Four Flavors of Keto - Which One Tastes Right to You?

Written by Lynn Hetzler
on January 17, 2020

The ketogenic diet is a popular weight loss plan in which the goal is to get more calories from fat than from carbohydrates. It works by depleting your body of its sugar reserves, which causes your system to start burning fat for energy instead of burning carbs. Burning fat for energy causes your body to enter a state of ketosis, which can help you lose weight and can provide a number of other health benefits.

The beauty of the keto diet is that it takes more energy to burn fat than to burn calories, and this means it can speed up weight loss. And, because the keto diet allows you to eat protein, you don’t feel as hungry as you do on other diets.

Some Questions We'll Answer:

  • What's the difference between regular keto and lazy keto?
  • What is lazy keto?
  • What is dirty keto?
  • What are the types of keto?

Keto Diet Options

The keto diet surprisingly healthy. Research shows the ketogenic diet can improve heart health, reduce acne, improve blood cholesterol levels, protect brain function, reduce certain types of seizures in children, boost health in women with polycystic ovary syndrome, and may even serve as a complement to cancer therapy.

Four Flavors of Keto

One of the best things about the keto diet is that it is highly adaptable. Since its introduction as a weight loss plan, people have invented a number of variations to suit their individual needs.

There are now several versions of the keto diet, and each has its own benefits and drawbacks.

Standard keto diet

The keto diet originated as a treatment for epilepsy in children in the 1920s. It fell largely out of favor when pharmacologists developed anti-seizure medications. It became popular again when researchers discovered it could help people lose weight.

The standard keto diet (SKD) usually contains a substantial amount of fat, an adequate amount of protein, and very few carbohydrates. The specific amounts of fat, protein, and carbs varies depending on the source. One source might suggest that 75 percent of your calories come from fat, 20 percent from protein and only 5 percent from carbohydrates, for example, and another might suggest 55 to 60 percent fat, 30 to 35 percent protein and 5 to 10 percent carbohydrates.

The standard keto diet is likely to be the most effective for most dieters. A 2012 study found that those who consumed a keto diet lost more weight than did those who were on a low-calorie diet.

While effective, the standard keto diet requires that you calculate the exact amount of calories, fat, carbs, and protein you need to stay in ketosis and reach your weight loss goals. To make it even more complicated, the macronutrient ratio that works for one person may not work for another. Online keto calculators can help make the process easier, but frankly, all that calculating is time-consuming and dull.

Links to standard keto diet recipes:

Lazy keto diet

The lazy keto diet focuses on eating very few carbs and consuming more fat than protein. Specifically, this diet restricts carbohydrate intake to 20 grams per day – dieters need not count calories or track protein, fat, or other macronutrients.

Foods allowed on the lazy keto diet include:

  • Meat and poultry, such as beef, chicken, turkey, pork, and deli meat
  • Fish and shellfish, specifically salmon, trout, tuna, lobster, crab, and shrimp,
  • Eggs that have been fried, scrambled, or hard-boiled
  • Nuts and seeds, such as peanuts, sunflower seeds, tree nuts, and especially seed and nut butters
  • High-fat dairy products, such as cream, butter, and most cheeses
  • Low-carb veggies, including leafy greens, tomatoes, broccoli, and onions
  • Healthy oils, such as avocado oil, extra virgin olive oil, and flaxseed oil
  • Water, coffee, tea, and other unsweetened beverages
  • Small portions of certain fruits and berries, such as strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries

The lazy keto diet is the easiest of all ketogenic diets because it does not require intense tracking of macronutrients. This approach is most attractive to people who do not have the time or the interest in calculating the percentage of carbohydrates and fats in their diet.

The main drawback to the lazy keto diet is that it may not keep you in ketosis, which means your body switches back to burning carbohydrates instead of fat for energy. This can affect the rate at which you lose weight.  Focusing solely on carbohydrate intake also ignores the importance of diet quality and calorie intake.

Researchers have not yet performed any studies on the lazy keto diet, so its safety and effectiveness are not yet known.

