10 Plant Based "Keto" Friendly Foods
Although first documented in the 1920’s, "Keto" diets have recently garnered a lot of attention due to promises of rapid weight loss, reduced inflammation, cardiovascular health and blood sugar balance.
The basic premise of a healthy "keto" diet, is that by greatly modifying fast release carbohydrates (and sugars) and replacing them with quality proteins and fats, the body will begin to rely on "fat" as a source of fuel (ketones) as opposed to glucose or sugar which is the predominate fuel source of the modern western diet.
The problem with most keto diets, is that they advocate a heavy reliance on meat (dead animals) and animal fats, which in the short term, may serve to help put the body into a state of "ketosis", but longer term, will also likely create chaos in the body due to the overwhelming toxic effects.
Thankfully, with rising levels of consciousness about the food we eat, the organic movement, sustainability and animal welfare, more and more people are moving towards heavily plant-based diets.
With this in mind, it's good to know that you can still turn your body into a fat burning machine by embracing a whole food lifestyle by placing a heavy emphasis on certain plant foods that won't create any toxic effects...
What Is Ketosis?
The natural state of ketosis is achieved when the body starts using fat as its primary source of energy.
Ketosis normally takes place after a period of fasting or by restricting the intake of carbohydrates.
The prefix “keto” refers to “ketones” which are tiny molecules produced by the liver from fat that fuel the body after taking over from blood sugar (glucose) which is used for energy by the body first.
Learn more in Fasting: What You Should Know
What Is A Keto Diet?
Ketogenic diets consist of foods which are low in carbohydrates, high in fat and some which have moderate amounts of protein. This combination will have the effect of helping the body get into and then stay in a ketosis state.
Typically, carbohydrate consumption would be restricted to less than 50 grams per day with fats making up about 75% of caloric intake.
The problem is most keto diet plans feature an over consumption of meat (dead animals) which carries with it a host of other health risks.
Eating large amounts of meat and other animal derived products over an extended period of time with less emphasis on plants, can contribute to:
There is also the issue around consuming excess saturated fats from animals which should be consumed only in limited quantities. Of course, your body needs a certain amount of fat to operate optimally, so it's more a question of "the type" of fats that are predominate in your diet..
Learn more in Good Fats Versus Bad Fats
Today's Science about the Ketogenic Diet
Due to the way ketosis affects the body’s metabolism, keto has become very popular due to what are believed to be significant health benefits associated with:
- Losing weight
- Healthy blood sugar balance
- Type 2 diabetes
- Reduced “bad” & increased “good” cholesterol levels
- Acne & skin problems
The best way to go is to embrace a "healthy" Ketogenic diet, heavily reliant on plant foods and it will powerfully benefit the brain, increasing mental performance, improving brain cell growth and function, while also protecting against age-related cognitive decline.
Best Plant-Based Ketogenic Foods
These plant-based whole foods and oils are all suitable for a ketogenic diet as they’re high in “good” fats, low in carbohydrates and several also contain protein in varying amounts.
As an added bonus, like all plant foods, they all also possess individual qualities that target the health of specific body parts and systems making them doubly beneficial for you…
Thanks to its high fat content and plethora of nutritional goodness and health-promoting properties, coconuts and coconut products are a must-have component of any plant-based ketogenic diet.
Learn more in The Healing Powers Of Coconuts
Normally dairy products can be substituted with coconut ones with a 1;1 ratio:
- Coconut oil - can be used for frying and sauteéing,
- Coconut milk - a great addition to smoothies
- Coconut cream & yoghurt - a tasty addition to breakfasts & desserts
- Coconut butter & MCT Coconut oil - blended together with coffee gives us Magic Bullet, a 100% plant-based alternative to the well-known “Bulletproof coffee”
Learn more in What’s The Difference Between MCT Oil & Coconut Oil?
2. Plant Oils
In addition to coconut oil and MCT oil, the following plant oils are also health-promoting and keto-friendly:
- Olive oil
- Avocado oil
- Nut oils e.g. almond oil
Use them as dressings or mix in to any of your other keto culinary creations to increase the fat content.
