Is there a low carb vegetarian diet? Low carbohydrate plans have a reputation of being all about meat, so you may wonder if it is even possible to be a low carb vegetarian. The good news is that yes, it is possible. However, it is easier with some plans than others, and there are certain things that you need to know.
On average, vegetarians have healthier weights than meat eaters, and this is even more true of vegans. But of course some individual vegetarians are overweight. Lacto-ovo vegetarians who eat milk products and eggs can overdose on chocolate, cakes and desserts like anybody else. Vegans may eat a lot of candy, french fries and processed vegan foods.
There is a big difference between low carb diets for vegetarians and vegans. In order to understand this, you need to know about the nutritional content of diets that are low in carbohydrates. Generally, foods that are high in carbohydrates like sugar, potatoes, bread, pasta and starchy vegetables are switched out of the diet in favor of foods that are high in fat.
For a lacto-ovo vegetarian this is not usually a problem. They will base their diet mainly around cheese, eggs and low carb vegetables with a few nuts and beans. It takes a little getting used to the idea of eating pasta sauce on broccoli instead of pasta, or salad without bread, but it is certainly possible.
Vegans (or vegetarians who do not eat both cheese and eggs) will have a little more difficulty on a low carb diet because it is harder for them to get enough protein without going over the carbohydrate levels. Vegan foods that are high in protein such as beans, nuts and vegetables, while not extremely high carb, are high enough that eating a lot of them could stop you getting into fat-burning lipolysis mode.
Nevertheless it is possible to follow a low carb vegetarian or even vegan diet with a little planning. The South Beach diet is good for vegetarians because it allows beans, nuts and seeds in limited quantities right from phase one. This gives you a much greater choice of foods than the Atkins diet, where these are not allowed in the first two weeks.
The low carb approach is a long term way of eating and should not be seen as a quick fix. Therefore, it is important to be sure that you will be happy on the plan before you start. For some vegetarians who are carrying just a little excess weight, cutting out sugar and refined grains might be enough to bring them back to the healthy weight range. But if you have more to lose or have tried other diets without success, a low carb vegetarian diet could be the answer.