Low carbohydrate diets are all the rage these days. They promise quick weight loss while “eating all the food you want”. But is a low carb vegetarian diet possible?
What is a low carb diet?
A low carb diet is a style of eating where carbohydrate intake is severely restricted. Proteins and, to some extent, fats are unlimited. Experts say that when your body is deprived of carbohydrates, it will begin to burn fat for its energy, putting your body into ketosis.
The Atkins Diet is probably the most famous low carb diet, but there are others as well–Protein Power, The Carbohydrate Addict’s Diet, and Stillman’s Diet, among others.
Usually, the first two weeks of a low carb diet have a very restricted level of carbs. On Atkins, this is called the “induction phase”. Even many vegetables are forbidden. After the induction phase, healthy carbs, such as fruits and whole grains, can be reintroduced slowly.
Because you don’t want to eat carbohydrates on a low carb diet, the primary source of food is meat.
What are vegetarian low carb food sources?
Low carb vegetarian foods include eggs, tofu, cheeses (including soft cheeses like cream cheese and cottage cheese), protein powder/shakes, and nuts. Some fake-meat products may also be low carb, but check the label to be sure, as they often have high carb ingredients.
Unfortunately, almost all of these food sources, unlike meat, do contain some carbs. In fact, many of the foods on the vegetarian list are thought to stall the weight loss progress of a traditional low carb dieter if eaten in excess.
Is a low carb vegetarian diet possible?
It’s possible to follow a low carb vegetarian diet, but your food options are extremely limited and because they do contain carbs, you will still have to restrict your food during the first phase of a low carb diet. In my opinion, this can get very boring, very quickly. It’s just not practical.
Vegetarians can find success following the less-restrictive phases of popular low carb diets. However, for vegetarians, a low carb diet is never going to have the “all you can eat” aspect which is what makes the diet so appealing to dieters. Vegetarians will still have to watch the amount of food that they are eating, which kind of defeats the purpose.
If you are a vegetarian, and you are looking for a diet that allows you to eat as much as you want, you may want to look into a low fat vegan diet, such as the McDougall program. These types of diets are shown to be very effective for losing weight while still allowing you to feel satisfied.
Shannon Tani is a former fattie, who weighed over 220lbs. She has currently lost over 70lbs. One day she realized that people would rather hear dieting advice from someone who’s “been there, done that” than a boring old doctor who’s never been fat a day in his life. So she started the website Better Off Fat [http://www.better-off-fat.com] to share her experiences and ideas.