My Low Carb Vegetarian Adventure – Yes You Can Do Keto Meat Free!

In any long term health and weight loss journey, you’re going to hit points where you lose momentum. Any time you’re attempting to lose a significant amount of weight, 50, 100, 150 pounds, sometimes more, it is going to take a significant amount of time. If you lose a large amount of weight very quickly, like people do on shows like The Biggest Loser, you will likely gain it all back. Losing slowly, you have a better chance to keep it off but you are talking about doing this over years. It’s very easy to get lazy, cheat too much with food, not put your all into your workouts, especially after you’ve lost a lot of weight.

I hit a plateau and decided to try low carb

On a whim, after seeing it on a friend’s Instagram, I decided to try Bodybuilding.com’s “Still in it 17” challenge. I knew my eating had gotten lax, I wanted to kick the sugar and kick my own ass so I decided that I wanted to try a high protein diet. I have been a vegetarian or a pescatarian (eating seafood but no other meat) on and off for most of my life, and after a bad experience with some raw chicken 7 or 8 years ago I have been sickened by the thought of ever eating it again.

I knew that I did not want to add any animal proteins to my diet but I was sure that there was a way to do high protein without eating more meat.

I tried eating high protein without adding meat

Eating more things like peanut butter, tofu, and cheese had an unanticipated effect – when I looked at my macro breakdowns I found I was actually eating high FAT not high protein, so I decided to try the ketogenic diet (usually called keto), which is a high fat low carb diet since that is basically what I was doing anyway. While not counting macros I check my percentage breakdowns in SparkPeople (you can do the same thing in MyFitnessPal if you prefer it) to make sure that I was getting higher percentages of fat and protein that I am carbs. My goal is 50-60 grams of carbs maximum per day.

Vegetarian and vegan sources of protein

Because I found that eating eggs makes me nauseated, I decided to try tofu scrambles instead of eggs. Tofu is not carb free, but it is high in protein. I made a spicy Sriracha tofu jerky recipe from Pinterest and I highly recommend it for an easy to grab snack. If you are not concerned about consuming soy, edamame frozen in or out of pod is also a great source of protein.

I start every day with a spoonful of peanut butter and as a peanut butter addict I think this is the great thing ever. Because I am also lactose intolerant, I try to avoid milk products. In the past I used whey protein but my favorite protein shakes are the Vega One vegan All-In-One Nutritional Shakes. My favorite flavor is mocha because you can mix in coffee. I make them with almond milk but you could also make them with dairy if you don’t limit your dairy. As with the tofu, these do contain carbs but not huge amounts. When I first tried the Vega One I ordered the variety pack from Amazon so that I could try a couple different flavors without having to buy a big expensive jar. I do find that the prices on the Vega One are in line with most other protein shakes and powders but they have no added sugar. Sugar = carbs.

Keto helped me drop body fat very quickly

The point of the keto diet in a nutshell is that when you don’t consume enough carbohydrates to fuel your body, it will begin burning the fat that you currently have stored. Losing fat is what makes your body more attractive – we all want to lose belly fat but diet and exercise alone don’t necessarily reduce your body fat quickly. The combination of being in ketosis and lifting weights helped me lose almost 2% body fat in 2 months. As long as I stay in ketosis, which for me is around 50-60 grams of carbs max per day, I will notice the body fat percentage on my scale drops every day. I use a product that I bought on Amazon to identify when I am in ketosis, Nurse Hatty® – Ketone Strips 150ct they are $6 and it is good to make sure you get into and stay into ketosis when you are just starting out.

Vegetables contain carbs but that’s ok

Low carb is not no carb. It is unhealthy and dangerous to attempt to eat zero carbs. The best thing to do is to keep track of your carbs to make sure you stay within your target grams.What you want is for your carbs to come from vegetables and NOT from refined carbohydrates like oats, any bread including wheat bread, crackers, pastas (even gluten free pastas are high in carbs!), corn products, etc. I choose to eat some beans but I do it selectively. Make sure that you measure everything because it is very easy to go over on your portion sizes and end up consuming much more than you mean to!

If you are vegetarian, eggs and milk products are also good sources of protein, just make sure to go with full-fat not low fat. The point of keto is to consume high fat don’t forget! Eat the whole egg not just the egg whites. If you eat seafood, as I do, it’s easy to make sure to eat salmon or shrimp for one meal. It can be expensive though. Aside from frozen wild pacific salmon I mostly only eat seafood when I’m in a restaurant. It is very tough to eat low-carb and vegetarian at fast food restaurants but in general you should avoid fast food as much as possible.

My Daily diet – what i eat on a vegetarian keto diet

My average day of food is a spoonful of peanut butter with coffee; plain 2% Fage yogurt with liquid vanilla stevia and pumpkin seeds either before or after my workout depending on how hungry I am and my schedule. I typically have a Vega One protein shake after my workout. Snacks are peanuts or mixed nuts. Lunch is a tofu scramble with lots of fresh peppers, and I might have a morningstar farms veggie sausage or some frozen vegetables depending on what I have going on – if I know I am going to be eating out for dinner I might save carbs for that. I find that eating this way I do not get really hungry or have food cravings like I used to but if I want an afternoon snack it is usually some cheese, I might eat half an apple if I have those around. Because of my fructose allergy I cannot eat a lot of fruit whether I’m doing ketogenic or not. Dinner is baked salmon with salad dressing on it, or shrimp on a giant salad, if I’m eating out I tend to choose the same type of thing, grilled fish or shrimp. Be careful with sauces they almost always have sugar in them! Some days I plug everything into SparkPeople and find that I am under 1200 calories so I will eat some cheese or nuts to make sure my daily calories are not too low. If I want a treat often I will have a protein shake because they really are good but I might have some dark chocolate or some Halo Top ice cream.

