The definition of Lazy keto varies significantly from person to person and can be confusing for those who are new to the ketogenic lifestyle. With the recent popularity of the ketogenic diet along with a ton of misinformation available from social media and websites cashing in on the trend alike, many think lazy keto is what eating ketogenic is all about.
The Lazy keto approach is typically not tightly tracking calories or sticking to protein and fat macros but instead keeping your carb intake under 20 grams or less per day.
Why Are The Keto Police Condemning Lazy Keto?
For many, going lazy keto might even include eating whatever they want as long as it fits within their carb count including sugars, bad fats, grain-based fillers and chemical additives in packaged foods.
Now I’m certainly not the Keto police, but I’m sure you would agree that eating bad food doesn’t match up to the ketogenic way of eating for losing weight or dealing with a disease. Continue reading so I can explain why lazy keto or IIFYM may not be the best approach to drop the extra pounds that you’re hanging onto.
Most people new to keto are doing some form of lazy keto or even low-carb disguised as keto, and I understand. Keto is a vast topic and can get pretty scientific when you start to educate yourself. It can be intimidating!
If lazy keto is what you need to change your life and it will allow you to take control of your health then sit back in the recliner and get comfortable. It is a significant lifestyle change, and you may need to ease into a more comprehensive keto diet to see the long-term health benefits or fit into that new dress by your birthday.
Lazy Keto Works But For How Long?
It makes sense when you go from eating sugar filled, starchy carbs and fast food to cutting them out of your diet, focusing on your health and eating a whole food diet with fewer carbs you are going to see a change in your body for the better.
If you drink soda and eat french fries all day and suddenly stop you are going to drop some weight and probably feel much better no doubt.
I’ve seen lots of people drop massive amounts of weight doing lazy keto and I have seen hundreds quit because their body is different and they don’t see the immediate results they had hoped for from a more laid-back approach.
There are some things to consider if you are thinking about the lazy keto approach or if you’ve been doing lazy keto and have hit a weight loss plateau.
Tracking Keto Macros Sucks!
I agree! Tracking everything you eat all day long can be annoying and time-consuming for most of us. After being on keto for some time, I don’t obsess or log everything I eat on a daily basis either. Although, I do consider myself pretty strict in my approach to what I eat, the macros and calories I consume each day. Just ask my wife who was laughing at me the other day when I was picking out three tiny kernels of corn from my salad when we went out for lunch.
When I first started, I tracked religiously to figure out which foods both enabled or kicked me out of ketosis, increased blood sugar, caused insulin spikes and ultimately what helped me feel great!
I suggest those new to keto start by tracking and getting to know not only the carb counts but also the fat, protein and calories you’re consuming each day and how your body reacts to the changes. I think you will be surprised how quickly the totals of the food you eat each day adds up. Once you have a handle on it, then you can relax and not track as often or at all.
The Lazy Keto Approach Often Ignores Other Essential Macros
If you are not balancing your calories, fat and protein consumption along with your carb intake, you are probably missing out on many of the extended health benefits from keto and your ultimate success as time goes on.
Fat is Crucial to Your Success
Healthy fat is the most significant energy source on the ketogenic diet. When you get the daily fat consumption macro right for your body and goals, it not only helps tremendously to satiate your hunger but it will help curb cravings for traditional carbs. Taming the desires to snack on high carb food will help you stay on track for longer and meet your goals.
I hear all the time from people doing lazy keto “I’m starving in between meals.” as compared to someone who has their fat macro dialed and has become fat adapted saying “I’m not even hungry.”
Protein is Key to Ketosis and Your Physique
Getting the proper protein is critical for optimal health and also continuing to burn ketones for energy. When ketones aren’t present, the body can break down amino acids from the protein in your muscles via Gluconeogenesis (GNG) by turning protein into glycogen that can be used as glucose for fuel. The downside to Gluconeogenesis (GNG) is that it keeps your body from moving into ketosis.
Even worse if you dont eat enough protein your body starts breaking down your lean muscle mass for fuel and it can result in damage to your body, your health, and overall performance.
So making sure you are getting the right amount of healthy fat and not over or under consuming protein is vital to your success. Remember Lazy Keto ignores these essential macros almost entirely.
The Truth About Gluconeogenesis
Gluconeogenesis is a popular buzzword among the keto community. It makes those who claim to know what they’re talking about sound intelligent. But, in the process, they’re more than likely feeding their audience with misleading information.
