12 Types of Keto Explained – Which One Is Right for You?

The ketogenic diet has become a buzzword in health and wellness, promising weight loss, improved energy, and enhanced mental clarity. However, the journey into the keto lifestyle isn’t a one-size-fits-all experience, causing different “keto types” to emerge.

This comprehensive article will cover 12 keto diet types and will discuss how they work, their pros, and cons.

Key Takeaways:

  • A standard ketogenic diet (SKD) is a foundational approach characterized by high fat (70-75%), moderate protein (20-25%), and low carb intake (5-10%), aiming to induce ketosis.
  • The best keto diets for weight loss are SKD, calorie-restricted keto, clean keto, and Mediterranean keto.
  • The cyclical keto, targeted keto, MCT, and high-protein keto diets benefit muscle gain.
  • For beginners, the lazy keto is an excellent way to start, as it is simple and easy to follow.

1. Standard Ketogenic Diet (SKD)

How it works:

The Standard Ketogenic Diet1 (SKD) is the bedrock of the keto world, characterized by high fat ( 70-75%), moderate protein (20-25%), and low carb intake (5-10%).

The primary goal is to induce a state of ketosis, where the body shifts from using glucose as its main energy source to burning fat for fuel.2

By limiting carb intake to approximately 5-10% of daily calories, the body enters a metabolic state where ketones become the primary energy source, which is more stable.3

Pros:

The SKD has demonstrated effectiveness in weight loss,4 blood sugar regulation,5, and improving lipid profiles. Sustained ketosis can also provide a stable energy supply,6 reducing the energy crashes associated with high-carb diets.

This stable energy source also helps stabilize mood,7 reduce hunger, and maintain overall mental health.

Cons:

However, adapting to the SKD can be challenging, often accompanied by the keto flu as the body adjusts to the new energy substrate. Symptoms include headaches, irritability, and fatigue.4

There might also be concerns about nutrient deficiencies due to restricted food choices, emphasizing the importance of nutrient-dense foods and supplementation if needed.

types of keto diet

2. Cyclical Ketogenic Diet (CKD)

How it works:

The Cyclical Ketogenic Diet (CKD) provides a strategic approach to carb cycling for those with more active lifestyles.

This involves alternating between high-carb days (400-500 grams 1-2 days per week), typically centered around intense workouts, and super low-carb days to maintain ketosis.

The idea is to replenish glycogen stores on high-carb days without completely derailing the benefits of ketosis.

Pros:

Technically, you will still reap the benefits of keto as you will be in ketosis for about 5-6 days. CKD is often done by those who have a hard time sticking to the keto diet all week long.

CKD is also popular among athletes and bodybuilders as it allows for increased performance8 during high-intensity workouts.

Cons:

The main concern is binge eating on high-carb days and possible unhealthy food options. Aside from choosing healthier carb sources, one should not start cycling until the body gets past the adaptation stage to get in and out of ketosis more effectively.

3. Targeted Ketogenic Diet (TKD)

How it works:

The Targeted Ketogenic Diet (TKD) is somewhere in between SKD and CKD. It involves consuming the allotted carbs (10-20%) around 30 minutes before workout times to provide an energy boost without sacrificing the overall state of ketosis.

This approach aims to enhance physical performance during training without fully interrupting the fat-burning benefits of ketosis.

Pros:

TKD offers the advantages of improved workout performance and recovery while maintaining ketosis for most of the day.

Cons:

Prone to miscalculations and eating more than the allotted carbs per day. This necessitates proper meal planning to avoid losing the benefits of ketosis.

4. Calorie-restricted Ketogenic Diet

How it works:

Combining keto principles with calorie restriction (less than 800 kcal/day), the Calorie-Restricted Ketogenic Diet9 aims for weight loss by creating a caloric deficit while promoting ketosis.

Pros:

The dual strategy of calorie restriction and ketosis can enhance fat loss. It has also proven benefits9 for obesity, diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease, and the improvement of insulin resistance.

Cons:

Prolonged calorie restriction can lead to nutrient deficiencies if not carefully planned and may be harder to stick to. When doing this, supplementation may be needed to supply lacking nutrients.

