I decided to try a vegan keto experiment. Keto has been great for reducing IBS symptoms and getting rid of hypoglycemia episodes. However, I dislike the idea of eating so many animal products.
From my many years experimenting with different diets, I learned that I feel emotionally much better on a plant-based diet.
However, every time I tried to eat more carbs in the form of fruit or starches, I would develop severe hypoglycemia and more IBS symptoms. As I didn’t like either, I always gravitated back to low-carb eating.
Only recently did I entertain the idea of simply trying a vegan keto approach. So, I did 🙃, and here is what I have experienced during week 1.
What I ate
I tried to stick to the general guidelines laid out in my introduction article to the vegan keto diet. I primarily focused on green vegetables, olives, coconut oil, coconut butter, tofu, lupine tempeh, and protein powder. I ate relatively few nuts.
Before my morning run, I had hot cocoa with coconut oil. I already introduced this before my vegan experiment, so I simply kept it up. I had a vegan protein shake and added 1 tablespoon of MCT oil post-run.
I usually don’t eat a big lunch, so I had a salad with avocado and olives on most days.
How it went
Before I embarked on the experiment, I had a few doubts. I thought I would feel more hungry and have trouble keeping my carbs low enough. I also thought I would have issues figuring out what to eat.
My fridge was relatively empty because I had spent the week before at my girlfriend’s house and I was away for the weekend.
However, I already had vegan protein powder, olives, and nuts at home, and Monday went surprisingly well. The rest of the week was uneventful. I didn’t have to deal with “keto flu” or other unpleasant side effects. I attribute this to the fact that my body is already fat adapted.
More satisfaction and satiation eating vegan keto
Overall, I was much more satisfied eating vegan keto than eating the “standard” keto diet, including meat, eggs, and cheese.
This totally took me by surprise.
On Friday, I realized how truly satisfied I was during the first days of vegan high-fat eating.
I only had my post-run shake that day and spent the afternoon getting a new pair of glasses and enjoying the spring weather with my girlfriend. Late afternoon, we headed back home, and she grabbed a sausage to eat. I was not hungry at all, which didn’t surprise me much.
However, what did surprise me was that I didn’t feel any craving or appetite for that sausage either. In fact, I didn’t crave any animal products since the start of my experiment on Monday. I was satisfied with my vegetable stir fry with tofu for dinner 😋.
My runs felt better, and recovery was quicker
A second surprise was that my legs felt even better on a vegan keto diet than on a high-fat diet that included meat.
I had already experienced the power of higher fat to reduce joint pain. Still, with vegan keto, my muscles felt better as well.
Before this experiment, I would often get very tight calves and hamstrings and had to supplement a lot with magnesium since no amount of foam rolling or stretching would help. However, this extreme tightness was gone after the first two days of eating a high-fat vegan diet.
I don’t know if it’s due to the cheese I am no longer eating now or the complete elimination of animal products, but it’s a welcome surprise.
I will continue the vegan keto challenge and will also continue to track.
I will input my own food into the MyFitnessPal app because I realized that a lot of data in the app is wrong. It showed different macronutrient contents for some of the products I have been eating, like specific tofu or protein powder brands.
I will also try out some recipes and create my own. These will be added to the app as well for future reference.
Next week I have two challenges: I will be staying at my girlfriend’s, who is neither eating vegan nor keto 🙃.
Plus, I have a 24h race coming up on the weekend 🤘.
I haven’t explicitly tested nutrition on long runs, so this will be interesting. I used a homemade energy gel during one 40 km training run, which consisted of cashew butter and MCT oil.
However, cleaning the re-usable GU flask gets messy, so I am not sure I will use this or rely on energy bars (homemade) and nuts.
Unlike other keto-adapted athletes, I won’t be using gels or other sugars. I have tried this in training and could not get used to it. I had terrible hypoglycemia on almost every run that I took honey or gels.
It will be a cool experiment to run this race on homemade energy bars and nuts.