A Quick Guide to (Re)Starting a Plant-Based Ketogenic Diet

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Starting a ketogenic diet — specially a vegan, vegetarian or otherwise plant-based one — can be a unique adventure, but can also be a bit overwhelming. So, how do you easily start a vegan ketogenic diet? Here are some tips to help you embark on this journey smoothly:

Understand the Basics: A ketogenic diet is focused on low carb, moderate protein, and high healthy fat intake. For a vegan approach, this means prioritizing plant-based fats and proteins while minimizing carbs. For a comprehensive list of plant-based fats and proteins, check out my Ultimate Vegan Keto Foods List

Determine your goal: Do you want to lose weight in general? Build muscle? Balance out your hormones? Manage inflammation from an autoimmune condition? Depending on what your goal is, your macronutrient and caloric intake will vary, as will your movement goals.

Establish your macronutrient goals: Your body, lifestyle and goals will determine how many grams of protein, fat and net carbs you should be consuming in a day. There are many calculators out there, and you can work with a nutritionist for a more personalized and accurate picture of what you should be consuming in a day.

Plan Your Meals: Given the specific requirements, meal planning is crucial. Think about incorporating vegan keto-friendly foods like avocados, nuts, seeds, olive oil, and low-carb vegetables. You can plan out your own meals, or use pre-made meal plans, where the micronutrients and macronutrients have already been calculated for you. 

Take Things Slow: If you’re new to a low-carb diet, you may want to ease into it instead of going all-in at one time, gradually reducing your carb intake over a week or two to help your body adjust. Easing into a ketogenic diet can also help to keep the keto flu at bay! Keep in mind that you are adjusting to a new way of eating, so it may take time.

Stay Hydrated and Mind Your Electrolytes: Cutting carbs can lead to a loss in electrolytes and water. Make sure you drink plenty of water and consider adding salt to your meals or taking electrolyte supplements

Explore Alternatives: Get creative with substitutes for high-carb foods. Cauliflower can replace rice or potatoes, zucchini can turn into noodles, and there are many low-carb flour options for baking like nut flours and lupin flour. It can be fun to experiment with your favorite recipes. There are also many commercially-produced alternative options to replace your high carb favorites from tortillas to pasta to flour blends.

Track Your Macros: Initially, it might be helpful to track your macronutrients to ensure you’re staying within your carb limits while getting enough fat and protein. I like to track my macros for the information, without limiting myself too much. If you go over your target by a few grams of net carbs, it’s not the end of the world! I use the Cronometer app for this, as they offer a free app and website interface and track micro-nutrients as well as macro-nutrients. They also track net carbs for you, which can be incredibly helpful.

Keep Snacks Handy: Vegan keto-friendly snacks like nuts, seeds, or olives can be lifesavers when you need a quick bite. I always keep stashes of snacks in my bag, my desk and my car. This ensures you won’t find yourself super hungry with no low carb options in sight.

Check Labels: Vegan products can be pretty high in carbs. Always read labels to ensure the products fit within your carb allowance. Some veggie burgers out there can contain your whole day’s net carb allowance in one serving! Remember on US nutrition labels, to subtract the grams of fiber and sugar alcohols (if applicable) from the total carbohydrates to see how many net carbs are in the food.

Incorporate Gentle Movement: While diet alone can lead to weight loss, incorporating gentle movement like walks, easy hikes or yoga into your routine can help to boost your mood, build some muscle and lower blood sugar. Exercise can also help

Listen to Your Body: Everyone’s body reacts differently to dietary changes. Pay attention to how you feel and adjust accordingly. If you feel too stressed, take a step back and ease into things. When changing up your lifestyle, it’s crucial to keep things sustainable.

Remember, the transition to a vegan keto diet is a personal journey, so it’s important to find what works best for you. Keep exploring and enjoying the process!

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