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June 26, 2020

Vegan vs Keto Diet: Is Going Plant-Based the Better Option?

As a self-identified nutrition nerd, I'm always looking for interesting and crazy diets that seem to pop up all the time. The ketogenic diet is one that has stood out the most for me, mainly because it's not just some new fad a celebrity diet.

There is a load of scientific and medical research behind it, and there is a lot of evidence that it may work for weight loss. Several friends of mine have had success with it, which led me to do some more research.

Before you jump in and give it a try, I do want to highlight a few things, especially from the point of a plant-based diet.

Let's start with the basics.

What Is The Keto Diet?

The keto diet is a high-fat, moderate-protein, and low-carb diet that has the ultimate goal of a metabolic effect called ketosis. That's quite a technical mouthful, but there is a simple way to explain it.

When you're eating high-carb foods, your body produces blood-glucose, which is the body's primary source of energy [1]. However, the body also has the ability to produce blood ketones.

To do this, you have to reduce your carb intake to a minimum while increasing fat and protein.

Of all the diets I have come across, keto is the most scientifically researched one, as it was first developed to help deal with epilepsy [2].

keto diet2

Today, people are turning to it as a lifestyle that may work as an effective weight loss diet.

Your metabolism will then shift from producing glucose to ketones as a source of energy.

What Is The Vegan Diet?

vegan diet

The vegan diet is a plant-based lifestyle that eliminates all animal products in people's lives.

You don't eat, wear, or use any products that came from a living being or may have harmed an animal in the process.

Avoiding animal products in your diet may seem like a relatively straightforward thing to achieve. But it does mean that you need to pay close attention to various micronutrients to avoid deficiencies (e.g., iron, vitamin B12, etc.).

The main reasons behind this plant-based lifestyle generally come down to the following:

Ethical: A lot of people switch to eating plant-based diets because of the suffering other diets impose on animals. But it's also things like clothing and hygiene products that need to be accounted for [3].

Environmental: Eating animal products, even in small amounts, may have a profoundly larger environmental impact and carbon footprint [4].

Health and weight loss: Cutting out meat and dairy may reduce exposure to saturated fat [5], and has been shown to help people lose weight and fat more easily [6].

Now, let's get into a bit more detail.

How Does The Keto Diet Work?

Essentially, your metabolism will produce more ketones and far less glucose, which may have some significant health benefits.

What followers of keto claim is that it's an effective way to manage healthy weight loss, as well as allowing people to limit the effects of type 2 diabetes [7].

Essentially, you're completely switching around how your metabolism works. 

How Does The Vegan Diet Work?

The vegan diet works by eliminating any food, clothing, or hygiene products that came from an animal or were tested on any living being. The only thing you're allowed on this lifestyle is plant-derived products.

While eating plant foods and avoiding meat is quite easily achieved, especially if you prepare your food from scratch, it can become a lot more complicated with clothing and beauty products.

Do those shoes have leather soles?

Was that shampoo tested on animals?

Is there animal fat in that soap?

These are all questions you have to constantly answer while shopping, but packaging labels don't always make this easy. 

Benefits Of Keto And Vegan

benefits of keto and vegan image

Both diets have their benefits, so I thought it would only be fair to list them all.

Vegan Diet Benefits:

Keto Diet Benefits:

  • You're only eating ethical food sources
  • Reduces your impact on the environment significantly
  • Eliminates saturated and trans fats that may cause heart issues
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    Research shows that it may significantly help you lose weight [8]
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    Potentially lowers the effects of arthritis [9]
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    May provide a broader range of micronutrients
  • Has been shown to help with weight loss [10]
  • Possible to control type 2 diabetes
  • May help with the control of blood pressure [11]
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     Helps to increase brain energy for potentially better mental function
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    Has been linked to a reduced risk of cancer [12]

But what about the downsides?

Negatives Of Keto And Vegan

Yes, there are negatives associated with both diets, and everybody needs to decide how they will be able to deal with those.

Downsides of the Vegan Diet

  • Some essential nutrients like iron and vitamin B12 are more difficult to source.
  • You may need to get protein from different sources to get the full range of amino acids.
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    Finding vegan hygiene products may be quite a challenge.
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    Finding vegan hygiene products may be quite a challenge.

Downsides of the Ketogenic Diet

  • In the first week or two, you may feel like you have the flu as your body adapts.
  • Health benefits can take quite a while to become noticeable.
  • It relies heavily on eating meat and fat, which may lead to health issues.
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    Even a single cheat day with a sugary treat may knock your body out of ketosis.

Keto flu refers to a set of symptoms that people may experience when they start the keto diet. These are usually minor and short term, lasting between a few days and weeks. Symptoms of the keto flu include nausea, vomiting, headaches, and fatigue.

Miho Hatanaka

registered dietitian

Is The Standard Keto Diet Suitable For Vegans?

No, the standard keto diet is not suitable for vegans as it relies significantly on meat and dairy as a source of fat and protein. The other problem is that the majority of plant foods that people turn to on the vegan diet are full of carbs.

Even though they are mostly slowly digested complex carbs [13], they would not lead to sustainable ketosis. 

Does Keto Or Vegan Work Better For Weight Loss?

Keto and vegan both work about the same when it comes to weight loss.

From all the evidence that I have reviewed, and based on several scientific studies, I don't see any reason to believe that keto works any better for weight loss than the vegan diet.

It is going to be a healthier choice with less negative effects if you limit your calorie intake and eliminate sugar.

This is easily achievable with veganism and may be the best option to help you lose weight. 

measuring waist

Other Resources You May Like:

FAQ

Is keto or vegan healthier?

What is the difference between the Keto and Mediterranean diet?

Can you do a keto diet if you are vegan?

Which Diet Will Work Out Best For You?

If your goal is weight loss and achieving a healthier immune and digestive system, then I strongly suggest you try the vegan diet. Find out how to go vegan here

You may lose weight in the same way as is possible with keto, but you also significantly reduce your exposure to bad nutrients.

If you have had experience with either or both of these diets, then please reach out to us on social media. Sharing this information with other people and us may help others to make a better-informed decision. 

References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23852511
  2. https://www.epilepsy.com/learn/treating-seizures-and-epilepsy/dietary-therapies/ketogenic-diet
  3. https://www.peta.org/living/
  4. https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-49238749
  5. https://www.plantbasednews.org/lifestyle/health-risks-dairy
  6. https://www.insider.com/vegan-diet-leads-to-weight-fat-loss-improves-gut-bacteria-2019-9
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30289048
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25592014
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4359818/
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2716748/
  11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16409560
  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25666556
  13. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/imagepages/19529.htm
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