What is The Ketogenic Diet? A Simple Guide for Beginners

What is The Ketogenic Diet?

Many people mistakenly believe that The Ketogenic Diet is just another version of a low carb diet. When we think of a low carb diet, we think of a diet that is high in protein and low in carbs. And in fact, that is what I was used to when following a low carb diet such as Atkins .

The Ketogenic Diet, also called the Keto Diet, is actually High Fat, Moderate Protein and Low Carbohydrate. You will often see the acronym LCHF (Low Carb High Fat) when people talk about this diet on forums and blogs.

It is the High-Fat part of this diet that tends to scare people away, especially women. As women, we are taught to fear and loathe all things fat. Eating it is no exception to that rule.

If you are a woman reading this, hopefully, you will follow along with my progress and change your mind.

It is the ratios that are important in the Ketogenic Diet. For epilepsy and cancer, the ratios are very specific and should be medically supervised. This will generally be over 80% fat in order to flood the body with ketones.

But some of us just want to lose some weight. Maybe we are metabolically challenged and find that weight is hard to lose. 

We want to achieve a state called Ketosis. In fact, we want to get to what is called Nutritional Ketosis.

When you are in ketosis, your body is burning fat. That is exactly what we want!

For more information on getting into ketosis, I recommend The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living.

Explore Keto Medical Studies here

Look for Keto Friendly Medical Practitioners Here

How Much Fat Should I Eat on Keto?

Ketogenic diet and TextIf you research all the information out there about the ketogenic diet, you will find many different ratios, all of them at least 60% fat or higher, going all the way up to over 90% which is actually then considered a fat fast.

Watch my Fat Fast video here.

Many people can be quite successful on the 60 -65% fat Ketogenic diet.

There are those of us whose metabolism has been completely screwed up after years of yo-yo dieting, and even for other medical reasons.

Our goal is to get into a state of ketosis as quickly as possible and to do that we sometimes need to go with the higher fat ratio.

So, in order to get there fast, I started out with this ratio:  75% fat, 20% protein, and 5% carbs.

I use a program called Cronometer to keep my ratios in line. You can use that on your smartphone as well as log into your account on the computer and it is free.

What are Good Fats for Ketosis?

On a 1200 calorie diet, 75% fat means about 900 calories. You can eat it in the form of avocados, sometimes a few macadamia nuts, coconut oil, olive oil and butter. It’s not that hard to get there because a tbsp of fat is about 100 calories.

Once you have reached ketosis and are stable, you can gradually change those ratios to 65-70% fat, 25-30% protein, and 5% carbs. You can fudge those ratios a little bit as long as you are still losing weight.  You might find that you need to go the other way and perhaps go over 80% fat. Everyone is different!

If you have no idea what a week of Keto food looks like, I recommend visiting my Getting Started page at the top of the menu here.

Whatever type of keto or low carb you plan to do, planning and tracking especially when you are new, is one of the most important things you can do.

What is Dirty Keto and Lazy Keto?

Classic keto (also now called clean keto) is basically a way of eating where you limit your carbs, and eat sufficient protein and fat. People who follow classic keto tend to track their macros using an app or tracker of some kind.

The normal macros for Keto are 5% carbs, 10-25% protein and 65-85% fat.

Classic clean Keto is associated with using high-quality fats such as olive oil, coconut oil and avocados, organic proteins where possible and high-quality organic carbs such as greens.

People who eat clean keto generally avoid sugars and processed foods such as keto bars and prepackaged keto snacks.

What is Lazy Keto?

Lazy keto can mean a few different things. Some people don’t track their macros and just avoid carbs.

Some will track only carbs, keeping them under 20 grams for example but they don’t track the rest.

Many people will start out with classic keto, lose weight and gradually fall into a pattern of lazy keto. This may work for maintenance but if their weight starts to creep up again, they might need to go back to clean keto.

For people that start out with lazy keto, they might lose some weight and they will certainly benefit healthwise but eventually they will find that they need to ‘clean up’ their keto in order to continue on with weight loss.

What is Dirty Keto?

Dirty keto is basically anything goes as long as they can fit it into their macros. The macros are the same as classic keto but people who follow dirty keto don’t worry so much about the quality of what they are eating as long as the food fits their macros.

They will eat those ready-made keto bars and snacks, find items at their favorite fast food places to eat, and generally avoid stressing about the ingredients lists on those bottles of sugar-free syrups.

Which Keto is better, classic, dirty or lazy?

Although there are pros and cons to all three of these keto versions, none are bad and all three can serve a purpose for someone who follows keto.

I feel that many people move around and overlap between clean, lazy and dirty keto depending on what is happening in their lives or even what food might be available, say for example during a vacation.

For myself, I strive to follow clean keto but it just doesn’t always work out that way!

