Q: What is Ketosis?
A: Ketosis is a natural process that occurs in your body when it is either starving or believes that it is starving. It is the use of your fat storage areas as a fuel source when your body is not getting any carbohydrates. When this process begins, your body will start using your fat as your sole source of energy.
However, it can also occur if you cut all of your carbohydrate foods and focus solely on eating protein and fats. This type of diet tricks your body into thinking it is starving and forcing it to enter this process. Meanwhile, you are providing it with a healthy source of foods that are rich in nutrients and keeping it active.
Q: Why Does Ketosis Help Me Lose Weight?
A: When your body falls into ketosis, any fat that you eat during a day converts into energy. That’s because your body is not using sugar from carbohydrates to power itself. Normally, sugar is your body’s main fuel, particularly high-quality and complex sugars. Therefore, most of the fat from the foods that you eat during the day when on a carb-heavy diet gets stored in your body, instead of being used as energy.
That’s because eating sugar produces a high level of insulin in your body. This chemical is used to synthesize sugar and turn it into fuel for your body’s cells. However, insulin also naturally suppresses the fat-burning abilities of your body and causes frustrating fat storage instead of fat burning. While this is an annoying process that millions of people try to fight every year, it is a natural self-defense mechanism that your body uses to protect you against potential starvation.
However, few people in a modern first-world country run into true starvation any more. As a result, most end up eating high levels of fat on a carb-rich diet and store more than they need on their body. This cycle can become severe and force a person into obesity. However, going into ketosis helps to eliminate this problem by literally converting your body into a fat-burning machine. As you’ll have no carbohydrates in your diet, your body will be forced to burn nothing but fat and will slim you down almost against its will.
Q: Is This a Healthy Dietary Routine?
A: Those who are used to a diet high in healthy carbohydrate foods, like fruits and vegetables, may think that a diet focused solely on proteins and fats would be very unhealthy. They would be right in some instances. That’s because it is possible to do a ketogenic diet poorly. Those on this type of diet may end up overdoing certain types of foods or not taking supplements to keep their body healthy.
This danger is particularly real for those who are on a meat-heavy ketogenic diet. These individuals run the risk of bogging their digestive system down in too much meat and cheese and may cause acute constipation. However, those on a ketogenic vegan diet also need to be careful because they are going to be even more limited than those who are on a meat-heavy ketogenic diet.
That said, it is safe to eat a ketogenic diet indefinitely if you make sure to eat a balanced diet filled with a rich assortment of foods. You should also take a heavy dose of various supplements to ensure that your vitamin and nutrient levels remain at a high and healthy range. Otherwise, you run the risk of severe undernourishment and may end up needing real medical treatment to recover.
Q: What Types of Supplements Should I Take?
A: There are several types of supplements that you can take to increase the effectiveness of your ketogenic vegan diet. However, even those on a less-restricted meat ketogenic diet should consider taking the following supplements to ensure that their body stays healthy and strong:
- Multivitamin for your specific gender
- Vitamin B complex
- Vitamin D
Fiber is particularly important because a ketogenic diet may cause some intestinal slowdown or constipation. Thankfully, those on a ketogenic vegan diet are probably already eating foods that are high in fiber. However, they are also limited in a way that can be very challenging to master and which may further limit their nutrient intake. Later on, I’ll discuss the foods that you can eat and can’t eat on this diet to give you a better idea of your restrictions and your dietary possibilities.
Q: Is Calorie Counting Necessary for Ketogenic Diets?
A: Most low-fat and high-carb weight-loss routines force you to count your calories in a way that can drive a lot of people crazy. Those who are sick of having to do that can rejoice because ketogenic diets don’t force you to count calories. In fact, you are free to eat as much as you want, provided that you stick to foods that are high in protein and fats. Obviously, eating foods that are healthier for you, such as low-carbohydrate vegetables, is recommended. However, you still need to eat a heavy dose of protein and fat to ensure you kickstart your ketosis.
