What is the Keto Diet? (New Keto Definition)


Two slabs of barbecued ribs with spicy rub
Confused about what the Keto Diet is?
Here's the latest definition.

I'm going to backpedal just a little bit because I've decided to stop fighting the low-carb community on their adoption of the word "keto."

There continues to be a group of Keto dieters at Reddit who religiously follow the The Ketogenic Diet developed by Lyle McDonald. They existed long before the low-carb community decided to take the word for their own.

However, it seems that the definition of a Keto Diet has grown more inclusive now.



Up to this point in time, all low-carb high-fat diets (LCHF), including those originally called Nutritional Ketosis, were spoken of within the context of a Keto Diet. It was argued that keto was shorthand or an abbreviation for the word "ketogenic," and therefore, it fit the guidelines for all LCHF diets.

At least, those that put you into a state of ketosis and encouraged you to eat lots of fat.

The lack of consistency between low-carb plans has caused a lot of confusion. Many people tell me they're doing Keto, or LCHF, for example, when they are actually mixing Atkins, Jimmy Moore's version of Nutritional Ketosis, guidelines given by Dr. Phinney, and maybe what they remember doing or eating the last time they went low carb.

This mixing together of various low-carb elements makes it difficult to address potential issues and come up with viable solutions, which is why I chose to single the Keto Diet at Reddit out from among the others. It made it easier to pinpoint your specific issues.

This is because each low-carb method differs in their approach to carbohydrate restriction. There isn't just one single low-carb diet with one set of rules, so it's important to know what you're doing, and why.

But with so many people searching online for information about the Keto Diet or needing help with specific dieting problems, it just seems wiser for me to join the general consensus of what a Keto Diet is, so I can be available to help more of you.

What is a Ketogenic Diet?


Let's start with the basics. What is a ketogenic diet?

A ketogenic diet is any diet that triggers the state of ketosis, moving you from a glucose-based metabolism to one that predominantly burns fatty acids and ketones for fuel.

This is also the definition for a basic very low-carb diet, as well. Anything that triggers ketosis is fair game to be called ketogenic -- at least, within the low-carb community.


Many of these diets are also high in fat and can, therefore, be called low-carb high-fat diets, but that isn't true for all low-carb diets.

Some carbohydrate restriction programs call for lower amounts of dietary fat than others. Carbohydrates can range from zero carbs a day to 120, or more, and still be called low carb. Yet those at the upper end of the spectrum won't be ketogenic because the higher carb level won't trigger the state of ketosis.

In addition, each low-carb program has different restrictions on the types of low-carb foods you can eat.

Originally, ketogenic diets were specific to children with epilepsy, but when it was discovered through scientific research that the state of ketosis improved your ability to lose body fat, Dr. Atkins adopted the term "ketogenic diet" for his own fine-tuned very low-carb diet.

This is because Phase 1 starts you off at ketogenic levels.

However, you may or may not stay in ketosis throughout the entire four-phase Atkins program. It just depends on your own individual carbohydrate tolerance.

Some groups have their own definition of what is ketogenic or not. The people at Reddit encourage all participants to eat at 20 net carbs for the rest of their life. Those who advocate that ketogenic means only 20 net carbs, or less, are ignoring individual variability.

This can be confusing for you because 20 net carbs may be too high or too low to trigger and sustain ketosis.

A severe diabetic or someone with extensive insulin resistance, for example, might not be able to enter into and/or maintain the depth of ketosis needed to lose a substantial amount of body fat, even at 20 net carbs per day. On the other hand, a highly trained endurance athlete might be able to get into the state of ketosis and maintain it easily while eating 60 or even 80 net carbs a day.

This is why refining the definition of a Keto diet was necessary.

Definition of a Keto Diet


The definition isn't complicated and takes into consideration your individual genetic makeup.

A Keto Diet is:

Any level of carbohydrate per day that will allow YOU to go into the state of ketosis and maintain that ketogenic state, effortlessly, without experiencing and enduring heavy cravings and unnecessary hunger.

This means that the carbohydrate level of a Keto Diet fits your specific carbohydrate tolerance. It's not automatic and the same for everyone. What is a Keto Diet for you might not be a Keto Diet for me because our carbohydrate tolerance will be different.

So the definition of a Keto Diet now snugly fits within the definition of a ketogenic diet, rather than a tag or popular buzz word for one of the low-carb high-fat diets.

Keto is still a buzz word, of course.

But a Keto Diet is more inclusive of all very low-carb diets that trigger ketosis, including Atkins, and not just reserved for the very high fat ones. For the low-carb community, this is a huge step forward and offers larger solidarity than ever before.
  • What do you think?
  • Do you like the new definition?
  • Or is it still confusing?


Comments

  1. I think I do more of the "Keto" diet than the low carb high fat because I am not checking macros and such and worrying about MTC oils and other "good" fats. I try to eat as low carb as I can as my insulin resistant body loves low carb! I keep mine below 30 grams a day and have now lost my 100th pound! I am within a pound or two of goal and know this is a lifestyle for me and not just a "diet" or "fad". It works and I look and feel healthy. Diabetes is 100% gone and my cholesterol is a 164! A lot of people think eating this way would make your cholesterol increase but it actually is the opposite. When you lose large amounts of fat your cholesterol does raise up...but only for a short time as your body processes and rids all the fat you are burning off it...then you should see a lower number! Low carb high fat, Atkins, Keto....I guess I do a bit of all of it but that is because practice makes perfect and I figured out, with the help of YOU, how to incorporate all of those into my daily lifestyle so I could lose the weight and get rid of the diabetes! I have more energy at 46 years old then I had at 26 years old! I just had 14 vitamin blood tests and all came back in the normal range!! Thank you Vickie!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    1. Wow! 100 pounds! That's a great testimonial to low-carb diets! I am so glad that you shared your success with us, and appreciate all of your insights and the time you took to comment. Almost at goal weight is fantastic! I am so glad to hear that! The health benefits are amazing, aren't they.

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