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What Exactly Is Lazy Keto?

Korin Miller
Contributing writer By Korin Miller
Contributing writer
Korin Miller is a freelance writer specializing in general wellness, relationships, and lifestyle trends with a master’s degree from American University. Her work has appeared in Women’s Health, Prevention, Self, Glamour, and more.
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The keto diet has been a popular weight loss strategy for years, but critics often point out that it's a tough diet to follow and maintain. After all, being keto means regularly counting your macronutrients (aka macros) to make sure you have plenty of fat and protein in your diet, along with minimizing your carb intake. Basically, you have to carefully watch everything you eat. 

But there are different versions of keto that have cropped up, including a newer form of the keto diet that aims to let people enjoy the perks of keto without obsessing over the details. It's called lazy keto, and it's getting a pretty big following. Whether you've never heard of lazy keto before or are fuzzy on the details, let this be your guide.

What is lazy keto? 

To understand lazy keto, it's important to first dive into the basics of "regular" keto. On the classic keto diet, it's generally recommended that people break down their daily caloric intake this way:

  • Fat: 65 to 85%
  • Protein: 15 to 35%
  • Carbohydrate: 0 to 10%

That usually means having no more than 50 grams of carbohydrates, about 1 to 1.8 grams of protein per kilogram of your lean body mass, and fat to fill the rest of your caloric needs. 

But lazy keto just homes in on the carb aspect of the keto diet and doesn't worry about counting protein and fat, says Jessica Cording, M.S., R.D., dietitian and author of The Little Book of Game-Changers. On a lazy keto diet, you'd simply try to keep your daily carb intake between 20 and 50 grams a day, and that's about it. "This focuses on one piece of the keto diet and doesn't obsess over all of the other macronutrients," Cording says. 

The goal of the classic keto diet is to get into ketosis, which is a state that your body enters when it starts making ketones (i.e., organic compounds that your body can use for energy) and burns fat for extra energy, explains Marvin Singh, M.D. But it's unclear if simply watching your carb intake and not minding your other macros will get you to ketosis, he says. That makes it unclear whether lazy keto is, in fact, still keto. "The key point [of keto] is that you are in ketosis," Singh points out. 

That doesn't mean you can't get into ketosis on a lazy keto diet—it's just not as much of a given as if you were following a traditional keto diet, says Keri Gans, R.D., author of The Small Change Diet. "They might as well just call this a very low-carb diet instead," she says. 

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Are there benefits to lazy keto? 

Lazy keto is a new form of the keto diet, and, with that, there really isn't any research specifically tied to it. Still, experts say there are some benefits you can get while following the diet: 

1. It's less stressful than classic keto.

Lazy keto requires less thinking than the traditional keto diet—and Cording says that can help take the hassle of out of mealtimes. "You're not obsessing over macronutrients every day," she says. 

2. It requires singular calculations.

Under lazy keto, you focus on hitting or staying below your goal carb count, and that's it. "It is much easier to calculate one nutrient than having to figure out multiple ones," Gans says.

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3. You may get typical keto results.

It's possible to get the same benefits as a classic keto diet on the lazy keto diet, like weight loss, increased energy, and more satiety, Singh says. But again, it's not a guarantee. "It's hard to say that every person who does lazy keto will get into ketosis, but, if someone just feels good with that amount of carbohydrates, that's really the big picture benefit," Cording says. 

4. It's more sustainable than regular keto.

The classic keto diet is notoriously difficult to stick with given all of the requirements for counting macros. But Cording says the lazy version may be easier for people to follow. "In practice, I've found that people who feel overwhelmed or overloaded tend to do better just picking one thing to focus on," she says. "That can help them achieve the results they want and to stick with it."

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What are the drawbacks? 

While lazy keto has its perks, it's certainly not perfect.

1. It may be less effective than regular keto.

If your goal is to get into ketosis, it's hard to know if you can actually achieve it with lazy keto, Singh says. "You would need to monitor your ketone levels with regular finger pricks in order to best determine if you are in ketosis and when you get out of it," he says. "If you are not serious about it, you might get into a low level of ketosis, but you also might not quite make it."

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2. It's difficult to maintain for the long term.

While the lazy keto diet may be easier to follow than the classic keto, it's still hard to maintain over time, Gans says. "This diet, no matter how you do it, full keto or lazy keto, is not sustainable for most people in the long run," she says. 

3.  It's not for everyone.

"The ketogenic diet can be used as a therapeutic approach to nutrition, and it may not be for everyone," Singh says. "It's best to talk to your physician for guidance on this as you may have particular health issues to consider." 

4. It's still a restrictive diet.

Even if you're just counting carbs, aiming for 20 to 50 grams of carbohydrates a day "lends itself to being overly restrictive with what you're eating," Cording says. That can even lead to disordered eating habits, she says. 

What do you eat with lazy keto? 

In general, the foods are the same as classic keto, Cording says. The macros may be different, though. "If you aren't counting macros, then you might eat a lot more protein and less fat than you would on regular keto," Gans says. 

Again, you'll want to aim to have your carb intake be 50 g a day or lower, so foods like pasta, many fruits, and bread aren't ideal, just like with a regular keto diet, Cording says. But otherwise, you can have what you want.

Still, Cording says that vegetables like tomatoes, eggplant, broccoli, and cauliflower, proteins like chicken, beef, and salmon, and fats like olive oil, avocados, and nuts are all considered good options on a lazy keto diet.  

Who should try lazy keto? 

If you're interested in trying a low-carb diet but classic keto seems too stressful or overwhelming for you, this might be an option worth trying, Cording says. It can also be a "starting point" if you're interested in trying a regular keto diet but want to ease into it, she says.  

But Singh cautions against trying lazy keto if ketosis is your goal. "Keto is keto," he says, adding that if you want to get into ketosis "you have to eat similar foods and follow macros as closely as possible." 

Bottom line.

Lazy keto is a newer approach to the classic keto diet, and it can be a more manageable option for people who are interested in keto but are nervous about the diet's restrictive nature. While it's unclear whether it can actually help put you into ketosis, experts say there may be some perks of following this diet. 

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