, hemp-based products, and nuts and seeds; an easier path for this would be to use whey protein powder made from those. For fats, one must eat coconuts, avocados, and olives or products made from them such as oils, milk, and butter.
It’s recommended to vary your meals made from the stated elements above through different types of cooking and preparation. The limited palate can lead to “boredom” from eating them and the repetitive flavors.
Benefits of Being a Vegan on a Keto Diet
There is little to no research that’s been done on vegans on a keto diet. However, there has been positive research results on the diets themselves.
Vegans on average are shown to have a healthier weight, lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and are at less risk of having heart disease.
Being on a plant-based diet has also shown to reduce the risk of obesity, diabetes, or a stroke. The chances of coronary heart disease are reduced by 40% and cerebral vascular disease by 29%. It also was shown to extend someone’s mortality rate.
There may also be lower levels of gut inflammation inside people who have a vegan diet.
There is also evidence that vegans may have a lower impact on the environment compared to omnivores. It’s been recommended that those who are primarily meat eaters should occasionally switch meat with plant products such as legumes.
A study on Americans who practiced veganism also saw that most vegan Americans were less likely to be obese or overweight.
The keto diet, on the other hand, has been shown to be an effective weight loss method due to the low carbohydrate intake. Those on the diet have also shown to have a lower appetite which can help avoid overeating.
It is also possible that being on a keto diet can improve someone’s memory. However, more tests are required to confirm this.
A 2007 study with 119 overweight subjects also saw that those in a keto diet are less likely to have food cravings and have a positive increase in their mood.
Those suffering from epilepsy also gain benefits from being on the keto diet. Though the keto diet must be personalized and done under medical supervision. There was also another study also supports this, stating that the diet can help suppress seizures.
Health Risks of Being a Vegan on Keto
Going on a vegan and keto diet can present certain health risks. This mostly due to being deficient in certain nutrients that are not available in the allowed food.
Those on a vegan diet are at risks of having lower vitamin B12,
zinc and iron. They also have lower branched chain amino acids (BCAA’s) that can give complications to their insulin sensitivity
Being on a keto diet has shown that it has negative effects on the performance of athletes as shown in a New Zealand study with 5 subjects who underwent endurance training while on the diet.
There is also the “Keto flu” which occurs to people who make the diet switch from a high carbohydrate diet this can lead to health complications like mood problems, nausea, sleep disorders, and dizziness.
It is recommended to have yourself tested to when on a vegan keto diet. Ensure that all important nutrients are taken care of and supplemented to avoid more severe health complications.
Going a vegan and keto diet will be a difficult challenge. The diet restrictions minimize the possible food available in an effort to achieve each diet’s goals. Veganism makes it difficult to achieve a keto diet as it removes animal products such as cheeses and meats that fat consumption relies on. While being on a keto diet removes fruits, grains, and other plant-based products with high carbohydrates. These limitations can lead to nutrient deficiencies that will need to be supplemented.