5. MCT Ketogenic Diet

How it works:

The MCT Ketogenic Diet follows SKD while incorporating supplements with only medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs)10 into the traditional ketogenic framework.

MCTs are quickly absorbed and converted into ketones by the liver, providing a rapid and efficient energy source.

Pros:

You reap all the benefits from SKD, and MCTs offer a quicker boost to ketone production, potentially enhancing cognitive function and providing a readily available energy source.

MCT is also a good addition for athletes11 and those with epilepsy seizures.12

Cons:

An overreliance on MCTs may lead to digestive discomfort13 for some individuals. Introducing them gradually into the diet is essential to allow the body to adapt.

6. High Protein Ketogenic Diet

How it works:

Protein is not the enemy of ketosis, but carbs are. The High Protein Ketogenic Diet modifies the traditional keto approach by increasing protein intake to 30% while maintaining low-carb (5%) and high-fat principles (65%).

It is a modified approach ideal for people who are regularly working out on keto.

woman working out on keto

Pros:

This variation aims to reap the benefits of ketosis while preserving muscle mass,14 supporting satiety and potentially enhancing fat loss through increased thermogenesis.15

Cons:

The only population who should not have increased protein intake are those with kidney diseases,16 but they should not be in an unsupervised keto diet to begin with.

7. Lazy Keto Diet

How it works:

The Lazy Keto Diet offers a simplified approach to the ketogenic lifestyle. It focuses primarily on restricting carbohydrate intake (less than 10%) while being less stringent about tracking fat, protein, and overall calories.

If you’re a beginner, you only need to cut out your natural and refined carbs and replace them with high-fat foods. Processed foods are allowed occasionally.

Pros:

The Lazy Keto Diet’s simplicity makes it easier for beginners to grasp and implement. The rule is that as long as you don’t increase your carb intake, you will remain in ketosis.

Cons:

This may result in less mindfulness in eating habits, which may lead to eating unhealthy fat sources.

8. Mediterranean Keto Diet

How it works:

Combining the principles of the traditional ketogenic diet with the nutrient-rich Mediterranean diet,17 the Mediterranean Keto Diet emphasizes clean eating, healthy fats, and a variety of vegetables low in carbs.

This means that foods that should be avoided are allowed in the Mediterranean diet.

This variant of the ketogenic diet focuses on Mediterranean food options, which are also permitted in the keto diet.

Pros:

The Mediterranean Keto Diet offers diverse nutrient-dense foods with essential vitamins and minerals. You can still gain the benefits of ketosis while eating clean.

Studies suggest that the ketogenic Mediterranean diet18 reduces body weight, BMI, fat mass, and waist circumference and decreases total cholesterol, LDL, triglycerides, and blood glucose levels with increased HDL.

Cons:

Mediterranean diet discourages frequent red meat and dairy consumption, so you may need to reconsider if you enjoy eating meals with them. Also, this type of keto diet requires intentional meal preparations, which may take a chunk of your time.

9. Dirty Keto

How it works:

Dirty Keto focuses on meeting the macronutrient requirements of the ketogenic diet without emphasizing food quality, which means an expanded menu.

This approach allows for flexibility in food choices as long as the carbohydrate, fat, and protein ratios are maintained, even if the sources are processed or less nutrient-dense.

Pros:

The primary advantage of Dirty Keto is its flexibility and simplicity. It enables individuals to adhere to keto principles without meticulous meal planning or reliance on specific, often more expensive, food options.

Cons:

This convenience also means consuming highly processed foods and unhealthy fat sources, including fast food, deep-fried foods in processed oils, sugar-free sodas, chips, and pre-packed meats.

This results in potential nutrient deficiencies and poor health outcomes due to the emphasis on processed and low-quality food choices.

10. Clean Keto

How it works:

Clean Keto takes a diametrically opposite approach to dirty keto, prioritizing whole, nutrient-dense foods within the ketogenic framework.

This variation follows the same macronutrient ratios as the SKD but strongly emphasizes quality sources of fat, protein, and carbohydrates, promoting overall health and well-being.