That said, you probably aren’t going to end up eating an excessive amount of food while on a ketogenic diet. That’s because protein is a denser nutrient and foods high in it take up more room in your stomach. They are also more difficult to digest and force your system to go into overdrive breaking down the food and ensuring that it gets processed by your system. All that extra digestion breaks protein down more efficiently, provides you with more extended periods of satiation, and avoids the hunger pangs and energy dips that come with diets high in carbohydrates and sugar.
As a result, you are naturally going to eat fewer calories than you probably would on a standard high-carbohydrate diet. Even better, you will be eating foods that are richer in nutrients, meaning that you will have fewer empty calories than you did on your previous diet. And while you might not eat as few calories as you would on a low-fat diet, that doesn’t matter because your body is burning those calories more efficiently. That’s because fat provides you with a longer-lasting and higher-quality source of body fuel that will stick with you throughout the whole day.
Therefore, the little food that you do eat in a day converts into just the right amount of calories for your day-to-day life. However, it is still important to avoid overeating when on this type of diet. Even if there aren’t strict caloric restrictions on a ketogenic diet, overeating any food is always a recipe for weight gain. Try to find a level of food that satisfies you on this diet without being too excessive. After discovering that balance in your diet, make sure you stick to it to see your waistline shrink.
Q: How Do I Measure My Carbohydrates?
A: The trickiest part of any ketogenic diet is making sure that your carbohydrates fall below the proper threshold. This limit varies between about 25-50 grams of carbs per day. The lower your level of carbohydrates, the more successful your diet will be for losing weight. However, it can be tough for some people to reach the lowest range limit. Find a carbohydrate intake that is comfortable for you and stay with it.
As for measuring your carbohydrates, there are a few ways that you can achieve this goal. Start by reading the labels of the food you eat and getting an idea of how much carbohydrates are in each serving of food. For example, let’s say you want to make a red bean salad using a half-cup of these carefully prepared beans. As they are the main ingredient, you want to make sure that you aren’t adding too much or that their carbohydrate levels won’t overpower your protein intake.
When examining the label, you find that a half-cup of kidney beans has about 55 total grams of carbohydrates. At first, you might think that this means that eating this amount would put you over your acceptable level of carbs for the day. You might put your beans to the side and feel depressed that your restricted vegan diet just lost one of its best friends. That isn’t the case, thankfully, because much of the carbohydrates in red beans are fiber. Fortunately, this nutrient does not count against you in your carb intake. That’s because you are only concerned about the sugar in these foods, as this is the nutrient that will prevent you from achieving ketosis.
As a result, you need to calculate your net carbohydrate count by subtracting your fiber count (in this case, 23 grams per half-cup of kidney beans) by the total number of carbs. That leaves you with 32 grams of net carbohydrates. That level is still within your 25-50 gram limit and isn’t a bad investment if you already have a low carb count for the day, as that half-cup will contain nearly 22 grams of protein. That said, you need to make sure the rest of your salad doesn’t cross your carb threshold. It might be a good idea to cut your bean serving in half to allow a little more variety and diversity in your diet later.
Q: How Long Will It Take to Enter Ketosis?
A: The change from sugar-burning to ketosis should take only a handful of days to achieve for most people. Cutting your carbohydrate levels to below 50 grams per day, eating a high level of protein and fat, and exercising can also increase this process. Extra exercise is a great idea because it will burn the sugar in your body and speed up the process even further. And if you can somehow dip below 30 grams of carbohydrates in your first few days, your rate of success will be faster.
However, those who are obese or who don’t work out very often are more likely to suffer from an extended period of adjustment that may be frustrating and distracting. In some cases, it might take you up to a week to get into ketosis. As a result, you may not see weight loss during this period unless you take active changes to your lifestyle. Anyone who is interested in this type of diet should get up and start moving. Even walking for 15-30 minutes a day will get your blood pumping, burn sugar, and keep your body headed towards ketosis.
As your body begins to adapt to this process, various changes will start to occur in your body. For example, your mind will have to convert its energy consumption to suit the new ketones produced by your body and its unique diet. Ketones are the source of energy you create when in ketosis. As your body used mostly sugar and carbohydrates for power before your changed to a vegan keto routine, various organs (such as the liver, kidney, and your muscles) will have to adapt to using just ketones instead of carbs for their power.
