There Is No 'One-Way' To KetoNov 07, 2019
Back in 2014 when I first started following a keto diet, I thought it was the BEST ‘diet hack’ in the world.
❌ No more waking up ravenous every morning
❌ No more afternoon energy crash and taking naps under my desk
❌ No more late-night sugar binges
❌ No more thinking about my next meal right after finishing my last one
I could go on and on...
The benefits continued to pile up and I told myself I was NEVER going back (to eating carbs that is..)
But after 6 years of learning, experimenting, and growing both in my own experiences and with my clients, I’m continuously reminded that there is no ‘one way’ that works for everyone.
Do I believe everyone can benefit from adopting a low-carb lifestyle (at least for a period of time)?
And the reason I believe that is because I feel that everyone should be striving to become more metabolically flexible.
And to become metabolically flexible, you have to teach your body how to run on different fuel sources (i.e., fat/ketones and carbs/glucose).
After you’ve been in ketosis for a while and you’ve effectively trained your body to utilize fat and ketones for fuel, your metabolism more readily burns dietary and stored fat for energy when it’s supposed to (i.e, sitting at your desk working, taking a walk outside to get your NEAT in, and even during longer endurance activities such as a marathon or triathlon).
You have transitioned from a sugar-burner to a fat-burner and you can slip in and out of ketosis while reaping all of the benefits of metabolic flexibility.
And once you’ve trained your body to do this, you can start to play around with your carbohydrate and protein intake through practices such as cyclical keto, targeted keto, high-protein keto, etc. depending on your specific goals and preferences.
Here are a few of the different ‘types’ of keto diets out there:
- Standard Keto (SKD): Low-carb, high-fat, moderate protein.
- Targeted Keto (TKD): Carb intake targeted around your workout.
- Cyclical Keto (CKD): Implementing strategic ‘carb-up’ days or meals.
- High-Protein Keto (HPKD) or ‘Modified Atkins’: Low-carb, moderate-fat, high-protein.
- Clean Keto: Focus is on nutrient-dense, high-quality protein, non-inflammatory fats, and organic, non-starchy veggies.
- Lazy Keto: Primary focus is on limiting carb intake without necessarily tracking or paying much attention to the other macros (fat and protein).
- Dirty Keto: Not paying attention to quality of food. Only focusing on limiting carb intake and ‘hitting prescribed macros.’
- Carnivore Keto: Focus is on animal-based products with the allowance of some other ‘plant-based’ fats such as MCTs, coconut oil, olive oil, etc. (depending on who’s defining it…).
- IF Keto: Using different types of intermittent fasting protocols (there are many) while sticking to a low-carb, keto approach during the ‘eating window.’
- Paleo Keto, Vegetarian Keto, Vegan Keto, ‘Insert Dietary Protocol’ Keto: Focus on consuming specific low-carb foods within a particular dietary protocol.
And that isn’t even all of them…
As you can see, there are several different types, forms, modifications, and ‘rules’ that can be made for following a ‘keto diet.’
But here’s the thing…
- ‘Keto’ is not a food
- ‘Keto’ is not black or white
- ‘Keto’ is ever-evolving with each and every individual
The true definition of a ketogenic diet is not one that refers to macronutrient percentages, quantities, ratios, types of foods, etc.; rather, it encompasses a diet protocol that ultimately causes your body to produce ketones and be ‘in a state of ketosis.’
Anecdotally speaking, the longer you are fat-adapted and the more active you are, the greater your ability to remain in ketosis and/or get back into ketosis quickly even after consuming a higher intake of carbohydrates.
Personally, I choose a lower-carb lifestyle because having the ability to easily switch between using ketones and glucose for fuel is beneficial in many different aspects of my life -- mental clarity and focus, ease of fasting when it’s warranted, reduced inflammation, steady energy levels throughout the day, and much more.
I choose to implement different types of ketogenic protocols (TKD, CKD, HPKD) when warranted so I am able to efficiently use carbs (glucose) for fuel when I do need them -- more intense training sessions, hormonal regulation, and more freedom to consume certain higher carb foods that I enjoy such as sweet potatoes, squash, fruit, and occasional other treats that are just part of ‘real-life’ joy and contribute to long-term adherence.
At the end of the day, there is no ‘one way’ to live a keto or low-carb lifestyle. Different things work for different people and you have to find what works for YOU!
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