The ketogenic diet (keto diet) is a low-carb, moderate protein, and high-fat diet. The aim of the diet is to achieve ketosis, a metabolic state in which the body increases its performance by burning fat for energy. The diet has been associated with benefits like lowered blood sugar levels, weight loss, prevention of heart disease, and diabetes control.
Related: Is It Okay To Skip Meals While On A Keto Diet?
Maintaining an adequate intake of protein while on the keto diet will give your body enough glucose to fuel your body while relying on ketones (fat) for powering everything else. If you’re on the keto diet, you can ensure that you reach your daily protein goals by eating various quality foods so that you don't lose muscle or feel weak.
Unlike traditional keto diets that are heavy in meat, a plant-based ketogenic diet relies on nuts, avocados, seeds, and high-fat coconut to meet your caloric needs. A plant-based keto diet can lead to many health benefits and can help with weight loss, stabilize your blood sugar, improve your brain health, and enhance your energy levels. In fact, a 2018 study showed that following a diet that is low in carbs and is dominated by plant-based protein and fat can lead to healthier outcomes in individuals.
There are several low-carb, plant-based sources of protein that you can include in your keto diet. Here is a short list:
1) Chia seeds
Chia seeds are a high-fiber powerhouse, with a one-ounce serving of chia seeds providing approximately 9 grams of fat, 5 grams of protein, and 10 grams of fiber.
Chia seeds are also rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients, which support weight loss and lower cholesterol.
Peanuts are an excellent plant-based source of protein and are loaded with essential amino acids, the building blocks of protein that you need in your diet. The protein in peanuts also promotes muscle growth. 1 oz of peanuts contains 161 calories, 7 grams of protein, 14 grams of fat, 5 grams of carbs, and 2 grams of fiber.
Almonds have a high concentration of protein, fiber, and healthy fats, giving them a great nutritional profile. They are also high in copper, magnesium, vitamin E, and antioxidants like proanthocyanidins. 1 oz of almonds contain 6 grams of protein, 14 grams of healthy fat, 164 calories, and 6 grams of carbs, and 3 grams of fiber.
Almonds can also be served raw as a keto snack or be used in keto snack recipes like keto almond cookies.
Quinoa is high in protein and a vital plant-based source of essential amino acids. It's also high in fiber, minerals, antioxidants, and carbohydrates. 1 cup of cooked quinoa contains 8 grams of protein, 39 grams of carbs, 5 grams of fiber, and 3 grams of healthy fat. The carbohydrates in quinoa are made up mostly of starch, small amounts of sugars, and insoluble fiber. Quinoa is also gluten-free, versatile, delicious, and incredibly easy to make. Although quinoa is considered a healthy food, its high carbohydrate content means that it should be eaten with limits if you’re on a keto or low-carb diet. If you choose to eat it, plan it as a side dish rather than a dish in itself, and avoid eating whole portions.
Tofu is a great low-carb, high-protein, and high-fat option for you on the keto diet. It also contains several vital minerals and vitamins, including calcium and manganese. Tofu contains 22 grams of protein, 3 grams of carbs, and 11 grams of fat for every half-cup serving.
Tempeh is a soy-based food. It's popular with vegans and vegetarians because it contains vitamin B12 and is a complete source of protein. 1 cup of tempeh contains 34 grams of protein, 13 grams of carbs, and 18 grams of fat.
Tempeh also contains prebiotics that may help enhance your digestive health and possibly reduce inflammation.
Edamame beans are whole, immature soybeans and are sometimes called plant soybeans. They’re high in protein, antioxidants, and fiber and also contain large amounts of a variety of vitamins and minerals. A cup of shelled edamame contains 18 grams of protein, 188 calories, 14 grams of carbs, 8 grams of fiber, and 8 grams of fat.
Beans contain amino acids, the building blocks of proteins that the body uses to heal and form new tissues, such as bones, blood, skin, muscles, and hair. Beans contain fiber and healthy starches that can help make you feel full, which is great for the keto diet. A cup of cooked beans contains 14 grams of protein, 55 grams of carbs, 13 grams of fat, and 14 grams of fiber.
9) Pumpkin seeds
Pumpkin seeds are rich in antioxidants, iron, zinc, magnesium, and several other nutrients. Whole pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of fiber. 1 ounce of unshelled pumpkin seeds contains 2 grams of fiber, 3 grams of carbs, 9 grams of protein, and 14 grams of fat.