We Tried the Vegan Version of a Keto Diet and Here’s What Happened
Is it possible to eat keto on a vegan or plant-based diet? Well, we tried it, and here is exactly what happened. Know this: You need to plan it out in advance for any hope of success.
Keto is such a popular way to lose weight that we wanted to see if it is possible to go keto on a plant-based diet, and put your body into ketosis, or fat-burning mode. Granted we only tried it for one day, but this was enough to find out that while it's doable it is difficult to sustain since keeping your carbs down on a diet of vegetables requires you to know the right ones to eat. The goal wasn't to enter ketosis (which takes longer than a day) or actually lose weight (also fairly impossible in a single day), but to understand how difficult it is when eating plant-based or vegan to add another diet to our plate--pun intended.
Your two contestants in this diet challenge are me, Hailey, and my friend, Caitee, who calls herself a "carboholic." We are spending the last days of quarantine together and trying out as many diets as we can, just for fun. If you have not watched our last video of trying out Adele's Sirtfood Diet, find out how we managed to eat under 1,000 calories of leafy vegetables, buckwheat, and a little bit of dark chocolate and red wine. These foods are categorized as Sirftoods--because they supposedly activate the "skinny gene" in the body, through what are called sirtuins in the foods, but believe me, this diet is much harder than it sounds.
Keto Vegan Diets Work Because They Tell the Body Into Burning Fat
The keto diet is a hot topic right now, especially for those who want to lose weight fast. Keto is a diet high in fat and protein, and low in carbohydrates (about 15 grams of net carbs a day). However, because Caitee and I are plant-based, we are eating a lot of vegetables and we needed to find those that are the lowest in carbs.
The hardest part about going keto on a vegetable-centric diet is that we usually would eat plenty of legumes like kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas and those are all too high in carbs to fit into the keto plan.
Instead, we had to switch those for high-fat foods like nuts, avocado, and meat-alternatives like a veggie hot dog (even though we generally try to stay away from processed foods). Also on the keto plan are all sorts of oils such as avocado oil, olive oil, coconut oil, and grapeseed oil. On a keto diet, it's critical to stay under 15 grams of net carbs a day and by net carbs what we mean is you subtract the fiber content from your carb grams.
Combine Keto Plus Plant-Based Plus Intermittent Fasting for Best Weight Loss Results
First, we researched what the easiest way to master the plant-based keto diet, and one key factor is to combine it with intermittent fasting, or eating during a specific time window. We had our first meal at 2 p.m and stopped eating at 8 p.m, which means that we had already fasted for 18 hours before our first morsel.
The process of fasting naturally allows the body to burn fat for fuel. During the window of fasting, you burn up your glycogen stores and your insulin also drops so your body naturally turns to fat for fuel, according to Dr. Jason Fung who wrote Life in the Fasting Lane. Adding this little diet trick to our day was a way to activate the keto process before starting the diet.
To keep ourselves busy while intermittent fasting, we first drank hot water with lemon, then went for a morning walk, and picked up bicycles at the shop, and went for a ride. After, we spent more time preparing our kitchen to begin the diet. We were not starving and distracted ourselves quite well from eating.
Here Are Your Essential Foods to Eat on a Plant-Based Keto Diet:
- Vegan nut cheese
- Coconut yogurt
- Broccoli Rabe
- Avocado OIl
- Olive oil, coconut oil, grapeseed oil
- Brussels sprouts
- Nuts like almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, pistachios, macadamia nuts, pecans, chia seeds, sesame seeds, flaxseeds (flaxseeds have 0 net carbs)
To See Exactly How Going Keto on a Vegan Diet Went, Check out the Video
Keto Vegan Meal of the Day Number One:
Our first meal was cucumber salad with pickled cucumbers, string beans, and cipollini onions, mixed in white and apple cider vinegar with dill. And we each had a veggie dog from Lightlife, which has only 5 grams of carbs, 2 grams of fiber, and14 grams of plant-based protein, we were feeling good and both thought the veggie dog was delicious, tasted better than most our quarantined lunches. We liked keto plant-based dogs better than the real thing.
Keto Vegan Meal Snack:
Around 3:30 pm we started to get hungry again. This was the real first time when I felt like we were "starving" and needed snacks. We were on a walk around town and decided to make our way back. By the time we got back home, we felt tired and "burnt out."
When we got home, we drank water, ate raspberries, blueberries, seaweed, and had a small taste of coconut yogurt. At this point, we had a total of 12 grams of net carbs left for the day. In our minds, it really meant 10 grams of net carbs because we were looking forward to a spiked seltzer with dinner, which has 2 grams of net carbs. This was just a numbers game, and we couldn't help but wonder who wants to live like this?
A few hours passed and we each had a whole avocado, scooped out with a fork, and seasoned with a dash of salt. Avocados are "keto-essential" meaning one of the most common foods to eat on a keto diet since they only have 2 grams of net carbs because they're extremely high in fat, with 21 grams of fat and 234 calories. for an average-sized avocado. We felt fine but were getting a little bored with the food options, and really wanted a baguette and Miyoko's cheese. The cheese might have been okay but the bread off-limits.
Keto Vegan Dinner:
Fast forward to dinner, we baked cauliflower and onions in a curry seasoning sauce. You would think we were Iron chefs with the beautiful presentation--the little things matter when you're eating this way-- and we felt very proud of ourselves. We beautifully plated sliced red and gold beets with a coconut yogurt-based dill sauce and joked that we were perfectly representing The Beet.
Beets are good for heart health but should be limited on a keto diet because they are too high in carbs to be strictly allowed, so we each had one small slice and gave the rest to our friends who joined our vegan keto dinner. We're hoping they come back for dinner again because this was pretty much like spa food to everyone else. Although they did tell us that everything tasted amazing, which it actually did. Caitee and I were especially happy to enjoy a spiked seltzer (vodka is low in carbs, with 2 net carbs per serving) and celebrate a successful day of acing all three diets: Intermittent fasting, keto, and plant-based or vegan eating.
A vegan keto diet makes you feel lighter and less bloated
As a result of eating keto and vegan for a day, I woke up feeling less bloated the next morning and went for a jog. I didn't feel "heavy" after that dinner, and my overall run was amazing since I felt lighter and leaner and energized. In fact, I felt as if I could have I kept running if I didn't have to get back to work and file this story. I asked myself, "Is it worth trying again?"
Yes, since of course, I am committed to eating plant-based and I actually find intermittent fasting helpful to just feel lean if I only do it from time to time. As for going keto again, I honestly don't want to try since it felt like a chore and the food options are so limited. However, if it's only for a day, then game on!