Vegetarian Keto: 5 Good-To-Knows

By hearing the words ketogenic diet, many people think of eating large amounts of animal products such as meat. However, it is a misconception that this is the basic principle of a ketogenic diet since the basis consists of vegetables and nutrient-dense low-carb foods that are naturally high in fats. Now, living in a time where the awareness of our impact on our planet is increasing, interest in a combination of a ketogenic diet and a vegetarian diet is growing steadily.

The question is of course if this vegetarian and keto combination goes well together.  The answer is; yes, yet there are some things that you should know... So, whatever your reason may be for following a vegetarian lifestyle; whether it is for health reasons, animal welfare, for sustainability reasons or because you just don't like meat; you can easily combine this with a ketogenic approach and experience the benefits of both lifestyles. Provided that you pay attention to the following 5 points!

1. Eat enough (green) vegetables

Green vegetables are packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber. Leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale contain vitamin K, for example, which promotes the absorption of calcium from whole dairy products. I cannot emphasize enough that eating 400 grams of vegetables is a must, whatever diet or lifestyle you follow. In addition to green leafy vegetables, eating fermented vegetables is important. Think sauerkraut and kimchi. These products keep your gut flora healthy and improve the absorption of vitamins and minerals. 

2. Pay extra attention to consuming enough protein

Eating enough protein can sometimes be a challenge when you don't eat meat or fish. Eggs are your best friends when you follow a vegetarian ketogenic diet. They are rich in all essential amino acids and therefore form a complete protein and contain many vitamins and minerals. Think of iron, folic acid, vitamin B2, B12, E and D. You can safely eat about 4 eggs a day without worrying about your cholesterol levels and it’s best to combine it with red peppers rich in vitamin C to increase iron absorption. In addition to eating enough eggs, you can get your proteins from full-fat dairy products and cheese. If you opt for a vegetarian lifestyle because of animal welfare and the environment, always choose sustainably farmed products.  

3. Be conscious when buying packaged meat substitutes

These are often made on a tofu or wheat basis and contain unnecessary additives such as dextrose. So don't just look at the nutritional value table, but certainly at the ingredient list. Tempeh is a better choice because it is made from fermented tofu and contain more protein. Unfermented soy products are high in phytic acid which can affect the absorption of certain important minerals such as magnesium, iron and zinc. Not to mention the presence of phytoestrogens that can counteract the effects of estrogen in the body. Luckily, there are new products coming up that are made of hemp protein such as Beyond Meat. Their products are without GMOs and soy. And if you eat low-carb, you can also opt for falafel.

4. Combine eating healthy fats with proteins

This to keep your insulin levels low. You do this by adding more nuts and seeds to your diet. Seeds and nuts that contain the most proteins are pumpkin seeds, almonds, sunflower seeds and flax seeds. Do always measure the quantities carefully, because the amount of carbohydrates can quickly add up when eating these products.  

5. Supplement if needed

It might be helpful to supplement with zinc, vitamin B12, iron, vitamin D, and omega 3. Do you feel lethargic, do you suffer from hair loss, and /or do you notice that you have less energy than normally? Then taking supplements could be a logical step to take. I omit the various symptoms of deficiencies of the above nutrients in this article, but the above-mentioned are the vitamins and minerals that mainly occur in meat products and that you will have to pay extra attention to. Not sure if you are lacking certain vitamins? Get a blood test to find out whether you should focus on supplementing! 

In conclusion, a ketogenic diet certainly goes well in combination with a vegetarian diet. Of course there are a number of things that you should pay attention to, but the basis is the same as with any other ketogenic diet: lots of green vegetables, unprocessed low-carb products, healthy fats and sufficient protein. And most importantly: consuming the right amounts of carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Because all the effort you put into following a vegetarian ketogenic diet is worth almost nothing if your macronutrients are inadequate and imbalanced.