Are Plant-Based Proteins Friendly for Keto and Paleo Diets?
The term “plant based” is used quite often nowadays, but what does it really mean? Is it just a marketing ploy or are plant foods actually good for us? If so, how do they compare to animal products such as meat, dairy and eggs? What’s the best way to go about eating healthy while following a low carb diet plan?
These questions are all answered in this article.
What is Ketosis?
Ketosis refers to a state where your body runs entirely on fat stores rather than glucose (carbohydrates). There are two types of ketones: Acetoacetate and beta-hydroxybutyrate. Beta-Hydroxybutyrate is the one that’s most commonly referred to as “ketone bodies.” When your body burns fat instead of carbs, these ketones are produced. They’re called ketogenic because they promote the burning of fats over carbohydrates.
How Does Eating Plants Help Me Get into Ketosis?
Eating plants helps you get into ketosis because it increases your ability to burn fat. While it might seem counter-intuitive to eat more fat in order to burn fat, you can’t get into ketosis if you only eat fat. You need to eat a certain amount of protein and carbs as well, even on a low-carb diet. Fat alone won’t cut it.
So What Do I Eat?
There are plenty of plant foods that you can consume while going keto. Most of the foods you eat will be high fat, low protein and low carb. You’ll also need to track the amount of carbs that some of these foods have so that you can stay within your daily limit.
Some examples include:
Full-Fat Yogurts or Kefirs: Both are dairy products that can be a great source of probiotics. Just make sure there isn’t any sugar-based sweetener in them.
Nuts and seeds: Most nuts and seeds are a great source of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and natural fats. Make sure you don’t go overboard though since they’re generally high in carbs. Some of the best include almonds and hazelnuts.
Olives: Olives make a great snack food. You can pretty much buy them in cans or jars and get plenty of healthy fat from them.
Avocados: Probably one of the main “superfoods” you can eat on keto. Just make sure you don’t eat too many since they’re still fairly high in carbs (about 4g per ounce).
Grilled Portobello Mushrooms: Grilling or even just cooking these guys in a pan will release fat and help give them a great texture. They have a similar taste to meat so they make a great replacement for anyone who’s missing the taste of bacon or even a hamburger.
You can find more foods in the ketogenic diet food list.
Are There Any Foods That Are Toxic to Ketosis?
There are some foods that should be limited or avoided entirely on a ketogenic diet. It mostly has to do with the fact that they’re higher in carbs and can prevent your body from entering ketosis. Some of these foods include:
Sweeteners: Most sweeteners are made from sugar and shouldn’t be consumed on keto. Some of the common sweeteners you’ll want to avoid include: Maple syrup Brown sugar Honey
Grains and grain-based foods: Foods made from grains include bread, pasta, cereal and anything else that’s made from grains.
Most fruits: While a handful of berries or a slice of orange isn’t going to kill you, you’ll need to stay away from most other fruits. Even fruits like apples and bananas, which some would consider keto-friendly, should be limited. This is because they contain too many carbs per serving.
Beans and legumes: The grains and beans family includes all types of beans, peas, and lentils. While most of these don’t have as many carbs as grains, they can still have a decent amount. This will vary from type to type, so make sure you look up the specific types you’re eating.
Starchy veggies: This includes foods like potatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, butternut squash and more. While these foods are low in sugar compared to something like candy, they still have too many carbs to be considered keto.
In moderation: Most alcoholic beverages don’t have a lot of carbs, but can still have an effect on your blood sugar. If you’re going to drink to celebrate or enjoy yourself you can have a small glass of wine or beer. Otherwise, stick to hard liquors if you need to pick something.
Remember that all of these things can still have an effect on your overall blood sugar. This will differ from person to person, but plan appropriately.
If you think you may have a food allergy or intolerance, take note. Certain foods have been linked to inflammation and have been known to interfere with ketosis. If you notice a significant difference in your energy levels or even your cognition, you could very well have an allergy or intolerance to something you’re eating.
There are time where you’ll need to relieve a food to see how you feel afterwards. A simple way to test this is by eliminating it for a week and then adding it back in. As long as you don’t notice a change in your energy or cognition, you’ll know that it’s fine for you to eat.
You can find some common food allergies and intolerances here.
