In this brief guide, we will answer the query, “Is a vegan diet low carb”? and will discuss why a vegan diet should be low in carbohydrates?
Is a vegan diet low carb?
No, a vegan diet is not low carb. Vegan diet is solely based on plant products which naturally contains a high percentage of carbohydrate that is why a vegan diet is not a low carb diet.
Data from studies from 2009–2010 suggests that Americans consume 60% of their calories from ultra-processed foods such as breads, cakes, cookies, pizza, French fries, salty and sweet snacks, and desserts, with only 5% and <1% of calories from fruits and vegetables, respectively. Whole food plant based and vegan diets generally promote practices consistent with higher dietary quality, such as an emphasis on greater intakes of whole grains and vegetables and avoidance of added sugars and refined foods (4).
In fact, vegan diets tend to be higher in carbohydrates, fiber, fruits, vegetables, antioxidants and phytochemicals than omnivorous diets. In order to achieve sufficient protein via the consumption of whole plant foods as recommended, it is recommended that vegans consume beans, pulses, lentils and grains daily—foods that are also abundant in carbohydrate (1).
What is a vegan diet?
A vegan diet is characterized by elimination of animal products and is based on the consumption of grains, legumes, vegetables, and fruits. A well-balanced vegan diet can meet all macro and micronutrient intake recommendations and is high in fiber and carbohydrates. Whole grains,legumes, fruits, and vegetables have shown independent advantages for weight-related outcomes. Systematic reviews and meta-analyses of randomized clinical trials of dietary patterns that are high in carbohydrates but low in glycemic index, and high in fiber have shown beneficial effects on body weight loss and weight management in overweight people (3).
There are no animal products in a vegan diet. As a vegan, you cannot consume eggs or dairy products, unlike some vegetarians. Gelatin, which is manufactured from animal bones and skins, is likewise prohibited on a vegan diet.
As far as I know, veganism is not the same as “plant-based” or vegetarianism. There are times when this isn’t the case. Both phrases may be used interchangeably, however, there is a significant difference in their intended connotations.
There is no guarantee that a vegan or vegetarian diet is healthy. White bread, cane sugar, refined wheat crackers, and sweets are all examples of foods that can be vegan or vegetarian. A plant-based diet may be defined in a variety of ways. Even though they all concentrate on veggies and other plants, some may incorporate a little number of animal products.
For health, environmental, or ethical reasons, many people opt to consume a plant-based diet. Vegetarians abstain from using animal products in any form, including clothes and other goods manufactured from animal products such as wool, leather, or suede.
What’s the point of combining veganism with low-carbohydrate eating?
At first, it may seem odd to combine a low-carb diet with a vegan lifestyle. There are no animal products to be found in vegan diets, which may be low in fat but rich in carbohydrates. Animal products are often included in keto or low-carb diets, which give a high amount of fat with a low amount of carbohydrates.
You may, however, be vegan while reaping the health advantages of a low-carb lifestyle. You’ll lose weight faster since you’ll have fewer cravings, which is a plus over other diets’ negative ones. Low-carb diets provide numerous additional health advantages, including improved management of diabetes and insulin resistance, lower blood pressure, and many more.
In a study, 47 overweight hyperlipidemic men and women consumed either (1) a low-carbohydrate (26% of total calories), high–vegetable protein (31% from gluten, soy, nuts, fruit, vegetables, and cereals), and vegetable oil (43%) plant-based diet or (2) a high-carbohydrate lacto-ovo vegetarian diet (58% carbohydrate, 16% protein, and 25% fat) for 4 weeks each in a parallel study design. Results demonstrated that consumption of a low-carbohydrate plant-based diet resulted in body weight reductions of 4 kg that were similar to those reported for low-carbohydrate Atkins-like diets. In addition to weight loss, the consumption of a low-carbohydrate diet containing vegetable proteins and oils was associated with significantly reduced concentrations of LDL-C, not reported in the majority of low-carbohydrate diet studies in which the protein and fat are largely of animal origin (2).
Plant Foods That Are Low in Carbs
There is a wide range of low-carb plant-based foods.
Many veggies have a low carbohydrate content. Like tomatoes, onions, broccoli and brussels sprouts.
On a low-carb diet, berries like strawberries and blueberries may be consumed. Other fruits may be okay depending on how many carbohydrates you want to consume.
Avocados and olives are both very nutritious. They are heavy in fat but low in carbohydrates.
Seeds and nuts:
With a low carbohydrate count, nuts and seeds are a good source of both protein and fat. Peanuts and pumpkin seeds are also on the list of nuts that are good for you. Almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamia, pecans, and pistachios are other good protein and lipid sources (2).
Tofu and tempeh are rich in protein and fat, but low in carbohydrates, making them ideal for weight loss. They can be eaten on a low-carb vegetarian/vegan diet since they are minimal in carbs. Soy beverages are also a good option (2).
Green beans, chickpeas, and other legumes are examples of this.
Oils such as extra virgin olive, avocado, and coconut.
So, because most of the carbohydrates in chia seeds are fiber, the calories in them are mostly from protein and fat.
With a cocoa concentration of 70 to 85 percent, dark chocolate is low in carbohydrates but rich in fat.
How Many Carbohydrates Should You Consume?
The term “low carb” has no one-size-fits-all definition. Carbohydrate consumption should be tailored to your objectives and interests. These rules, however, are fair. It should provide around 26% of calories as carbohydrates. A high-carbohydrate diet generally provides 60% of calories as carbohydrates (2).
· 100-150 grams/day: This is a suitable range for folks who work out a lot and need to maintain a healthy weight.
· 50-100 grams/day: This is a decent range for folks who don’t exercise very much, and it should result in automatic weight reduction.
· 20-50 grams/day: With a carb consumption of 20 to 50 grams per day, you should lose weight rapidly and avoid feeling hungry. You should be able to go into ketosis if you consume carbs in this range.
Vegans, on the other hand, would be unable to sustain such a low-calorie diet. Vegans should stick to the 100–150-grams range. A nutrition tracker (like Cron-o-meter) is essential while you adjust your carb consumption and ensure that you obtain adequate protein and fat for at least a few days/weeks.
Other FAQs about Vegans that you may be interested in.
In this brief guide, we answered the query, “Is a vegan diet low carb”? and discussed why a vegan diet should be low in carbohydrates?
- Rogerson, David. Vegan diets: practical advice for athletes and exercisers. J Int Soc Sports Nutr, 2017, 14, 36.
- Jenkins, David JA, et al. The effect of a plant-based low-carbohydrate (“Eco-Atkins”) diet on body weight and blood lipid concentrations in hyperlipidemic subjects. Arch intern med, 2009, 169, 1046-1054..
- Kahleova H, Dort S, Holubkov R, Barnard ND. A Plant-Based High-Carbohydrate, Low-Fat Diet in Overweight Individuals in a 16-Week Randomized Clinical Trial: The Role of Carbohydrates. Nutrients, 2018, 10, 1302.
- Karlsen MC, Rogers G, Miki A, Lichtenstein AH, Folta SC, Economos CD, Jacques PF, Livingston KA, McKeown NM. Theoretical Food and Nutrient Composition of Whole-Food Plant-Based and Vegan Diets Compared to Current Dietary Recommendations. Nutrients. 2019, 11, 625.
- Tuso PJ, Ismail MH, Ha BP, Bartolotto C. Nutritional update for physicians: plant-based diets. Perm J. 2013, 17, 61-66.