Keto Diet For Indian Vegetarians & Vegans – A Complete Guide
Ketogenic diet is gaining a lot of popularity these days and for all the good reasons. Ketogenic diet or keto diet is a low carb, high fat diet with numerous health benefits. It was first introduced as early as 1921 as a medical therapy to treat epileptic children to control seizures. But today we know that keto diet helps in weight loss and also controls blood sugar levels in diabetics.
WHAT IS KETOGENIC DIET?
A keto diet is very low in carbohydrates but high in fat and moderate in proteins. Fats fulfil 90% of the calorie needs. The concept behind this is to compel the body to use a different type of fuel for energy production. Normally, our body uses glucose (carbohydrate) to carry out various functions and to generate energy. But in keto diet, since carbohydrates are replaced by fats, the body uses ketones (end product of fats) for energy production. The reduction in carbohydrates puts the body in a metabolic state called ketosis. This makes the body highly efficient in burning fat for energy generation.
CAN VEGETARIANS FOLLOW A KETO DIET?
The key aspect in keto diet is to initiate the process of ketosis. This can be achieved by reducing carbohydrate intake in the diet, which will force the body to utilise other sources for energy. Indian foods are rich in carbohydrates and hence find it a bit difficult to sustain a keto diet. But there are plenty of Indian food options that one can enjoy while following a keto diet.
Let’s have a look at all the different food varieties that one can opt for, while following an Indian Vegetarian Keto diet.
Vegetables are a rich source of fiber and must be consumed in good quantity. While they do contain carbohydrates, the amount of carbs is very small. Also, vegetables increase the satiety value and hence reduces hunger pangs. Try to eat at least 4-5 servings of vegetables a day.
A rule of thumb being, all vegetables above the ground are safe to eat and all those that grow below the ground should be avoided or eaten in moderation. For example, carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, yam, beetroot, etc should be eaten with great caution, as they are high in carbohydrates. The only exception to this is onions and garlic which are low in carbohydrates and can be consumed. The variety of vegetables that can be included are as below:
- Bottle Gourd (Dudhi)
- Okra/Ladies finger (Bhindi)
- Apple gourd (Tinda)
- Red, Yellow, Green Bell Peppers
- Green beans
- Brussel sprouts
Fruits are rich source carbohydrates as they have high amounts of fructose. But they are also a good source of fiber and micronutrients like vitamins and minerals. It is therefore necessary to include fruits in the diet which have low fructose levels. Half to one serving of fruits per day can be included in the diet. Fruits that can be included in the keto diet are:
MILK AND MILK PRODUCTS
Milk is the major source of proteins in vegetarian diet. Full fat milk and milk products are high in protein and calcium and must be included.
- Cottage cheese
- Fresh cream
For vegans, there are other options to substitute milk and milk products.
- Soya nuggets
- Soya chunks
Processed soy products are low in carbohydrates and have moderate amounts of proteins.
NUTS AND SEEDS
Nuts and seeds are high in fats and proteins, but they also contain a moderate amount of carbohydrates. Hence, one can include small quantities on these in the diet. Avoid having the salted or sweetened ones or other flavoured varieties of nuts and seeds.
- Brazil nuts
- Pumpkin seeds
- Sesame seeds
- Chia seeds
- Sunflower seeds
- Flax seeds
- Watermelon seeds
Nuts and seeds are also rich in omega fatty acids and contain high amounts of fiber. You can add them to your vegetables, sauces, smoothies or eat them raw. They are also best as snacks or to curb the hunger in between meals.
HERBS AND SPICES
Indian diet has a wide range of herbs and spices which add flavour to the food and makes it palatable. All herbs and spices are low in carbohydrates and can be included in the diet.
OILS AND FATS
Cold pressed Coconut oil and olive oil are some of the best choices for cooking while following a keto diet. Other forms of oil like groundnut oil, mustard oil, rice bran oil, etc can also be used for cooking.
Fats such as ghee, butter, cream and cheese can be freely consumed. Keto diet being high in fats, one can consume up to 40-50 grams of fats per day.
Unsweetened tea and coffee can be consumed. Apart from this, one can have green tea, cinnamon tea in between meals or along with a meal.
Buttermilk, coconut water, lemon juice (without sugar) can be consumed to quench your thirst.
FOODS TO BE AVOIDED:
Any food that is high in carbohydrate has to be avoided. Other foods to be avoided are:
- Sugary foods like cake, pastries, ice creams, sodas, candy, fruit juices, etc.
- Grains like wheat and wheat products, rice, pasta and cereals.
- Beans and legumes like lentils, dals, peas, kidney beans and chickpeas.
- Root vegetables and tubers like potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, etc.
- Unhealthy fats like mayonnaise and processed vegetable oils.
- Alcohol: It has high carbohydrate content and can halt ketosis.
- Sugar-free diet foods: These are highly processed and contain sugar alcohols, which can affect ketosis.
- Low-fat or diet products: These are highly processed foods and they are usually high in carbohydrates. It is best to base your diet plan on whole, home-made, single ingredient foods. When food is cooked at home, one is completely sure of all the contents and therefore, there are no chances of hidden carbs or unhealthy fats.
One can follow keto diet while being vegetarian or vegan. There is a wide array of food products that you can enjoy and still be healthy.
Try to rotate your vegetables so that you can get all nutrients from different vegetables. Ketogenic diet has multiple health benefits for those who are overweight, have diabetes, PCOS, or similar conditions. One must seek advice from the doctor or dietician before starting a diet and must cautiously follow the instructions of their health provider. Need to speak to a doctor? Leave a comment below!