Benefits of the Ketogenic Diet
The benefits of this diet are plenty. Most people turn to this way of eating to lose weight, but it has shown to help with a lot more. Here are some of the benefits:
Loss of weight: This is one of the biggest reasons why people turn to a ketogenic diet. Being able to lose weight while still being able to eat a lot is a very enticing benefit.
Glucose regulation: Since your body has to use ketones instead of glucose for fuel, it improves your body’s glucose regulation.
Reduced hunger: Hunger tends to go down since you no longer have to use as much energy.
Stress reduction: Ketosis has been known to help the brain produce more GABA, which is a neurotransmitter that helps reduce anxiety and stress.
Alzheimer’s prevention: Studies have shown that ketosis can help prevent and even reverse the effects of Alzheimer’s.
Cancer prevention: Cancer can’t thrive in an environment with less glucose (substances that encourage cancer growth need glucose to grow).
Neuroprotective: It helps protect your brain and nervous system.
Increased heart health: Since you’re eating more healthy fats and reducing your sugar intake, your risk for heart disease reduces.
Decreased inflammation: Ketosis has been found to decrease inflammation in the body, which is the cause of many diseases and disorders.
Improved digestion: The Ketogenic diet was originally used to help treat people who had issues with their gallbladder. Since ketosis reduces bile acid, you become less “clogged” and waste is excreted easier.
Decreased risk of diabetes: Since you have better glucose regulation, your risk for developing type 2 diabetes is reduced.
Improved ADHD: Studies have shown that kids with more attentiveness and hyperactivity have shown great improvements after being put on a ketogenic diet.
These are just some of the benefits of a ketogenic lifestyle.
Things to Watch Out For
With any new diet or change, there are some things that you want to keep an eye on. Here are some of the potential problems with a ketogenic diet:
Dehydration: Since you expel a lot more water in the form of hydroxide, you can become dehydrated a lot quicker. It’s always important to consume lots of water when on this type of diet.
Kidney stones: Your risk for kidney stones increases since you’re putting more stress on your kidneys. This is another reason why you want to drink lots of water.
PMS: Some women have reported having really bad PMS while on this diet. This is a result of lowered insulin levels and can be helped by consuming more carbohydrates around that time of the month.
Cancer growth: Some studies have shown that a Ketogenic diet can help speed up cancer growth. While this has yet to be proven and causes contradicting studies, it’s best to stay on the safe side and limit this diet to no longer than 6 months.
Gout: Gout is a form of arthritis caused by excessive levels of uric acid in your body. Since your body produces less uric acid while in ketosis, your risk for gout decreases.
Kidney damage: Your kidneys are constantly working to remove the ketones from your body, if they become damaged by excessive hydration or anything else, it can be very serious.
Possible slow metabolism: While your metabolism does indeed slow while in ketosis, it doesn’t make it slower than when you’re just eating carbs. It’s been proven false.
Cognitive disorders: It was stated earlier that a Ketogenic diet can help those with autisms, but in some cases it can also cause learning disabilities and problems with focus. This is why you need to consult a physician before putting your child on this diet.
Supplements for Ketosis
There are certain supplements that are extremely useful while on a ketogenic diet. Make sure you take the following on a daily basis:
Vitamin B12: This helps with energy levels and many people who are on keto have been found to be deficient in this.
Fish oil: You’re more prone to heart disease while on this diet, so supplementation of fish oil is important.
MCT oil: This helps your body produce more ketones and is useful for immediate energy. However, you don’t want to consume too much of it, since that can cause diarrhea and stomach pains.
Creatine: This has been shown to improve both strength and endurance on the keto diet.
Ready to Start?
As you can see, there are many benefits to going on a ketogenic diet, but it’s not for everyone. Make sure you consult a physician before going on this diet and take the necessary precautions to avoid problems. If you’re looking to start, check out this awesome 7-day keto meal plan to get you started!
Sources & references used in this article:
Vegan Keto by L MacDowell – 2018 – books.google.com
From Lean Protein to Kale: What Are the Best Weight Loss Foods? by MN Bahr, KM Chrisostom, SS Chrisostom, NK Peters… – 2019 – digitalshowcase.oru.edu
Hot Diet Trends: Facts vs. Fiction by W Foods – trifectanutrition.com
Could This Plant Protein Cause Autoimmune Disease, Brain Dysfunction and Diabetes? by A Ghajar – naturalmedicineofseattle.com