Can Vegetarians Go On The Keto Diet?

A vegetarian keto diet almost sounds like an oxymoron: The high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet typically involves plenty of meat and animal products like eggs for a person to take in enough fat and protein-based calories to get through the day. But vegetarians can adopt a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet as well. It just may take a bit more planning to maintain caloric balance. 

A keto diet limits carbohydrate intake to between 20 and 50 grams per day. This can be difficult for vegetarians, since the diet limits not only obvious carbohydrates like rice and bread, but also the amount of fruit and starchy vegetables one can consume. For instance, a banana contains around 27 grams of carbohydrates (via Harvard Health Publishing). 

But if a vegetarian does want to try the keto diet, there are plenty of options. Low-carbohydrate vegetables like spinach, cauliflower, and zucchini are allowed, while fat sources like full-fat dairy, nuts, seeds, and healthy oils are all nutrient-dense ways to keep caloric intake up despite the combination of dietary restrictions (via Healthline).

What about vegans on a keto diet?

While vegetarians can add things like cheese (and eggs, for ovo vegetarians) into their diet to boost calories, vegans trying a keto diet will have a tougher time consuming enough fat and protein using only plant-based sources. A vegan version of a keto diet will likely be high in nuts and seeds, as well as things like coconut oil and avocados. While it can be done, the meals may get monotonous due to a lack of options, and it's much harder to ensure that you're getting a full range of essential nutrients (via Inside Tracker). 

Some small studies have shown that a vegan keto diet can aid with weight loss efforts, but risks are involved, from a lack of fiber in the diet, to a heightened risk of kidney stones, to nutritional deficiencies (via Medical News Today). And adding two types of restrictions — no animal products and extremely limited carbohydrate intake — can turn eating into a chore.