Sometimes I am very clean for awhile, then I slip into lazy keto for quite some time.

I hit a point where I feel the need to clean it up and then I am back in classic keto. This trigger can be anything from noticing that I’m up 5 lbs on the scale to feeling like my joints are inflamed or even just not happy with my food choices in general.

Dirty keto happens for me usually on vacation or in a restaurant or even just during times of great stress at work.

Honestly, I don’t think this is something that can or should be judged, keto can work for many people in different forms!

Read More About the Keto Diet

All the Keto Guides and How To's you need to help you navigate low carb eating and the Keto way of life!

A bunch of different types of food, with Ketogenic diet and Protein

A close up of food on a table, with Ketogenic diet and Carbohydrate

52 thoughts on “What is The Ketogenic Diet? A Simple Guide for Beginners”

  1. Great info I been eating low carb high protein for years and lost a lot of weight but have just hit perimenopause and started gaining .Have been scared to go hflc but did a fat fast and have not looked back steadily losing that peri belly !!Coconut oil cream cheese and macadamias a must .Strongly believe after years of trying every diet under the sun that this is the way to go .Never felt better get on it girls .

  2. Thanks for the great site.Good info and reassuring to know I on right track.Killed my metabolism with every diet under the sun and chronic exercise ate high protein low carb low fat for years and destroyed myself.Hit perimenopause and the wheels really fell off gained heaps so jumped in and did a fat fast and have not looked back losing nicely and feel alive again .Fat is not the enemy but the saviour to us girls .

  3. I have never heard of this before. Ketosis is something I was familiar with, but nutritional ketosis not so much. I will have to keep checking back, you have some really great info!

  4. Thank you so much for posting this. I have been wondering what exactly the diet entailed. I am going to do some further research but I think this could help me lose the extra weight that I can’t seem to get off. I have to make sure it will work with my digestive issues first.

    1. And there is so much conflicting advice, which doesn’t help. Low carb is the only thing that ever budges any weight off me, so I’m committed!

  5. I really do like those foods you listed as your high fat foods, but, as you said, have been taught to fear and loathe fat! I can’t wait to see your progress.

  6. I too thought this was just another name for Atkins. I tried Atkins years ago and ended up so sick. The Dr said it was carb withdrawal. I eventually had gastric bypass because I was just too big and ended up in a wheel chair. Now with my age, I am seeing some pounds creep back. I don’t know if I would be able to do this (I am a food blogger PLUS live with someone that would lose his mind if I changed how I cook) but your story is very interesting and I am looking forward to following your journey!

    1. I hear you! I LOVE to cook. This very restrictive part is only a short time, soon you will see that loosen up a bit and I will post more interesting recipes! I appreciate your support!

  7. Thanks for the information. I was looking into the new lifestyle changes nowdays and came across this Ketogenic Diet. I, personally, not allowed to do this – Liver problems. Blah. It sounds like it has tastier recipes than the RAW Diet!

  8. I am glad you explained this because I did think it was just a new name for an Atkins or South Beach Diet. This explains the high fat content of the taco recipe. I haven’t heard much about this. Will have to do some reading and learn more!

  9. This sounds interesting. I stuck to the Atkins diet once for two weeks and never went into Ketosis. I determined that I was metabolically resistant based on what Atkin said about this. I can see where this diet works because in the end you are counting calories. Calories in calories out…Good luck! I am glad it is working for you.

    1. Yes, I am metabolically resistant for sure! Where many people go wrong is thinking they can eat unlimited calories just because they are doing low carb. Definitely a balancing act!

  10. I have actually never heard of this diet before. I do need to try something like this though. I’ve been thinking about starting on a diet to get rid of those 15lbs that doesn’t seem to want to go away. This might just be what I need.

  11. I have heard about this, so I never really knew just what it was. Thanks for explaining it. My husband may be interested in this as well so I’m bookmarking! Great info !

  12. I have heard about it from my neighbor. Her doctor suggested it to her.. My husband and I cut out alot of things from our diets a few months back and its helped alot.. Thanks for sharing and can not wait to see your progress.

    1. I believe in fitness as well. I used to run a bootcamp for plus sized women! With my knee injury, I had to step down from that and I really miss all the exercise I was getting.

  13. I recently found my belly-fat this year. I’ve made numerous modifications to drop my “muffin best” for about a month today, however it is just not working. I’ve eliminated unhealthy foods such as pastries and oils from my diet, and am cautiously watching my calorie and fat consumption. I have also been jogging most times of the week for around half an hour, sometimes even more if I’ve time. Do you have any ideas about how I am able to successfully lose belly fat as rapidly as possible?.

    1. I’m a great believer in low carb diets because they eliminate so many things that are known to promote belly fat. Check out Jorge Cruise, he has written a book called The Belly Fat Cure, here’s a link to his newest book

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