This change is what is known as keto-adaption. Few keto experts talk about it because it often frustrates or confuses people and may steer them away from this diet. However, fully understanding it can help you know why it is an excellent part of the overall keto experience. Essentially, keto-adaption is the process of your body thoroughly adjusting to a ketone-based lifestyle. Once it reaches this state, it will use ketones at a highly-efficient level. Unfortunately, entering keto-adaption can take anywhere from a month to several months to achieve.
That doesn’t mean that your weight loss is impossible while you adapt to ketosis. However, it may be limited compared to the levels you can reach when you fully adjust to this diet and its unique demands. Therefore, sticking with this type of dietary routine is crucial if you plan on achieving maximum levels of weight loss and keeping it off for an extended period.
Q: Won’t Eating Fat Make Me Fatter?
A: This common misconception is an understandable one because the correlation between eating fat and gaining fat seems so obvious. After all, if you eat excessive fat, it should follow that your body would end up storing more fat than it would normally store. However, fat is a more complex nutrient than it probably seems to most people. That fact is highlighted by the different divisions of fats available in foods.
For example, some fats are unhealthy because they lack nutrients and are just empty calories. These types are usually known as saturated fats. Eating a diet high in these fats can raise your unhealthy cholesterol and put you at risk for severe heart disease. However, eating unsaturated fats can lower your cholesterol and improve your overall health in a variety of ways.
That said, eating nothing but foods high in unsaturated fats isn’t a good idea for your health. Your body needs a variety of foods and requires a careful balance of nutrients. Healthy fats are just one part that helps keep your body operating smoothly and with a maximum level of energy. Just as importantly, it is crucial to remember why your body retains fat and why it forces you to gain weight. This connection is mostly related to the ways that eating excessive carbohydrates causes fat retention.
Fat gain only occurs if you overeat and the insulin in your body forces it to store the fat in your diet. That’s because your body naturally wants to save fat as an emergency power source in case of starvation. It still behaves as it did in ancient times and believes you go through periods of feast and famine. As a result, it will retain fat when you eat a lot and burn fat when you aren’t eating at all. However, a diet high in carbohydrates further worsens your chances of fat gain because it increases your levels of insulin. As a result, it will be harder to rid of that fat lingering around on your body.
So, ironically, eating fat is not the main reason that you gain weight. While a diet high in fat can be both healthy and unhealthy, fat alone is not responsible for your weight gain. This fact is particularly the case for those who are a vegan diet. While you don’t see overweight vegans very often, it is possible. This situation may seem impossible but occurs because of their high-carbohydrate diet. The little fat that they do eat gets immediately stored and won’t go away. As a result, they may end up slowly getting heavier over the years. Switching to a ketogenic diet can help burn it more efficiently.
Q: What Foods Can I Eat on a Vegan Ketogenic Diet?
A: On a typical ketogenic diet, you will be allowed to eat a pretty broad variety of foods. These include various types of meat, multiple kinds of cheese, yogurt, and other protein-rich items that are low in carbs but high in fat and protein. However, you can’t eat these foods as a vegan. As a result, it is going to be very hard for you to find a suitable routine.
That said, you can still eat many of the same vegan-friendly foods that you love while on this diet. For example, you can eat a variety of delicious nuts, like almonds and macadamia. Try to integrate these healthy-fat-rich ingredients into your dishes to bring out a maximum amount of taste. Make sure that you limit yourself when eating these nuts, though, as it is very easy to binge on them if you aren’t careful. Other foods that you can eat regularly include:
- Some fruits (avocados, coconut, berries, and tomatoes)
- Non-starchy vegetables (watercress, spinach, kale, and broccoli)
- Black tea, coffee, and dark chocolate (80-90 percent cocoa)
- Some artificial sweeteners
- Fermented foods (sauerkraut, kombucha, kimchi, kefir, full-fat plain yogurt)
- Low-carbohydrate replacement foods (coconut oil, non-carbohydrate noodles, coconut flour, etc.)
