There are plenty of ways to do keto depending on what meets your needs.
For example, some deviate from a traditional keto diet to optimize their body recomposition goals while others follow a less restrictive keto approach for the sake of getting more acquainted with this way of eating or staying consistent.
When it comes to a less restrictive approach, you’ve probably heard of lazy keto, which is popular among beginners and those who dislike counting all macros.
This article defines the lazy keto diet, how it differs from strict keto and dirty keto, its benefits and drawbacks, what to eat and avoid, a meal plan, and some FAQs.
The lazy keto diet or “lazy keto” for short, is a variation of the keto diet where you track only your carbohydrate intake. You won’t be counting your dietary fat and protein macros.
Recall that the original keto diet restricts carbs to 20-50 grams per day. Meanwhile, 60% of your calories should come from fat while 30% comes from protein (*).
Like other variations of keto, lazy keto is meant to induce a metabolic state of ketosis — with the additional benefit of not having to worry about other macros apart from carbs. In ketosis, your body burns its stored fat, in which fat is released from adipose tissue and used.
Here’s how to do lazy keto:
Doing lazy keto for beginners involves cutting out natural and refined carbs from your diet, such as grains, rice, cereals, starchy veggies (corn, potatoes, beets, carrots), most sweet fruits, soda, and chips.
This should leave you very little room for carbs, which should now comprise only 5-10% of your total daily calories (*). While the exact grams of carbs can look different from person to person, depending on their maintenance calories, 20-50 grams per day is standard for most people.
While you’re cleaning out your pantry or kitchen of carbs, stock up on keto-friendly items like various cuts of meat, seafood, eggs, full-fat dairy, and leafy vegetables. Additionally, have some healthy keto snacks ready in case you’ll feel hungry in between meals.
We’ll be showing you a complete lazy keto food list later in this article.
While these three keto diet variations cause ketosis, their differences lie in macro tracking and food quality.
Strict keto requires eating only unprocessed (or the least processed) foods and counting all three macros — carbs, fat, and protein. Some people may find this intimidating; however, it’s the best way to go for optimal fat loss, health, and well-being.
Dirty keto allows for processed keto foods for convenience. You’re allowed to eat processed cheeses, pork rinds, bunless fast food burgers, most packaged keto snacks (chips, chocolates, and bars), and processed meats like hot dogs. Counting all three macros still applies.
Lazy keto requires eating mostly whole keto foods. You may still eat processed keto items, although it’s best done occasionally (for example, in situations when you haven’t meal prepped or emergencies). Counting fat and protein isn’t necessary, as long as you track carbs and keep it within 20-50 grams a day.
Here’s a comparison table for your reference:
If you’re considering the lazy keto diet, below are five reasons to try it:
1. A convenient way to start your keto journey
People who may not want to track their food will find the lazy keto diet as an easier approach to becoming healthier. This is especially true for those who haven’t even tracked anything on their previous diet.
Unless you’re aiming for a specific goal, such as body recomposition (losing fat and building muscle at the same time), tracking carbohydrates alone is already a step towards increasing your mindfulness — which helps with weight loss (*).
A helpful tip: Consider checking your ketone levels conveniently using a ketone test trip. This way, you will know whether you’re in ketosis. Note that this is not required on lazy keto; but it can be extremely beneficial for making the diet work.
2. Weight loss if you’re coming from a typical high-carb diet
Research done on obese men and women revealed that limiting carbs without any restrictions on fat and protein caused significant weight loss. This weight loss was greater in the low-carb group (where they consumed 20g of carbs daily) than in the high-carb group (*).
In fact, you can lose weight rapidly within the first few weeks of starting lazy keto. This is because reducing carbs depletes glycogen — the storage form of glucose in your liver and muscles.
3. It may help you stay consistent with keto
It’s easier to stick to a diet long-term if it doesn’t cause you unnecessary stress and allows for flexibility. A diet that makes you feel like you’re being controlled or restricted may lead you to give up sooner.
Counting protein and fats (calories, too) may sound like a lot of work for many people — although not everyone, because some actually enjoy doing it. But if this is the only thing that’s holding you back from staying on keto, then stick to just counting carbs.
