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What Is Lazy Keto? Benefits, Downsides, and Foods List - Healthline

Lazy keto is a popular variation of the very-low-carb ketogenic, or keto, diet.

It’s often used for weight loss, and, as the name suggests, it’s designed to be easy to follow.

The classic ketogenic diet involves carefully calculating your intake of calories, carbs, fat, and protein to achieve ketosis, a metabolic state in which your body burns mostly fat (1).

However, lazy keto is far less strict, as you only have to pay attention to your carb intake.

This article explains lazy keto, including its benefits, downsides, and foods to eat and avoid.

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Lazy keto is a less restrictive version of the traditional high-fat, very-low-carb ketogenic diet.

The ketogenic diet originated in the 1920s as a medical approach to treating epilepsy. Recently, variations of this diet, including lazy keto, have become mainstream strategies for weight loss (2, 3).

Traditional keto diets require you to closely track your macronutrient intake and follow a strict, very-low-carb, high-fat eating pattern that includes only moderate amounts of protein (4, 5).

The intention is to induce ketosis, a metabolic state in which your body burns fat as its primary source of fuel (6).

Like most variations of the ketogenic diet, lazy keto dramatically restricts your carb intake. Typically, carbs are restricted to around 5–10% of your total daily calories — or around 20–50 grams per day for most people (7).

However, you don’t have to worry about tracking calories, protein, or fat on lazy keto.

Summary Lazy keto is a simple variation of the ketogenic diet. It restricts carbs, but there are no rules regarding your intake of calories, fat, or protein.

Studies on various versions of the ketogenic diet suggest that they may offer many potential benefits, though lazy keto has not been studied specifically.

For example, several studies suggest that keto diets may aid weight loss, potentially even more so than low-fat diets (8, 9, 10).

However, this effect is probably not unique to keto diets. Studies show that any diet that reduces calorie intake and is followed long term will likely lead to weight loss over time (11, 12, 13).

Even though lazy keto doesn’t have any rules about calorie restriction, studies suggest keto diets may suppress appetite and food cravings. This may make it easier to reduce your calorie intake without feeling hungry (14, 15).

Additionally, research suggests that keto diets may help improve blood sugar control in those with type 2 diabetes and reduce risk factors for heart disease (16, 17, 18).

However, findings are mixed, and the lazy keto diet has not been studied specifically.

Keep in mind that the beneficial effects of keto diets are often attributed to being in ketosis.

Studies ensure that this metabolic state is achieved by monitoring participants’ diets very closely, as well as by measuring their levels of ketones, which are compounds produced by your body when ketosis is reached and maintained (1).

Since tracking your calories, protein, and fat intake and measuring ketones isn’t required on lazy keto, dieters can’t know whether they’re truly in ketosis.

Summary Though research on lazy keto is limited, it may offer the same potential benefits as the traditional keto diet, including weight loss, decreased hunger, improved blood sugar control, and possibly a reduced risk of heart disease.

Like the traditional keto diet, lazy keto may lead dieters to experience the keto flu when they are first transitioning to a keto diet. This includes symptoms of nausea, headache, fatigue, constipation, and dizziness (19).

Lazy keto also has several other pitfalls worth noting.

You may not reach ketosis

Lazy keto is appealing to many because it’s less restrictive and easier to follow than the traditional ketogenic diet.

The goal of lazy keto is to induce a metabolic state called ketosis, in which your body mainly burns fat for fuel. Researchers attribute many of the potential health benefits of ketogenic diets to this metabolic state (16).

However, while on this simplified version of the keto diet, you may not enter a state of ketosis, which has several signs and symptoms.

To reach ketosis, not only do you have to severely restrict your carb and fat intake but also monitor your protein intake. That’s because your body can convert protein into glucose — a carbohydrate — in a process called gluconeogenesis (19, 20).

Eating too much protein on lazy keto could prevent ketosis altogether.

Calories and diet quality still matter

Solely focusing on your carb intake, as you would on lazy keto, ignores the importance of adequate calorie intake and diet quality.

A well-balanced diet that includes a wide variety of foods can supply your body with all the nutrients it needs for overall health (21).

Unfortunately, like the traditional keto diet, lazy keto limits many nutrient-rich food groups like fruits, starchy vegetables, grains, and legumes. This may make it difficult to obtain essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

Also, it can be difficult to meet all of your nutrient requirements when you reduce your calorie intake, which is likely if you’re using lazy keto to induce weight loss (22).

