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Keto vs Vegan Dieting: Which is Better?

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By: Erin Coleman, B.S. - Nutritional Science, R.D., L.D.,

Writer at The Fit Father Project

keto vs vegan
Is keto vs vegan dieting better? It's often difficult to know for sure and the answer is probably more complex than you thought.

Comparing these two diets and knowing about the best way to lose weight and keep it off is the key to maintaining optimal health and wellness in men.

If you're wondering which is better, keto vs vegan dieting, the answer may surprise you.

Should you choose keto vs vegan diets? Read on to find out!

First, check out one of our most popular YouTube videos — Dr. A's rant on diets (part 1)!

 

What is a Ketogenic Diet?

A ketogenic, or keto, diet is a very high-fat, very low-carbohydrate diet often used for weight loss.

The diet is restrictive and originally developed as a way to reduce seizures in patients with epilepsy.

Various types of ketogenic diets exist, and some are much lower in carbohydrates than others.

Below are examples of traditional ketogenic diets and some common keto diet variations:

  • Classic Ketogenic Diet: 90% fat, 6% protein, and 4% carbohydrates
  • Modified Ketogenic Diet: 82% fat, 12% protein, and 6% carbohydrates
  • Medium-Chain Triglycerides (MCT) Diet: 73% fat, 10% protein, and 17% carbohydrates
  • Modified Atkins Diet: 65% fat, 30% protein, and 5% carbohydrates
  • Low Glycemic Index Diet: 60% fat, 30% protein, and 10% carbohydrates

All of these diets are high in fat, low in carbohydrates, and low, moderate, or high in protein.

Research shows that adults should get 45-65% of their total calories from carbohydrates, 20-35% from dietary fat, and 10-35% from protein.

Check out part 2 of Dr. A's rant on diets.

 

How Much of Each Macronutrient Should I Eat While Keto Dieting?

To determine the number of grams of protien, carbs, and fat you can eat when following a specific ketogenic diet, use the following formula:

Multiply the number of total calories you should consume by the percentage of carbs, protein, or fat you'd like to eat.

Divide that number by the following:

  • Carbs: 4
  • Protein: 4
  • Fat: 9

Why? Carbohydrates and protein each contain 4 calories per gram and fat contains 9 calories in each gram.

Women often need about 2,000 calories daily to maintain their weight, while men might need about 2,500 calories daily.

For weight loss, women can aim for 1,200-1,500 calories per day while men may need 1,500-1,800 calories daily to effectively drop weight.

And last but not least, part 3 of Dr. A's rant on diets.

 

Which Foods Can I Eat on a Keto Diet?

Keto dieters focus mainly on high-fat, low-carb foods. Below are some common foods you'd probably eat when following a keto vs vegan diet:

Heart-Healthy Fats

Healthy foods rich in dietary fat, which are keto diet staples, include avocados, olives, olive oil, coconut oil, other plant-based oils, nuts, seeds, and nut butters.

Some keto dieters also consume butter, cream, and cheese as these animal-based foods are rich in fat and low in carbohydrates.

Protein Foods

Protein foods you might choose when following a keto vs vegan diet include chicken, fish, seafood, organic red meat, eggs, plain Greek yogurt, low-fat cottage cheese, and reduced-fat cheese.

Non-Starchy Vegetables

Non-starchy vegetables, which usually contain just 5 grams of carbs or less in each 1-cup portion, include tomatoes, cucumbers, leafy greens, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, bell peppers, celery, zucchini, mushrooms, and asparagus.

These veggies are often included in keto diets as they're loaded with fiber, vitamins, and minerals, but contain few carbs.

Foods to Avoid

When following a strict low-carb, high-fat, keto vs vegan diet, steer clear of sweets, sodas, other sugary drinks, pasta, rice, bread, cereal, other grains, and starchy vegetables like corn, peas, dried beans, and potatoes.

These starchy foods are loaded with carbohydrates.

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What is a Vegan Diet?

A vegan diet is an entirely plant-based diet, free from foods and ingredients sourced from animals.

Vegan diets are naturally rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, and often effective for preventing overweight, obesity, cancer, and other chronic diseases.

Some people choose vegan diets because they aren't comfortable eating or killing animals for food.

Others consume plant-only diets for weight loss, improved health, or to avoid antibiotics and hormones found in certain meats and dairy foods.

Check out this video if you want to try a vegan weight loss diet.

