I kind of hate the term "Lazy Keto," or “Dirty Keto.” In its essence, the only restriction of keto is that you keep your carbohydrates low enough to trigger a metabolic state of ketosis. When carbohydrate levels are 20g per day or less, your body is essentially not storing anything by means of glycogen. The remainder of your calories can come from fat and protein. If your goal is to lose weight, you don’t even have to hit your fat macro, especially if you have body fat to burn. Keto makes this easy as your hunger is easily managed from satiating fat and protein.
In a traditional ketogenic diet, macronutrients are intended to be balanced in perfect proportions: 75% fat, 20% protein and 5% carbohydrates. This is often a downfall for people as they try to perfect and stress about hitting these ratios.
Maybe this is fun for you, but it isn’t for me. But what do I know? I’ve only maintained an 80 pound weight loss for over 3 years.
"Dirty or "Lazy" Keto in the media
In recent months, there has been a major increase in articles floating around the internet in regards to the Keto diet. It's kind of funny, these are the sources that told us that we need carbohydrates in order to live a healthy lifestyle. Or which food group to demonize next in order to sell their latest diet book. It makes you wonder – what side are they actually playing on?
One article in particular from Women’s Health had struck a chord, “What Is Dirty Keto And How Is It Different Than The Keto Diet?”
Of course, embellished with a click bait-y headline. Opportunist much?
What foods are considered Lazy Keto?
Because carbohydrates are the only major restriction, Lazy Keto gives the flexibility to consume things that some may be considered "less than ideal." For example, low carb tortillas and keto-friendly treats are controversial food choices that people love to patrol others for online -- usually because of the ingredients. Things like small amounts of sugar, sweeteners, gluten and processed plant oils are the usual suspects.
While these foods may not be the most optimal choices for health, they do make the diet more sustainable long-term. They’re also much better, in my opinion, than the normal carbohydrate-loaded versions when transitioning from a Standard American Diet (SAD).
Lazy Keto can also include higher carb foods as well, so long as they fit within your daily 20g carb allowance. Some even choose to include small servings of rice or sweet potato.
“That will kick you out of ketosis!”
The idea that these foods will prevent someone from entering ketosis just isn’t true. Like mentioned previously, ketosis is triggered when your body depletes itself of excess glycogen stores.
Glycogen is a reserve of stored energy that the body hangs onto (along with water) when consuming excess carbohydrates. It doesn’t take too long for your body to run through 20 grams of carbohydrates per day (most of which will be utilized by your brain). If somehow it does kick you out of ketosis, you will go right back into it within a short amount of time.
Fun Fact: Did you know that you can also get into ketosis by fasting? Yep, there are plenty of people out there who eat higher amounts of carbs and still get into ketosis daily (I’m looking at you, OMAD-ers!).
Fun Fact #2: You can still lose weight by just cutting carbs (a low carb diet is defined by less than 100g per day). You don’t have to be in ketosis either, but it does add some additional benefits in addition to weight loss.
Bottom line: your Keto is not everyone’s Keto
The goal of keto is to trigger a metabolic state of ketosis.
You don’t need to buy grass-fed foods. But if you can, that's great!
You don’t need to buy anything organic. But if you can, also awesome!
Expensive supplements are not a requirement (especially exogenous ketones, they’re marketed like a pyramid scheme).
Sure, some of these things may contribute to overal optimal health, but they are not requirements! You are really prioritizing your health and have the means to do so.
Also be aware that some conditions, like orthorexia, do exist.
But to assume that everyone has the same luxuries is flat out elitist and classist. You can make keto work for you with a small town grocery store or in some instances – even a gas station! Do not feel like these things are completely necessary to be successful.
Is “Lazy Keto” for me?
Some do fine with this approach and others do not. Go by how your body feels, what your goals are, what your resources are, and where you're at in your journey.
The flexibility of “Lazy Keto” makes the diet more realistic and sustainable. I will often recommend people start here and optimize their choices as they grow accustomed to the lifestyle. Whatever that includes is up to you – it’s your life! Heck, you'll probably even have less cheat days when you stop viewing food as good and bad!
Lazy Keto is enough to manage my digestive system and improve my mental health. I’ve also lost 80 pounds effortlessly and have been able to maintain for 3+ years while following this approach. Make it work for you!
It also makes tracking a lot easier, as you really only need to focus on the carb count. Any diet that you get results from (hello, no more type II diabetes or metabolic syndrome?) and can stick to long term is going to be beneficial.
What's so lazy about keeping your carbs under 20 grams anyways? That in it of itself is extremely hard! If Lazy Keto is the only way you can stick to the diet, do it!
It sure beats the Standard American Diet or falling completely off the wagon.