This means no more processed cheese, pork rinds, deli meat, boxe juices, fast food, mayonnaise, vegetable oil, and anything with artificial flavors and sweeteners.

Pros:

Clean Keto offers a wealth of essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants through whole foods, supporting both ketosis and overall health.

Following the clean keto diet also promotes long-term sustainability, as meal preparation gets easier in the long run.

Cons:

The potential challenge of Clean Keto lies in the dedication required for careful meal planning and sourcing high-quality ingredients. Planning and meal prep often take time, which may be hard for those with hectic schedules.

Another challenge is that clean foods, including grass-fed meat and unprocessed foods, are more expensive.

11. Keto 2.0

How it works:

Keto 2.0 represents an evolving or modified version of the traditional ketogenic diet. This variation focuses on the following macronutrient ratio:

  • Fat: 50%
  • Protein: 30%
  • Carbs: 20%

Moreover, keto 2.0 encourages getting macros from plant-based foods and reducing meat consumption. The main goal of this variation is to lessen the intake of saturated fat, which is often abused by those following dirty keto.

Pros:

Supporters suggest that keto 2.0 is less strict and is easier to follow, and claims to be more heart-friendly. However, its benefits currently lack scientific data, as most research focuses on the SKD.

Cons:

Despite the name, the increased carbohydrate intake makes it not keto. This variation may lead to ketosis for some, but others may not be able to get into ketosis at all, defeating its purpose.

12. Keto Carnivore Diet

How it works:

The Keto Carnivore Diet, also known as the Ketovore Diet, takes a stricter approach, focusing on animal products as the primary source of nutrients. However, it still allows room for keto-friendly plant-based sources on some days.

You eat animal products most days of the week and occasionally incorporate keto-friendly vegetables and carbs into your diet. You can also use seasoning, herbs, and spices on some days.

Unlike the carnivore diet, the Ketovore diet allows plant-based beverages, including coffee and tea, provided they are unsweetened.

Pros:

The simplicity of the diet makes it easy to follow, and proponents argue that it provides a nutrient-dense source of proteins, fats, and essential nutrients.

The carnivore diet also allows weight loss,19 and despite the high cholesterol and fat intake, it does not increase plasma cholesterol and other lipid levels.

Cons:

The main challenge with the keto carnivore diet is the lack of fiber intake, which often leads to constipation.20 People following this diet are encouraged to take supplements, such as digestive enzymes.

Which Type of Keto Diet Is Right for You?

Determining the most suitable keto diet involves considering several factors. Your choice should align with your health goals, lifestyle, activity level, and personal preferences.

Those aiming for weight loss could benefit from SKD, calorie-restricted keto diet, Mediterranean keto diet, and clean keto as they all focus on enhancing fat loss.

On the other hand, athletes and those seeking enhanced physical strength could benefit from the cyclical keto diet, targeted keto diet, high-protein keto diet, and MCT keto diet.

Moreover, those with underlying medical conditions should always seek medical advice before getting into any type of keto diet.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How many types of keto are there?

There are approximately at least 12 types of keto diet variations to date. These diets keep evolving to target different needs and cater to a wider audience interested in getting into keto.

Which type of keto is the best for weight loss?

All variations of the keto diet aid in weight loss, but results depend on individual response and adherence. Standard Ketogenic Diet (SKD) and variations with calorie restriction may be beneficial, but so is the clean keto and Mediterranean keto diet.

What are the three types of ketosis?

Nutritional ketosis, starvation ketosis, and diabetic ketoacidosis are the three main types of ketosis. The first two are controlled by diet and fasting, while the last one is a type of metabolic state of uncontrolled diabetes.

What are the 3 main types of low-carb diets?

The traditional low-carb diet, ketogenic diet, and the Atkins diet are the 3 main types of low-carb diet. These diets aim to reduce weight and improve overall health by eliminating excess dietary carbohydrates.

