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Vegan vs Keto Debate: Which Diet Is Best For Your Health?


keto high fat vs plant based vegan debate for heart health and longevity
keto high fat vs plant based vegan debate for heart health and longevity

What is the healthier diet for diabetes, heart health/cholesterol, pcos, inflammation and overall longevity? In this article we look at, “The Vegan vs Keto Debate: Which Diet is Best for your Health?” and try simplify it once and for all. Here at Kind and Keto, we will shed light on the yays and nays of both schools of thought. And leave it up to you to make up your own mind. So, if you want to hear the final verdict on what is healthier vegan or keto, read on…

What is Your Goal?

Before we dive into the pros and cons of the ketogenic and vegan diets, we must first establish what you want to achieve. Are you looking for a diet to help you shed a few kilos? Or is this a more long-term lifestyle change?

Vegan and keto diets are polar opposites when it comes to how food is approached. But they are both popular decisions when it comes to promises of weight-loss. 

The weight-loss industry is a multibillion-dollar business in the US. With two in three adults either being considered overweight or obese, it is no wonder that healthcare professionals are looking for reliable ways to beat this health pandemic. For Overweight and Obesity stats click here.

Extreme diets and weight-loss plans are also trying to get a slice of the money pie, and people easily fall for even the most absurd of plans to beat the bulge. 

Luckily, it’s not necessary to drink only cabbage soup for the rest of your life to get rid of that muffin top – research has shown that both plant-based and the keto diet can lead to weight loss. But more than that, it is how likely a person is to sustain it that will ultimately determine success; the best diet is, after all, the one you can stick with. 

The same can be said even if you’re not looking to lose weight but just want to live a longer and healthier life. So, what’s healthier, vegan or keto?

What Is The Ketogenic Diet?

Your body stores carbs as glycogen, which is your body’s number one source of energy. But what happens if you eliminate carbs from your diet? Will it mean you won’t have any energy? Actually, it will lead to quite the opposite. Once you stop eating carbs, your body uses up all the glycogen reserves, and your body will enter ketosis. While in this metabolic state, your body will start to use stored fat as fuel – bye-bye love handles. The Vegan keto diet will see your body enter into ketosis. Ketosis is also achieved through intermittent fasting. Read more about vegan keto eating and intermittent fasting here.

What Is a Vegan Diet?

Simply put, no animal products are allowed. Vegans will substitute all animal products with plant-based replacements. 

More and more people are opting to live the vegan way not only for health reasons but for ethical and environmental ones also. There are several variations of the vegan diet, but rarely is a distinction made in scientific studies. Information in this article will focus on the vegan diet as an umbrella term.  

Benefits of Keto and Vegan Diets 

The ketogenic diet has the same appeal as other widely-published – some would say ‘fad’ – diets that guarantee rapid weight-loss. When it comes to going vegan, the allure is a little more complex and far-reaching. But, with most diets, there are positives and negatives one should be aware of before having a go at it. 

Let’s focus on the good stuff; we’ll discuss the possible dangerous side effects of both the keto and vegan diets later. 

Key-To Better Health

Studies have shown that following a ketogenic diet long-term, will have positive health effects on your body that range from the obvious weight-loss right through to preventing diseases like diabetes and even cancer.

Other benefits include: 

  • Maintaining muscle while losing fat
  • Control cravings
  • Boost metabolism
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Regulate insulin and fight insulin resistance
  • Boost brainpower
  • Increase energy
  • Reduce heart disease risk factors   

Why Vegan Diet is Better Than Keto

This systematic review clearly shows the advantages of following a vegan diet that includes lowering your risk of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Some studies have also revealed that plant-based dieters have more success when trying to lose weight and they keep it off easier than their meat-eating counterparts.

Studies have actually shown that vegans, in general, are thinner and have a lower body mass index (BMI) than non-vegans. This could be due to the fact that vegans on average, consume fewer calories than meat-eaters, and even so, consume a wider variety of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. A comparison of the 5 basic plant-based diets showed that the vegan diet was the healthiest.

According to Dr. Kim Williams, a cardiologist at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, substituting animal protein with plant protein will decrease mortality and cardiovascular risk factors significantly. 

Dr.Williams says Plant-based diets reduce heart disease.

That being said, the vegan diet isn’t perfect – nor is keto. 

Negatives of Keto and Vegan Diets 

Some experts have raised concerns that keto may be harmful to heart health. When done right, the ketogenic diet included vegetables and lean sources of animal protein; but that is not always what is depicted by keto yaysayers, especially on social media. On Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and the like, you are bombarded with photos of bacon frying in butter next to a cup of coffee made with coconut oil and cream. No wonder the ketogenic diet has been described as a “cardiologist’s nightmare” by some. 

Ket-no

Health experts warn against jumping on the keto bandwagon without the guidance of a doctor or nutritionist as high-fat diets done wrong can lead to high cholesterol, and according to some studies, even increase a person’s risk of diabetes. But wait, up there you just read that keto may help combat diabetes! This is where a line needs to be drawn between drinking butter or choosing a spinach smoothie – there is a right way to do keto and a wrong way. And the vegan keto way seems by far the healthier option.