The fermented food category is a bit of a controversial one within the vegan ketogenic community. Many vegans won’t eat fermented foods because they contain active and healthy bacteria. In their view, eating these kinds of food is an act akin to taking a life and is not acceptable. However, other vegans will be okay with eating fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi because they are not as concerned about bacteria. These vegans believe that simply breathing is likely to destroy these organisms. This choice is something to seriously consider before creating your ketogenic vegan eating schedule.
As you can see, there is a significant limitation on the kinds of foods you can eat while on this diet. Usually, many vegans fill out their food intake with high levels of carbohydrate foods, such as bread and noodles, to create a healthy diet. However, those on a ketogenic diet cannot use meat to fill out their food intake the way that those who eat meat can do. That said, you aren’t doomed to be uncomfortable or unhappy while on this diet. There are many ways that you can overcome these limitations.
In particular, using replacement products, such as coconut flour and non-carbohydrate noodles, is crucial for those on this diet. These replacement foods are designed for ketogenic diets and are usually vegan-friendly. Ketogenic noodles are particularly useful because they will fill you up in the way that standard types do but will provide you with protein instead of carbohydrates. Make sure to check the labels of any of these items before buying them to ensure that they meet your ethical vegan standards. Then, you can integrate these items into your meals to help make it a lot easier to transition to this healthy weight-loss routine.
Q: How Often Should I Eat on a Ketogenic Vegan Diet?
A: An eating schedule for a ketogenic diet is different than the program for a standard carb-heavy one. While many on this routine typically eat anywhere from once every 2-5 hours, it is possible for those on a ketogenic diet to eat just once a day. That’s because the high content of protein in their diet will take a longer time to digest and keep them satiated throughout the day. This step requires carefully planning your meal, dividing it up into appropriate proportions and food types, and taking upwards of 1-2 hours to eat everything.
That said, you don’t have to take that approach if you feel uncomfortable with its unique demands. Instead, you can stick to a typical breakfast, lunch, and dinner schedule if that feels best for you. However, you can also integrate a few healthy snacks between meals if you prefer that schedule. The trick is to eat only when you honestly feel hungry. Don’t eat just because you have a craving for a handful of berries. Instead, only eat when your stomach tells you it is time and you feel hunger. In this way, you can make sure that you satisfy your body and prevent yourself from feeling excessively hungry at inopportune times.
And if you feel full before finishing everything you have prepared, place what you haven’t eaten in plastic containers, seal them, and store in the refrigerator. Don’t force yourself to eat everything just because your mother always told you to clean your plate. Instead, you can warm them up either later in the day if you feel hungry or the next day and save yourself a little money on meal preparation. That said, you’re not likely to eat it later in the day because those on a ketogenic diet don’t suffer from the same kind of hunger pangs that those on a standard carbohydrate diet feel.
That’s because those hunger urges are caused by dips in your blood sugar and not real hunger. Your body will need sugar to keep going when you’re on a carbohydrate-heavy diet and will activate the hunger urge even if you are quite satiated. As a result, you will overeat even if your stomach is filled with food. On a ketogenic vegan diet, you won’t suffer from those urges because your blood sugar will remain in a stable state. Therefore, you can trust your stomach more fully and stay on the right path towards ketogenic success with all the benefits.
Q: Why Did I Gain Weight on My Ketogenic Diet?
A: Those who gain weight on a ketogenic diet usually do so because they overeat their protein-rich and fatty food. While there are no caloric restrictions for most ketogenic dietary routines, you still have to follow common sense and avoid overeating. The exact amount of calories you can eat will vary depending on your needs. Experiment a bit here to find out what level is right for your needs.
However, some people gain a little weight after about two weeks of strictly following this routine. This reaction usually occurs after people lose anywhere from 5-15 pounds in the first week. That initial weight is often water weight and usually balances out after a week. That said, the weight gain suffered during the second or third week can be frustrating and may throw people off of this routine.
Don’t worry if this happens to you while on this diet. That usually happens because your body is adjusting to the routine and its new balance of water and sugar. In layman’s terms, you are just suffering from a little water retention. This extra weight will pass in a few days. In fact, any kind of diet is likely to suffer from this type of temporary setback early in its routine. So just stick to it and wait for your weight loss to continue. If it does not, adjust your caloric intake to avoid overeating.
