A ketogenic diet is a diet that is low in carbohydrates, high in fat, and has a moderate level of protein. This is a detailed meal plan for the vegetarian ketogenic diet. Foods to eat, foods to avoid and a sample 7-day vegetarian keto diet meal plan & menu.
How Do Ketogenic Diets Work?
Ketogenic diets work because consuming a low amount of carbs causes our metabolism to go into a state called ketosis. This happens when there is an increase in ketones in our bloodstream. Ketones are created when our bodies use fat as fuel
These ketones are a form of fuel that helps the body burn fat as the main source of fuel, instead of using the glucose (sugar) from carbs.
Why A Ketogenic Diet for Vegetarians?
Ketogenic diets have long been used as a treatment for epilepsy and for diabetes, however, people also use it to lose weight.
Some people may be surprised to learn that many vegetarians, like many non-vegetarians, struggle with their weight and need to alter their diets to lose weight.
This is because the typical vegetarian diet contains more carbs and less fat than most meat-based diets. Unfortunately, some vegetarians do not process carbs well, and this leads to weight gain and other health problems.
Good Carbs and Bad Carbs, What’s the Difference?
In terms of losing weight, the only thing that matters in the ketogenic diet is the number of carbs you consume. However, for purposes of overall health, vegetarians should distinguish between good carbs and bad carbs.
Good carbs are foods that are high in fiber, and nutrients because they are either not processed, or only minimally processed.
Bad carbs are heavily processed foods that are high in carbs. These foods enter the bloodstream faster than good carbs because they are converted to sugar faster.
Why Bad Carbs are Bad
All carbs raise our blood sugar levels, however, bad, heavily-processed carbs are processed and absorbed by our bodies faster than the good, fiber and nutrient-rich carbs that are closer to their natural state.
The natural process of carb consumption is that carbs are turned into sugar, also known as glucose, and then released into the bloodstream to be used as fuel.
This increase in blood sugar levels gives us energy. To help these sugars to be used by our bodies, our pancreas releases insulin. This insulin release is what allows our bodies to process the sugar of carbs as fuel.
The problems begin when we consume too many carbs, because this can cause our blood sugar levels to rise so quickly that the corresponding insulin that is released blocks our body’s ability to use this increase sugar as fuel. This results in weight gain.
This often turns into a vicious cycle where the rapid rise in our blood sugar levels then leads to a rapid fall in our blood sugar, which then lowers our energy levels and makes it hard to focus.
A rapid fall in energy can also lead to an increase in hunger and the need to increase blood sugars, by consuming more carbs, to get through the day.
List of Bad Carbs to Remove From Your Pantry
The bad carbs to get rid of are heavily processed, high-carb foods such as those that contain white sugar and white flour. These foods include:
- White Pasta
- White Rice
- White Bread
- Low-Fiber, Sugar-Added Cereals
- Non-Diet Sodas
- Potatoes, Yams, Sweet Potatoes, Corn, and Carrots
- Fruit Juices
If you must use an item from this bad carbs list, buy it the day you plan to use it. Do not store it in your pantry for future use.
Good, Low-Carb Foods to Keep in Your Pantry
After you’ve eliminated all the bad carbs from your pantry, stock up on the following good carbs:
Soy and Vegetable Proteins
- Beans and Legumes – Stock up on canned and dry versions. Always rinse canned beans and legumes in cold water before use to remove any added salt.
- Tofu – Although firm tofu has more protein, you should also keep softer versions on hand for recipes that require blending. These include recipes for sauces, soups, ice creams, puddings, and spreads. Tofu textures range from silken, soft, firm, and extra firm.
- Tempeh – This soy-based product is firm and has more protein, fiber, and calories than tofu. Use it as you would any meat substitute.
- Soy Protein Powder and Vegetable Protein Powder – These powders are good for adding extra protein to recipes. These proteins typically contain at least 20 grams of protein per scoop, 1 to 2 grams of fat, and no carbs.
