Weight loss is a common goal that many individuals share, and there are various diets to choose from to achieve this goal. Two well-known diets, the keto and vegan diets, promote health through different means: low-carb and high-fat to encourage burning calories versus plant-based to keep the body in balance. Which diet is more effective towards achieving a healthier life?
What Is A Keto Diet?
The keto diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet that is intended to force the body into ketosis.
Ketosis is a metabolic process in which the body’s metabolism drastically increases, allowing for the rapid burning of fat. The drastic reduction in carb intake causes the body to rely on fat for energy rather than carbs.
When first introduced into the medical world, ketosis was used to help alleviate various diseases and disorders. Children with epilepsy and patients suffering from heart disease were put onto a keto diet to reduce unnecessary fat consumption and enforce a healthier diet. Today, the keto diet is a popular diet for inducing quick weight loss.
What Can I Eat On A Keto Diet?
There are various restrictions on what you can and cannot eat while on a keto diet. This diet severely restricts carb intake and encourages foods that are high in fat.
Foods to Avoid
- Fruits (bananas, apples, pears, grapes, etc.)
- Root vegetables (potatoes, carrots, parsnips)
- Sugary foods (soda and juice, cake, ice cream, candy)
- Wheat/grains (rice, pasta, cereal -fortified)
Foods to Eat
- Red meat
- Fatty fish (salmon, tuna, etc.)
- Eggs (pastured/omega-3 whole eggs)
- Butters/cheese (grass-fed dairy sources)
- Low-carb vegetables (most greens, onions, tomatoes)
The Benefits Of Keto
Since the keto diet eliminates all high-carb foods, the increased consumption of nutritious foods leads to great benefits. The significant cut in carb intake greatly reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and other health issues, such as high blood pressure.
- Significant weight loss during the first few weeks of a keto diet (most fat loss from a keto diet is from your abdominal area)
- Reduced levels of blood sugar and insulin
- Alleviates symptoms of brain disorders
The Truth About Keto
While the keto diet has successfully assisted many dieters with rapid weight loss, various risks come with such a restrictive diet.
An Unbalanced Diet
The keto diet’s strict dietary guidelines restrict you from various food groups. For example, the limited fruit and vegetable choices prevent you from introducing different natural foods into your diet. While you may succeed in short-term weight loss, your long-term health may be compromised.
Furthermore, while a typical diet consists of 20-35% fat intake, a keto diet recommends a fat intake of 75%. This significant increase in fat consumption results in a reliance on fatty products. Often, these fats come from meat products. Processed meats, such as sausage and deli meats, contain saturated fats that may increase your cardiovascular disease risk. They also contain nitrates that are known carcinogens.
If you do not conduct proper exercise, or you stray from your diet plan, you may end up gaining weight and/or increasing your chances of disease.
The sudden decrease in carbs will affect your physical and mental health.
As your body adjusts to ketosis, you may feel discomfort in your gut area. You may also become tired quickly, dizzy, and be prone to mood swings. In severe cases, some dieters may suffer from low blood pressure and nutrient deficiencies.
The symptoms associated with these changes are commonly referred to as the ‘keto flu.’
Red Meat Consumption
Unlike the vegan diet, the keto diet allows animal-based products, more specifically red meat.
Red meat is a prime energy source for those on a keto diet, as meat contains plenty of protein. The drastic cut in carb intake forces keto dieters to rely heavily on fats and proteins for energy.
However, studies have shown that an increase in red meat consumption will also increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and premature death by at least 3%. Suppose keto dieters continue to consume high amounts of meat rather than improving their health. In that case, they may be eating themselves into future diseases and complications.
What Is A Vegan Diet?
The vegan diet is entirely plant-based; animal products are replaced with equally nutritious plant-based alternatives or dietary supplements. Many individuals choose to go on a vegan diet for both health and ethical reasons.
What Can I Eat On A Vegan Diet?
The most significant dietary rule that vegans follow is the elimination of all animal products.
Foods To Avoid
- Meat and poultry
- Dairy and eggs
- Bee products
- Any animal ingredient (fish-derived vitamins, animal-derived vitamins)
Foods To Eat
- Tofu and soy-based foods (great protein alternatives)
- Nuts and nut butter (unblanched and unroasted)
- Fruits and vegetables
- Legumes (beans, lentils, peas)
- Whole grains
- Seeds (hemp, chia, flaxseeds)
Is A Vegan Diet Healthier Than Other Diets?
