Cutting back on carbs is not really that complicated. All you need to do is replace the sugars and starches in your diet with vegetables, meat, fish, eggs, nuts and fats
Pretty straightforward, right ? That is unless you are planning to eat low carb when you don't eat meat !
Conventional low-carb diets rely heavily on meat, which makes them unsuitable for vegetarians.
However, I don't think that needs to be the case. Everyone can follow a low-carb diet, even vegetarians and vegans.
And I'm going to show you how to do it.
Why Low-Carb?In the past 12 years, at least many studies have shown that low-carb diets can help you lose weight (without calorie counting).
One of the main reasons is that these diets can significantly reduce appetite, making you eat fewer calories without having to consciously try to eat less (1, 2).
Low-carb diets also improve health in other ways.
They are very effective at reducing harmful belly fat, and tend to reduce triglycerides and raise HDL (the “good”) cholesterol significantly. They also tend to lower blood pressure and blood sugar levels (3, 4, 5, 6, 7).
Although low-carb diets are not necessary for everyone, they can have important health benefits for people with obesity, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes and certain neurological disorders.
A low-carb vegan diet can be very healthy as well. Studies on eco-atkins (vegan, 26% of calories as carbs) have shown that such a diet is much healthier than a regular low-fat diet, as well as a low-fat vegetarian diet (8, 9).
Different Types of Vegetarians
There are several different types of vegetarians - But none of them eat meat or fish.
The two most common types are lacto-ovo vegetarians and vegans.
Lacto-ovo vegetarians (or simply “vegetarians”) eat dairy products and eggs, but vegans do not eat any animal-derived foods.
Dairy Products and Eggs Are Low in CarbsEggs and dairy products, without added sugar, are low in carbs, but high in both protein and fat. For vegetarians (not vegans), they are perfect for a low-carb diet.
These foods are also rich in vitamin B12, which is not found in plant foods. Vegetarians can get all the B12 they need from these foods, while vegans need to supplement.
Low-Carb Friendly Plant Foods (For Both Vegetarians and Vegans)There is actually a massive variety of low-carb foods from plants.
Many of these foods are also high in protein and fat.
It is important to experiment and figure out a way to match your carb intake to your own goals and preferences.
That being said, these guidelines are reasonable:
Vegetarians could easily go into the lowest range, but such a diet would be impractical for vegans. The 100-150 gram range would be more suitable for vegans.
It is recommended to use a nutrition tracker (like Cron-o-meter) for at least a few days/weeks while you are fine-tuning your carbohydrate intake and making sure to get enough protein and fat.
A Sample Menu For a Low-Carb Vegetarian DietThis is a one-week sample menu for a vegetarian (not vegan) diet that is low in carbs.
You can adapt this based on your own needs and preferences.
You can find numerous delicious low-carb vegan recipes on this site.
Plus, there is a massive amount of free recipes available on the internet. Try typing “low carb vegetarian recipes” or “low carb vegan recipes” into Google.
There are also cookbooks on Amazon that are dedicated to low-carb and plant-based eating.
Take Home Message
There are many delicious plant foods that are low in carbs, but high in fat and protein.
Clearly, you don’t need to be a meat eater to reap the benefits of low-carb eating
Your guide to living whole and well. Emma Olliff is a Registered Nutritional Therapist, wellness expert, food lover, and advocate for healthy living!