Beginner's Guide to Plant-based Keto Diet in 2020

March 24, 2020 0 Comments

plant-based keto diet 2019

 What is Keto and How Does it Work?

how does keto work checklist

The Ketogenic Diet—or more popularly called Keto, has been around since the 1920s as a therapy treatment to epileptics.

It went mainstream when people discovered its health and weight loss benefits in the last 10 years.

Keto focuses on the shift of consumption of carbohydrates to high fat foods.

Its goal is to get most of your calories from fat sources. The body enters a state of ketosis: a process where the body burns fat instead of storing it. This also occurs when fasting.

Carbs and fats are the two major fuels for the body. While these can be transformed into energy, the body can’t burn fat directly. It is converted into ketones in the liver and released in the bloodstream.  

But since most of the keto diet is animal fat-based which are known to be major causes of cholesterol and inflammation, plant-based fats are a better alternative for source of these nutrients. 

Keto “Rules”  

Those who follow the keto diet eat less than 50 grams of carbohydrates per day and 1 gram of protein per kilo of their body weight, fat and non-starchy vegetables.

While some people drastically cut their carbohydrates intake to just about 10 percent of their diet. Almost limiting their daily consumption of carbs equivalent to a single slice of white bread.

On the other hand, they increase their fat intake by five times of the average per day, compensating for the loss of carbohydrates in their diet.

How to Know If You're Doing Keto Right?

You’ll know that you’ve entered ketosis when you experience one or more of the following:

  • Keto breath. When your body starts to break down fat for fuel, acetone is produced and is detected in the breath. The smell is fruity or sometimes metallic scented.
  • Increased thirst and dry mouth. Thirst will increase in a state of ketosis because the body starts to use up excess glycogen (which holds onto water), leading to an increased the need for urination.
  • Ketones present in urine. Using a ketone strip detects ketones in the urine, confirming that your body has indeed entered a state of ketosis.

  • What to Stay Away From 

    Sugary food and drinks. Soda, fruit juice, cake, ice cream, candy, pastries. Go for no sugar added vegan chocolate bars and stick to the basics like water, black coffee and tea.

    Grain and starches. Wheat-based products, rice, pasta, cereal. Instead use quinoa, chia seeds, almonds, walnuts, flax seeds and pumpkin seeds.

    Fruits. ALL. Except small portions of berries and avocados.

    Root vegetables and tubers. Potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips.

    Beans or legumes. Peas, kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas.

    Condiments and sauces. Use salt, pepper, herbs and spices.

    Products that say "low-fat". These are highly processed and high in carbs.

    Alcoholic beverages. Alcohol's carb content can throw you out of ketosis.

    Vegetable oils and saturated fats. Use extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil and avocado oil.


      What to Eat More Of

      Low-carb fruits and vegetables

      Fruits and vegetables are low in fat and calories. But these should not be a reason to leave off your daily diet since they contain essential nutrients the body needs to throughout the day.

      Best low-carb fruits:

      • Strawberries. Have the fewest carbs of all berries.For each 100 g of strawberries, there's only 5.68 g of carbohydrates.
      • Blackberries. Used frequently in oats and desserts as toppings or fillings. Each 100 g of blackberries contains 9.61 g of carbohydrates and 4.31 g of fiber.
      • Avocados. Are very low in carbohydrates. Every 100 g of avocado contains 1.83 g of carbohydrates. Also, avocados are packed with monounsaturated fats which are great for your heart’s health.
      • Peaches. Not many people know that peaches have low carbohydrate content. Every 100 g contains a net of 8.04 g of carbohydrates. Peaches are perfect as a low carb snack.

      Best low-carb vegetables:

      • Cucumbers.No salad will be complete without cucumbers! They're the perfect counterpart for high concentrate fruit juices like lemon. Refreshing and nutritious at the same time! When peeled, they contain just 2.16 g of carbs for every 100 g. With skin, 3.63 g of carbs. 
      • Celery. Another pantry staple for meals and appetizers. Contains 2.97 g per 100 g. 
      • Spinach. Contains 3.63 g of carbohydrate in every 100 g. That’s more reason to toss it in your salads and meals!
      • Broccoli. Raw broccoli contains 4.04 g of carbs per 100 g. High in fiber and protein perfect for stir-fried veggie meals, steamed and seasoned with salt and pepper.
      • Tomatoes. All-time favorite tomatoes! Contains only 2.69 g of carbs per 100 g serving! This super versatile fruit/vegetable can be eaten raw, processed as juice, soup, tossed in salads, you name it!

