Article Originally Submitted 2004
When you choose to follow a Vegetarian LC diet, you have to make sure that you are getting enough “Complete Proteins”. Even if your morality says that killing things to eat them is wrong, this does not negate your body’s need for the spectrum of Amino Acids from complete protein sources to make it healthy, and to drive your metabolism. So, Protein is always the first piece of your meal that you plan.
In a healthy Protein Adequate LC diet, Protein must be around 30% of the Caloric Value that you ingest, and Eggs, Cheese, Soy, and Quorn are the best (i.e. “complete”) Vegetarian protein sources.
(NB: If you have a Thyroid Problem, I would advise you to steer well clear of unfermented Soy products, as these have been proven to slow the thyroid. Soy On Line Service for more information)
I just want to stop and really praise eggs here, There are hands down the best protein source you are going to be eating. The complete spectrum of amino acids, eggs are high quality protein, they also have the right amount and quality of fats, (and lecithin to aid in emulsifying it) and every mineral and vitamin you are going to need to live thrive and survive, bar Vitamin C, (Chickens can make their own!) in perfect proportion, in the perfect delivery system for our body to use it.
Nuts and Seitan (a meat-texture substitute, prepared from Gluten) are good too, but are incomplete, so you have to work these in with other things, to make sure that the protein is complete when eaten. (Although some say that you can just make sure that you eat the right amino acids over the day… I haven’t found enough evidence either way on that, and as a meat eater, not something I needed to research.)
Next, Fats. This should be at least 60% of your Caloric intake. When eating Low Carb, you derive your energy from fat. You cannot use Protein as an energy source easily. If you try, the body protests, with symptoms of shakiness, and rolling blackouts.
I also want to make the point that Saturated Fatty Acids (SFA) and Cholesterol are good for you. Think about it, your Body fat is saturated, and you use both SFA and Cholesterol to make hormones and to build your cell walls. If you have low cholesterol, you are more likely to have depression. The Medics don’t tell you that one!
There is no point in eating a Low Cholesterol diet as the liver makes 80% of the Cholesterol that is needed. If we eat less, the Liver just ramps up production, but unfortunately it tends to make more LDL, rather than HDL, which isn’t helpful!
Dairy Products (Butter, Cream, Cheese and Eggs) and coconut oil are the main veggie sources of Saturates. In fact if you are Vegan, Coconut Oil is the only SFA available to you. NB: Cocoa butter is also a SFA, but it is very difficult to get hold of in Isolation, and this fact is not a good excuse to eat tonnes of high% cocoa solid choc! Even if it does taste nice 😉
By the way, Coconut oil is the best sources of short-chain saturates, which is one of the best muscle-fuels going.
If you can, always fry in a SFA. SFA don’t oxidize, hence, no dangerous aging free radicals are produced when you use them.
Monounsaturated Fatty Acids (MFA), Olive and Nut oils. These are wonderful for you, and taste really good as well. Use in abundance over salads and in baking, but don’t subject them to high heat, such as frying, if you can help it. Being partially unsaturated, they oxidize quite easily, and those horrid free-radicals are produced.
What you have to avoid are Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (PFA) and Transfats. Although we do need a very small percentage of PFA in our diet, (Flaxseed and Starflower(Borage) Oils being the best Vegetarian source of the PFA we need) PFA oxidize really easily, which significantly contributes to the aging process. Frying in Sunflower oil? Nothing worse for you! Stop it right now!
Also, in a diet high in PFA, when the body incorporates them into cell walls instead of cholesterol, the membranes become softer, and break more easily, again, aging you before you time.
Trans-fats. This is a term from Sterio-Chemistry. Molecules are considered either “cis” or “trans” depending on which way they rotate. All natural fats (apart from CLA, a naturally Saturated Fat that helps you burn off body fat, mostly found in grass-fed animal fats) are in the “cis” configuration. However, when a Liquid oil is hydrogenated, to product a solid (and cheap) fat, the molecules are predominately “trans”. Our bodies have no mechanism for excreting them, and so, will incorporate them in the cell wall in preference to real, “cis” fats (Silly body!).
The cell walls can then break down really easily, another cause of premature aging. Transfats are the real cause of arteriosclerosis and heart problems.
The less natural the food, the worse it is for you. Think about it, what would you rather have? Butter, which is just cream, churned until it goes solid, with a little salt added, or Vegetable oil, heated to over 400C, pumped with hydrogen and passed over a nickel catalyst, and then half a tonne of additives and stabilisers, to give it flavour, texture and colour.
Me, I am reaching for the butter! 😉
So, after you have dealt with the important stuff, we finally look at Carbs. Around 10% of your Caloric intake, the best source is Veggies! Good, green leafy ones, cooked to perfection. Cruciferous, is the term. Also Onions and Onion Family vegetables (Leeks, Scallions, Shallots etc), for the Sulphurous compounds they contain and colourful veggies like peppers and cooked tomatoes, (for the Lycopene. In Men, important for Prostate gland health!), for the anti-oxidants,
Also, careful choice of small amounts of the colourful, low-sugar fruits (See my article about fruit in the XXXX edition of CarbHealth!) again for the anti-oxidants, and also there detox properties Also, small amounts of wholegrain (preferably not wheat) products, although digestively speaking, we are not adapted to grains, and cannot utilise them properly.
As we are not Herbivores, we don’t have the digestive enzymes to bust open the cellulose, so have cooked veggies to get the goodness, and use salads as a purgative.
Also, and it almost goes without saying, LOTS of water, and there you go.
I would advise that Vegetarian Low Carb peoples go and buy “The Schwarzbein Principle”, by Diana Schwarzbein. She is the most “Vegetarian Friendly” of the Low Carb authors, her plan allows quite a few more carbs from the start than some other plans, which when you are using Vegetarian protein sources is handy, and she is the also only one to have written a specifically Vegetarian cookbook :“The Schwarzbein principle Vegetarian Cookbook”.
Happy menu planning!