When thinking of a keto diet, in addition to many fats, you often think of animal-rich protein sources such as beef, chicken, pork, fatty fish and eggs. But did you know that you can follow this high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet and still eat vegetables? This is where the vegan ketogenic diet comes in. Long-time vegans Whitney Lauritsen and Nicole Derseweh recently put together the Vegan Ketogenic Diet Cookbook, which contains “75 high-fat, low-carb, dairy-free recipes” and Parade.com. I met the duo to learn about the benefits of being vegan – and ketogenic – to eat, and how exactly you do this.
What inspired you both to go on a vegan keto diet?
Whitney: I have been vegan since 2003 and have experimented with many different variations of the vegan diet. I struggled a lot with my weight and digestion, so I decided to try a vegan version of the keto diet in August 2018 and have felt amazing since then.
Nicole: I am an O + blood group and when I initially went plant-based I had an iron deficiency. I researched my blood type and found that O + worked really well with an iron-rich, high-fat, and low-grain diet. And I made some adjustments and ate a lot of lentils, dark leafy greens, and really great vegetable fats like avocados and nuts. That drove my iron level up. I was able to donate blood again and noticed a decrease in inflammation in my body and a decrease in the dark circles under my eyes. And I just had a lot of energy. My brain felt like I was back in college. Whitney and I had been friends for a while and they came to me with this book concept and I started to optimize my diet and experiment with keto. And I felt really great.
Related topics: 20 simple vegetable-based bowl ideas if you’re already running out of veganuary ideas
Guide us through the basics of vegan keto diet.
Nicole: Our plan is a 75/20/5 ratio of fats, proteins and carbohydrates. 75% fat, 20% protein, 5% carbohydrates are the approximate ratio of the average keto diet and that’s exactly what you want to shoot for. A maximum of 50 net carbohydrates per day are recommended. Many people go to a lower amount of 20 net carbohydrates a day. We encourage people to experiment to see what feels good for them and to test their ketones as well. You can take a urine test, breath test, or blood test to see if you have reached ketosis or not. We also encourage people to go to the doctor and have their blood tests checked regularly to ensure that this diet is suitable for their bodies.
Whitney: Everyone is a little different. Without the support of a doctor who can do these medical tests on you, it’s really hard to tell if it works. Our goal is to give some guidelines to encourage people to try it out. Ultimately, however, each person has to work with a doctor and adjust them to determine if they work for them.
What types of fats do you eat on vegan keto?
Whitney: We firmly believe in avocados. Nuts are really great. Macadamia nuts are wonderful. Coconut oil is another great one. And what’s great about these different types of fat are the things people eat, whether they’re vegan or not.
There are apps that allow you to take in the amount of fat, protein and carbohydrates that you consume every day. My personal favorite is Lifesum. There is a free or paid version. There is also a very popular free app called My Fitness Pal. It is an online calorie counter. We used this throughout the book to calculate nutritional information and macro ratios, and to make sure everything was on the right track.
What are some signs of ketosis?
Whitney: Many people feel an increase in energy and a change in their digestion. Another thing that people often experience when they initially have ketosis is called keto flu. As a rule, this can be a temporary lack of energy, brain fog, headache, various variations of hunger, mood swings. And it basically happens here that the body goes through a short-term detox because it goes from burning sugar as fuel to burning fat as fuel. These symptoms can feel uncomfortable, but are a good sign that your body is getting into ketosis. Throughout the book you will find tips on how to reduce these effects. The number one thing is to stay hydrated. You can also minimize these effects by exercising regularly and resting sufficiently. And if you make sure you get enough minerals and nutrients from your food, these symptoms are less likely to occur. Or you can at least reduce it and not experience it for too long.
Related: Should You Try Intermittent Fasting On The Keto Diet?
What Are Good Vegan Keto Meals?
Nicole: Today Whitney and I had a chia seed pudding with coconut cream, nutmeg and cinnamon – baked with blackberries – and it was delicious. We tried another breakfast this morning, a coffee smoothie with half an avocado keto protein powder. For snacks, we make these really fun avocado boats with a tomato and bruschetta filling and eat them with flax crackers. For dinner there are stuffed peppers, carbonara noodles, rainbow kebabs and keto pizza. We love to prepare keto tacos. So it’s literally all comfort foods that people are used to, and then we give them a low-carb upgrade for all foods. But you can easily customize some really classic recipes. For example, you can prepare a cobb salad and make some small adjustments, e.g. B. exchange the animal products for additional avocados to keep to the meal plan.
What are the health benefits of vegan keto?
Nicole: So for me personally an increase in energy for sure. An increase in brain function, a decrease in inflammation in my body. Certainly less cravings for sugar. And then one thing in particular that I noticed in my workouts with a faster recovery time.
Whitney: They can also reduce the risk of serious illnesses. One of the advantages of a combination of vegan and keto is that numerous clinical studies have shown that things like type 2 diabetes can be prevented or reversed not only through a plant-based diet, but also through a ketogenic diet. There are some studies that have shown that keto and / or vegan diets can lower the risk of cancer, heart disease, and neurological disorders. This is also very exciting for us – the long-term health benefits in addition to the short-term ones.
What types of carbohydrates can you eat on a vegan keto diet?
Whitney: Many people think that keto means you don’t eat carbohydrates, but it’s actually a low-carb diet. And we’re not saying that carbohydrates are bad at all. We only say that you should aim to reduce your total net carbohydrates. And for clarity, net carbs mean total carbs minus fiber. And one of the big parts of the plant-based diet is that plant-based foods are loaded with fiber. In fact, in many foods, your net carbohydrates tend to be low. And it’s also about your daily circumstances. Some days you may eat higher amounts of carbohydrates just because you have eaten a lot of fat and protein to make up for it. And some of the dishes will be higher carbohydrates. Perhaps you treat yourself to a dinner with a higher carbohydrate content. But that’s because your breakfast and lunch contained fewer carbohydrates. We are very passionate about whole foods, as we said earlier. So we know that many people love things like sweet potatoes, brown rice and black beans. They are all very nutritious foods, but we promote the benefits of a fat-burning diet. We therefore recommend that such foods be kept to a minimum for at least the first few months of the keto.
Nicole: In some recipe developments, recipes that may traditionally contain sweet potatoes or the like, in many cases I exchanged them for something that contains fewer carbohydrates and more enzymes and that is really good for the body. So you are still very full of these dishes and feel very full and happy and really get a nutritional boost.
What else should we know about vegan keto?
Nicole: We have two goals with this book. First, we want to show people that you are vegan and keto. This is especially important for people who are already on a keto diet and may be eating more processed pet foods. So we encourage them to eat more plants.
The second side is that there are many vegans interested in doing keto and thinking about stopping their vegan diet so they can try keto because they have heard all of these great things about it. And they’re ready to eat animal products again because they don’t even realize that you can do both together. We believe that we are merging the best of both worlds so that you can improve your health and well-being while doing something for the environment. At the moment we are in a crucial time with sustainability and the importance of being environmentally conscious. One of the things we list as an advantage in this book is that you can reduce your impact on the planet by simply switching to a plant-based diet. So if you already play keto, you can become greener by playing vegan and keto together.
Learn more about the pegan diet, a mixture of paleo and vegan.