Q: Are There Any Other Unique Demands for Vegans on a Ketogenic Diet?
A: Vegans on a ketogenic diet can follow every other demand of this dietary routine without suffering from any significant setbacks. There are no hidden rules that you have to follow that make it more challenging to achieve ketosis. Sticking to a strictly vegan diet will be challenging enough for you to manage without any other issues to consider. Just as long as you avoid eating an excessive amount of carbohydrates, you should get into ketosis and stay there as long as you follow this pattern of eating.
I would suggest, however, exercising a bit more than usual. This step is crucial because it helps to increase your protein synthesis and builds your muscles. Bigger muscles are a great addition to your body because they will burn more calories than fat while you are at rest. As a result, you can be an even more efficient fat-burning machine. There are many types of exercises that you can consider for this type of weight-loss method.
Q: How Fast Will I Lose Weight?
A: Just like with most weight-loss methods, expect a 5-10 pound loss in the first week or two. That rapid change is usually caused by losing water, not actual fat. You are probably burning more like 3-4 pounds of fat during this early period. After that, you should settle into a stable, but effective, routine of burning 1-2 pounds per week. You may burn more than that during individual weeks but should stay around that level.
While you may be able to use increased exercise to lose weight more quickly, I strongly suggest against getting too severe or stringent. Expecting to lose 3-5 pounds every week sets yourself up for disappointment. That kind of weight loss is not healthy or sustainable. It may also be caused by muscle, not fat, loss and can be very unhealthy. Sticking to an ethical ketogenic vegan routine and doing a little exercise should help you reach that safe weight loss rate.
Just as importantly, it can set you up for a lifestyle change that becomes a permanent one. Losing weight permanently requires changing harmful eating habits and replacing them with healthy ones. If it requires that you stay on a ketogenic vegan diet permanently, you might want to consider making that change. Make sure you get the okay from your doctor before proceeding, though.
Q: What Exercises are Good for a Ketogenic Vegan Diet?
A: Exercising on a ketogenic vegan diet is always a good idea because it helps to increase the efficiency of the routine. What is particularly lovely about this weight-loss method is that just about any type of exercise routine will benefit you. It all depends on what area of your body you want to work. For example, you could perform regular cardiovascular exercises to improve your heart and lung health. These routines also help to boost your metabolism and to increase your weight-loss efficiency by upgrading your resting heart rate.
Muscle-building routines also build calories by creating a higher resting-state calorie-burning rate. This change means that you will burn more calories relaxing than you would have before putting on extra muscles. Getting into shape while on a ketogenic idea is also a good idea because you’ll have a lot of protein to use to rebuild your muscles and to boost the health of the organs in your body. They will need this fuel to stay healthy and active as your body adjusts to the ketogenic diet.
Just as importantly, make sure that you change up your routines every day to stay focused on success. Exercise boredom will sabotage your method and make it harder to stay in shape and lose weight. A typical exercise routine for a week may include:
- Monday – 30-minute jog
- Tuesday – 30 minutes of arm-based lifts
- Wednesday – 15 minutes of sprints altered with 15 minutes of walking
- Thursday – 30 minutes of leg-based lifts
- Friday – 20-minute jog and 10 minutes of sprints
- Saturday – 30 minutes of chest-based lifts
- Sunday – Rest or a 30-minute walk
Altering between cardiovascular and muscular routines helps to relax your muscles and allows them to bulk up. Taking a rest on Sunday gives you a breather before you have to dive into the exercise demands of the rest of your week. This routine will give you three hours of exercise every week and keep your body fully active during what can be a challenging period of adjustment. It will also help your food digest more fully in your stomach and make your keto more effective.
If you find this routine too strenuous or if you suffer from any pain while performing it, replace the jogs with walks and the sprints with jogs. You can then increase the intensity of these cardiovascular routines until you are more comfortable eliminating walking, except for your Wednesday sprint day. Make sure to eat a nice fat dose of protein-rich and vegan-friendly foods on that day to keep your body well-balanced and energetic. And as always, talk to your doctor before making any serious exercise or dietary changes.