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Ask your coach: when is keto actually…keto?

As a keto coach I get a lot of repeat-questions: most people after all go through the same stages when they start their keto lifestyle and come across the exact same issues. The ‘Ask your coach’ segment on the blog helps you get reliable and realistic answers to everyday keto-problems.

Q: I have been living the keto lifestyle for a while now and I am also a happy member of quite a few online keto groups. I enjoy talking to like-minded people about keto and I also get a lot of useful information that way. I do notice a lot of confusion and misunderstandings about what keto actually is. For me it is all about healthy eating but I hear so many people claiming they are also doing keto while eating processed foods for example. Is there an easy way for me to explain the difference?

Great question! Different people, different ideas and in the keto world this is just a given: there are many different theories on what a ketogenic diet should look like. And truth be told, through my many years of studying and self-experimentation I have concluded there really is not one size fits all when it comes to a ketogenic diet.

While I do always teach people to start out with a low carb/moderate protein/high fat diet, there are plenty of variants one can experiment with when keto adaptation and metabolic flexibility are achieved. These variants do all have one thing in common though: they are about healthy unprocessed foods.

Because I am quite active myself online I understand what you are getting at with the confusion and misunderstandings in those groups, arguments can get quite heated in fact. The biggest misunderstanding of all concerns the word ‘keto’ itself, as in ‘keto diet’: while many people think it is short for ‘ketosis’, it is in fact short for ‘ketogenic’ and that term is about more than merely the state of ketosis. So I have come up with a concise, and hopefully easy to understand, list that will help to explain the differences. Here goes:

A ketogenic diet in general
Any ketosis inducing diet that eliminates all inflammatory, starchy, sugary and processed foods.

Strict ketogenic diet
A ketosis inducing diet that eliminates all inflammatory, starchy, sugary and processed foods while staying between 20-30 grams net carbs and following personally calculated amounts for high fat and moderate protein.

Lazy ketogenic diet (not recommended)
A ketosis inducing diet that eliminates inflammatory, starchy, sugary and processed foods while staying between 20-30 grams net carbs and not counting fat or protein amounts.

Dirty keto (not considered a true ketogenic diet)
A low carb diet that includes inflammatory, starchy, sugary and processed foods and without any counting of macros.

IIFYM keto (not considered a true ketogenic diet)
Stands for ‘If It Fits Your Macros’, a low carb diet that includes inflammatory, starchy, sugary and processed foods while counting macros.

I hope this somewhat helps you to explain the differences to other people. Keep in mind however it may not convince them to see or do things differently, as I said above: different people, different ideas.

Do you have questions about this post?  Or do you have a keto question of your own? Let me know in the comments or contact me here!

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