A vegan keto diet is a plant based version of the popular ketogenic diet. A ketogenic, or keto, diet is a very low carbohydrate diet. People following this diet plan get most of their energy from fats and protein.
Vegan diets are free from animal products, which means that they tend to be relatively high in carbohydrates. As a result, following a keto diet can be more challenging for vegans. However, with careful planning, it is possible.
In this article, we explain how to follow a vegan keto diet and discuss the potential benefits and risks.
What is a vegan keto diet?
The vegan keto diet significantly restricts carbohydrate intake and only allows plant based foods. It is high in fats, contains adequate amounts of protein, and does not include any animal products.
The macronutrient ratios for this diet are approximately:
1. Fat: 55–60%
2. Protein: 30–35%
3. Carbohydrates: 5–10%
For people who consume 2,000 calories a day, that equates to a carbohydrate intake of just 25–50 grams (g). When the body does not have enough carbohydrates to use for energy, it enters a state of ketosis in which it has to burn fat for energy. Many people follow this diet to lose weight and reduce their total body fat.
To date, there is no research examining the benefits or risks of a vegan keto diet. However, several studies have separately explored the effects of a vegan diet and those of a keto diet.
A 2014 randomized controlled trial investigated the effects of a vegan Atkins diet (or eco-Atkins diet). The Atkins diet is similar to a keto diet, as they both restrict carbohydrate intake and cause ketosis.
In the 6 month study, participants ate either a low carbohydrate vegan diet or a high carbohydrate vegetarian diet, which included eggs and dairy.
These diets comprised 26% and 58% of energy from carbohydrates, 31% and 16% from protein, and 43% and 25% from fat, respectively.
A vegan keto diet is more restrictive than a standard keto diet or a regular vegan diet, so people should take extra care when planning meals. They may encounter the risks of both diets.
According to a 2019 paper, researchers are aware of the short term effects — those lasting up to 2 years — of a keto diet. However, the long term health outcomes are uncertain because of the lack of available research on the subject.
One of the disadvantages of the keto diet is that some people may find it difficult to sustain such a low carbohydrate intake.