Other Meat Substitutes
- Meatless Bacon & Sausages – Always read the ingredients to choose the brands with the lowest carbs.
- Sandwich Slices – Use these slices the way you would meat-based cold cuts.
- Chicken Substitutes & Fish Substitutes – Avoid the breaded versions to keep the carbs as low as possible.
- Soy Burgers – Although burger crumbles can be shaped into burger patties, soy burger save prep time because they are already formed.
- Tofu Dogs & Vegetable Dogs – There are several varieties of tofu and vegetable dogs available, so read the ingredients to choose those with the fewest carbs.
- Seitan – This is a high-protein, wheat-based meat substitute that can be used instead of tofu. Seitan is good for those who don’t have problems digesting gluten.
Condiments, Spices & Seasoning Groups
- Salts & Peppers – Experiment with a variety of salts and peppers.
- Blended Seasonings – Select salt-free and salt-added versions of your favorites. Options include Mexican, Italian, Creole, French, Asian, Indian, Lemon-pepper and more.
- Soy Sauce
- Assorted Herbs and Spices, including: Ginger, Cumin, Oregano, Garlic, Onion, Cilantro, Basil, and Sesame Seeds
- Sriracha Sauce – This is a spicy Asian hot sauce that can also be used as a dipping sauce.
- Mustards – Dijon and Stone-ground versions
- Soy Mayonnaise
Oils and Vinegars
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil – Use this antioxidant-rich oil for cooking and in salad dressings.
- Canola Oil – Use this heart-healthy oil for baking, sauteing, and marinating.
- Grapeseed Oil – This oil contains vitamin E and is good for roasting, stir-frying and sauteing
- Peanut Oil – This oil contains healthy plant fats and is good for deep frying, roasting and sauteing.
- Coconut Oil – This oil helps control blood sugar and is good as a for cooking and as a butter substitute in baking.
- Palm Shortening – This shortening is made when the saturated fats are separated from palm oil. It’s a good non-dairy butter-substitute.
- Assorted Vinegars, including: Apple Cider Vinegar, Balsamic Vinegar, Red Wine Vinegar, and Rice Vinegar
You can also make your own flavored oils and vinegars by adding your desired spices and allowing the flavors to marinate for at least 24 hours before using.
Other Good Carb Additions for Your Pantry
- Soy Flour – Use this for baking or to thicken sauces. Since soy flour doesn’t bind well, combine it with whole wheat flour for the best results.
- Whole Grain Bread – Read the labels to make sure you buy low-carb, high-protein brands.
- Splenda (sucralose) – This artificial sugar is made from real sugar, so it has a taste that is closer to real sugar than other artificial sugars.
- Soy Milk – Buy this in plain or vanilla-flavored, but avoid the ready-made chocolate version because it usually contains too many carbs. Instead, make your own by adding unsweetened cocoa powder to plain or vanilla soy milk. To sweeten, add Splenda to taste.
- Nut, Olive, & Avocado Butters – These items make filling substitutes for vegetable oils in many recipes.
- Nuts – Although nuts are a low-carb food, they are high in fat, so be diligent about portion control when snacking on them
- Fruits – Do no drink fruit juices. Be careful with high-carb fruits such as bananas. Do not eat more than one a day.
- Vegetables – Eat a wide variety of different types. Remember to eliminate, or limit, high-carb vegetables such as corn, carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and yams.
Since even the high-carb fruits and vegetables are nutritious, you should be able to experiment with eating no more than one of them a day without sabotaging your diet.
