Is Vegetarian Keto healthy?
A lot of people imagine keto to be lots of bacon, eggs, butter, and cheese, but for Keto to be healthy and sustainable, gut health needs to be looked after by incorporating plenty of vegetables and fiber. The whole aim of Keto is to get the body into a state of Ketosis where the body uses fat as it’s fuel instead of carbohydrates, which can be achieved with both the clean and dirty form of Keto, the problem is, that one of them is not very good for your health.
Dirty keto is a pithy way of referring to the ‘fast and dirty’ practice of using premade, packaged foods instead of homemade food created from whole food ingredients
When most people begin Keto they start with the ‘dirty’ approach, they follow the right macro balance with high fats, low carbs, and moderate proteins but miss the whole foods needed to keep your belly happy. One of the downsides to starting Keto is the ‘Keto Flu’ which includes symptoms like feeling hazy and lethargic, much like the regular flu, and when following the dirty Keto route it’s much worse when it’s fueled by junky, processed, fatty foods.
Is Vegetarian Keto healthy? And how is it possible if vegetables are carbs?
The fact is, vegetables are in fact pretty much mainly carbs, small amounts of protein and next to no fat, so how do they fit into the Keto diet? Your body still needs the vitamins and minerals that come from plant-based foods. This is when Net Carbs are an important element to factor in. A net carb is the number of grams of Carbohydrates minus the number of grams of Fiber. For example, a cup of spinach has 1.1g of carbs (which is pretty low already so a great green to add to your diet) and 0.7g of Fiber, so it in fact only has 0.4g of Carbs.
I often incorporate ‘free’ or ‘unlimited’ low carb veggies into meal plans for clients on top of what I’ve already planned, they are so low in net carbs and the nutritional value of them is huge. They are also a great way to fill up, and if you top them with something cheesy or a healthy oil dressing they fit the Keto balance perfectly.
If vegetarian keto is healthy, what about all the fats?
When I first started the keto diet getting my head around eating fats as a source of fuel was a big mind bend. It went against everything I’d ever known in the “healthy eating” category. For a detailed look at good and bad fats in Keto, read more here.
Saturated Fats aren’t the bad guys we’ve been brought up to know. In fact, there are many benefits of including saturated fats in keto including improved HDL (good cholesterol) and lowered LDL (bad cholesterol) levels.
Monounsaturated fats increase HDL cholesterol and lower blood pressure, lower the risk for heart disease, reduce insulin resistance and reduce belly fat
Polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs)- this is where it gets a tad more complicated. PUFAs can be found in both very processed oils as well as healthy sources. The right types are a great benefit in keto and include both omega 3s and omega 6 what are both essential nutrients. They reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and autoimmune disorders and other inflammatory diseases. Intake of polyunsaturated fats has also been associated with improving symptoms of depression and ADHD.
Trans Fats- There are 2 types, good and bad…
Naturally-occurring trans fats (good)- while most trans fats are very unhealthy, there is one type, vaccenic acid, which is found naturally in some foods like grass-fed animal products and dairy fats like butter and yogurt.
The good naturally occurring trans fats reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.
Healthy fats include:
- Coconut oil
- Palm oil
- Cocoa butter
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Avocados and avocado oil
- Macadamia nut oil
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Flaxseeds and flaxseed oil
- Sesame oil
- Chia seeds
- Nut oils
- Avocado oil
- And for the meat-eaters fatty fish and fish oil
A properly formulated Ketogenic diet is very much plant-based and ‘clean’ Ketogenic diet is a great way for Vegetarians to become fat-adapted. Although you may lose weight eating dirty keto, the quality of the food we eat impacts us beyond our weight
What Dirty Keto might look like:
- Processed foods
- Hamburgers with bacon and cheese (no bun)
What Clean Keto might look like:
- Plenty of Low Carb Vegetables
- Olive oil
- Coconut oil
- Protein, fats and salad
- Treats like keto breads, fat bombs and keto pancakes.
Low Carb Fruit and Vegetable to include in your diet:
- Romaine Lettuce
- Green Beans
- Bok Choy
- Brussel Sprouts
- Snap Peas and Snow peas
- Blackberries and Raspberries.
Supercharge your weight loss with our 7 Day Vegetarian Keto Challenge.
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