References

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2Dhillon KK, Gupta S. Biochemistry, Ketogenesis. [Updated 2023 Feb 6]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK493179/

3Prince, A., Zhang, Y., Croniger, C., & Puchowicz, M. (2013). Oxidative metabolism: glucose versus ketones. Advances in experimental medicine and biology, 789, 323–328. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-7411-1_43

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5Yuan, X., Wang, J., Yang, S., Gao, M., Cao, L., Li, X., Hong, D., Tian, S., & Sun, C. (2020). Effect of the ketogenic diet on glycemic control, insulin resistance, and lipid metabolism in patients with T2DM: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Nutrition & Diabetes, 10. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41387-020-00142-z

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7Dietch, D. M., Kerr-Gaffney, J., Hockey, M., Marx, W., Ruusunen, A., Young, A. H., Berk, M., & Mondelli, V. (2023). Efficacy of low carbohydrate and ketogenic diets in treating mood and anxiety disorders: Systematic review and implications for clinical practice. BJPsych Open, 9(3). https://doi.org/10.1192/bjo.2023.36

8Kysel, P., Haluzíková, D., Doležalová, R. P., Laňková, I., Lacinová, Z., Kasperová, B. J., Trnovská, J., Hrádková, V., Mráz, M., Vilikus, Z., & Haluzík, M. (2020). The Influence of Cyclical Ketogenic Reduction Diet vs. Nutritionally Balanced Reduction Diet on Body Composition, Strength, and Endurance Performance in Healthy Young Males: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Nutrients, 12(9), 2832. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12092832

9Guarnotta, V., Emanuele, F., Amodei, R., & Giordano, C. (2022). Very Low-Calorie Ketogenic Diet: A Potential Application in the Treatment of Hypercortisolism Comorbidities. Nutrients, 14(12). https://doi.org/10.3390/nu14122388

10Watanabe, S., & Tsujino, S. (2022). Applications of Medium-Chain Triglycerides in Foods. Frontiers in Nutrition, 9. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnut.2022.802805

11Wang, Y., Liu, Z., Han, Y., Xu, J., Huang, W., & Li, Z. (2018). Medium Chain Triglycerides enhances exercise endurance through the increased mitochondrial biogenesis and metabolism. PLoS ONE, 13(2). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0191182

12Sills, M. A., Forsythe, W. I., Haidukewych, D., MacDonald, A., & Robinson, M. (1986). The medium chain triglyceride diet and intractable epilepsy. Archives of Disease in Childhood, 61(12), 1168-1172. https://doi.org/10.1136/adc.61.12.1168

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16Ko, G. J., Obi, Y., Tortoricci, A. R., & Kalantar-Zadeh, K. (2017). Dietary Protein Intake and Chronic Kidney Disease. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care, 20(1), 77. https://doi.org/10.1097/MCO.0000000000000342

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18Paoli, A., Cenci, L., & Grimaldi, K. A. (2011). Effect of ketogenic mediterranean diet with phytoextracts and low carbohydrates/high-protein meals on weight, cardiovascular risk factors, body composition and diet compliance in Italian council employees. Nutrition Journal, 10, 112. https://doi.org/10.1186/1475-2891-10-112

19Cassady, B. A., Charboneau, N. L., Brys, E. E., Crouse, K. A., Beitz, D. C., & Wilson, T. (2007). Effects of low carbohydrate diets high in red meats or poultry, fish and shellfish on plasma lipids and weight loss. Nutrition & Metabolism, 4, 23. https://doi.org/10.1186/1743-7075-4-23

20Forootan, M., Bagheri, N., & Darvishi, M. (2018). Chronic constipation: A review of literature. Medicine, 97(20). https://doi.org/10.1097/MD.0000000000010631

Mag. Stephan Lederer, MSc.

Mag. Stephan Lederer, MSc. is an author and blogger from Austria who writes in-depth content about health and nutrition. His book series on Interval Fasting landed #1 on the bestseller list in the German Amazon marketplace in 15 categories.

Stephan is a true man of science, having earned multiple diplomas and master's degrees in various fields. He has made it his mission to bridge the gap between conventional wisdom and scientific knowledge. He precisely reviews the content and sources of this blog for currency and accuracy.

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