Nature offers a lot of wonders, and one of which is the ability of our bodies to adapt to the food we consume. A perfect example of this is when you overload your intake of fats and omit carbohydrates from your diet, inducing it to burn ketones as its main source of energy. This diet, which promotes low-carb consumption, goes by the term Ketogenic Diet. In this article we will explore the vegan ketogenic diet.

What is Ketogenic Diet?

Ketogenic diet mainly involves observing a high-fat, low-carb and protein-rich diet regimen. It was originally formulated to address and control epilepsy condition in children. The diet pushes the body to burn fats instead of carbohydrates. Carbs are typically converted into glucose and is usually our main source of energy—but not everyone would have the ability to convert glucose into energy. There are illnesses, such as in diabetics, which prevent people from doing so. So what about an alternative?

If the body starts to consume less carbohydrates, the liver begins to produce ketones. These ketone bodies will be transported into the brain and substitute glucose as its main source of energy. This is also the main reason why ketogenic diet is recommended for epilepsy patients. Higher ketone counts in the body would pave way to ketosis, a condition which helps in alleviating epileptic seizures.

According to recent studies done on this effect, more than half of the children, and younger individuals stricken with epilepsy showed improvement by switching to this diet. The number of seizure attacks dropped by at least half, which carried on as the fully implemented the switch into their lifestyles. Some studies had also showed that this diet posed benefits for adults with epilepsy alike.

Brief History

The use of the Ketogenic diet goes way back to the early 1900s. As mentioned earlier, it was initially developed in the 1920s for managing pediatric epilepsy. Eventually, its use diminished with the introduction of anti-convulsant drugs.

The classic version of this diet observes a 4:1 ratio of weight to fat, along with carbohydrate and protein. Under this diet regimen, high-carbohydrate foods are strictly avoided. Some examples include: starchy fruits, bread, vegetables, grains, pasta, and sugar. Meanwhile, consumption of foods high in fat including cream, nuts and butter are increased, because of its long-chain triglycerides (LCTs) component.

During the 90s, renowned Hollywood film producer Jim Abrahams made use of the ketogenic diet for the benefit of his epilepsy stricken son. Observing the positive results and how it had benefitted his son’s condition for the better, he went on to spearhead the Charlie Foundation as part of his advocacy of promoting the diet.

Ketogenic Diet comes in various types as well:

  • Standard ketogenic diet or SKD is a very low-carb regimen with moderate protein and high-fat intake. The breakdown is usually 75 percent fat, 20 percent protein and 5 percent carbs.

 

  • Vegan ketogenic diet is a variant that practices veganism or consumption of only low-carb vegetables. As opposed to the traditional Ketogenic diet that encourages intake of animal fats, the vegan Ketogenic diet urges a higher fat-to-carb macronutrient proportion.

 

  • Targeted ketogenic diet or the (TKD) promotes higher carb intake in between work-outs. This helps in targeting specific parts of the body while increasing the person’s metabolic rate as well.

 

  • Cyclical ketogenic diet or (CKD) mainly involves a specific period of higher-carb eating cycle. For instance, the practitioner would first indulge in 5 ketogenic diet days, to be succeeded by a 2-day high-carb diet.

 

  • High-protein ketogenic diet is pretty much the same as the standard ketogenic diet, but it also allocates a higher portion for protein. The breakdown is at 60 percent fat, 35 percent protein and 5 percent carbs.

The most widely practiced variant is the standard or SKD, while the rest of the types are typically utilized by specific sets of people such as, athletes and bodybuilders who are into high-discipline diet regimens.

Ketogenic Diet today

Today the Ketogenic diet is primarily known as a low-carb diet and is practiced by many people to help promote good health and weight loss. There’s a lot of excited buzz about its benefits and plenty of different programs are now available for people to follow— from food planning to observing a 2-week or 30-day meal plan program, it is much easier for people to really follow this particular diet regimen.

Some high-profile celebrities including Kim Kardashian, Adriana Lima, Megan Fox and LeBron James have all given this diet a try, and all of them talk highly of the benefits that it can provide. That said, how exactly does it benefit the body? Check out the list below:

What are the main benefits of a Vegan Ketogenic Diet?