4. Controls your blood sugar levels
The more carbohydrates you consume, the more glucose your body has to handle.
This can be problematic for individuals who have diabetes or pre-diabetes. (In pre-diabetes, blood glucose readings are still above normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes.)
Curbing your intake of carbs can be an important lifestyle change towards bringing your blood glucose back to normal levels — on top of weight loss. According to research, managing diabetes through medication alone (insulin, for example) can worsen your condition if it leads to weight gain (*).
5. The freedom to enjoy a wide variety of keto-friendly foods
Since you’re not tracking protein and fat, it’s unlikely for you to stress out about planning very specific foods for your keto meals.
For example, certain cuts of meat and poultry or certain nuts that meet your protein and fat tagets. Because, consider this sample scenario: Someone on a high protein keto diet would likely prioritize chicken breast and leaner cuts of steak (like top round or top sirloin).
Solely focusing on your carb intake could mean being able to choose whatever foods you like to eat as long as it falls in the keto category.
Not emphasizing your two other macros can sometimes cause problems. Below are some of the risks of lazy keto you should be aware of:
1. Too little fat in your diet
Dietary fat has several important functions — such as providing energy (especially in the absence of carbs), increasing vitamin absorption, supporting your body’s healing process, and making specific hormones.
So, you can imagine the consequences of not getting enough fat:
- Vitamin deficiencies
- Slow wound healing
- Low energy levels on keto
- Inability to combat the keto flu effectively
To ensure that you eat enough fat on lazy keto, stock up on healthy fat sources like eggs, avocados, grass-fed butter, grass-fed meat, and fatty fish.
2. Too much protein (make sure you know what your goal is)
A traditional keto diet requires that protein should be consumed in moderation. Combined with carb restriction and an increase of fats, this allows you to achieve ketosis.
However, you’ve also probably heard the opposing viewpoints on protein and ketosis. Some sources mention that eating more protein won’t kick you out of ketosis — and that it makes ketosis possible. In fact, we wrote an article on this topic.
On the other hand, others argue that since protein stimulates insulin to a moderate degree, too much can disrupt ketone production (*).
Regardless, it’s important to consider the following situations:
- If you’re using it as a medical intervention as prescribed by your doctor — to manage or reverse diabetes, for example — keeping protein moderate is probably best. In addition, check your ketone levels after eating a protein-rich food. This may help you understand your individual response towards certain amounts of protein.
- The more active you are, the more protein you’ll need. Furthermore, if you lift weights to enhance muscle growth, increasing your protein intake won’t be a problem. In fact, it will provide additional support for your body and help you reach your goals faster.
Monitoring your protein intake would be beneficial in both situations, which could mean extra work on lazy keto.
3. Weight loss stall if you’re not careful
Weight loss plateaus (periods when you stop losing weight) can happen if you focus on carbs alone.
Eating too many calories is one reason. While your calories should come mostly from whole foods, it’s also true that too many calories (especially from fat, since fat has more calories that protein and carbs) can prevent you from losing weight.
Lazy keto is definitely a good strategy when you’re starting the keto diet. But, if you find yourself not losing anymore weight down the road — consider transitioning to strict keto. This will allow you to adjust all your macros and calories so you can keep progressing.
If not, look into non-diet related causes such as stress and a lack of physical activity.
4. You might consume too few calories
Restricting calories for too long can slow your metabolism, making it difficult for you to keep the weight off after losing it (*). On top of that slowed metabolism, you’ll also lose muscle mass if you’re not optimizing your protein — which involves tracking it (*).
Watch out for signs that you’re not getting enough calories on lazy keto, such as low energy levels, hair loss, constantly feeling cold, and poor quality sleep.
5. Some people may simply find (even lazy keto) too restrictive
The idea of restricting carbs can cause some people to react negatively to the keto diet in general. Oftentimes, it’s because of a lack of understanding on science behind the diet — or the fact that they’re not mentally prepared to give up carbs.
In that case, lazy keto will only appeal to those who are ready to change their old eating habits by cutting and tracking carbs.
