The Scary Side of Keto

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The buzz around the Keto diet has been heating up and it’s not hard to see why. Eat all of the bacon, butter, and cheese you want, lose weight, and feel amazing? That’s like literally every carnivorous human’s dream come true, right?

(IDK, is it? I don’t get down with eating sentient beings, but don’t worry, no meat-shaming here, you savages...)

However, any diet that is laden with animal fats and protein will eventually be a detriment to your body. Keto might make you feel freaking phenomenal initially- once you get past that whole keto flu thing- but when ketosis is sustained over an extended period of time, it can lead to some serious physical dysfunction.

Why? Keto staples like meat, fish, poultry, cheese, and eggs are all highly acidifying to the body. In excess, foods that encourage an acidic internal body condition are major contributors to digestive problems, chronic disease, and there’s even increasing evidence that long-term ketosis can do some major damage to your thyroid. These dangers are particularly exacerbated by the fact that when you are so restrictive with your carbohydrate intake, you run the danger of setting yourself up for a nutrient deficiency.

Which brings us to the subject matter at hand...

Can I do Keto on a (mostly or entirely) plant-based diet?

YES! And it’s actually far superior for your health and more sustainable than the typical keto diet, which hinges on getting the bulk of your calories from animal-based sources.

Remember: Keto dieting is not about completely eliminating carbs, it’s about restricting your net carbs for the day. The trouble with a standard Keto diet is that, although it is an effective way to lose weight quickly, it is deficient in plant-based nutrition. Keto dieters often completely shun fruit and vegetables from their life which are a necessary component of any healthy diet.

The core principle of keto is NOT about loading up on animal products to lose weight. It’s about restricting your net carbohydrate intake (around less than 25 grams per day. Net Carbs = Total carbs - Fiber). This can TOTALLY be done on a mostly or entirely plant-based diet. The only caveat is that it may take a bit more planning, creativity, and mindfulness than a standard keto diet… but (in my humble opinion) isn’t that worth NOT damaging your health/body?

I’m not pressuring you to go 100% plant-based, but if animal products are going to make up a substantial portion of your daily diet, it’s essential that you balance it out.  

Let’s be explicitly clear: Any diet that is deficient in plant-based foods is NOT a healthy diet. Period.

Yes, even if you are eating a plant-based vegan diet, if you restrict your net carbs for long enough and fuel your body primarily with healthy fats and proteins, your body will eventually burn through your stored carbs and enter a state of fat-burning ketosis in a way that is conducive to weight loss AND good health. You don’t have to choose between the two!

Let’s backtrack for those of you who are new to Keto or are just a little hazy on the semantics. Here’s a quick Keto 101 crash course:

There are 3 types of macronutrients: fat, protein, and carbohydrates. The human body prefers carbohydrates as its primary fuel source, and the average person (who is not on a Keto or low-carb diet) gets the vast majority of their daily calories from carbs.

The body breaks down carbohydrates into the form of glucose, which then becomes the primary fuel source for all of the body’s cells. However, the drawback of using glucose as a primary energy source is that high glycemic foods like grains and certain fruits skyrocket your blood sugar, causing an insulin response that sets the stage for your body to store up fat (your body can only store fat when your insulin levels are elevated).

So in summation, when there is an overabundance of glucose from carbs present, the body goes into fat-storing mode. And weight gain ensues.

The Keto diet is all about starving the body of glucose so that it is forced to seek out another fuel source. It might seem counterintuitive to eat more fat in order to LOSE fat, but its all about shifting the way that the body metabolizes food for energy.

After about a week of restricting carbohydrates, the body burns through all of its stored carbs. This process is highly individualized and can occur more quickly if you are working out more often, but once your body is in a carbohydrate deficiency, it begins to enter a state of ketosis.

In the metabolic state of ketosis, your body uses ketones as its primary fuel source. Ketones are a byproduct of the liver metabolizing fats and protein for energy when the body is starved of carbs. In addition, the body begins burning your STORED fat for energy. The result? You lose weight!

If you want to give plant-based keto a try, you should aim to get around 70% of your daily calories from plant-based fats and around 20-25% of your calories from plant-based proteins.

Still not sure what to eat?

What are some of the best keto-friendly, plant-based fats?

  • Avocado
  • Low-carb nuts and seeds
  • Coconut milk/cream/meat
  • Healthy oils: extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, macadamia oil, MCT oil

Low-carb leafy green vegetables are key to a healthy keto diet, and they are a great source of plant-based protein!

  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Collards
  • Swiss Chard

Nuts & Seeds are also rich sources of plant-based protein and healthy fats. Here are a few the best low-carb nuts for keto:

  • Pecans
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Brazil nuts
  • Walnuts
  • Hazelnuts
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Chia seeds
  • Hemp seeds
  • Flax seeds

What about low-carb fruit and vegetables? 

  • Dark leafy greens
  • Cucumber
  • Bell peppers
  • Spirulina
  • Asparagus
  • Cauliflower
  • Mushrooms
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Broccoli
  • Radishes
  • Zucchini
  • Celery
  • Artichokes
  • Berries (in moderation): blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, etc.

Want to give plant-based keto a try? We did all the work for you: Meet the New & Improved Keto Cleanse! 

Hi there! I'm Nicole, Raw Generation's resident healthy lifestyle blogger, creative content director, and hardcore herbivore. Thanks for stopping by and letting me share my passion for perpetual self-improvement and plant-based living with you! <3

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