Associate professor at the University of South Florida’s Morsani College of Medicine, Dominic D’Agostino focuses his work on metabolic-based therapies, including ketogenic diets, and their potential for treating seizure disorders, muscle-wasting diseases, and other health problems. His lab oversees research on ketone technologies and ketone supplementation using ketone esters. Dominic D’Agostino’s work in the area of ketone research has also focused on following a vegan ketogenic diet.
The goal of someone on a ketogenic diet is to enter a state called ketosis, which occurs when the metabolism switches from burning glucose to burning ketones for fuel. In order to produce ketone bodies, a person must carefully manage their macronutrients so they are consuming much more fat than carbohydrates or protein. Although this can be a difficult task when following a plant-based diet, it certainly isn’t impossible.
A vegan or vegetarian interested in following a ketogenic diet must understand they will have to remove or severely limit their intake of fruit, grains, legumes, and some vegetables. They should replace these items with healthy plant-based fats, low-carb nuts and seeds, and low-carb vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, mushrooms, and cabbage.
It’s important for anyone wishing to reach and maintain ketosis to monitor what they’re eating to ensure 65 to 85 percent of their daily caloric intake comes from fat, 15 to 35 percent from protein, and 5 to 15 percent from carbohydrates. The exact nutrient ratio needed to adapt to ketone burning varies. Those who become “keto-adapted” report numerous benefits, including weight loss, increased energy and endurance, improved cognitive function, and reduced hunger.