So, what is gluconeogenesis? It is simply one of the body’s processes for increasing its blood sugar levels when they get too low. Now, in the world of keto the word usually crops up in regard to the conversion of excess dietary protein to glucose. This is seen as a huge problem which can kick you out of ketosis even though you aren’t consuming carbohydrates.
So, how much protein is too much? If you consume between .4 and .7 grams of protein per pound of lean body weight, you will not trigger gluconeogenesis. Despite what the protein supplement power marketers have led us all to believe, there is zero benefit to taking in more protein than that.
Keep in mind that the protein number required is based on your lean body weight. So, as an example, if person is 260 pounds, but eighty pounds of that is body fat, then his protein intake should be based on 180 pounds.
How much protein do you have to consume before gluconeogenesis kicks in? Really, that question, in itself, is a misnomer. We need to go back and ask what is the rationale that the body will actually take excess dietary protein and convert it to glucose?
The surprising answer is that it does not! When protein passes to the small intestine it is broken down from peptides to amino acids. Research tells us that in the small intestine those amino acids are uptaken at a rate of 8-10 grams per hour. So, the maximum amount of protein that is absorbed depends on how long the protein remains in the small intestine. Food generally stays in the small intestine for about three hours. So, if your body is absorbing ten grams per hour, it will absorb a total of thirty grams from that meal. And if you eat three meals per day, then the total protein uptake on that day will be 90 grams. This is generally within the range that most people require.
If your body needs less protein than that it will regulate itself so that it uptakes less protein. But what happens if you go all out and consume 60 grams of protein in one meal? Thirty grams will be uptaken and the remaining thirty grams will keep moving through your system and end up in the toilet. So, eating excess protein does not result in gluconeogenesis.
Because the excess protein simply passes through your system and is excreted.
So now that we’ve dispelled the excess protein gluconeogenesis myth, when does this process actually take place?
When the body senses that its blood sugar level is getting too low, gluconeogenesis will kick into action. But before it does this, oi triggers the liver to release its glycogen stores. Only if this doesn’t bring blood glucose levels up to a happy medium will gluconeogenesis take place. The process that results will have nothing to do with excess protein.
The body can uptake too little protein. But if you are on keto, and your calories are staying within a non-deficit range and of you are following the standard 80 / 15 / 5 macro ratio ( with 15 percent of your macronutrients coming from protein), the only way that you’d be getting too little protein would be if your body isn’t producing enough of the enzymes that break down protein.
However, it turns out that high levels of dietary saturated fat is the key to restoring proper digestive enzyme levels. So, your 80 percent fat intake will result in greater digestive enzyme production. Another key factor that those on the keto gluconeogenesis is bad bandwagon don’t tell you is that the process of gluconeogenesis does not just target protein. It also targets stored body fat.
Gluconeogenesis will convert either dietary proteins or fat to glucose when needed. Of the two, fat is the much preferred option. So fat increases gluconeogenesis more than protein does. The triglyceride in a fat goes to the liver and makes glucose. Gluconeogenesis is a demand driven process. So the body will only make the amount of glucose that it needs from the foods that you eat and the energy you are burning. Most of it comes from from fat, with very little from protein.
Protein is also more satiating than fat. In other words, it fills you up faster. Yet, often, generally because of the gluconeogenesis myth, people will limit their protein way down to just 30-40 grams, per day. They’ll also restrict their carbs to 10-20 grams. But they will eat a ridiculous amount of fat. What happens is that they will eat way too many calories. That’s because fat is nowhere near as satiating as protein is.
If your goal on a ketogenic diet is weight loss, you need to be careful about over consuming fat. The body already has stored body fat. That is what you want to be using for energy and conversion to glucose, not the fat that you are consuming. Often the reason that people reach a weight loss plateau on a keto diet is because they are over consuming too many fats while their protein level is too low.
Protein also has a much higher thermic effect than fats. What that means is that, when you eat protein, your body is required to use up more energy to burn that food than it does with fats or carbs. For example if you consumed a hundred calories of chicken breast, it would take 25 calories to digest that food. That means that you would, in effect, only be taking in 75 calories. For fat it would only take 2 calories out of a hundred to digest the food.
Limiting your protein intake can lead to a number of problems. These include stalling weight loss, leading to a plateau, thyroid and hormonal problems.
IIFYM is a Disaster Waiting To Happen
For some “If It Fits Your Macros” (IIFYM) is a form of lazy keto where you eat whatever you want regardless of whats in it as long as you’re under 20-25 grams of carbs each day.