 

What Can I Eat on a Vegan Diet?

Foods that are acceptable when following a vegan, plant-based meal plan include the following:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Legumes
  • Avocados
  • Plant-based oils
  • Nuts, seeds, and nut butter
  • Plant-based milk
  • Plant-based yogurt
  • Hummus
  • Olives
  • Tofu, tempeh, and seitan
  • Plant-based protein powder

Foods to AVOID on a vegan diet include:

  • Meat
  • Poultry
  • Fish
  • Seafood
  • Eggs
  • Milk, cottage cheese, and yogurt
  • Other dairy foods
  • Gelatin
  • Chicken broth
  • Other ingredients sourced from animals

A vegan diet is fairly restrictive, but you can often reap numerous health benefits from following this type of diet if you carefully plan your menus.

Use the same weight loss calorie guidelines (1,200-1,500 calories daily for women and 1,500-1,800 calories per day for men) if weight loss is your goal.

Don't think you can build muscle on a vegan diet? Think again.

 

Pros and Cons of Keto vs Vegan Dieting

As with many types of weight loss and healthy eating plans, pros and cons exist when choosing keto vs vegan dieting.

Examples include:

Weight Loss

Both ketogenic and vegan diets are often effective for weight loss, at least in the short-term.

Studies show that ketogenic diets can help you drop weight, and weight loss peaks at about 5 months.

However, the same research shows that keto diets are difficult for many people to maintain long-term.

This is probably because keto diets are so restrictive.

Studies also show that plant-based diets are effective in preventing and treating overweight and obesity.

Cutting out animal-based foods often results in reducing your overall calorie intake for efficient weight loss.

However, as with keto dieting, vegan meal plans are difficult for many people to sustain long-term.

Chronic Disease Risks

If you're overweight or obese and you lose weight using a keto or vegan diet, your chronic disease risk decreases.

For example, your risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, cancer, and other common diseases goes down simply by achieving a healthy weight.

However, some keto dieters eat large amounts of butter, cream, cheese, high-fat meat, or other sources of saturated fat, which can increase your risk of high cholesterol and heart disease.

If you choose keto dieting for weight loss, opt for plant-based oils, nuts, seeds, avocados, and other plant-based fats instead of animal fats whenever possible.

Overall Health and Wellness

Choosing keto vs vegan diets can affect your overall health and wellness too.

If the diet you choose helps you lose weight (if you're overweight), you might notice improvements in your energy level, chronic disease risk factors, and self-esteem.

However, consuming a very low-carb diet, such as the keto diet, might contribute to physical or mental fatigue — especially during workouts.

Carbohydrates are a main source of energy for your muscles during exercise and carbs are your brain's preferred fuel source.

Watch out for nutritional deficiencies when following high-fat, very-low-carb keto diets or vegan meal plans, as fiber-rich carbs and animal-based foods are sources of essential vitamins and minerals your body needs to function properly.

Nutrient deficiencies can lead to fatigue, muscle loss, nerve problems, hair loss, and other unwelcome side effects.

If you carefully plan out your menus and take dietary supplements if your doctor recommends it, you can sustain a vegan diet long-term without the risk of fatigue and nutritional deficiencies.

Even bodybuilders go vegan. See how they do it.

 

What Are Some Other Weight Loss Options?

If you struggle to maintain keto vs vegan diets long term or decide these two diets aren't for you, consider some of the following weight loss or healthy eating plans instead:

Less Restrictive Keto Diets

If a strict keto diet is too difficult to maintain long term, try less liberal versions of ketogenic diets instead.

For example, lower your carbohydrate intake but not as much as the classic keto diet.

Eliminate sweets, sodas, added sugars, white bread, white rice, regular pasta, and other refined grains from your diet but eat a few fiber-rich carbs (vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds) for energy, satiety, and essential nutrients.

Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian Diets

If following a strict vegan diet is too difficult, consider keeping eggs, and dairy foods in your meal plan.

This type of diet is known as a lacto-ovo vegetarian menu.

You can still reap many of the nutritional benefits associated with plant-based diets, but without the restrictions of vegan meal plans.

Choose low-fat milk or plant-based milk, plain Greek yogurt, low-fat cottage cheese, eggs, and even chicken or fish if you'd like, but steer clear of red meat.

As with keto dieting, avoid sweets, added sugar, and refined grains.

But with lacto-ovo vegetarian meal plans, you don't have to restrict healthy carbohydrates.