  1. Primarily, it helps with controlling weight gain. This is done by inducing an optimal level of ketones in the body and boosting its effects with regular exercise. Combined, these two would substantially help in weight loss and weight maintenance. The diet is at the very core of this particular program, but exercise and physical activity is just as important.

 

  1. It can help improve your overall mood. As the saying goes, doing right by the body will also pose benefit for the mind. Physical activity and right kind of food could help in stimulating the body’s endorphin production, the hormone that is responsible for creating feelings of happiness and contentment in our brain.

 

  1. Ketogenic diet is known to help curb the appetite. The need to snack and constant craving are some of the most prevalent challenges of dieting and these would often lead to binging after. When you observe a low-carb diet, the body will respond to this by actually reducing your appetite and making you feel fuller for longer. This is important as binge eating is one of the biggest reasons why people tend to quit dieting after a while.

 

  1. Have you been meaning to get rid of your fatty belly? Ketogenic diet has the answer to that. Since not all of the fat stored in the body is the same in nature, ketogenic diet targets a very specific one: visceral fat. This is the fat surrounding the abdominal cavity and around the internal organs of the body. These can be very harmful if left unchecked, and causes dysfunction in metabolism.

 

  1. Longevity is one of the benefits of practicing ketosis diet. This low-carb, healthy eating habit will boosts your overall health and if maintained, it can actually extend your life. Of course, this is the natural effect of improving your lifestyle and only consuming things that are good for you.

 

  1. Another benefit of the Ketogenic diet is the intake of higher High Density Lipoprotein (HDL), often dubbed as “good cholesterol”. On the other hand, you have LDL which actually transports cholesterol from the liver to the body system whilst HDL is responsible for carrying cholesterol away, placing it to the liver where the body can excrete the fats. The higher your body’s HDL levels, the lower will your risk of heart disease will be. Ketogenic diet, which promotes low-card diet, will help the body gather more of this good cholesterol.
  2. It reduces your risk of developing diabetes. Carbs are typically broken down into simple sugars in the body when consumed, which is then transported into the bloodstream. In effect this actually increases the blood sugar levels in our body. However, if you cut down carbs in your diet, these toxic high blood sugars will also be lowered. This increases insulin response to prevent blood sugar spike.

Vegan ketogenic diet can also help in lowering your risk of the following diseases:

Cancer. Some studies show that this kind of diet helps in alleviating risks of cancer and hinder the growth of a tumor in the body. If your family has a history of cancer in the family, try this diet out.

Heart disease. Since a vegan ketogenic diet observes a low-carb diet, the heart can benefit from this practice. It lowers the risk of heightened blood pressure, reduced HDL levels and high blood sugar.

Alzheimer’s disease: The Ketogenic diet has also been proven to prevent the progression of this disease, helping in the body’s neurological functions.

Parkinson’s disease: Certain studies do show that this diet could help when it comes to preventing and improving the symptoms of this illness.

Polycystic ovary syndrome: Insulin levels are kept at an ideal level when the Ketogenic diet is observed. This helps significantly when it comes to improving the state of PCOS-stricken patients.

Brain injuries: In case of serious brain traumas, a study had proven that this diet has helped in improving conditions in concussions and help recovery after brain injury.

Acne: Lower consumption of sugar and improved level of insulin in the body would help in alleviating acne problems.

How to jumpstart your vegan ketogenic diet:

Though vegan ketogenic diet may sound very restricting when it comes to food choices, but consider that it does more good to the body, and the end results will be worth it.

Meeting your daily protein requirements while on a vegetarian keto diet plan can be challenging. Protein is as important as your carb intake. Inadequate protein intake will lead to muscle loss. This means that you will burn less calories while at rest and tend to become hungrier sooner. Your protein intake should always be in line with your physical activities, to compensate with your supplies.

I recommend you check out meatfreeketo for vegan recipes.

What to eat

To begin with, it is important that you consume more “real food”. This would include food items such as: yogurt, fruits, eggs, nuts, and of course, the healthy kind of vegetables and fruits. If you wish to practice vegan ketogenic diet, here are some starters where you can derive your nutrients from.

