A healthy lifestyle includes choosing a diet that fits your preferences and goals, whether you desire to lose or gain weight, or simply to have a toned physique. Having regular exercise is vital, yes, but your nutrition intake also plays an important part in attaining fitness.
The keto diet is highly popular these days due to its promise of quick results in weight loss. However, can it really compare to the benefits of a plant-based diet (PBD)? Which one is better?
What Is the Keto Diet?
The ketogenic or keto diet is low in carbohydrates, moderate in protein, and high in fats. Since carb consumption is frowned upon, it emphasizes eating animal-based food.
The human body stores carbohydrates as glycogen, which serve as a primary source of energy. Depriving your body of glycogen compels it to tap into a different reserve. The body then uses your fat stores to fuel it and lose water held by glycogen. In a relatively short time, you can lose several pounds through the loss of glycogen’s water weight.
This results in the production of ketones. It is a byproduct produced by the liver and serves as an alternative fuel source. If your body has a high amount of ketones, it has now entered the metabolic state of ketosis.
A ketogenic diet usually consists of:
- Meats such as beef, pork, fish, and chicken
- Nuts and seeds
- Oils and fats (mainly avocado, coconut oil, ghee, butter, and olive oil)
- Vegetables (typically limited to dark green leafy vegetables and mushrooms)
- Fruit (berries in moderation)
The diet does not include:
- Starchy vegetables (sweet potato, pumpkin, legumes, etc.)
- Grains (oats, rice, quinoa, corn, buckwheat, rye, barley)
What Is a Plant-based Diet?
This is an eating pattern focused on foods primarily from plants. It doesn’t mean that you are vegetarian or vegan and you never eat meat or dairy. Rather, you are choosing more of your foods from plant sources. But some people who follow this diet restrictively abstain from consuming any animal products at all. This includes dairy, meat, poultry, eggs, honey, and even seafood.
Vegetarian Diet Variety
A plant-based diet has a lot of versions to choose from, so you have to pick what suits your needs best:
- Semi-vegetarian or flexitarian includes eggs and dairy foods with a minimum of meat, poultry, ﬁsh, and other seafood.
- Pescatarian includes eggs, dairy foods, and seafood, but abstains from meat and poultry.
- Vegetarian includes eggs and dairy foods, but no kind of meat such as poultry, fish, seafood, and red meat.
- Vegan includes no animal products at all.
This type of diet offers all the necessary fats, proteins, vitamins, carbohydrates, and minerals for overall wellness, and is also often higher in fiber. Studies show that you can achieve a well-balanced nutritional diet through plant-based foods. You can get upwards of 55-60% of calories from carbohydrates, 20-25% of calories from protein, and 15-25% of calories from fat. But, of course, portion intake depends on what your body needs to achieve or maintain your goal.
This diet mostly includes:
- Whole grains
- Starchy and non-starchy whole vegetables
- Whole fruits
- Plant milk
- Nuts and seeds in moderation
- Oils in moderation (olive, coconut, and avocado)
Similarities Between a Keto Diet and a Vegan Diet
- Both dietary plans are known to be successful for weight loss. A study shows that individuals consuming a plant-based diet tend to have a lower BMI than those not following this particular eating plan.
- Both have restrictive diet plans. Practicing them, however, is not an instant guarantee of achieving optimal health. A lax attitude or a lack of discipline won’t give you the results you want to achieve.
- Regardless of the diet plan, physical activity is a requirement to achieve fitness. It is recommended to work out three to four times a week for you to see the biggest benefits. Participating in exercises such as yoga, weight lifting, and cardio are preferred by most people.
These eating plans differ in terms of the nutrients they focus on. The ketogenic diet focuses on watching macro-nutrient intake and prioritizes animal-based protein sources while reducing carbohydrate intake. A plant-based diet, on the other hand, focuses more on the source of food. It doesn’t restrict carbohydrates and usually contains significantly higher carbohydrate amounts. Because these diets have different goals, it can be said that they can’t be compared fairly.
Why Choose a Plant-Based Diet Over a Keto Diet?
- Unlike a keto diet that mostly promotes weight loss, a plant-based diet has a lot of other things to offer. Contrary to the belief that you can’t bulk up through veganism, Jason Hughes of Vegan Liftz promotes plant-based eating while bodybuilding. “With my sub-par genetics, I’ve managed to put on roughly 24 pounds of vegan muscle, and I plan to put on many more,” Jason Hughes claimed.
- A plant-based diet is more sustainable compared to keto. Studies show that consumers of this kind of diet have displayed increased longevity. A PBD also has a wide variety of choices when it comes to food or dishes while a keto diet is more restrictive. For this reason, participants struggle to stick to it in the long run. A keto diet is also known notoriously tough to maintain.
- Giving up your calorie intake to induce weight loss while consuming more fats can increase your risk of contracting various chronic diseases. These include cardiovascular disease, coronary artery disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers. A plant-based diet contains very low saturated fat, which has been linked to heart disease.
- People following a plant-based diet usually have lower blood pressure, making them less likely to have hypertension compared to non-vegetarians. A higher consumption of seeds, nuts, whole grains, and fruits and vegetables appear to prevent hypertension regardless of body weight, exercise habits, sodium intake, and dietary fat intake.
- Plant-based diets are also shown to improve blood sugar control and help lower the risk of Type 2 diabetes.
- On the other hand, it is an established fact that following a plant-based diet can help reduce your risk of poor health.
Both diets can work if done correctly. The benefit of either plant-based or keto diet is usually less about fats or carbs and more likely about the consumption of whole foods. Both diets avoid highly processed foods such as white bread, junk foods, and soda. Keto offers quick weight loss results, but for sustainability and cost-effectiveness, there is a large amount of evidence indicating a plant-based diet is the best approach. Also, most plant-based eaters such as vegans practice it not as a mere dietary plan but a way of life. But at the end of the day, choosing which diet is the best should be based on your food preferences and lifestyle.