Therefore, it’s very important to focus on consuming nutrient-rich foods — not just decreasing your carb intake.

Lack of research behind long-term effects

No studies have been conducted on lazy keto specifically. Long-term studies on similar diets, such as the classic ketogenic diet and modified Atkins diet, are also limited (19).

There are concerns that lazy keto — and high-fat diets in general — may harm heart health over time, despite the weight loss they may induce (20, 21).

One review of 19 studies compared low-carb, high-fat diets with balanced weight loss diets. It found they had similar weight loss benefits and were equally effective at decreasing risk factors for heart disease after 1–2 years (22).

Another analysis found that low-carb, high-fat diets resulted in greater weight loss than low-fat diets in the long-term (23).

However, the researchers also found that high-fat diets were associated with higher cholesterol levels, which may increase your risk of heart disease (23).

That said, the type of fat you eat on a high-fat diet may make a big difference.

Research shows that choosing sources of healthy, unsaturated fats, such as fatty fish, nuts, and olive oil, while following a keto diet may help prevent increases in risk factors for heart disease (24, 25, 26).

In addition, the long-term effects of following ketogenic diets are unknown due to a lack of long-term studies. It’s unclear if keto diets are safe or beneficial to follow over years or decades.

Summary Lazy keto ignores the importance of your overall diet quality and may not induce the metabolic state of ketosis. The long-term effects of keto diets are poorly studied, and more research is needed.

On lazy keto, very-low-carb foods are encouraged without consideration for their protein and fat contents.

Below are some examples of foods to eat on lazy keto:

  • Meat and poultry: beef, pork, chicken, turkey, and deli meat
  • Fish and shellfish: salmon, trout, tuna, shrimp, lobster, and crab
  • Eggs: fried, scrambled, hard-boiled, and most other types of eggs
  • Nuts and seeds: peanuts, tree nuts, sunflower seeds, and nut and seed butters
  • High-fat dairy products: butter, cream, and most cheeses
  • Low-carb veggies: leafy greens, broccoli, tomatoes, onions, and many others
  • Healthy oils: extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, flaxseed oil, and others
  • Unsweetened beverages: water, coffee, and tea
  • Some fruits: berries, such as strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries, in small portions
Summary Choose low-carb foods, such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs, nuts, seeds, oils, high-fat dairy products, and low-carb vegetables.

Lazy keto restricts all carb-rich foods.

Below are some foods that are limited or completely avoided on lazy keto:

  • Grains: bread, pasta, rice, cereal, and oats
  • Starchy vegetables: potatoes, sweet potatoes, peas, and corn
  • Fruit: bananas, apples, oranges, and most other fruits
  • Legumes: all types of beans, lentils, soybeans, and chickpeas
  • Some dairy products: milk and yogurt, especially flavored yogurts
  • Sugary foods: cookies, cakes, ice cream, candy, and most other desserts
  • Sugary drinks: fruit juices, sports drinks, and sodas
Summary Avoid high-carb foods, such as grains, starchy vegetables, fruits, legumes, certain dairy products, and sugary foods and beverages.

Lazy keto may be an option for those looking for a quick, short-term weight loss solution.

However, the long-term effects of keto diets — especially lazy keto — are currently unclear due to lack of research (19).

Given that the diet restricts many healthy foods, it may be difficult to obtain all the nutrients you need, which could lead to deficiencies and poor health over time.

Though studies suggest keto diets may aid blood sugar control, those with type 2 diabetes should approach lazy keto with caution. Reducing your carb intake can lead to dangerously low blood sugar levels if your medications aren’t adjusted (27).

Overall, make sure to consult a healthcare provider, such as a registered dietitian, before you try lazy keto. They can help you implement the diet safely and effectively and ensure that you are meeting all your nutrient needs.

Summary Lazy keto may help you lose weight in the short term, but it’s less suited for long-term health. Professional guidance is recommended.

Lazy keto is an appealing option for those who find the traditional keto diet too restrictive. While it limits carbs, there are no rules regarding your intake of calories, protein, or fat.

Overall, lazy keto may offer the same potential benefits as the traditional keto diet, at least in the short term. These include decreased appetite, quick weight loss, and better blood sugar control in those with type 2 diabetes.

That said, there are potential downsides to ignoring your intake of calories, fat, and protein.

For one, you may not achieve the metabolic state of ketosis, to which many of the traditional keto diet’s benefits are attributed.

Also, lazy keto has not been well studied and ignores the importance of overall diet quality.


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