It’s January and if you’re like most people, you’re on a diet. The one you chose was likely determined by
- what your friends are doing
- what’s getting the most advertising dollars
- what you’ve lost a little weight with before
- or the diet you’ve never tried and are hoping will finally result in weight loss.
For you, the ketogenic diet might have ticked all those boxes. But have you wondered: “what’s the right way to do keto”?
As a nutritionist, people ask me that question a lot. And while my answer goes against the grain, it’s the only healthy way to do a keto diet.
So today I’m going to answer that question and leave you with a solid foundation for doing keto the right way. Doing it in a way that’s sustainable and stewards your body well.
This healthy way…it’s called plant based keto.
Don’t run away.
Doing Keto Right
To do a keto diet right, you’ve got to get your body into ketosis. Before I explain ketosis let me explain calories a wee bit.
Your body needs calories from the food you eat so you can healthily do all you do each day. But there are good calories and not so good calories. We’ve written about this more here.
Calories are turned into energy in your body, or stored to be used when food calories are in short supply.
With ketosis your body burns fat instead of sugar for energy. Your body prefers to burn sugar though (because it’s easy and that’s how God made us). But God also created us with the ability to burn fat for fuel.
Because He created us to survive and sometimes food is in short supply. The fat you eat, and have stored, is converted into ketone’s because the sugar your body prefers isn’t available.
Your body stores fat because it’s saving those fat calories for a potential famine or food shortage. Have I mentioned we’re fearfully and wonderfully made yet today?
Problem is, most people in Westernized cultures aren’t familiar with food shortages. If you’ve been eating a standard American diet (SAD) for any length of time your body’s grown accustomed to a different kind of famine – a nutrient famine.
And believe it or not, nutrients play a huge role in your body’s ability to lose weight.
SAD calories are more likely to be stored as fat in your body and require less energy to digest. Because of this you’re more likely to struggle with weight when SAD calories are a large part of your diet.
That’s why the best way to do a keto diet is the plant based way. This way ensures you’re providing your body all the nutrients it needs to lose or maintain a healthy weight..
Keto Ground Rules
Before we dive into the plant based vegetable aspect of a ketogenic diet I want to give you some ground rules.
Keto diets are hard to do.
They’re not something most restaurants, friends, or family know how to prepare food for. This means you’ll need to plan and prepare your own keto meals.
Yes, you can find plenty of unhealthy processed keto foods these days but doing keto that way, isn’t the healthy right way. Remember what I just said about “quality”?
There’s no shortcut to healthy eating.
Nope, you’ve just gotta do it. Now for those rules.
1. Eat whole foods.
Whole foods aren’t the foods you buy at the store Whole Foods, they’re the foods God made.
2. Eat a lot of fat.
Fair warning: this isn’t easy. A true ketogenic diet is 75-80% fat. Just because you’re eating meat doesn’t mean you’re getting the amount of fat needed to do keto the right way.
A lot of the keto recipes you find aren’t keto, they’re low-carb, high-protein, moderate-fat. Eating mostly fat is tough.
3. Eat mindfully.
Your body is going to get full faster and stay full longer when you’re doing a proper keto diet. That’s because fat digests very slowly and fills your belly up super quick. We’ve got more on mindful eating here.
4. Eat carbs.
Yup, I just told you to eat carbs on a keto diet and that’s because you have to. Depending on the type of keto diet you’re doing and how your body responds, you’ll need to eat somewhere between 20-150 grams of net carbs per day.
To calculate “net carbs” you subtract the grams of fiber and sugar alcohol (if present) from the total carbohydrate grams in the food. That difference = Net Carbs. So…
Carbohydrate grams – fiber grams – sugar alcohol grams = Net carbs
Plant Based Keto
Since I just told you to eat carbs lets transition and explore the plant based side of doing your keto diet right. Vegetables are the carbs you should be eating on a healthy keto diet.
Yes, you can have other carbs and still maintain ketosis but that’s another post for another day. Getting your 20-150 grams of carbohydrates from vegetables is the plant based way of doing a keto diet.
Non-starchy vegetables are full of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytonutrients your body needs. Phytonutrients are the nutrients that give plants their color, taste, and unique benefits.
These phytonutrients are also what helps your body ward off all manner of sickness and disease.
Several huge studies looking at the quality of people’s diet found:
“people who stick to limited amounts of meats, dairy, and processed foods while fueling up on fiber-rich plant-based foods including vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and, yes, even carb-heavy beans have some of the best health outcomes.”
Keto Diet Vegetables
Doing keto right means you need to make it a plant based keto diet.