Links to lazy keto diet recipes:

Dirty keto diet

Dining out is one of the most challenging aspects of following a keto diet – it’s nearly impossible to find fresh foods at the local grab-and-go. If you spend a lot of time on the road, or if you don’t have the time to cook keto-friendly foods from fresh, whole ingredients, you may want to indulge in a dirty keto diet.

The dirty keto diet follows the same macronutrient breakdown as the standard keto diet, but it allows processed and fast foods. A bun-less burger topped with bacon, egg, and cheese fits nicely on this keto diet. A dirty keto diet can also include seemingly healthy food options not normally allowed on a keto diet, such as protein bars, shakes and other snacks, along as they are sugar-free and low-carb.

The big problem with the dirty keto diet is that they lack micronutrients, such as vitamins and minerals. This can leave you feeling malnourished, achy and worn out. Worse still, the foods allowed on a dirty keto diet are chock full of preservatives, antibiotics, hormones, and other additives that can negatively affect your health, decrease your overall energy, and even slow your weight loss.

The dirty keto diet is the most versatile diet because it allows dieters to stop at a fast food joint or opt for processed food, which often has a longer shelf life, rather than always cooking with whole foods. This diet also takes the guesswork out of whether you can eat a processed food, as long as you opt for sugar-free, low carbohydrate foods.

Links to dirty keto diet recipes:

Mediterranean-style keto diet

The Mediterranean-style keto diet is similar to its namesake, the Mediterranean diet, in that it combines the basics of healthy eating with the traditional cooking methods and flavors of the Mediterranean. People became interested in the Mediterranean diet in the 1960s, when they realized that coronary heart disease killed fewer people in Greece, Italy and other Mediterranean countries than in the United States. Research shows that the Mediterranean diet effectively reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and overall mortality.

There is no set definition for the Mediterranean diet, but it generally features daily consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats, weekly intake of fish, poultry, beans and eggs, and moderate portions of dairy.

The Mediterranean diet and the standard keto diet are similar in some ways and different in others. The main similarities are that both encourage the consumption of healthy fats and eliminate refined sugars. The big difference is that the Mediterranean diet allows a moderately high amount of carbohydrates from fruits, whole grain breads and pastas, whereas the keto diet is low in all carbohydrates. Another difference is that the Mediterranean diet features natural unsaturated fats from fish and plant-based oils, whereas the keto diet allows an abundance of both saturated and unsaturated fats.

In 2008, researchers from Spain studied the potential effects of combining the Mediterranean diet with the keto diet. This version of the Mediterranean-style keto diet required no calorie counting, and it featured green vegetables and salads as the primary carbohydrate source. Olive oil was the major source of added fat and fish as the main source of protein. Participants could also drink 200-400 ml of wine each day.

The results of the study were as you might expect in that participants experienced “extremely significant” reduction in body weight along with considerable decreases in body fat and lower blood pressure, triglycerides, and glucose levels. This suggests that the Mediterranean-style keto diet is the healthiest flavor of all the keto diets.

The key characteristics of the Mediterranean-style keto diet include:

  • Carb intake low enough to trigger ketosis
  • Eating plenty of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats in the form of olive oil, avocados, and avocado oil rather than butter and coconut oil; replacing red meat with poultry, fish, and, seafood; and munching on low-carb seeds, nuts, and hard cheese instead of snacking on processed meats
  • Getting most of your carbs from keto-friendly leafy greens, colorful vegetables, and cruciferous vegetables
  • Choosing fish, seafood, poultry, and eggs over red meat as your primary protein sources
  • Adjusting fat and protein intake, based on your goals

Links to Mediterranean-style keto diet recipes:

For more information on the four flavors of the keto diet, consult with your doctor or nutritionist. The keto diet is one of the most versatile weight loss plans available, and lends itself to personalization.


    Author: Lynn Hetzler

    Published: Jan. 17, 2020

    Lynn Hetzler has been a leading medical and nutrition writer for more than 20 years. She regularly publishes content for doctors and other medical professionals at Multibriefs, NursesUSA, and other high profile industry publications.

    Written by Lynn Hetzler

    Published: January 17, 2020