WARNING!!!! IIFYM is a pet peeve of mine so forgive the rant that’s about to ensue.
The web and social media groups are filled with people sharing low-carb desserts, sugar-free candy and prepackaged foods filled with crap calling it keto. In my opinion, encouraging one another to indulge in low-carb replacements for the foods like brownies and ice cream that frankly got people unhealthy and overweight in the first place is a misstep.
Do you think that’s a recipe for long-term success? Of course not. Keto is all about healthy whole food, removing processed foods, sugar and consuming food that is good for us.
If you fill your daily carb intake with desert replacements and packaged foods, you may be hitting your carb goals, but you’re setting yourself up for a fall later by not changing your unhealthy relationship with food from your high carb living past.
Of course, everything in moderation. An occasional keto dessert or a pint of Halo-Top is fine, but don’t overdo it. Remember this is a total lifestyle change, not just a fad diet. You are working on your mental relationship with food as much as the tastes and dependencies you have developed over a lifetime.
While we are on the subject of If It Fits Your Macros, also known as flexible dieting, there are a couple of concerns you should be aware of if you are a bodybuilder or someone who has the goal of losing fat and gaining muscle. IIFYM is essentially about tracking three numbers – protein, fats and carbs. As a competitive bodybuilder you are going to experience extreme hunger in a dieting phase and you will have the need to maximize training performance in a muscle gain phase. However if you are solely focused on your macros, you will neglect the vital factor of nutrient timing.
The timing of when you eat all of your macronutrients is very important when you are on a dieting and muscle building phase. With IIFYM a lot of people do what they call calorie back loading. In other words, they save up calories in order to create Instagram worthy meals that look great, but are quite calorie dense. As a result,, throughout the rest of the day, they are more than likely not eating enough of the calories they need to fuel optimal training. If they are not, they are probably compromising their training performance.
Your training performance will especially be negatively affected when you are on a dieting phase and you save up your calories for a cheat meal in the evening. Because you are robbing calories from around your pre and post training window, you will simply not have the energy you require to train as you need to.
Another problem with IIFYM is that it doesn’t take into account micronutrients. This type of flexible dieting allows you to choose foods that are not quite as healthy as others because they fit into your macronutrient numbers profile. Often people reach for unhealthy foods that do not give them the nutrient density that their bodies are craving out for.
As an example a cup and a half of M&M’s and a cup of grapes will provide you with the same number of calories. Yet there is obviously a world of difference in their nutritional profiles. You are not going to find a lot, ir any, Vitamins A , K or C in the M&M’s, yet you will get a good amount of each of these vitamins in a cup of grapes. The other difference between these two is that the grapes will fill you up a lot more than the M&M’s.
Grapes and M&M’s also have very different macronutrient profiles. So these two foods are not an even trade, even though they have the same calorie count.
The basic and undeniable problem with the If It Fits Your Macros diet is that it encourages you to eat foods that are of lesser nutritional value so long as they ‘fit your macros’. It can also become a real struggle, and a major hassle, to continually track your macros all day and every day. This is especially the case if you are constantly trading unhealthy options into your eating plan.
People on an IIFYM diet often have a lack of energy and feel run down. The IIFYM diet is basically a cheats way to try to get in great shape, lose fat and build muscle. It is designed for people who do not have the discipline to eat clean. But like most shortcuts, it will not lead to a satisfying long term result.
Should You Go Lazy Keto or Strict Keto?
With lazy keto, you only have to focus on one thing – keeping your daily carb intake under a certain total. For some people that will be 50 grams and for others it will be 20 grams. That makes life far easier than having to monitor your fats and proteins also, let alone your total daily carb count. While eating low carb will help you to lose weight, you really don’t want to be skinny unhealthy – do you?
Of course not. Which is why you need to do more than just keep your carbs below a set level. You also want to ensure that you are getting enough lean protein and healthy fats. And you need to keep your total daily caloric intake below your daily maintenance level to avoid weight gain.
If you are just getting started, I suggest trying a more informed approach by tracking what you are eating and seeing how you react to the new changes in your diet. You will learn a great deal about your body and the foods you eat.
On the other hand, if you’ve been doing lazy keto for a while and are hitting a stall in your weight loss or want to try and maximize your results why not give a more focused approach a try?
Try it for a few weeks and see what may be causing you to stall. Are you overdoing the fat, overeating or under-eating protein or consuming too many calories? You will know for sure with just a little more effort, and you can adjust as needed. I think you will be surprised by how much impact even small changes can have on your keto success.