A common concern surrounding the vegan diet is the potential for malnutrition.
Without careful research or consultation with a dietician, a vegan diet may end with harmful results. For example, a severe lack of protein may result in hair loss, as meat provides ample nutrients that promote hair growth.
However, various plant-based alternatives serve as protein sources for vegans. Also, diet supplements can be prescribed by doctors to provide daily intake of vitamins.
Why Should I Go Vegan?
With the proper research and care, you can easily transition into a healthy and sustainable plant-based lifestyle.
Unlike the keto diet, the vegan diet is more stable and consistent. Due to the lack of carb restriction, your body’s metabolism will function normally and burn fat at a regular rate. As a result, the vegan diet will not make you feel exhausted due to the healthy fuel provided by plant-based foods.
Benefits Of An Animal-Free Diet
Though meat is an excellent source of protein, complete reliance on meat may be detrimental to your health.
The majority of an individual’s saturated fat consumption comes from animal-based foods; saturated fats increase your bloodstream cholesterol levels. With the keto diet, which includes a significant percentage of red meat as fuel for energy, you will only be increasing your risk for various diseases. A common risk that is heightened from meat consumption is the risk of heart disease.
When you fuel yourself with plant-based foods rather than animal products, you consume whole foods and unsaturated fats. These choices are significantly better for your overall health than the high fats that the keto diet promotes.
Healthy Plant-Based Alternatives
The possibilities are endless when it comes to finding vegan-friendly alternatives for your diet.
Though vegans are restricted from consuming animal products, there are plenty of options to substitute protein, dairy, and other vital nutrients. For example, tofu and high-carb vegetables enable vegans to consume ample protein and carbs.
Dedicating yourself to a plant-based diet will allow you to explore and experiment with an abundance of recipes and healthy products. Check out these recipes for some delicious plant-based meals!
- Panko Tofu Nuggets With Hidden Greens
- Gluten-Free Herbed Chickpea Pancakes
- Vegan Carrot Hot Dogs
- Vegan Bacon With Coconut Flakes
- Dairy-Free Cashew Cream Cheese
Lose Weight And Improve Health Without Counting Calories
The vegan diet introduces more whole foods and natural foods into your diet. Rather than focusing on restricting specific food groups, you can put your energy towards consuming balanced meals.
By having more exposure to plant-based foods, you prevent yourself from consuming unnecessary fats and processed foods. You can lose weight as your body is not absorbing or retaining extra calories. You will also be increasing your intake of essential nutrients.
There is no right or wrong choice when choosing a diet. Ultimately, it is up to you to decide which diet best fits your lifestyle and needs. The keto and vegan diets are two lifestyle choices that provide significant health benefits while also coming with their own challenges.
If you are looking for rapid results and short-term change, the keto diet may attract you more. The drastic cut in carbs and forced ketosis will cause significant changes in your weight.
However, if you are looking for a diet with long-term health benefits and a balanced lifestyle, the vegan diet will best fit your goals. The introduction of plant-based and whole foods will enrich your nutritional intake, as well as keep you adequately fueled throughout the day.
Choosing a healthy plant-based and vegan diet is most beneficial when it comes to:
Higher levels of energy;
Aids in energy and overall happiness;
Provides a sense of comfort and relief;
Could prevent major diseases such as obesity and diabetes;
Accomplish weight loss and management; and
Improves mental and cognitive functioning.
There are really no excuses not to try healthier habits in your everyday life. If you are looking for specific benefits of adopting healthier habits or just want to know about the general healing properties of herbs. Please remember to comment or post any health questions, or contact us directly!
Doheny, K. (2019). Are There Health Downsides To Vegetarian Diets?
Gunnars, K. (2018). 10 Health Benefits Of Low-Carb And Ketogenic Diets.
Helms, N. (2019). Ketogenic Diet: What Are The Risks?
Mawer, R. (2020). The Ketogenic Diet: A Detailed Beginner's Guide To Keto.
Petre, A. (2016). The Vegan Diet -- A Complete Guide For Beginners.