      Keto Sweeteners

      In addition to our low-carb fruits and veggies, you can use these sweeteners in your drinks and desserts that work in a keto-based diet:

      • Stevia is anatural sweetener therefore it is plant-based. It came from the Stevia rebaudiana plant. It contains very little to no calorie content which is perfect for diabetics.
      • Erythritol is a type of sugar alcohol — it works as a naturally-occurring sugar in your tongue that mimics the taste of sugar.
      • Xylitol is another kind of sugar alcohol, commonly used in products like sugar-free candies and mints. It’s almost as sweet as sugar but only contains 3 calories per gram.

      Quick Keto Meal Plan for Beginners

      keto meal plan

      If you've been thinking of trying keto, there's no perfect time than NOW!

      Start by shifting your once high- carb and high-calorie diet into a keto or low-carb diet by this simple 7-day meal plan.

      There are a lot of recipes online that helps you never get bored of these healthy foods in the long run.

      Here’s a quick keto meal plan in a day for you to try:


      • Unsweetened coconut yogurt mixed in with paleo granola, few raspberries, chia seeds, and walnuts.


      • Oven-baked tofu with broccoli
      • Fresh iceberg lettuce and tomato salad on the side


      • Grilled mushrooms and tofu  
      • Eggplant, spaghetti squash, zucchini, fresh tomatoes, garlic sauteed in olive oil.


        • Spicy guacamole
        • Raw zucchini slices


        How to shift from Keto to Vegan Keto

        Some practitioners of the keto diet have benefited from the diet but still would want to take it to the next level.

        Whatever their reasons may be, the steps to do it are just as simple as consuming alternatives.

        The keto diet allows the consumption of eggs and cheese because they are excellent sources of good and healthy cholesterol.

        However, in the vegan keto diet, this has become a challenge. Here's what to replace your dairy requirements with: 

        Keto-Friendly Vegan Dairy Replacements

        • Replace Milk with Coconut Milk. In some recipes, you can substitute coconut milk with regular milk; 1 to 1 ratio.
        • Replace Heavy Cream with Coconut Cream. Blend it with some water or skim some water out of the container depending on how creamy you want  the coconut cream to be.
        • Instead of Butter use Coconut Oil or Vegan Butter. Coconut oil has a slightly lower melting point than butter and the same smoke point as butter. That's why it's a good butter replacement. If you are not a fan of coconut oil, there are specialty stores that sell vegan butter. Choose the one that doesn’t contain any hydrogenated oils because these oils increase the risk of heart disease tremendously.
        • Replace Dairy-Based Cheese with Vegan Cheese. Avoiding soy is easy by replacing it with coconut, cashew, and other other tree-nut-based cheeses.
        • Instead of Cream Cheese, choose Vegan Soft Cheese.Treeline makes a cashew-based soft cheese that is delicious and savory, and it has almost the same texture as cream cheese. You can also make some creamy cashew cheese on your own with this recipe.
        • Replace Yogurt and Sour Cream with Nut-Based Yogurt. Go for plain almond, cashew, or coconut milk yogurt when replacing yogurt or sour cream for main dish or dessert recipes. Just make sure it has no added sugars or hidden carbohydrates in your alternatives.

        Keto-Friendly Egg Substitutes

        When it comes to finding keto-friendly substitute for eggs, many experts and nutritionists suggest that you choose an alternative depending on its use.

        Here are some options you can try:

        Flax Seed

        Finely ground flax makes an excellent binder. If you need eggs for making vegan meatballs, try using finely ground flax seeds. It’s nutty flavor works best in recipes for almond or coconut flour baked goods and pancakes!

        Use one tablespoon of ground flax seeds and three tablespoons of water to replace one egg. 

        Silken Tofu

        Silken tofu is a softer, silkier form of tofu that makes a good egg and dairy replacement.

        For baking purposes, silken tofu is a good replacement for that extra density an egg provides.

        Use 1/4 cup of pureed silken tofu for 1 egg.

        Baking Soda and Vinegar

        Anyone would be surprised that baking soda and vinegar solution can be an alternative or substitute to eggs for baked goodies!

        Use one teaspoon of baking soda mixed with one tablespoon of white vinegar for one egg.

        The Vegg

        The Vegg is a 100% plant-based egg company committed to only using natural ingredients.

