Do You Have To Eat Meat On A Low-Carb Diet?
If you’re following a low-carb, ketogenic diet, you may be wondering if it’s possible to do keto as a vegetarian. In fact, one of the most common questions we receive about our 28 Day Metabolism Reset and our Thin Adapted System is whether it will work for vegetarians and vegans, especially when it’s obvious that so many of our Thinlicious™ recipes contain dairy, eggs, and meat.
The short answer is that yes, it is possible to follow a low-carb, ketogenic diet as a vegetarian or vegan, but it’s not easy, and there are definitely some pitfalls that you’ll need to watch out for.
In this article, I’ll share some of those pitfalls from my own experience, as well as share what I’ve discovered are some of the distinct advantages of being a meat eater on a low-carb diet and why meat is actually the healthiest and most nutrient-dense food, we can eat. I’ll also cover the importance of protein and exactly what happens when you’re not getting enough protein in your diet.
My goal is not to debate the moral and ethical side of meat-eating versus vegetarianism but to address this topic strictly from a nutritional and weight-loss point of view. I understand that for some people who read this post, just the thought of eating meat is a non-starter—something you’re simply not willing to consider for a variety of reasons.
And that’s okay. If that’s the case, I’ll talk about some of the issues you may encounter while following a low-carb diet as a vegetarian and offer some suggestions for how you might be able to work around them.
But if you’re open to the idea of eating meat—even if you’re not sure you could actually do it—I hope this post will give you some things to think about and maybe even convince you that incorporating meat into your diet is not only possible but is actually the healthiest way to follow a low-carb diet.
Of course, before I jump into all the things, I wanted to take a moment to share my unique perspective on this particular topic, just in case you’re new to all things Thinlicious™ and haven’t had a chance to hear my story before.
The truth is that for 28 years, until about a year ago, I strongly identified as a vegetarian. For some of that time, I was a strict vegan, then later became an ovo-lacto vegetarian (eating eggs and dairy), and then a Pescatarian (eating fish and seafood).
My reasons for not eating meat were varied—I didn’t like the texture, thought it was healthier, and, if I’m being honest, it made me feel a little bit morally superior. I liked being a little different. I liked being special. It was just my identity. Being a vegetarian was simply who I was.
And even though I was being healthy, the evidence said otherwise.
I was sick a lot. I was tired all the time. My skin was dull and dry. I had dark circles under my eyes. My joints ached.
And no matter what diet I tried, I just couldn’t seem to get a handle on my weight. I tried Weight Watchers. Green Smoothies. Juice cleanses. The F-Factor Diet. The Fat Flush Diet. The Zero Belly Diet. The Mediterranean Diet. You name it, I was right there, first in line, always sure this next thing would be the magic bullet that finally worked.
But that number on the scale kept creeping up year after year, despite all my efforts.
But the closest I came to my goal weight was when I went Keto back in 2018. I lost 25 pounds, and even though my diet did feel pretty limited, I looked and felt better than I had in years. It was amazing!
And then I went on vacation and for the first time in 9 months ate bread and chocolate and potatoes and pasta and all those other things I hadn’t been able to have.
When the vacation was over, I just couldn’t bring myself to go back to keto. I was SO bored.
Eventually, I gained back the entire 25 pounds I had lost, and then some.
By early 2021, I was the heaviest I had ever been. I weighed more than I did at 9 months pregnant. I weighed more than my husband. And I was officially “overweight” on the BMI scale.
When I finally decided to get serious about losing weight, I went back to the only thing that had worked—keto. But this time, I was determined to do keto differently. To do it better. To actually understand the metabolic science behind ketogenic and low-carb diets and to figure out a way to actually lose weight for good this time.
And the more I dug in, the more I realized that a big part of my problem was a serious lack of protein. Not only that, much of the protein I was getting was coming from soy, which contains a lot of estrogen and can adversely affect your hormones (especially as women get older.)
After a mild health scare with abnormal pap (which I learned can be the result of eating too much soy), I decided to cut out soy and start eating meat for the first time in 28 years.
I’m not gonna lie—it was a little scary, especially at first. But ultimately, the transformation was incredible. I lost more than 40 pounds overall and have easily maintained that weight loss for over a year.
Not only that, I look and feel better (and younger) than I have in years! I’ve got endless energy. I don’t get sick. My joints don’t hurt. My skin is clear and glowing. My hair is thicker and healthier.
It feels like a miracle, especially after struggling for so long.
The Pitfalls Of Being A Vegetarian On A Low-Carb Diet
As my story demonstrates, there are a few potential pitfalls you need to watch out for if you’re not eating meat:
You might not be getting enough iron. This can lead to anemia, which can make you feel tired and weak.
Boredom & Lack Of Variety
If you are a keto vegetarian, chances are you will get bored. There’s just no way around it. When you’re a vegetarian, there are only so many things you can eat. This can lead to feeling like you’re eating the same thing all the time, and it can be really hard to stick to your diet long-term.