Build your meals around these lazy keto foods:
- Meats: beef, pork, lamb, goat
- Eggs: chicken eggs, quail eggs, duck eggs
- Poultry: chicken, turkey, geese
- Seafood: fish, shellfish (shrimps, lobsters, crabs, oysters, scallops)
- Low-carb veggies: lettuce, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower
- Low-carb fruits: berries, avocados, lemons, coconut meat
- Drinks: sparkling water, plain coffee, tea, almond milk, homemade keto smoothies
- Nuts and seeds: almonds, pecans, macadamia nuts, chia seeds, flax seeds
- Dairy: butter, various types of cheese, full-fat yogurt, full-fat sour cream
- Fats for cooking: coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil, animal fats
You should focus on eating these foods than highly processed options.
High-carb foods are off-limits on lazy keto, such as:
- Fruits high in sugar: bananas, mangoes, grapes, pears, apple
- Starchy veggies: corn, potatoes, carrots, beets, turnips
- Beverages: all sugary drinks (regular soda, fruit juices, regular smoothies)
- High-sugar condiments: barbecue sauces, ketchup, honey mustard, fat-free dressings
- Grains: rice (all types), oats, barley, bread, cereals
- Others: traditional desserts, crackers, potato chips, highly refined vegetable oils (soybean, corn, canola, sunflower)
Ready to start a lazy keto diet plan? Below are sample lazy keto meals that keep your carbs as low as possible.
- Breakfast: sunny side up eggs and sugar-free bacon
- Lunch: keto beef chili (no beans and rice)
- Dinner: cabbage stuffed with ground meats (pork and beef)
- Breakfast: Perfect Keto cereal with almond milk
- Lunch: shrimp lettuce wraps (sauteed shrimp in romaine lettuce leaves)
- Dinner: broccoli, cheese, and bacon salad
- Breakfast: ground beef patties (made with ground beef, salt, and spices only)
- Lunch: crispy chicken wings and broccoli florets
- Dinner: pork chops baked with garlic and butter
- Breakfast: almond flour waffles and plain coffee
- Lunch: baked bell peppers stuffed with ground beef and spices
- Dinner: cobb salad (made with chicken breast, eggs, tomatoes, avocados, and lettuce)
- Breakfast: scrambled eggs, cheese, and avocado slices
- Lunch: garlic butter shrimp zucchini noodles
- Dinner: cauliflower and cheese casserole
- Breakfast: coconut flour and cream cheese pancakes
- Lunch: strawberry, avocado, and almond milk smoothie
- Dinner: low-carb cream of mushroom soup
- Breakfast: tuna omelet (made with tuna, eggs, and parmesan cheese)
- Lunch: boneless pork chops and green beans
- Dinner: lamb meatballs (made with ground lamb, feta cheese, almond flour, garlic, and rosemary)
Here are answers to common questions on the lazy keto diet:
Yes, the lazy keto diet promotes weight loss because, like other variations of keto, it requires consuming only 20-50 grams of carbs daily. In fact, if you’re coming from a typical high-carb diet, you’ll notice quick weight loss within the first few weeks of lazy keto.
However, since you’re not paying attention to other macros, it’s possible to gain weight or not lose anymore weight down the road.
Can you eat fruits on lazy keto?
Fruits are allowed on lazy keto, but they should be low-carbohydrate fruits like avocados, strawberries, raspberries, lemons, and cantaloupe.
Does lazy keto work without exercise?
Lazy keto can still work even without exercise. However, including exercise in your lifestyle maximizes fat loss and allows you to preserve lean muscle. Exercising also increases ketosis, especially high-intensity workouts that use up your glycogen stores.
Lazy keto is definitely an option for individuals who are willing to lower their carbs without paying attention to their protein and fat macros.
It’s a convenient and less stressful approach for beginners or if you would rather sustain the keto diet by focusing counting carbs alone.
As a lazy keto beginner, you need to be aware of its potential drawbacks, such as too little fat in your diet, weight loss stalls, and consuming too many (or few) calories.
If you’ll start feeling off on lazy keto, consider these possibilities — and probably transition to a strict keto diet if you want to maintain this lifestyle and improve your results.