As this week is National Vegetarian Week, I thought I’d address a question that I get asked frequently: can you enjoy the low carb Atkins lifestyle if you eat a vegetarian diet? The answer is simply: yes.
Atkins has often been misrepresented as a high protein diet that encourages you to eat lots of meat. Because of this it is often thought not to be vegetarian-friendly. The truth is, Atkins recommends moderate protein intake and you can easily get this from vegetarian sources.
If you are vegetarian, here are some tips for following Atkins:
Start in phase 2
This will give you a wider choice of foods and enable you to include nuts, seeds, pulses and berries from day one. A recommended daily intake of 25-30g of carbs will enable you to include these foods and still encourage your body to burn fat.
Eating beans such as kidney beans, black beans and chick peas on a daily basis is a great choice. They are high in fibre, a great source of protein and relatively low in carbs. Avoid baked beans as they are loaded with sugar.
Try alternative protein sources
Tofu, tempeh, eggs and cheese are all good sources of protein and you should try to include some with every meal. You can have Quorn products but make sure you check the labels as some are high in carbs. Make sure you count all carbs within your 25-30g total. For instance, the Quorn pork steaks are low carb with just 1.4g carbs per 100g, yet the Quorn sausages are 11.6g carbs per 100g – quite a difference!
Pescatarians can eat fatty fish
If you eat fish, then opt for the fattier sources of fish like salmon, mackerel and sardines. They are also a rich source of Omega 3 fatty acids.
Lots of fruit and veg
Eating lots of vegetables will provide dietary fibre, for healthy digestion, as well as valuable nutrients. Broccoli, spinach, kale, asparagus are all low carb vegetables. You may include fruits, such as berries, if you wish but you can get the good nutrition from vegetables alone if you prefer.
Don’t forget the fat
Many vegetarian protein sources, such as tofu, are low in fat so it’s important to add dietary fat to your meals. A higher fat intake can come from sources like avocado, oils, butter, olives and eggs.
Do you follow a Vegetarian Atkins? If so, why not share some of your favourite recipes on our Atkins community forum? I’d love to see them!