Lack Of Nutrients
Vegetables are great, but they just don’t pack the same nutrient-dense punch as meat. This means that you might end up lacking in certain vitamins and minerals if you’re not careful. Make sure to supplement your diet with a good multivitamin, and pay attention to any nutrient deficiencies you might be experiencing.
If you’re not getting enough protein, you’re going to feel it. Lack of protein can lead to fatigue, brain fog, and all sorts of other problems. Make sure you’re getting at least 0.36 grams per pound of body weight and more if you’re very active.
Iron & B12 Deficiencies
If you’re a vegetarian, there’s a good chance you’re not getting enough iron. This can lead to anemia, which can make you feel tired and weak. The best way to get enough iron is to eat foods that are rich in it, like dark leafy greens and beans. You may also want to consider supplementing.
As for B12, this is a nutrient that is found almost exclusively in animal products. This means that if you’re not eating meat, you’re likely not getting enough B12. This can lead to fatigue, brain fog, and other problems. The best way to get enough B12 is to supplement.
The Advantages Of Being A Meat Eater On A Low-Carb Diet
Suffice it to say, despite having been a vegetarian for SO many years, I’m now a convert. There are so many advantages to being a meat eater on a low-carb diet, and I’m not just talking about weight loss. (Although, let’s be honest—that’s still the advantage that gets me most excited!) So what are some of these advantages?
Meat Is The Most Nutrient-Dense Food Available
When you’re eating meat, you’re getting the most nutrient-dense food possible. Meat is packed with nearly all of the protein, vitamins, and minerals that are absolutely essential for optimum health. If you’re not eating meat, you’re likely not getting enough of these essential nutrients.
Not only that, but meat is also an excellent source of fat. This is the kind of healthy fat that our bodies need to function properly. Healthy fats are essential for hormone production, brain health, and so much more.
Meat Is More Satiating Than Vegetables
Not only that, but meat is also satiating. This means that it will keep you full for longer, and you’re less likely to find yourself snacking or overeating throughout the day. This is because the meat is a rich source of protein, which has been proven to be the most satiating macronutrient.
In fact, our bodies often tell us we are HUNGRY when what we are really craving is PROTEIN, which means we’ll keep craving more food until we hit that protein requirement.
Meat Is Your Best And Most Complete Source Of Protein
Protein is absolutely essential for our bodies. It’s responsible for everything from hormone production to brain health, and we need to make sure we’re getting enough of it. Unfortunately, protein is often lacking in vegetarian diets. This is because the best sources of protein—meat, eggs, and dairy—are all animal products.
So if you’re not eating meat, you’re likely not getting enough protein. This can lead to fatigue, brain fog, and all sorts of other problems. Make sure you’re getting at least 0.36 grams per pound of body weight and more if you’re very active.
It’s Easier To Get The Right Macro Balance
If you’re shooting for a diet low in carbs but high in protein and healthy fat, then you’re going to find it much easier to hit your macro targets if you’re eating meat. This is because, as I mentioned before, meat is an excellent source of both fat and protein but is mostly free of carbohydrates.
On the other hand, if you’re trying to do a low-carb diet as a vegetarian, you’re probably going to find it much harder to hit your macro targets. This is because most vegetables are relatively high in carbs, and it can be difficult to get the right balance of protein and fat.
You’ll Lose Weight (And Keep It Off)
Let’s be honest—one of the biggest advantages of being a meat eater on a low-carb diet is weight loss. This is because a high-protein, low-carb diet is one of the most effective ways to lose weight and keep it off. Protein requires much more energy to digest than carbs, and it helps keep you full and satisfied throughout the day.
You’ll Have More Energy
Another big advantage of being a meat eater on a low-carb diet is that you’ll have more energy. This is because carbs are the body’s preferred source of fuel, and when you’re not getting enough carbs, your body has to start burning fat for energy.
Burning fat for energy is called ketosis, which can lead to increased energy levels and improved mental clarity.
You’ll Be Less Likely To Get Sick
Finally, another big advantage of being a meat eater on a low-carb diet is that you’ll be less likely to get sick. This is because meat is an excellent source of zinc, selenium, and other essential vitamins and minerals for a strong immune system.
So there you have it—a comprehensive guide to the advantages of being a meat eater on a low-carb, ketogenic diet. You’re missing out on some big benefits if you’re not eating meat. Make sure you’re getting enough protein, and don’t forget to include plenty of healthy fats in your diet. With a little bit of planning, you can easily make a low-carb, ketogenic diet work for you. And you’ll be rewarded with weight loss, increased energy, and improved health.
And if you’re ready to get started with a low-carb lifestyle, be sure to join our 28 Day Metabolism Reset. It’s a comprehensive four-week plan designed to help change the way your body burns fuel, and it’s the essential first step of our proven Thin Adapted System. Find out more HERE.
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