        They've developed and created healthier substitutes for eggs without losing the taste, texture, and function of an egg for about the same cost!

        Follow Your Heart’s VeganEgg

        Follow Your Heart is another plant-based company that makes vegan alternatives of everything from cheese to mayonnaise!

        They even developed a recipe to create a vegan version of eggs!

        Their VeganEgg is advertised as a vegan whole egg replacement and is safe to use for baking keto-friendly cookies, muffins, and cakes. It can also be used to cook up fluffy scrambled eggs and omelets as well.

        It’s like the real egg, only vegan and healthier.


        Despite the development of vegan alternatives of eggs, the sole issue with these egg replacements is they lack enough fat or protein compared to a whole egg.

        But, don’t fret! You can get plenty of fat from plant-based oils and plenty of protein from vegan “meats,” nuts, seeds, and protein powder.

        Eating Enough Fat on A Vegan Keto Diet

        Even though you can’t eat eggs, meat, butter, or dairy, you will still have an abundant fat source on the vegan ketogenic diet. Here are some sources of fat for the healthy oils you need in your diet:

        Olive Oil

        This may be the most common and popular healthier alternative for oil. Olive oil is mostly made of different fats than coconut oil, and it has plenty of positive health effects as well. You can use it to enhance the flavor and fat content of the many dishes that you’ll find later in this article. Just make sure you cook with olive oil at a temperature that is below 405 degrees Fahrenheit, so it doesn’t oxidize and become less healthy.

        Coconut Oil

        Coconut oil is an excellent oil for fat bombs, deserts, and cooking and baking at temperatures under 350 degrees Fahrenheit. It also provides a long chain and medium chain saturated fatty acids that are the ideal fuel sources for keto dieters and followers.

        Avocado Oil

        Avocado oil contains more healthy monounsaturated fats than any other commonly used oils. It also has the highest smoke point of any other cooking oil (at 520 degrees Fahrenheit), which makes it perfect for cooking, baking, and deep frying. Enjoy the fruit and reap the benefits of it from its oil too!

        Red Palm Oil

        Red palm oil is an incredible source of Vitamins A and E. Though it may be one of the lesser known alternatives, it has a mild carrot-like flavor, with a rich, buttery texture, and a slightly higher smoke point than olive oil and coconut oil.

        Just a word of caution, many palm oil products are produced in a way that has devastating consequences for the environment, the wildlife, and the workers that help produce the oil.

        It is best to buy RSPO-certified or CertifiedSustainable Palm Oil (CSPO)products. The companies that produce these products are approved by the RSPO (the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil) for using sustainable practices that meet strict environmental and social criteria. 

        MCT Oil

        This oil is commonly derived from coconut oil and palm oil. It contains medium chain triglycerides, which are saturated fatty acids that skip normal fat digestion and go right to the liver where they are converted into ketones for fuel. If you need an energy boost, add this flavorless oil to your salads, sauces, fat bombs, and hot drinks like coffee or tea.

        You don’t have to limit your choices and option on where to get all the healthy fat you need in your daily balanced diet. You can get extra fat — along with essential vitamins and minerals — by adding these fatty foods to your vegan ketogenic diet as well: 


        High in monounsaturated fat, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, the avocado is the perfect addition to any vegan keto meal. You can also make a keto-friendly vegan chocolate mousse dessert by blending avocado together with cacao powder, vanilla extract, and a low-calorie sweetener of your choice.


        Nuts are a healthy addition to any diet, and they are also an excellent source of essential fats. Experts recommend macadamia nuts and cashews because they have the highest amount of healthy monounsaturated fats and the lowest amount of inflammatory omega 6 fats.  However, make sure that you are aware of how many carbs are in the nuts you are consuming while you are on the vegan ketogenic diet.


        Pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, flaxseeds, sunflower seeds, etc. are another high-fat, healthy addition to the vegan ketogenic diet. But keep in mind to consume them in moderation for they contain higher levels of inflammatory omega-6 fats, so don’t rely on them as a dietary fat staple.


        Soy’s impact on health has been a hotly debated issue after it’s been found at an animal model research that its estrogen mimicking molecules may contribute to breast cancer.

        However, its effect on humans is entirely different.

        In fact, soy consumption has been found to decrease the risk of breast cancer in women and prostate cancer in men.

        Up to three servings per day like soy milk, tofu, or tempeh cause no adverse effects for women.

        Negative effects on men’s health or male sex hormone are also proven to be false.

