Low-Carb AND Plant Based??? How to manage both lifestyles.
Your best friend is raving about being vegan. You know that a high carbohydrate based diet isn't the healthiest, and cannot help but wonder "Yes, fruit and quinoa is supposed to be great for you, but isn't that a ton of carbs?".
Yes. Yes it is.
However, converting to a more plant-based lifestyle does NOT require a shift away from low-carb living.
Myth 1: Plant based = Grain based
Going vegan, vegetarian, or just "less-meat-otarian" does not mean you need to substitute animal protein with "ancient grains" or weird derivatives of wheat (nobody actually knows the difference between spelt, bulgar, and semolina). Nor does it mean your new daily sources of protein need to be tofu (nor should it be).
Legumes are great: subbing in chickpeas, black beans and lentils can be a really filling, protein-packed plant based alternative.
Not feeling beans? The vegan meat alternatives out there are currently AMAZING. My favorite is Beyond Meat's "Beyond Burger". They use a blend of plant based ingredients to make a "burger" product that is out-of-this world similar to the real deal.
Myth 2: No Calcium from Dairy = Vegans are Brittle
Calcium exists in most green leafy vegetables, particularly kale.
Now, eating kale chips all day is a feasible solution, but most likely will drain your bank account at almost $10 a bag...
I usually eat sauteed kale or collards at least once a day. For an added health bonus, use organic coconut oil to grease the pan: its higher smoke point (as opposed to olive oil) allows for fewer carcinogens to make their way into you food while cooking.
Myth 3: Vegans Can't Gain Muscle
Your personal fitness goals don't need to go off track just because you've decided to not eat meat 3 times a day.
Swap whey proteins for pea proteins in your workout shakes and add a little bit of Wink to make it thick, creamy, and low-carb ;).
Snack on a handful of nuts. My favorite mid-day snack is a handful of hazelnuts with some super-dark chocolate (90%). There's enough protein and fat in that mix to keep me satiated, and I plow through food like livestock.
The one thing you may need to alter is the intensity and duration of your workouts. I found that I was better off going for shorter sessions with more workload when I went full veggie.
Ultimately, any lifestyle change you decide is right for you can fit your priorities when it comes to health and nutrition. If you decide that you'd like to transition to a more plant-focused diet for personal, environmental, or health reasons, it does not mean you suddenly need to blow out your body's insulin system.
Look for smart swaps for the things you'll miss, and ask our community in the comments section for any suggestions!