Vegan Keto? Is that even possible?
If you’ve read our blogs and are familiar with the keto diet by now, then you know it's based on swapping your body's main and preferred source of energy from carbohydrates to fat. By consistently eating a diet very low in carbs, high in fat, and moderate in protein, your body will enter the state of Nutritional ketosis—which can result in weight loss. But the diet can be a bit trickier to maintain than a simple definition lets on—especially when it comes to certain food groups, like dairy.
But before that, let’s address this one thing:
Can you go the Keto route if you’re a Vegan?
Many Vegans wonder if it’s possible to go keto while maintaining their vegan lifestyles. We’re here to tell you that with some planning and reliable guidelines, the answer is yes! You can remain vegan and go the keto route. A vegan diet eliminates all animal-sourced foods and products and strictly adheres to “plant-based foods” centered on fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, and grains.
This makes it the strictest form of a vegetarian diet. Vegans not only eliminate meat and fish, they also steer clear of eggs, cheese, milk etc.
On the surface, the distance between people who follow the keto diet and vegans might seem unbridgeable. But where they often meet is in a shared desire to cut out toxic processed foods, while taking control of their health through intentional eating.
If you’re a vegan and you’re all-in for the benefits of fat, vegan keto is definitely possible, healthy, and sustainable.
Going for a Vegan Keto diet is a great opportunity to learn more about nutrition and cooking, and improve your health. Getting your nutrients from plant foods allows more room in your diet for health-promoting options like nuts, seeds and vegetables, which are packed full of beneficial fibre, vitamins and minerals.
Here are 6 reasons why you may want to consider doing a dairy-free Keto Diet
1. Lactose Intolerance
Unlike allergies to dairy protein, lactose intolerance is the inability to properly digest and absorb lactose, the sugar found in dairy.
People with lactose intolerance don't produce the enzyme lactase, which breaks lactose into smaller sugar units that can be absorbed. Without lactase, lactose passes into the colon, where it typically causes bloating, gas, pain, and diarrhea within minutes to an hour after consumption.
With the exception of milk, most milk products like cheese, paneer, yogurt, cream, butter and ghee are relatively low on lactose, and may be suitable for some lactose intolerant people to consume in small quantities.
2. Some dairy products may raise insulin levels
Of the three macronutrients — protein, carbs, and fat — carbs have been shown to raise blood sugar levels the most, by far.
And when blood sugar goes up, it triggers your pancreas to release insulin. An insulin spike may kick you out of ketosis and hamper your diet.
Since lactose (milk sugar) breaks down to glucose during digestion, consuming high-lactose dairy products can raise both blood sugar and insulin levels.
If you are someone who is severely insulin resistant, even small amounts of lactose in otherwise keto friendly dairy products may spike your glucose levels and be unsuitable on a Keto diet.
3. Dairy may cause cravings
Although dairy is often considered filling, some people find that eating it causes cravings for more. One piece of cheese leads to another, then another. For some, it may seem almost impossible to stop eating.
4. Too much dairy may cause weight-loss stalls
Cheese, cream, butter and yogurt are very tasty in part because they are also fat dense. Unfortunately, the flip side of being so delicious is that they can be very easy to over consume.
Yes, these foods are generally a good fit for a low-carb or keto lifestyle. But eating too much of them may potentially cause a weight-loss stall — whether from too many calories, too many carbs, or a combination of both.
5. Persistent Acne
Dairy may increase your susceptibility to acne breakouts or exacerbate existing acne, although this seems to vary from person to person. Dairy whey has been shown to increase insulin and insulin-like growth factor, both of which have been implicated in acne.
6. Lactose Allergies
Additional reasons for going dairy free include troubleshooting digestive issues, rashes, or other skin problems which may be attributed to a lactose related allergy or you may just want to see if you feel better without dairy in your diet.
And here is our cheat sheet to successfully follow a fully Vegan Keto Diet
Milk on Keto? Yeah or Nah?
Following a milk-free lifestyle is becoming increasingly popular. Although low-carb milk products provide health benefits and can be included on keto diets, some people do best with minimal milk, and some avoid it altogether.
Some popular milk replacements are:
And some unusual milk replacements are Macadamia Nut milk, Flax Milk, Pea milk and others
Since vegans will obviously not be getting any protein from meat or dairy sources in their diet, they also need to find good sources of plant-based protein. Fortunately, there are dozens of healthy sources of plant-based proteins including:
Low-Carb Nuts like walnuts, almonds, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, pecans etc
Low-Carb Seeds such as flax seeds, chia seeds, and pumpkin seeds.
Unsweetened Nut and seed butters such as peanut butter, almond butter, sunflower butter, amongst others, provide a great source of high protein as well as healthy fats
Plant based protein supplements
Ghee - replace with cold pressed vegetable oil
Cheese/Paneer - Low-Carb Vegan Cheese, Tofu, Paneer
Cream - Low-Carb Plant based cream like Coconut Cream ,Cashew Cream, Onion Cream, Tofu and Soy Milk etc. are great replacements depending on the recipe
A vegan keto diet will be low in protein, so to shore up on protein include plant based protein supplements. Don't forget to include Multivitamins, Omega 3 and Vitamin D3 supplements - Don’t worry, they’re all available in Vegan alternatives.
Although dairy is so widely loved, this doesn’t change the fact that some of us struggle to digest some of its compounds. Whether it is due to the fact that you are not able to break down significant amounts of lactose or because your immune system is reacting to dairy proteins, dairy might be impairing your well being in some way.