WHAT IS A KETOGENIC DIET?
KETOGENIC DIET: a diet that restricts carbohydrate consumption to the point that the body switches its primary fuel source from glucose to ketones made from the process of breaking down fat.
There are many reasons to go keto, from medical necessity to weight loss and there are lots of site out there that will be able to give you a basic overview of how keto works.
But put simply, when you drastically reduce the amount of carbs in your diet (to less than 20-50 net per day) it forces your body into ketosis which means your body starts breaking down it’s own fat into ketones which it then uses for energy.
It takes a few weeks for this to become natural or what we call being fat adapted, which is when your body starts to prefer fat before carbs. We say to stay super low the first few weeks (around 20-25 net grams of carbs) but once you feel you’re ready you can try and reintroduce more (up to around 50 net max) although it’s safer to stay a bit lower than that as the higher you go the more you risk throwing yourself out.
BEGINNER VEGAN KETO MACROS
Beginner vegan keto macros are 20-25 NET carbs (total carbs – fiber).
Vegan keto we usually allow a little extra at 25 net to get into ketosis.
Once you are in ketosis and fat adapted, you can up your carbs. A lot of us are having success in the 30-40 net range as well. It’s very individual. (If for some reason you feel better or need to stay less than net 20, a protein shake everyday will help you do that easy!!!!)
Protein formula is MIN (body weight in pounds / 2 x 0.8)
Protein on vegan keto is also not so crazy, it’s a medium to low protein diet, so we recommend the minimum amount (which for a female is usually around 50-60g per day).
Add more if you’re super active (x1 or x1.2) but meat keto calculators are crazy high IMO for regular people.
Fat at least 65% of calories and your fat protein ratio should be between 1:1 and 2:1.
Fat is super easy to get from avocados, nuts and coconut.
TIP 1: Get the best quality oils you can afford. You don’t want to be consuming cheap and nasty oils. 👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻
TIP 2: Fast as long as you can, as often as you can.
One of the main benefits of ketosis is that you lose your appetite so it’s perfect for Intermittent fasting as you can go long periods of time without feeling hungry. That may not be everyday but if you’re not hungry, don’t eat. Eat only when you’re hungry. You’ll be able to eat a much larger, carbier and more satisfying meal when you ARE hungry.
And if you do get hungry and want a snack, make it something high fat like nuts, avocado or a fat bomb. Your body needs to learn that when its hungry it wants fat now not carbs.
STUDY NOTES: Learn about the theories behind Intermittent Fasting, why it works and what the benefits are.
Hydration and Electrolytes
Drink lots of water. I know everyone always says that but actually. If you don’t like water, drink sparkling water, or try adding lemon/lime, or try including salty broths. You don’t retain a lot of water on keto so its important to stay hydrated. This fact also is the reason why electrolytes are important. Electrolytes are stored in water and no water means no electrolytes. So before you even start get yourself a good magnesium supplement, a good quality salt (I like grey sea salt) and a potassium salt if you can or a supplement if you cant. By being prepared and taking your electrolytes from the start you can mostly avoid the dreaded ‘keto flu’ as well!!
TIP: In desparate times a sugar free gatorade will help to replenish your electrolytes (but I’d try and stay away from those particular fake sugars) but I find it really helpful to carry around individual packets of magnesium electrolyte powder.
STUDY NOTES: Learn more about Keto Flu and how to avoid it!
TRACK YOUR CARBS RELIGIOUSLY
…… for at least the first few weeks.
You need to learn what the carb counts are if things.
There is no easy way around it.
There’s no ‘cheat’ or simple trick.
You need to learn or you’ll never get keto right. Some carb counts of things will surprise you. So just put in the work for a couple of weeks and then you’ll be set. I don’t track anything but I did for ages and I studied LOTS and read lots as well.
I have a breakdown here where I go into my philosophy on where you should be spending your carbs here.
TIP: Focus on carbs for the first few weeks and don’t even stress about protein or calories. Its important to get you into ketosis and if your carbs aren’t low enough its just nothing to happen.
STUDY NOTES: I personally use cronometer.com to track as it has a keto setting and calculates net carbs. Many others use My Fitness Pal or one of many others. Have a look around and see which one resonates with you.
Cooking and Meal Prep
It’s hard enough to be vegan and eat out. If you’re super strict 20-25 net it’s going to be really really hard at first to find convenience foods.
Find some recipes you love and make batches of food so something is always in the fridge. Easiest thing is to keep it super simple for the first few weeks until you become fat adapted. You might just have to keep eating the same few things until you learn the ropes.
STUDY NOTE 1: Google vegan keto recipes. My roundup of my favourite sites is here: https://herbivorepost.com/vegan-keto-recipe-sites/
TIP 1: Baked Goods – I love making baked goods like bagels or crackers so I can always make a sandwich when I’m lazy (recipes on my blog).
TIP 2: Protien – Also meal prepping your favorite protein source so you can throw it on a salad or in a stirfy at the last min.
TIPS 3: BPC/RFL – Have your first meal be a bullet proof coffee (or tea) made with coconut oil/MCT oil.
For ladies I highly recommend you search ‘rocket fuel latte’ which is a version invented by Leanne at healthful Pursuit for women’s needs.
BPC or RFL have the duel benefit of getting in extra fats as well as having an appetite suppressant effect as well.
I personally have a couple of regular coffees first and then if I’m having a RFL I’ll have it closer to lunch time.
STUDY NOTE 2: Learn about the different types of coconut oil, why we love MCT oil and why ‘Brain Octane’ and the likes are so much more expensive than regular MCT (learn about the four types of caprylic acid and why you really only want the C8 hint: you really don’t want to be stuck on the toilet all day now do you)
TIP 4: Eating Out – I can pretty much always find a salad and tofu/some meat replacement these days. Next best I find are Japanese (edamame, gomae, tofu), Indian and Thai (coconut curries and veg).
Going keto is a huge learning curve so if you can, find a family member or friend who you can talk to and who is supportive of your new lifestyle.
There is also lots of support forums online these days from Facebook groups to Instagram. Find your people and don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions. Theres lots of people going through exactly the same things you are.
Check us out on Instagram at #veganketo for meal ideas (I’m @plantpoweredketo)
For more low carb/keto vegan basics I highly recommend you check out my vegan keto resource roundup here.
For more of my personal journey check out my story here.
And remember it gets easier!!
The first couple of months are the hardest. It’s a big learning curve but once you got it, the benefits are huge.
My personal focus is on controlling my carb cravings. I have a history of eating disorders where I crave carbs uncontrollably. One of the benefits of keto is that you lose your hunger cravings which is one of the main reasons I started looking into it.
The best comprehensive resource is Healthy Gamer Girl’s (aka Liz MacDowell) Meat Free Keto: How to thrive on a vegan ketogenic or low carb diet eBook. At $10 its a steal and includes a week 7 day meal plan and recipes.
When I first started I found Leanne Vogel at HealthfulPursuit.com‘s videos to be so helpful. She is a holistic nutritionist and dairy free and she really focuses on adding lots of veggies, when alot of other keto people avoid them. I highly recommend checking her out for a keto bootcamp! She also has a podcast on iTunes if you want some info on the go!
For an indepth breakdown of what ketosis is and how it works, check out the following guides:
– Reddit Keto Wikis: Draft Guidelines for Vegan Keto
– Siim Land’s How to get into Vegan Ketosis and his eBook Vegan Keto (FREE on Kindle Unlimited) –>
– Joseph Arcita’s Guide to Ketosis: super indepth scientific breakdown of ketosis for all the science nerds out there