What is a Vegetarian Keto Diet?

Are you a vegetarian interested in experiencing the many benefits of a ketogenic diet? Or perhaps already living a keto lifestyle and have been thinking about giving up meat. Keto can be incorporated into most vegetarian lifestyles. Of course, the more liberal forms of vegetarianism such as Pescatarians ( eating seafood, dairy, and eggs) and Lacto-ovo vegetarians ( eating dairy and eggs but avoiding seafood) allow for a wider range of food choices.

Be aware, though, that on a vegetarian keto diet, it’s possible to become deficient in protein, certain essential fats, and some vitamins and minerals. However, your risk for nutrient deficiencies depends on what type of vegetarian diet you follow and the variety of foods you eat. The more restrictive your diet, the more likely you are to become deficient.

3-step action plan to get started:

  • Reduce carbohydrates
    • In order to get into ketosis and remain there, it’s best to limit your net carb intake to 20 grams per day. This means avoiding popular vegetarian protein sources such as quinoa, buckwheat, and legumes.
  • Ensure every meal includes a source of high-quality protein
    • Combining low-carb plant proteins such as nuts and seeds with animal protein sources like dairy and eggs can improve the protein quality of a vegetarian diet. The general rule of thumb is to get approximately 1.2-2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. Some of the high-quality proteins to include are eggs, greek yogurt, cottage cheese, hemp seeds, tofu, edamame, and tempeh.
    • Remember that even vegetables provide a small amount of protein, typically around 2 grams per cup. To ensure adequate protein intake, prioritize consuming protein from minimally processed whole foods over supplements such as protein powders, bars, or shakes. Whole foods are more likely to provide important micronutrients and less likely to contain unnecessary fillers.
      • Egg: Contains high-quality, easily digestible protein; provides choline which has been associated with better brain function. 14 grams of protein and 1 gram of carb per two large eggs
      • Greek yogurt: Rich in protein; excellent source of calcium, potassium, and magnesium; provides probiotics that are potentially beneficial for gut health and immunity. 15 to 20 grams of protein and 4 to 7 grams of carbs per 6 ounces (170 grams)
      • Cottage cheese: 20 grams of protein and 6 grams of carbs per 6 ounces (170 grams)
      • Hemp seeds: High in protein; rich in soluble fiber; a great source of magnesium, potassium, and omega-3 fatty acids. 9 grams of protein and 1 gram of net carb per ounce (28 grams)
      • Tofu (extra firm): 24 grams of protein and 3 grams of net carbs per 8 ounces (240 grams)
      • Edamame (green soybeans): 19 grams of protein and 6 grams of net carbs per 5.5 ounces (155 grams)
      • Tempeh: 18 to 20 grams of protein and 7 grams of net carbs per 3.5 ounces (100 grams)
  • Eat 1-3 servings of low-carb vegetables at least twice a day
    • Eating a sufficient amount of vegetables is an important aspect of the ketogenic diet. Not only do vegetables provide important micronutrients, but they also contribute to a healthy gut microbiome and can help to increase feelings of fullness. On the keto diet, it is recommended to eat 1-3 servings of non-starchy vegetables twice a day to meet your daily nutritional needs.
    • Non-starchy vegetables like leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower, and bell peppers are particularly well-suited for the ketogenic diet as they are low in carbohydrates and high in fiber. These vegetables can be easily incorporated into meals such as salads, stir-fries, and omelets. Eating a variety of different colored vegetables will ensure that you are getting a wide range of micronutrients as well.

Here are our Top-10 Low-Carb Vegetables: All numbers are net carbs per 100 grams (3½ ounces).

  1. Cauliflower – 3 g.
  2. Cabbage – 3 g.
  3. Avocado – 2 g.
  4. Broccoli – 4 g.
  5. Zucchini – 3 g.
  6. Spinach – 1 g.
  7. Asparagus – 2 g.
  8. Kale – 3 g.
  9. Green beans – 4 g.
  10. Brussels sprouts – 5 g.