Ketogenic diets are growing in popularity among athletes, bodybuilders, and others looking to lose fat while building muscle.
But what exactly is a keto diet, and how do you actually follow one? There are three main types of keto diets: Strict, lazy and dirty.
Each offers different pros and cons, and each requires slightly different dietary practices.
The ketogenic diet is one of the oldest diets used today. In fact, it’s been around since 1920.
A ketogenic diet is high in fats and moderate or low in carbohydrates.
Your goal is to get your body into a metabolic state called ketosis, where your liver starts producing ketones—a type of fuel source for your brain.
Ketones are produced when there aren’t enough glucose molecules circulating in the blood.
Ketosis is achieved by eating very low amounts of carbohydrates while maintaining a normal amount or increased protein consumption.
The Standard Ketogenic Diet is one of the most popular diets out there today.
However, many people are confused about what exactly it entails.
A lot of people think that it means eating nothing but meat, butter, eggs, cheese, and bacon.
While this type of diet certainly fits into the category of clean, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re following the true definition of the term.
A “standard” keto diet is actually quite similar to a high-fat, moderate protein/low carb diet.
In fact, it’s even easier to follow than Atkins since you don’t have to count calories.
The main difference between the two diets is that the standard keto diet allows some natural foods such as fruit, bread, pasta, rice, etc.
while Atkins forbids all forms of carbohydrate consumption.
In addition, the standard keto diet consists mainly of animal products, whereas Atkins prohibits all animal proteins except for fish and shellfish.
The term “lazy keto diet” refers to a low carb, moderate protein, and high fat diet that focuses on eating lots of healthy fats such as avocado, coconut oil, olive oil, butter, etc, while limiting carbohydrates.
In contrast to the classic keto diet, the lazy keto diet is less restrictive in terms of what you eat.
For example, you can consume some dairy products like yogurt and cheese.
You’re allowed to drink coffee and tea, too. Some people even enjoy alcohol on occasion.
However, there are still some restrictions. While you can have unlimited amounts of eggs, nuts, seeds, avocados, olives, and fatty fish, you cannot consume some meat or seafood, processed meats, or grains like bread, pasta, rice, and corn.
Also, you can’t consume sweeteners like HFCS, agave nectar, honey, maple syrup, or fruit juice concentrates.
Lazy keto isn’t about being lazy. It’s about eating healthy, nutritious food while losing weight.
If you’re trying to lose weight, it’s important to eat well and exercise regularly.
However, some people find it difficult to adhere to strict rules like no sugar, no bread, etc. So the lazy keto option is ideal for them.
The key to success with the lazy way is preparation.
When you’re cooking, make sure the ingredients are high quality and low in carbs, fats, and sugars.
Also, don’t skimp on portion sizes. You’ll still lose weight, but you won’t feel deprived because you have enough to satisfy hunger.
The dirty keto diet is another variation of the ketogenic diet, which is basically a high-fat, moderate-protein, and very low-carbohydrate diet.
Dirty keto allows some foods that aren’t typically considered part of the keto diet.
While it might sound great to allow yourself to indulge in foods like pizza, burgers, and fries, there is actually a good reason why people don’t do this.
These foods tend to contain lots of unhealthy ingredients such as sugar, processed meats, trans fats, etc., which can cause inflammation in the body.
As a result, not only does this type of diet increase the risk of heart disease and diabetes, but it can also make us feel bloated and sluggish so think carefully about your goals before you decide which duty keto is best for you.
Eat Good Carbs
For most people, cutting out carbohydrates isn’t easy.
However, there’s no reason why you couldn’t follow a ketogenic lifestyle while eating plenty of fruit and veggies.
Carbohydrates come in many forms, including grains, sugars, processed food, alcohol, milk products.
Obviously, the best sources of carbohydrate are actually fruits and vegetables — especially high-carbohydrate produce like apples, bananas, carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, and peas.
While you don’t necessarily have to eliminate all carbohydrates from your diet, doing so can help you lose weight faster and feel better overall.
And the benefits don’t stop once you’ve reached ketosis either; research suggests that following a low-carb diet long term can improve cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and insulin resistance.
Get Expert Advice
People should always consult with a medical professional before starting a new diet.
Especially ones like the strict ketogenic diet that drops carbohydrate intake so drastically for some people and risks altering a person’s nutritional intake and health. But there are some benefits to the low carb, high fat diet.
The biggest benefit of following a keto diet is weight loss.
A study published in the journal Nutrients found that overweight adults who followed a very low carbohydrate ketogenic diet lost twice as much weight as those following a low calorie diet.
And another study published in Obesity showed similar findings.
Drawbacks To Keto
Ketogenic diets are very popular today because they seem like a great way to burn fat while still getting enough protein and carbs to feel full.
However, there are some drawbacks to this type of diet. First, it’s hard to maintain for the long term.
You’ll likely experience fatigue, headaches, and muscle cramps if you don’t eat enough during the day.
Also, when you do eat, you might end up feeling hungry again soon after.
Sometimes the reason why we crave junk food is because our bodies aren’t used to having such high amounts of certain nutrients every day and we may feel we ‘need’ junk food to get through the day.
However, studies show that it’s actually the lack of dietary fiber and essential vitamins and minerals that causes us to become bloated and tired.
So what does this mean for those who are trying to follow a ketogenic diet?
You should try to fill yourself up with nutrient dense foods, especially ones that contain lots of fiber.
Your body needs adequate levels of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients to function properly.
So, make sure you’re filling up on fruits and veggies, nuts and seeds, whole grains, beans, and legumes.
What About Science?
There aren’t many studies looking into the long-term effects of a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet.
A study published in 2017 looked at people following either a low-fat or low-carbohydrate diet for 2 years.
After 2 years, both groups lost about 5 pounds; however, the group on the low-carb diet saw no significant improvements in cholesterol levels, blood pressure, insulin resistance, or body composition.
The researchers concluded that there is little evidence to support the use of a low-carb diet for weight loss, although it does seem to help decrease cardiovascular risks.
They added that more research needs to be done to determine whether a low-carb diet is safe for heart health.
In fact, a review published in 2016 found that low carb diets may increase your risk of gallstones and kidney stones.
The keto diet is an effective tool for losing weight and improving health.
It can be challenging to get started, but once you have your head around it, you’ll reap the benefits for life.
But be sure to check with a healthcare advisor before embarking on any new diet. And if you struggle with strict keto consider a gentler way.