One of the biggest challenges of embracing a plant-based diet is finding lower carb sources of plant protein. Many plant-based sources of protein are high in carbs, and while carbs aren’t bad, too much of a good thing is still too much and can lead to insulin issues and unwanted weight gain—among other health issues (which we’ll get to later).
So, if you’re vegan or considering walking the plant-based path and want to keep your carbs in check, it’s time you learn about the power of low-carb plant protein.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be completely vegan to eat a plant-based diet—though you certainly can be. A plant-based diet is simply a diet founded mainly on plants. Many people who are plant-based still eat animals and/or animal by-products now and then.
There are many benefits of adopting a plant-based diet. It can boost your metabolism, slow down aging and lower your risk of diseases like heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Plant-based diets are also much better for the environment.
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It’s easy to assume that people subscribing to a low-carb diet do it for health reasons—to control diabetes or limit hip-hugging carbs—but, ultimately, the problem with carbs is that too many simple carbs isn’t good for your health.
Minding your carb intake can improve your health in these ways:
Satiety: When you eat the right foods—fewer simple carbs and more protein—you’ll stay full for longer which will cut down on your afternoon or evening binging.
Weight Loss: Low-carb diets help you lose weight—initially. In the honeymoon phase of limiting your carbs, you’ll lose more weight faster as your body flushes out excess water.
Triglycerides: Triglycerides are a marker for heart disease. However, by limiting your carb intake—especially simple sugars—triglyceride levels take a nosedive.
Blood Sugar: Eating a low-carb diet can lower your blood sugar and insulin levels. For those living with type 2 diabetes, studies suggest that adopting a low-carb diet can almost immediately reduce your insulin dose by 50%!
Bad LDL Cholesterol: Another way low-carb diets can help is they actively reduce LDL or bad cholesterol levels.
Why Low-Carb and Plant-Based Diets Pair Well
It’s all well and good to give up or severely limit animal products, but you have to replace those nutrients somehow, so you’ll find most vegans end up consuming boatloads of carbs to compensate.
However, you can enjoy the health benefits of living a plant-based and lower-carb diet—it’s not as hard as you may think. The main thing to remember is eating a variety of whole foods and, just like any other diet out there, limiting your consumption of processed foods, even if they’re marketed as plant-based. (It doesn’t automatically mean it’s healthy.)
The Top Low-Carb Plant-Based Protein Sources
These are the best low-carb plant-based protein sources to include in your weekly meatless meal prep:
Beans: Lentil, pinto, black, chickpeas or green peas.
Soy: Tofu, tempeh, seitan or edamame.
Nuts and Seeds: Almonds, peanuts, all-natural peanut butter, hemp seeds, sunflower seeds or tahini.
Vegetables: Dark leafy greens, tomatoes, asparagus, avocado, cucumber, zucchini or eggplant.
You can also supplement with vegan protein shakes, but just keep in mind whole foods are always best.
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