7-Day Vegetarian Keto Diet Meal Plan & Menu
- Breakfast: High-Fiber Cereal with Fruit
- Lunch: Spicy Black Bean Soup with a Green Salad
- Snack: Vegetable Spring Rolls Wrapped in Romaine Lettuce with a Spicy Peanut Sauce
- Dinner: Spinach Pie with Walnut Crust. Serve with a Vegetable Salad
- Dessert: Red Grape Truffles with an Almond Crust
- Breakfast: Oatmeal with Fruit
- Lunch: Indonesian-Spiced Tempeh and Vegetable Salad
- Snack: Celery Stuffed with Hummus and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
- Dinner: Black Bean and Sesame-Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms. Serve with Mixed Vegetable Salad
- Dessert: Apple and Zucchini Cake
- Breakfast: Spinach and Mushroom Frittata
- Lunch: Vegetable Chef Salad with Tofu
- Snack: Roasted Eggplant Dip with Whole Grain Crackers
- Dinner: Roasted Eggplant Lasagna with Spinach Pesto
- Dessert: Poached Pears with Chocolate Sauce
- Breakfast: Tofu Benedict
- Lunch: Crunchy Vegetable Slaw. Serve with Moroccan Spiced Lentil Soup
- Snack: Jicama Sticks with Jalapeno Hummus
- Dinner: Portobello Patties with Parsley and Cilantro Sauce. Serve with a Vegetable Salad
- Dessert: No-Crust Apple Crumb Pie
- Breakfast: Scrambled Tofu
- Lunch: Cajun Tempeh Chicken Salad. Serve with Spicy Creole Gumbo with Collard Greens.
- Snack: Spinach and Artichoke Dip with Assorted Raw Vegetable for Dipping.
- Dinner: Vegetarian Sloppy Joes (Ground Portobello Mushrooms mixed with Vegetable Burger). Serve with a Green Vegetable Salad.
- Dessert: Blueberry Soy Cheesecake with Granola Crust
- Breakfast: Coffee and Chocolate Smoothie (Soy Milk and Cocoa Powder with Splenda)
- Lunch: Four Hearts Salad (made with Hearts of Palm, Romaine Heart, Artichoke Heart, and Celery Hearts). Serve with Split Pea Soup with Cabbage and Soy Bacon Bits.
- Snack: Mushrooms stuffed with Spinach and Pine Nuts
- Dinner: Stuffed Eggplant. Serve with a Vegetable salad
- Dessert: Walnut and Fudge Truffles
- Breakfast: Tofu and Strawberry Smoothie
- Lunch: Summer Vegetable Bisque. Serve with Soy Egg Salad (serve on a bed of lettuce).
- Snack: Cucumber Slices with Mushroom and Olive Tapenade
- Dinner: Vegetable Burgers with Black Bean Sauce. Serve with Green Vegetables Salad.
- Dessert: Chocolate Silk Pie with Almond Crust.
Guidelines for a Moderate Ketogenic Diet
There are many types of ketogenic diets. The strictest versions may limit your carb intake to no more than 20 grams a day.
Although lower carb diets typically result in more and faster weight loss, most people can’t stay on those diets for the long-term.
Following a moderate ketogenic diet is the best way to stick with a diet that will help you lose or maintain weight, and become as healthy as possible.
Use the following as a guidelines for the best results:
- Daily Carb Allowance – no more than 50 grams.
- Daily Fiber Allowance – 25 to 35 grams
- Daily Fat Grams – 50 to 60 grams
- Daily Calorie Count – 1,400 to 1,500
Other Long-Term Tips
Become familiar with the correct portion sizes for each type of food you eat. The Mayo Clinic offers easy to remember visual cues to help you stay on track.
For instance, serving of fruit should be no larger than a tennis ball. A serving of most vegetables should not exceed the size of a baseball. One serving of carbs should be about the size of a hockey puck.
Your dairy serving should be the size of 3 or 4 dice. A protein serving should be the size of a deck of cards. Each serving of fat should not be larger than 2 dice.
Don’t Be Afraid to Experiment
Try to stay open to trying new foods and ways of preparing old favorites. Use spices you have never tried before, and keep an eye open for new recipes.
Finding new and tasty ways to prepare dishes will help you stay consistent with the ketogenic diet. The result is that you will reap the long-term benefits of maintaining a healthy, nutritious way of eating over your lifetime.
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P.S. Have a look at the Keto Guidebook, our foolproof 4-week keto meal plan (+ vegetarian meals). It has all the tools, information, and recipes needed for you to succeed.