What Is a Lazy Keto Diet? Is It Better Than Keto?

lazy keto diet
Photo Illustration by Amelia Manley for Verywell Health; Getty Images.

Key Takeaways

  • A new report ranked keto as one of the worst diets for heart health due to an increased risk of nutrient deficiencies.
  • The traditional keto diet promotes strict adherence to eating high amounts of fat, moderate amounts of protein, and very low carbs.
  • An alternative "lazy keto" eating pattern may be a more sustainable option and only requires tracking carb intake.

Following the ketogenic diet, or “keto,” means tracking macronutrients and some people don’t want to worry about counting every single gram of fat, protein, and carbohydrate they eat. "Lazy keto" emerged as an easier way to maintain the keto lifestyle because it only requires carb counting. 

The r/lazyketo subreddit, which has 5,500 members, says this is for people who want “subscribe to the Keto diet, but really don't want to put the work into it.” A quick scroll through #lazyketo on TikTok shows videos of creators sharing keto hacks, meal plans, and recipes that wouldn't fit in a traditional keto plan.

Keto was originally developed in 1920 as a way to help children with epilepsy when medications failed. The diet took off as a weight loss tool in the 1990s and it’s still very popular to date—just walk down the aisle of any health food store and you’ll see the keto buzzword plastered on everything from tortillas to ice cream.

But in the long run, it's hard to adhere to the keto diet, according to Shivam Joshi, MD, a clinical assistant professor of medicine at New York University Grossman School of Medicine.

"There are high dropout rates in studies lasting longer than six months, which is due to how difficult it is to stay in ketosis and eat such a restrictive diet,” Joshi told Verywell.

Not only is the traditional keto diet challenging, but a recent report published by the American Heart Association ranked this restrictive diet as one of the worst for heart health. This is partially because keto limits the consumption of fruits, whole grains, and legumes while overemphasizing meats and animal-based foods.

A 2021 review that Joshi co-authored found that traditional keto can lower blood sugar and promote weight loss in the short term, but it may increase the risk of chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease.

“The ketogenic diet may be a good option for some people, but I think it is too complicated and too risky for most,” Joshi said.

Can Lazy Keto Replace Traditional Keto?

Different versions of the traditional keto diet exist, but the general rule is to get 70-80% of your daily calories from fat, 10-20% from protein, and 5-10% from carbs, with the goal of reaching ketosis, a process that causes the body to use fat instead of glucose for energy.

Lazy keto, on the other hand, isn't as strict but still requires "significant carbohydrate restriction," according to Anna Beth Bradley, MD, an assistant professor in the division of diabetes, endocrinology, and metabolism at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.

You'll still have to limit your carbs to less than 10% of your total calories without going over 50 grams of carbs per day, she said, although fat and protein are not scrutinized.

"Ketosis is the ultimate goal of a ketogenic diet, but with the 'lazy' approach, you cannot guarantee that you remain in ketosis," Bradley said.

Even if lazy keto means you won't reach the coveted ketosis status, Bradley said this is a moderate version of a low-carb diet that's more sustainable. It can still help with weight loss, reduce cravings, and lower the risk of metabolic syndrome and diabetes.

"Eat foods that you feel good about putting in your body," Bradley said, "If gorging yourself with fat to achieve ketosis doesn't feel health-promoting, consider a moderate low-carb diet including lean meats, eggs, dairy, plant-based fats, and vegetables."

Traditional keto tends to be low in fiber and nutrients like vitamins K and B12. But lazy keto creators often say they're doing the diet "their own way," and this relaxed version seems to allow for more flexible grocery lists, including banana and peanut butter.

Kristen Smith, MS, RDN, a registered dietitian at Piedmont Healthcare in Atlanta, GA, told Verywell that lazy keto could be easier for many people to follow than other low-carb diets.

"While the lazy keto diet doesn't require as much tracking, it's important to still ensure you are consuming adequate nutrients via a well-balanced diet," Smith said. "Trying to consume a protein, fruit, or vegetable at every meal will help ensure you are consuming adequate nutrients."

What This Means For You

Restrictive diets can be hard to follow, so lazy keto could be a more sustainable option if you want to try a low-carb diet. But you should speak to a nutritionist or dietitian to figure out your nutritional needs before starting any new diet plan.

3 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Diet review: ketogenic diet for weight loss.

  2. Gardner CD, Vadiveloo MK, Petersen KS, et al. Popular dietary patterns: alignment with American Heart Association 2021 dietary guidance: a scientific statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2023. doi:10.1161/CIR.0000000000001146

  3. Crosby L, Davis B, Joshi S, et al. Ketogenic diets and chronic disease: weighing the benefits against the risksFront Nutr. 2021;8. doi:10.3389/fnut.2021.702802