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If you read the title, you know that today we’re going to talk about my top 5 tips for switching to a vegan keto diet. The full podcast version of this post is available below and on iTunes and Stitcher, so you can listen if that’s more your style. These tips are all things that I was someone had told me when I first started out on a vegan keto diet back in 2012, and I hope you find them helpful!
Go At Your Own Pace
While it’s tempting to want to dive into a new way of eating right from the start, that’s not always the most practical solution for everyone. I know we’re used to watching weight loss TV shows where participants throw away every item in their pantry and completely change their lifestyle overnight, but that just isn’t feasible for many of us. Some people need to take things a little slower and ease their way in.
If you are able to completely shift into a vegan keto diet, then go for it, but I think it’s important to note that you can slowly transition into this way of eating as well. Slowly eliminating carbohydrate intake over time won’t have the instant-gratifications, but will still get you into ketosis eventually.
Over the years, I have worked with a lot of people who prefer to slowly incorporate low carb foods into their meals by simply swapping out high carb starches for their low carb counterparts. For instance, if you make a lot of curries with rice, you could start using cauliflower rice instead. If pasta alfredo is your favorite dinner, using zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash instead of traditional noodles dramatically reduces the carb count. Once you are comfortable, you can start making more and more swaps for high-carb foods until you are in ketosis.
A similar strategy for transitioning from a higher carb way of eating to vegan keto is switching out one meal at a time. So, maybe the first week you drink a keto smoothie for breakfast instead of your normal bowl of cereal. The next week, you could try making keto dinners at home as well as having the smoothie and then over time, switch your lunch and snacks as well.
My third suggestion, if you’re more of a numbers person, would be to set a higher net carb goal, and slowly taper from there. So, week 1 you might shoot for 100g of net carbs a day, then 75g the next week, then 50g and finally somewhere around 25g. And 1 week isn’t the necessary time frame for each step, but rather an arbitrary block of time. You could do this over a week total, or a month total. It’s really whatever you are most comfortable with.
Whether you go cold turkey on carbs or slowly taper down is just a matter of how well each strategy works with your lifestyle, personality and goals.
Keep It Simple
It can be overwhelming changing your entire dietary routine, even if you are taking things at a slower pace. While many of us really like seeing data and numbers and tracking every little thing, for others it can be such a burden and can be completely demotivating. If people are really struggling to track calories and macros while also weighing out food, I like to suggest picking just one number to focus on, and going from there, or even adopting a full lazy keto approach.
If both calorie-counting and carb-counting are too much (not to mention balancing protein and fats to boot), try just counting net carbs to start. Forget calories, forget balancing macros, just simplify everything. Once you become comfortable with tracking just net carbs, it won’t seem so hard also trying to stay within a calorie range or to then start tracking protein as well. Like with easing into ketosis, there’s no reason why you can’t ease yourself into tracking as well. You may be over your calories or under in protein a few days at first, but in the long run, this won’t make a difference.
You can also completely eschew tracking by taking a “lazy keto” approach. I actually know a lot of people in real life who have had success with this method. The idea is that instead of tracking your food, you just focus on eating keto-friendly foods. I really like this method for people who are looking to beat cravings and have a healthier relationship with food, as it encourages a more intuitive approach to eating. You don’t need to stress about fitting certain foods into your day to hit appropriate macronutrient targets. I’ll be doing a whole separate podcast on intuitive eating and lazy keto at a later date, because I think it’s such an important topic.
Always Bring a Snack
As silly as this sounds, my next tip is to always have a snack with you. That can seem counter-productive if you are starting keto to lose weight, but you’re far more likely to stick with keto if you have a container of almonds in your bag for snacking on when a craving strikes and you’re out on the town. It’s really simple, but sometimes you are away from home and your pantry for much longer than anticipated, and it can be hard to find some vegan keto-friendly foods on the fly.
Listen To Your Body
This might be the most important tip, but I feel like it’s the one we ignore most often. Your body will let you know when something isn’t right, and it’s really important to pay attention to that. So many people experience flu-like symptoms (often called the keto flu) and just assume that’s normal and fine for far too long. While it is typically to experience some headaches, lethargy and a bit of lightheadedness at the very start, if it persists, something is up. It might be as simple as not drinking enough water or not consuming enough electrolytes. There are a lot of great resources out there for troubleshooting keto flu symptoms.
This also applies to hunger. If you’re starving every day, just eat a little more, even if it puts you over your target macros and calories. Macro calculators are not the end-all-be-all and don’t account for the day-to-day metabolic fluctuations we all experience.
You will be a lot more likely to succeed if you aren’t constantly hungry and headachey for the first week.
Don’t Stress About The Small Things
My final tip is not to stress about the small stuff. While it’s easy to stick with a keto diet once you’re in a routine, getting to that place can certainly be a bit of a challenge. I see so many people on social media beating themselves about eating too many net carbs or going over their calories for the day. If this happens, it’s fine! One day won’t drastically change your trajectory. If you are mostly staying within the range you have set for yourself, you will hit your goals.
Additionally, stressing about the little things doesn’t fix them. If you already ate a cookie and kicked yourself out of ketosis, being upset over it just introduces all those stress hormones into your system. Take a deep breath, recognize how eating that cookie made you feel and use that as motivation for your decision making next time.
So, I’m going to wrap things up here and keep this relatively short and sweet. I hope you found these tips helpful! Thank you to everyone listening, and I hope you have a lovely week.