My results so far pictures speak louder than words

I have lost a little weight but the body fat is what makes a huge difference in the way that I look and feel. In just four weeks of the Bodybuilding.com challenge I have had huge visible changes. I now wear a size medium t-shirt, something I have not done in years! It was hard for me to believe at first but after buying three different shirts in three different brands, including one on vacation in Canada, I have accepted I do wear a size medium shirt now!

The saying is true: Abs are made in the kitchen not the gym. Workouts are important but you CANNOT out-exercise a bad diet.

My Weekly workout plan

I work out  for 30-45 minutes, 5-6 days a week alternating cardio and weight training. Upper body, cardio, lower body, cardio, active rest, core work + lower body. For this current challenge I have been doing the BodyBuilding.com Still In It 17 workouts. I am Not26Anymore on Bodyspace, feel free to add me!

This post contains affiliate links. Using affiliate links helps support this site, thank you for your support!

Advertisements

How I lost 30 pounds

How I lost 30 pounds

 

Because I know some people are going to want to know how I lost the first 30 pounds, I’m going ahead and including it here. Clean eating and exercise is the bottom line. The more blogs and instagram pages and facebook pages you read, you WILL see a theme. There is no magical pill, there is no easy fix, you have to work. Eat right, and exercise.

Keep Track of your Food

I use the free SparkPeople app to count calories and activities, and I try to keep it at 1500 calories a day. Try not to go too far under 1200 calories because too few calories can be just as damaging as too many, and you may not see results. Sometimes adding 100-200 calories can help you get over a plateau.

Eat Clean, always Know what you are eating

I eat clean 90-95% of the time. At the beginning I tended to eat out a lot and I realized that I was making bad choices at restaurants too often. It doesn’t work to indulge only in a restaurant if you’re eating in a restaurant 3-4 times per week. Takeout counts too! ALWAYS know what you’re eating. If the restaurant is a chain, it will have nutrition calories listed. My motto is that I can eat it but I have to eat it mindfully. If a meal is 1,200 and I really want to do that? Ok but I’m going to go into it knowing it’s nearly a day’s worth of calories. Ask for things to not be cooked with butter, some restaurants put butter on everything. Don’t eat the bread, if possible ask they don’t even bring it. Make the restaurant meal your cheat meal, but again you still have to be mindful about it. A cheat meal isn’t an opportunity to gorge one’s self on chemical crap.

Keep temptations and crap food out of the house

I don’t keep chemical crap and/or sweets in the house. If I have cookies, I will eat cookies. If I really want ice cream, and I have to leave the house to get it, I’m less likely to eat it. I do like sweets and I try to keep healthier choices in the house – No sugar added Edy’s fruit pops are a favorite of mine. I also love Halo Top ice cream, which is sweetened with stevia. Stay clean with it though! Artificial sweeteners, aspartame, even splenda (yes sorry!) are just as bad a sugar, but in a different way. Don’t go to the supermarket and grab the “diet” ice cream and candy and cookies. Don’t buy processed “fruit” snacks that don’t actually contain fruit (apple juice concentrate as the 10th ingredient isn’t a good, healthy thing!) Don’t buy gluten free crackers that have 30 ingredients you’ve never heard of in them. Clean eating is some substitutions but some things you can’t really recreate. Minimally processed is the norm of a clean eating diet – and if I just have to have a kitkat, I will eat a kitkat not a diet kitkat knock-off.

It’s tougher now that I live with a teenager, but what I have done that works really well is not having a bunch of crap food around for him either. He picks one or two things that he has around and I don’t touch them because that would be really unfair. I may eat one chocolate chip cookie if he bakes chocolate chip cookies but It would be rude to eat his food. Things he or my boyfriend don’t eat I’ve asked them to not bring here; my boyfriend’s mom was bad about sending powdered donuts home with them but neither of them eat any! So I’ve asked them to just not bring them home to begin with.

Log activities, use a step tracker

I wear a Fitbit activity tracker and my current step goal is 10,000 per day. That’s a realistic stretch for me because I have to spend a lot of time sitting while I work, sitting at the computer, and being sedentary.

Move every day

I walk my dogs several times per week. This is good for them too because they need exercise as well! I also try to get to the walking trails near my house 2-3 times per week unless it’s the dead of summer. (We hit 100+ during a Mississippi summer.)

Do Cardio. Slow is better than not at all

For the first 30 pounds, I tried to do cardio 3 times a week, specifically this free Couch to 5k mix. I stayed on each week until I could run all of the intervals without stopping, no matter how long that took. It was slow going but that was ok!

ladies, lift weights! muscle burns more fat

I weight train 3-4 times a week. I’ve lost almost 10% body fat so even when the weight on the scale doesn’t move much it’s cool to see that body fat % go down. Women are sometimes afraid of getting too ripped but let’s be really honest here, you aren’t going to look like a body builder by lifting weights a few times a week. People have to work very hard to look like that. Check out my Workouts board on pinterest for ideas on how to start.

if it doesn’t challenge you it doesn’t change you. Get uncomfortable.

I push myself. I hate being uncomfortable and getting sweaty but you don’t see results if you don’t work hard. I do try to do things I like as opposed to things I hate though. I don’t like running, I just don’t. I’ll walk faster, for longer, than I will run. So I walk instead of running.

I’m not paid to endorse any of the things/products listed here, nor was I given any of them for free! Just fyi.