        Ultimately, soy is a safe food that most people will have no problems with.

        But there are some cases where some experience thyroid issues after increasing their soy consumption.

        The plant compounds, goitrogens, that soy contains, disrupt the production of thyroid hormones. Symptoms are fatigue, cold sensitivity, constipation, dry skin, or unexplained weight gain after increasing your soy consumption.

        To improve thyroid function, decrease your soy and cruciferous vegetables intake and add a tablespoon or two of sea vegetables like dulse flakes to each meal.

        On the other hand, if you feel better when you are eating soy and cruciferous vegetables, then you can eat as much soy as you’d like. And don’t forget carbs!

        Also, make sure you choose organic soy to avoid GMOs and excess pesticide exposure.


        Downsides of Vegan Ketogenic Diet and What You Can Do About it

        Although the vegan diet is comprised of more plant foods than any other diet, that doesn’t mean it is the healthiest diet. 

        But plant foods simply don’t contain enough of some essential nutrients that we need to thrive.

        For instance, several studies pointed out that both vegetarians and vegans are prone to deficiencies in B12, calcium, iron, zinc, the long-chain fatty acids EPA & DHA, and fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, & K2.

        Vegans and vegetarians may also suffer from hormonal issues if their bodies aren’t producing enough cholesterol and if plant compounds called goitrogens are impairing their thyroid function.

        Luckily, there are food substitutes and lifestyle adaptations you can do to make sure you won’t have issues in nutrient deficiencies.

        Here are some tips you can observe:

        • Eat as much real food as possible — limit your consumption of fake and processed meats, overly processed soy products, vegan junk food, etc.
        • Take a vegan DHA+EPA supplement.
        • Eat natto (fermented soy) or green leafy vegetables like kale to get enough Vitamin K2.
        • Supplement with a vegan form of vitamin D3.
        • Prepare seeds and nuts properly by soaking and sprouting. This will help deactivate mineral-binding proteins that impair mineral absorption.
        • Maximize iron absorption by eating a lot of vitamin-C-rich foods.
        • Keep your thyroid in good shape by eating iodine-rich foods such as seafood and seaweed.  
        • Take B vitamins supplements, especially vitamin B-12.
        • Eat fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, and natto to improve digestion and vitamin and mineral absorption.
        • Take a zinc supplement likeZinc Balance If you are experiencing symptoms like dry skin or getting sick with a sore throat more often than usual.
        • Supplement with one, two, or all three of the compounds taurine, carnosine, and creatine. Each one boosts health in a variety of ways. However, they are not found in plant foods.
        • Take Heme-iron supplements.
        • Consider adding oysters, clams, and other non-sentient bivalves to your diet for your  B-12 and zinc needs.
        • Eat the right amount of calories, carbs, fats, and protein.

        Instead of meat, cheese, and dairy, opt for:

        • Tofu, Tempeh, Seitan, and other high-protein vegan “meats”
        • Vegan egg replacements likeThe Vegg, VeganEgg, or homemade egg substitutes
        • Coconut milk and other varieties of nut milk
        • Coconut cream
        • Coconut yogurt and other varieties of nut-based yogurt
        • Vegan cheese (some of the best vegan cheese is made byTreeline,Miyoko’s Kitchen, andFollow Your Heart)
        • Vegan protein powders
        • Plant-based oils like coconut oil, avocado oil, MCT oil, avocado oil, olive oil, etc.
        • High-protein nuts and seeds

        By following the vegan ketogenic diet, you can help reduce your environmental impact, decrease animal suffering, and improve your health.


          Consider These Before Jumping in to the Keto Diet

          • Consult with your doctor. If you think you are ready to commit to the Keto Diet, experts suggest consulting with your doctor first to know your baseline. They should help you evaluate if the diet is safe for you and whether the rules and limits of it would be beneficial for your body, and not detrimental. 
          • Know and be aware of critics. There will always be someone who will say and argue that Keto is not sustainable. And it could lead to muscle loss, nutrients deprivation, etc. This could set you to fail from the beginning. Focus on your goals and know that you are backed up with your doctor and other keto followers out there. 
          • Think of the benefits. It’s undeniable that  keto has a lot of benefits including weight loss without hunger, diabetes reversal, reduced sugar cravings, calmer stomach and increased mental sharpness.


          What do you think of the keto diet now? Did this article help you change your mind about this diet?

          Let us know in the comments below!