Some other negative effects include: 

  • Risk of cancer  – these findings referred to a low carb diet but don’t specify the type of low carb diet plan that would produce these results.
  • Increase in cardiovascular conditions
  • Early mortality – again this was based on a low carb diet high in animal fats and protein.
  • Loss of muscle mass
  • Decreased metabolism
  • Weight-gain 

One interesting note, when it comes to raising your risk of early death when choosing to eat low-carb, the opposite was found when following a low-carb diet with plant-based proteins instead of meat and dairy. 

Now, we think it is important to tackle the elephant in the room in the form of the mother of all contradictions – is keto good for weight-loss or will it actually make you gain weight?

We know, your head must be spinning from all the conflicting views, but let’s break it down as well as we can. 

The weight-loss benefits of keto have scientifically been proven, but possible weight-gain can happen due to various reasons. 

First, when you stop eating keto and introduce carbs to your diet again, you will gain back the original weight lost – probably, unless you pay particular attention to your daily caloric intake. This weight will, unfortunately, be mostly fat, especially if you’re not lifting weights and working on building muscle. 

Secondly, experts say the long-term sustainability of the keto diet is difficult, which will result in people going back to their tried-and-true mac and cheese and other carb-heavy favorites, inevitably leading to weight gain. 

In 2017, a study found that most keto-fed rats lost weight in the first few weeks. But the weight-loss did not continue over the 22-week period. 

One important take-way from the weight-loss/weight-gain discussion is that a lot of the weight initially lost is most probably muscle mass. This means that, as briefly mentioned, the weight you gain back is fat replacing muscle and less muscle means a slower metabolism, which will make it harder to lose weight in the future.  

Okay, so things aren’t looking too good for the ketogenic diet right now. But before you proclaim yourself vegan, here are some things to consider. 

Why Keto Diet Is Better Than Vegan Diet

Vegans generally rely a lot on carbohydrates to meet their daily nutrient needs, especially protein. Eating a lot of carbs can leave you feeling tired, bloated, and may lead to cravings – for more carbs! That, unfortunately, means: – weight gain. 

But that is the least of your worries when eating the vegan way. 

Let’s face it, it is not possible to get all the nutrients needed to function properly from plants. So, when you start your vegan journey, you will have to pay particular attention to deficiencies – in particular vitamin B12 as this can lead to a low red blood cell count or anemia. 

Your body may also lack the following when vegan:

  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • Zinc 
  • EPA and DHA (Long-chain fatty acids)
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin K2

A recent study published in the British Medical Journal found that people who follow a vegan diet had a 20 percent high risk of stroke. But they were less likely to suffer from heart disease. It was, however, suggested that the fact that vegans and vegetarians suffered three more strokes per 1000 people compared to meat-eaters may be because of lifestyle factors more than diet choice. 

So, what is healthier, vegan, or keto? If you’re still undecided, lettuce *wink* recap. 

Vegan vs Keto: Our Conclusion 

If weight-loss is your ultimate goal, the keto diet might be the choice for you. Yes, both the keto and vegan diet have been linked to weight-loss, but the results on keto are faster and more dramatic. However, the jury is out on whether the difference in dress size is due to fat or muscle loss. Losing muscle is not a good thing as it slows your metabolism, which will make future weight-loss more difficult. That is definitely something you should consider when choosing keto as there are conflicting views. Keto is also notoriously difficult to maintain, and that may put a spoke in your wheel bringing you to a halting crash. 

If you feel that you won’t be able to maintain keto but still want a healthy way to lose weight – vegan is the way to go. Although the process may take longer and you will have to pay particular attention to the types of carbs you eat, you will be able to rid yourself of that baby fat you’ve been waiting for years to disappear. 

It is also worth a mention that what you ate beforehand will play a significant role in how your body reacts to the keto or vegan diet and any subsequent weight-loss results. For example, if you’ve been living on pasta and bread and other carb-heavy foods, you will notice the pounds melt off when you first overhaul your body and go into ketosis. The same applies when you go from being an avid meat-eater to consuming purely plant-based protein. This is due to you most likely eating fewer calories than you normally did because, remember, any weight-loss, in the end, comes down to calories in versus calories out.  

But, as mentioned earlier, the best diet is the one you will be able to stick to, and for you, that can be either keto or vegan. 

Of course, fitting into that skinny pair of jeans is not the only thing to strive for; you should also consider your health and longevity. Looking at the evidence, there is no contest – veganism wins. The vegan diet has way less negative and dangerous side effects than the keto diet has. And, of course, is a cruelty-free way of living that will lessen your carbon footprint. 

As we said in the introduction, there are contradictory views when it comes to what is healthier, vegan, or keto? And we can only share the information that is out there. Ultimately, it is your body and your choice. Everybody is different and paired with distinct lifestyles, the choice is yours to make. 

Ready to commit? Try our free Beginner’ Guide To Vegan Keto or splash out on our Ultimate Keto Vegan Diet System starting at $9.99

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