Switching to a plant-based diet can be very beneficial to your health and to your waistline, but for folks who are used to following a low carb diet it can be a little bit tricky. Doable, but tricky.
When a reader asked about eating vegan while also eating low carb, I have to admit that I was stumped at first. My diet is far from low carb. I rely on whole grains, brown rice, and potatoes quite a bit. After a little bit of digging, though, I ran across a couple of great resources for vegans looking to go low carb.
A Low Carb Vegan Diet
I’m a huge fan of The Vegan RD for researching nutrition-related questions. She’s a registered dietician and gives common sense, real life advice for vegans looking to eat a balanced diet. For her Vegan Examiner column last September, she looked at a study about low carb diets. The study’s conclusion? Low carb diets heavy in animal products were unhealthy, while low carb diets that relied on plant proteins had some great health benefits:
Healthful low-carbohydrate diets based on plant foods derive fats from nuts, vegetable oils, avocados, and olives. Protein is more likely to come from choices like legumes, nuts, grains and soyfoods, all of which have been linked to reduced risk for chronic disease.
She does point out in the article, though, that this was more of a moderate carb diet, rather than a strictly low carb one.
The Vegan Atkins Diet
In another Vegan RD article (don’t you love her?), she points to a vegan version of the Atkins Diet. They called it the “Eco-Atkins” diet, and the idea was to replace all of that animal protein and fat with plant-based alternatives. Here’s how it went down, according to Vegan RD:
They designed a 100% vegan diet that was high in protein (31% of calories) and fat (43% of calories).The protein was derived from gluten, soy, vegetables, nuts and cereals. Fat came mostly from nuts, vegetable oils and soy products.
Twenty-two subjects followed the diet for four weeks and had a weight loss that was similar to what people achieve on the Atkins Diet. But the advantage of the plant-based regimen was obvious since they also experienced a drop in LDL-cholesterol while maintaining levels of the good (HDL) cholesterol.
So, what does a vegan, low carb diet look like? You’d probably have a harder time avoiding fake meats, but it’s totally doable. You’d cut out refined grains and replace them with:
- Some whole grains to round things out
I thought it was interesting that the Eco-Atkins diet doesn’t mention beans, but I’d think that adding some beans into the mix would make this much easier to do (that’s why they’re included in my list above, but not in her summary of the study).
So, vegan friends! Are any of you following a low carb vegan diet? What do your meals look like? I’m envisioning soysage for breakfast, bean chili and a salad for lunch, and veggie burgers (hold the bun) for dinner. Is that about right?
Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by Mr. T in DC