I know this isn’t easy to do but we’re committed to honoring God with the information we provide you. This means the health and lifestyle information on Bought at a Price will help you steward your amazing body, amazingly well.
Now let’s figure the vegetable portion of your healthy keto diet out.
To start, print out this list of non-starchy vegetables here.
Here’s an example of what 20 grams of vegetable net carbs looks like:
- 2.5 cups raw non-starchy vegetables
- 5 cups raw leafy greens
The good news is, that’s more vegetables than most people eat now. Even better news…When you do keto the right way and follow a plant based approach, you’re able to eat 50-150 grams of carbohydrate per day.
Do some multiplication and you’ll know how many veggies you need for 50, 100, or 150 grams of carbohydrates.
- 50 grams of vegetable net carbs = 6.25 cups raw or 12.5 cups leafy greens
That’s a health boosting pile of vegetables.
It also helps you lose weight and maintain the weight God created you to be.
Wanna know a little secret?
If you changed nothing about your diet except for the number of vegetables you eat, you’d change the way you look and the way you feel.
Servings & Calories on Keto
For weight loss, most women need between 1000-1400 calories per day. But…there’s a lot of factors that play into how many calories you actually need.
If you want to ensure your keto diet is properly tailored to your individual needs, you can find a trained Functional Medicine practitioner here.
Since most of you are doing this weight loss thing on your own, I wanted to provide you some help: A 1200 calorie plant based keto serving size guide and a sample meal plan.
There are a lot of different food categories but we normally think of them in terms of fat, protein, and carbohydrates aka macronutrients.
Problem is, many foods are a unique mix of these three things and very few contain only one macronutrient.
Because you’re busy and nobody can sustain counting up their food for very long, we’re going to skip that. You can find a PDF with different fat, protein, and carbohydrate foods you can enjoy on a keto diet here.
Now back to that 1200 calorie serving size guide.
- Fat. 78 grams of healthy fats. An average fat serving contains 5 grams of fat so you’ll need 15.5 servings of fat.
- Protein. 45 grams of good quality protein. There’s 7 grams of protein per ounce (on average) so you’ll need 6.5 ounces.
- Carbs. 50 grams of non-starchy vegetables or 6.25 cups raw or 12.5 cups leafy greens
I know you’re wondering what this looks like in real life aka food form so I made a sample plant based keto meal plan for you.
Sample Keto Meal Plan
You can download a copy of it here (it has an extra day).
- Breakfast: 2 egg omelette with 2 cups spinach cooked in 2 tsp avocado oil. Served with ½ an avocado
- Lunch: 2 ounce organic buffalo burger served over 3 cups dark leafy greens and ½ cup mixed raw veggies. Dress with 2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil, apple cider vinegar, garlic, & your choice of herbs or spices and top with the other ½ of your avocado
- Dinner: 2 ounces wild caught salmon, 1 cup steamed broccoli, 2 cups of leafy greens, drizzle everything with a mix of 3tsp extra-virgin olive oil, unseasoned rice vinegar, ½ tsp sesame oil, ginger, & garlic.
If you’re only eating two meals per day, combine the breakfast and lunch meal into one big meal to kickstart your day with.
Healthy Plant Based Keto
If you’re planning to follow a plant based keto diet for a significant amount of time you’ll want to keep meals simple.
- Stock your fridge with non-starchy vegetables and wash and chop them as soon as you bring them home.
- Portion out your proteins
- Prepare a couple of different dressings so adding flavor to your food is as simple as grabbing a bottle from the fridge.
Try your hand at making your own first though. It’s cheaper and much easier than you think. Just let your taste buds guide the way.
Following a keto diet isn’t easy but if you’re committed to doing it, at least promise you’ll do it right and make plants the highlight of each meal.
As I touched on last week, diets don’t work and if there was a diet that actually worked for weight loss, we wouldn’t have repurposed fads each year.
Despite being the newest weight loss fad, keto has been around for almost 100 years- just not for weight loss. It was and still is, one of the best ways to treat drug-resistant epilepsy.
And if you take the word “keto” out of the equation and just look at low-carb diets, there’s several health promoting benefits.
- Brain health
- Energy levels
- Improved pain levels
- Bettered insulin sensitivity
- and so much more.
So whether you stick with a full keto diet or decide to incorporate a few more carbs, non-starchy vegetables should still cover the bulk of your plate.
If you only remember one thing from this post I’d want you to remember to always be skeptical of the latest miracle weight loss diet, be it keto or any other passing fad.
And no matter what diet you follow remember to eat lots of vegetables.
A plant based diet fits with all diets, keto included.