Clean out your pantry and fridge, then start filling it up with non-starchy vegetables, which are lower in carbs as compared to starchy variants. Some common non-starchy vegetables you can choose from include: kale, celery stalk, radicchio, lettuce, kohlrabi, asparagus, chards, endive, broccoli, spinach, cauliflower and other vegetables which are usually the flowering parts of the plant. Other alternatives include mushrooms, cucumber, peppers, onions, bamboo shoots and tomatoes are also considered non-starchy vegetables.

For fruits, the best choice would be avocados since it is rich in good cholesterol. Occasional intake of berries is also advised. Grapes are also good since it contains resveratrol.

In terms of beverages and condiments, the most recommended would still be water, black coffee or with cream or coconut milk, and black or herbal tea.

You can consult my Ultimate Ketogenic Diet Grocery List and see what fits your vegan necessities.

What not to eat

If you want to switch to a vegan ketogenic diet, and do so with discipline, here are some of food choices that you must avoid:

  • All food items that are rich in grains. This includes whole wheat meals including: rye, amaranth, corn, wheat, oats, sorghum, barley, rice, millet, bulgur, buckwheat and sprouted grains. Other food to be avoided include quinoa and white potatoes.
  • Common fast food or restaurant foods should be consumed in moderation. Pasta meals, pizza, bread, cookies and crackers are also red flag items.
  • Contrary to popular belief, no-sugar, ‘low-fat’ offerings tend to bring more harm than good. Artificial sweeteners like the popular alternatives such as: Stevia, Splenda, and Equal, all contain components like Acesulfame, Aspartame, Saccharin and Sucralose. These ingredients may induce cravings and other health issues when consumed regularly.
  • Of course, if you want to strictly follow a ketogenic diet, you need to steer away from sugar and sweets which can be found in chocolates, cakes and most importantly, in carbonated soft drinks.
  • Other processed foods which contain excessive MSG. Do avoid carrageenan or almond milk products, sulphites, BPAs and wheat gluten. You need to be extra careful and pay attention to the nutritional facts of every food you consume.
  • Refined fats and oils such as canola, cottonseed, sunflower, safflower, corn oil, soybean, grapeseed, and trans-fat sources such as margarine should be banned from your diet regimen.
  • Milk, which lacks the good kind of bacteria, should be consumed in moderation. Ideally, choose those with full-fat, but only small amounts. Milk is also high in carbs.
  • If you like having fruit juice, try opting for smoothies instead. Fruits like pineapple, papaya, mango, banana, which are all high in sugar, should be taken in moderation as well. Even 100 percent freshly squeezed juices tend to have high levels of sugar in them. Smoothies, on the other hand, are more sating.
  • Vegan ketogenic diet users should avoid soy-based products, apart from a certain non-GMO fermented products with health benefits.

Health and safety

Before getting started and completely switching up your diet, always go in depth with the potential dangers and risks of adapting the vegan ketogenic diet. As the saying goes, too much of a good thing can also be very dangerous.

  • First, you need to check on your current health condition. The sudden change to a low-carb diet can be very dangerous if your condition isn’t suited for it.
  • Patients stricken with type 2 diabetes can gain advantage from weight loss and a low-carb diet since it will help in improving their insulin sensitivity, but some specialists suggest that this is not a long term solution for such conditions.
  • It could lead to issues such as: kidney damage, heartbeat abnormality, osteoporosis, and irregular heartbeat, unusual levels of lipid in the body and worse, sudden death.

How do you do this diet successfully, without posing any risks and dangers to your own health? To ensure safety of your own well-being, here are some tips in doing and jumpstarting your vegan ketogenic diet:

First, you need to consult with a health professional prior to changing anything about your food intake. A dietitian or a licensed nutritionist would help in determining the right about of food portion for your body.

Another important tip is to avoid going into a crash diet. The changes shouldn’t happen overnight because your body will have a hard time adjusting to sudden difference in nutrient level. If you want to adapt the vegan ketogenic diet, ensure that you do it gradually, without depriving yourself.

Finally, do it with the intent of improving your own welfare, not just for the fad. Just because your favorite celebrity is doing it doesn’t mean that you should, too. Take into consideration what your body needs, and treat it with utmost care. Do it in moderation, without overworking yourself and depriving your body of what it truly needs just for the aesthetics. Vegan ketogenic diet has its own benefits, and you should practice it because you need it, not because of the Barbie-like figure you’re after.

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