Well-Balanced, Calorie-Controlled Meal Plans

One of the best ways to achieve or maintain a healthy weight, build muscle, optimize workouts, maximize energy, and keep chronic disease risks low is to eat a well-balanced diet.

You can adjust the volume of food you eat to match your calorie needs and weight management goals.

When using Fit Father Project meal plans, you'll eat a good balance of the following nutritious foods:

Non-Starchy Vegetables (fill 1/2 of your plate with these)

Leafy greens, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumbers, tomatoes, celery, carrots, bell peppers, asparagus, zucchini, mushrooms, or onions.

Fiber-Rich Starches (fill 1/4 of your plate with these)

Corn, green peas, garbanzo beans, black beans, pinto beans, lentils, other legumes, sweet potatoes, brown rice, wild rice, quinoa, oatmeal, whole-grain pasta, whole-grain bread, or other whole grains.

Nutritious Protein Foods (fill 1/4 of your plate with these)

Chicken, turkey, duck, fish, shrimp, crab, other seafood, organic lean red meat, and eggs.

Dairy Foods/Calcium-Rich Plant Alternatives (3 servings)

Low-fat milk, low-fat cottage cheese, plain Greek yogurt, reduced-fat cheese, protein-fortified almond milk, other plant milks, and whey, casein, or plant-based protein shakes.

Fruits (2-3 servings)

Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, honeydew melon, cantaloupe, watermelon, grapes, apples, oranges, grapefruit, kiwi fruit, pears, plums, bananas, or other fresh fruit.

Heart-Healthy Fats (add to each meal)

Olive oil, coconut oil, canola oil, walnut oil, other plant-based oils, avocados, nuts, seeds, nut butters, olives, or hummus.

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Benefits of Well-Balanced Diets

Some of the many benefits associated with well-balanced meal plans, rather than keto vs vegan diets, can include:

  • More energy
  • Long-term healthy weight management
  • Reduced disease risks
  • Better workouts
  • Enhanced muscle building
  • Lower risk of nutritional deficiencies

You can adjust the volume of food you eat to match your weight management goals.

For example, if you're trying to drop weight, consume about 500 fewer calories than your usual intake or burn off an extra 500 calories to lose about 1 pound of body fat per week.

If your goal is muscle building, eat an additional 300-500 calories daily and increase resistance training workouts.

Lift weights more often or increase the amount of weight you lift, while maintaining cardiovascular workouts.

You won't feel hungry or deprived when eating well-balanced meals vs keto or vegan diets.

They're a healthy alternative if you haven't been able to sustain keto or vegan meal plans long term.

Which Type of Diet is Right for Me?

There's no one-size-fits-all diet that's right for everybody.

Whether you choose keto diets, vegan diets, well-balanced weight loss meal plans, or muscle-building menus, the one that best matches your needs depends on your lifestyle, size, body composition, weight management goals, and food preferences.

What works best for you might not be the right choice for friends or even family members.

Whichever diet you pick, avoid sugary drinks, sweets, other added sugars, refined grains, fried foods, and processed or high-fat meats.

Choose a meal plan you can stick with for life.

If you need help planning meals, menus, or effective fat-burning or muscle-building workouts, consider signing up for the Fit Father Project!

When you join, you'll receive motivational support from medical experts, custom meal plans and exercise programs, and community networking support from other busy dads like you.

You'll learn about ways to stay healthy, maintain your goal weight, and reduce chronic disease risks for a lifetime.

If you've tried keto vs vegan dieting, or both without success, sign up for the Fit Father Project FREE meal plan and workout to get started on a journey toward better health today!

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Erin Coleman B.S. - Nutritional Science, R.D., L.D.

Writer at The Fit Father Project

Erin Coleman is a registered and licensed dietitian with over 15 years of freelance writing experience.

She graduated with her Bachelor of Science degree in nutritional science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and completed her dietetic internship at Viterbo University in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

Prior to beginning her career in medical content writing, Erin worked as Health Educator for the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Internal Medicine.

Her published work appears on hundreds of health and fitness websites, and she’s currently working on publishing her first book! Erin is a wife, and a Mom to two beautiful children.

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*Please know that weight loss results & health changes/improvements vary from individual to individual; you may not achieve similar results. Always consult with your doctor before making health decisions. This is not medical advice – simply very well-researched info on keto vs vegan dieting.

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