Not all keto is created equally though every approach shares a common goal: to promote ketosis. There are a few different ways one can “do keto” or live a ketogenic lifestyle. Some people keep steady to just one type consistently. And some individuals move around to follow two or more of these lifestyles form time to time.
The main types of keto are:
The standard ketogenic diet
This is the most common, classic ketogetic diet and what you should start with if a beginner. The basic recipe for a keto is your daily diet is 75% fat, 20% protein, and 5% carbohydrates. With this diet, carbs are limited to 20-30 net grams per day.
Targeted ketogenic diet
This type is similar in form to the standard ketogenic diet but involves targeting your carbohydrate consumption in timing with workouts. Some do fasted workouts prior to any carbohydrate consumption. Others time carb eating right before exercise. This type is best for those who are ‘fat-adapted’ or been following a standard keto diet for some time. That way the body is already used to using fat for fuel and can run on ketones.
High protein ketogenic diet
This type of diet increases protein consumption from the standard ketogenic diet ratios. That looks like your daily calories coming from 65% fat, 30% protein, 5% carbs. Typically, those who engage in higher protein diets are doing so to build muscle mass.
Cyclical ketogenic diet
Or keto cycling. This type means cycling in and out of ketosis with some days being lower carb, and other days involving ‘carb-ups’ or higher carb allowances. Most who practice cyclical keto on purpose plan a schedule such as five days keto and two days of higher carb intake. Many (myself included) follow a cyclical ketogenic diet without such purpose because staying strict keto can be difficult unless you plan and measure constantly. Personally, I know I come in and out of ketosis a few times a week but don’t ‘binge’ on high carb foods. So my cycling is more dipping below the standard ketogenic diet ratios every now and then. If I go too far outside the standard ratios, and over-indulge in carbs, I experience inflammation (usually skin, but sometimes in my joints) so try to be as on-the-ball as I can, But the cyclical approach does allow more flexibility and it’s good for those of us (ahm, like me) who deal with disordered eating so can get carried away with measuring, guilt, etc.
This type of keto follows the standard ketogenic diet but individuals don’t count ratios or amounts that much. Instead, the approach is more about focusing on high-fat, low carb foods in general. Additionally, ‘lazy keto’ or ‘dirty keto‘ can refer to those who eat out a lot and don’t make homemade or fresh foods priorities. It is possible to remain ‘keto’ and eat fast food every day! It is healthy? No, but you can technically remain in ketosis depending on your choices from that drive-thru menu!
Each type of ketogenic lifestyle can be approached in different ways. There’s If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM) which means you can eat whatever as long as sticking with your fat, protein, and carb (ie. macro nutrient) goals/ratios. This is definitely a more relaxed approach but can run you into trouble with nutrient deficiencies. There’s the Purist approach which is more methodical and involves staying away from keto ‘junk foods’ in pursuit of whole, nutritious foods. This way can get complicated and pricey. There is also Protein-Sparing which isn’t recommended for many (or for long). It involves keeping your ratios for protein and carbs steady but dropping your fat amount drastically. This can help you break out of a weight-loss stall but can cause your body to burn muscle for fuel instead of fat.
You can also add intermittent fasting to any of these for more variety and added benefits. IF is where you eat only during a specific period of time, your ‘eating window’. The other time you’re not eating or fasting. Most fast overnight while sleeping and into the morning. A typical IF plan is 16hrs fasting and an 8hr eating window. That can look like fasting before bed, starting 8pm and not eating again until lunchtime, say noon or 1pm.
Does all this sound interesting (it does to me!) or too complicated? If the latter, don’t fret because living a ketogenic lifestyle can be approached simply and maintained easily. Unless you want to, just stick to the basics of the standard ketogenic ratios. Once fat-adapted or burning fat for fuel then you can explore different options to meet your needs or goals. Or just keep on keto-ing on!