3. Nuts & Seeds
Along with being nutritional powerhouses, many nuts and seeds having a much higher proportion of fat compared to carbohydrate content, they make a valuable contribution to any keto diet.
Some of the best choices:
- Chia seeds
- Brazil nuts
- Hemp seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
By the same token nut & seed butters are also good to include:
- Almond butter
- Cashew butter
- Peanut butter
- Sunflower butter
If you love your cheddar and mozzarella you can even replace these with cashew cheese.
Learn more in Go Nuts For Nuts!
4. Non-Starchy Vegetables & Legumes
The best types of vegetables to eat are the lower glycemic, leafy green and cruciferous varieties that grow above the ground:
- Brussel sprouts
Legumes that are very low glycemic and that won't spike insulin that you should also include in keto-friendly plant-based diet include:
- Red Kidney Beans
5. Organic Tofu
Containing less than 2 grams of carbohydrates in a typical serving makes this popular soy-based protein source a keto appropriate food.
The best part is that it makes a great substitute for meat and is really versatile in terms of how you can prepare it.
Available in either hard or soft varieties you can eat it raw or fry it up with one of the plant oils mentioned above.
6. Organic Tempeh
With a grainier and firmer texture than tofu, tempeh, a fermented form of soy is similarly low in carbohydrates, but also high in protein.
Easy to prepare by either slicing, dicing or blending, it’s best eaten raw to retain its powerful probiotic benefits.
Learn more in Probiotics: Health Benefits & 7 Powerful Food Sources
Sometimes referred to as “nature’s butter” this mega healthy superfood is mostly comprised of “good fats” and protein with a small proportion of carbohydrates.
In addition, to be nutrient-dense, it also goes well with a number of other foods.
One of the most popular dishes for those keto dieting is guacamole where you can mix in other keto-friendly plants such as capsicum, chilli, onion, lemon juice, and fresh coriander.
Learn more in The Health Wonders Of The Avocado
Even though they have a slightly higher carbohydrate content than most of the other foods on this list, they are considered "low glycemic" (slow sugar release fruit) and provide so many natural protector/inhibitor, immune-boosting health benefits that should not be overlooked in any type of diet, including keto.
Other berries that fit the "keto" bill are:
Learn more in Why Berries Are Nature’s True Vaccines
9. Lemon Juice
Consuming a large amount of acid-forming fats can lead to imbalances in your body’s PH level.
Although in its natural state lemon juice is acidic, once inside the stomach, it actually helps to boost the digestive process and alkalise the body.
Starting the day with a glass of lemon water and nature-made salt will not only help to boost your metabolism but also detoxify and cleanse your digestive system.
10. Herbs & Condiments
Thankfully being on a keto diet doesn’t mean you need to skimp on flavour.
Adding the following to your meals in small amounts will not overly boost your intake of carbohydrates:
- Fresh herbs
- Nutritional yeast
If you want to add non-plant-based foods into the mix, providing they are organic you can also supplement in moderation with high-fat dairy products like hard cheeses, heavy cream, and butter, as well as free range eggs.
Traditional Keto Diet Side Effects
Similar to fasting, getting used to a radically different diet can cause your body and emotions to react in some uncomfortable ways.
After the first few days, it’s not uncommon to experience a range of symptoms and “side effects” sometimes referred to as the “keto flu”, these can include:
- Muscle cramps
- Joint pain
- Sleeping issues
These symptoms are less likely on a plant-based Keto diet, but if they occur, the best thing you can do is increase your intake of fresh water and take it easy until your body gets used to the transition to being powered by ketones instead of glucose.
With following a purely keto diet at times being challenging and hard to stick to, an easier alternative t is what has become known as “keto cycling”.
This involves having 1 day on only ketogenic foods followed by 1 day off when you can eat a higher amount of carbohydrate-rich foods.
Learn more in Top 7 Reasons To Embrace A Plant-Based Diet & How To Do It
Tolman Self Care.