Fad diets are always going to be around, and unfortunately a lot of them are not sustainable or healthy in the longer term. From going carb free, paleo, doing Atkins and Weight Watchers, trying coconut water diets, lemon detoxes, green juice cleanses, intermittent fasting, and the Mediterranean diet, these options may have direct results, but are not the best options long term.
I’m not a big dieter. I regularly do the Michelle Bridges weight loss drinks which I have found have had great results, and yes I have tried the lemon detox diet and I cried at the end of day two. I often get bored, hangry and love eating. When I went vegan I ended up losing about 7kgs straight away, but aside from a study on the appropriate vegan food pyramid, I identify as more of a “junk food vegan”.
Unfortunately, the last year of enjoying luxurious junk food and not really having time to work out has not been the kindest to me, and I realised that I needed to re approach how I eat and work out. I don’t like forcing myself to be restrictive, but I have been hearing and reading a lot about how good intermittent fasting and the Keto diet have been recently, and I thought I would give it a go.
For those that don’t know, the ketogenic diet – or “keto” – is a diet that is low in carbs, high in fat and moderate in protein. The reason carbs are so greatly reduced is so that your body reaches and maintain ketosis, which is the process in which your body burns fat for fuel instead of glucose that are found in carbs.
On a keto diet, it is expected that you eat a lot of protein (all types of meat, seafood, tofu and eggs), low carb veggies such as avocado, leafy greens, succhini, mushrooms, broocoli, cucumber and cauliflower, as well as high or full fat cheeses and cream. Eat heaps of nuts and seeds, only a handful of berries, and all types of high fat oil and dressing. You need to greatly avoid beans, lentils, chickpeas, bread, pasta, oats, rice, quinoa, fruits, starchy vegatables such as potatoes and corn, and everything sugary.
There is usually a lot of maths involved in a keto diet as well, so I have to say the sound of all of that sounds HORRIBLE, but not to mention hard on a vegan diet. Vegan diets are quite high in grains, legumes, fruit, and vegetables, and we need these in our diets for sustained health, so how in the world is a vegan supposed to do this?
Luckily, after a lot of research I was able to find out!
Approaching it from a vegan point of view, I was able to determine that the food that I should be eating a lot of included:
- Low carb veggies: dark leafy greens, mushrooms, cauliflower, broccoli, carrot, capsicum
- Nuts & seeds: macadamia nuts, walnuts, Brazil nuts, almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, cashews, hemp seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds.
- Plant protein: tofu, tempeh
- Fruits: berries, coconut and avocado
- Fats: oils such as olive oil, coconut oil, and avocado oil, coconut yogurt, Peanut butter, cashew cheese, vegan cream cheese.
- Other: Coffee, tea and unsweetened clear drinks, as well as sugar free plant milks, nutritional yeast, herbs, and spices.
These items aren’t processed and fattening as some of the foods you are allowed to eat on a non-vegan keto diet (I seriously don’t believe bacon is ok on any diet!) so the keto diet could actually be quite nutritionally sound. No “where do you get protein from?” here. Consuming the plant based fats such as avocado, olive oil, hemp seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds, nuts, and coconut are a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids and are more than sustainable. The high dosage of avocado, while informed that we should really only eat about half an avocado a day as vegan, is a great way to get the fibre you would normally get from grains and pastas.
The next, and most important part of the keto diet is to not do it for very long in order to ensure that you are not missing out on essential nutrients you will eventually need. I read that it was recommended that you do the keto diet for about 28 days at most, to make way for any fluctuations in your body’s stasis.
It is also highly recommended that you intermittently fast while doing the keto diet as well, in order to allow our body time to deplete its energy from the food to then move on to breaking down the stored fat for the energy. There are a few different types of intermittent fasting, such as:
- 12:12 -12 hour fast, 12 hour feeding period (eating between the hours of 7am – 7pm)
- 16:8 – 16 hour fast, 8 hour feeding period (eating between the hours of 12pm – 8pm)
- 20:4 -20 hour fast, 4 hour feeding period (eating between the hours of 1pm – 5pm)
- 5:2 – 5 days of eating whatever you like and 2 days of calorie restriction.
- Eat/Stop/Eat – A day of normal eating followed by a day of fasting (<500cal)
The idea of not eating makes me mad, but including the time in which you are asleep can mean an easier fasting time. Because of this, and knowing that I will eventually get hungry, I decided I would fast for the 12:12 session. This would take place between 9pm and 9am, meaning that I wouldn’t eat breakfast until after 9am, and I wouldn’t eat any food or drink after 9pm. This would take into account my usual eating time, and my busy morning schedules without too much difficulty.
With all the information in my back pocket, I decided to give the vegan keto and intermittent fasting diet a try. Stay tuned for my coming articles about how it went, and some handy recipe ideas as well, but if you want some more information, I highly recommend reading these below resources:
- Elsa’s Wholesome Life – My Vegan Keto Experiment 1
- Elsa’s Wholesome Life – Intermittent Fasting
- Unique Muscle Plant Based Keto Recipes