How to Eat Low-Carb for Vegetarians and Vegans

Low-carb diets have emerged as a useful eating pattern for those who have not managed to lose weight trying to follow a low-fat eating pattern, or those with metabolic health issues like type 2 diabetes.

It’s important to experiment and figure out a way to match your carb intake to your own goals and preferences. That being said, these guidelines are reasonable:

100-150 grams per day: This is a decent maintenance range, and is good for people who are active.

50-100 grams per day: This is useful for weight loss, and is a solid maintenance range for people who don’t exercise that much.

Now conventional low-carb diets rely heavily on meat, which makes them a bit tricky for vegetarians.

But this doesn’t need to be the case.

Eggs and dairy products, without added sugar, [such as plain yogurt and cheese] are low in carbs, but high in both protein and fat. So for vegetarians, they are perfect for a low-carb diet.

These foods are also rich in vitamin B12, which is not found in plant foods. Vegetarians can get all the B12 they need from these foods [whereas vegans need to supplement.

The other perceived problem for vegetarians who want to eat low-carb is that all plant foods are naturally high carb. But there is actually a large variety of low-carb plant foods. Many are even high in protein and fat.

Many vegetables are low in carbs. This includes tomatoes, onions, cauliflower, eggplant, bell peppers, broccoli and Brussels sprouts.
Berries like strawberries and blueberries can be eaten on a low-carb diet. Depending on how many carbs you want to eat, other fruits may be acceptable as well.

Avocados and olives are low in carbs but high in fat.

Nuts and seeds and soy foods are low in carbs, but high in protein and fat, which makes the incredibly important here. Things like almonds, walnuts, macadamias, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, and tofu and tempeh.

Some legumes are quite low in carbs, including green beans, peanuts and chick peas.

Fats and oils of course don’t contain any carbs.

Even dark chocolate is low in carbs if the cocoa content is as around 70% or more.

So let’s look at a 2-day sample menu for a vegetarian that is low in carbs.
You can adapt this based on your own needs and preferences.

Day 1:
Breakfast: Fried eggs with baked beans and avocado.
Lunch: Carrot and cucumber sticks with hummus dip, and 2 handfuls of nuts.
Dinner: Eggplant moussaka.

Day 2:
Breakfast: Full-fat yoghurt and berries.
Lunch: Leftover moussaka from the night before.
Dinner: Spinach and feta quiche

Now for more ideas there’s loads of free recipes available online. The best place to start is an article we wrote about this topic on Authority Nutrition, and you can either click the youtube card that appears or follow the link in the video description.

As you can see there are many delicious plant foods that are low in carbs and high in fat and protein.

Clearly, you don’t need to be a meat eater to follow this type of eating pattern. If you are vegan on the other hand, it does become quite difficult, and realistically you will only manage to get your carb intake down to about 150 grams per day, at best.

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