Did you know there are different types of keto lifestyles? All three ketogenic lifestyles are geared towards different objectives. Whether you want to lose weight, build muscle, increase your stamina, or keep a health condition in check, you’ll want to choose the lifestyle that matches your specific needs and goals.
While all ketogenic lifestyles have the aim of putting the body into the metabolic state of ketosis, not all keto lifestyles require you to minimize carbs 24/7. Variations on the standard ketogenic lifestyle can help you to reap the many benefits of ketosis, including weight loss, without eating low-carb round the clock.
Depending on your personal circumstances, lifestyle, and current health situation, a variation of the standard ketogenic lifestyle might be worth a try. In addition, if you find yourself struggling with the low-carb aspect of a keto lifestyle, incorporating carbs strategically through one of the variations listed below might be a good idea.
Read on to learn about the three main types of keto lifestyles and choose the one that works for you.
THE STANDARD KETOGENIC LIFESTYLE (SKL)
The standard ketogenic lifestyle is by and large the most common type of ketogenic lifestyle. Not to mention, it’s fairly simple to follow because you eat as low-carb as possible all the time.
In general, SKL is a low-carb, adequate- to moderate-protein, and high-fat diet. The standard combination of macros is 40-60% fat, 35-40% protein, and 10-25% carbs. On an SKL, you should be consuming between 20 and 50 grams of net carbs per day. Of course, the ideal amount of net carbs varies from individual to individual.
Who Is SKL For?
With SKL, there are no carbohydrate replenishing cycles, as there are with some of the variations you’ll read about below. And for the majority of people, SKL works just fine. It’s best suited to people who are more sedentary, as well as those who find that their energy levels aren’t hindered when they go low-carb. If you don’t train too intensely, SKL is probably the best option for you.
Sample SKL Meal Plan:
- Breakfast: Bacon, two fried eggs, sliced tomatoes.
- Lunch: Tuna and boiled egg salad with mayonnaise and cheddar cheese.
- Dinner: Chicken with broccoli cooked in butter.
THE TARGETED KETOGENIC LIFESTYLE (TKL)
The targeted ketogenic lifestyle allows you to increase your carbohydrate intake around your workouts. On a TKL, you eat exactly as you would on an SKL, except when you plan on exercising. TKL permits you to have carbs 30 minutes to an hour before you get your workout on.
Of course, with this lifestyle, you need to choose carbohydrates that are easy to digest—otherwise, you risk sabotaging your workout with an upset stomach or bloating. You should try to avoid foods that are high in fructose, as they’re more likely to be stored as glycogen in the liver. Instead, opt for glucose-based carbs, which replenish glycogen in the muscles. That’s the type of glycogen you need right before a workout.
An effective TKL allows you to consume carbs before exercise without throwing your body out of ketosis. But, here’s where a TKL comes down to a science: you need to ensure you’re eating just enough carbs that you burn most of them during your workout. If you’re someone who varies the intensity of your workouts, you’ll need to plan accordingly so that you’re not taking in too many carbs and throwing yourself out of ketosis.
As far as net carbs go, 25 to 50 grams within the hour leading up to your workout is a good rule of thumb. But, you may need to tweak that amount depending on the workout. And after you exercise, opt for high-protein foods as opposed to high-fat foods. You want to be careful about consuming fat right after physical activity because it can impair nutrient absorption and slow muscle recovery.
Who Is TKL For?
TKL is best suited to people who train intensely three or more times per week. If you try an SKL and find that your performance is inhibited by a lack of carbs, it’s a good idea to try to introduce a reasonable amount of carbs before training.
Sample TKL Meal Plan:
- Breakfast: Egg, spinach, tomato, and goat cheese omelet.
- Lunch: Bun-less burger with cheese, bacon, and avocado.
- Pre-workout snack: Crackers, cheese, hummus, and fruit.
- Dinner: Steak and Caesar salad.
THE CYCLIC KETOGENIC LIFESTYLE (CKL)
With the cyclic ketogenic lifestyle, things get a tad more complicated. CKL involves following an SKL for five days—typically during the work week—and then stocking up on carbs, known as “refeeding,” “carb cycling,” or “carb loading” on the weekend. With the CKL, a longer, low-carb period is followed by a short, high-carb period.
The rationale behind a CKL is that it helps you to maintain lean muscle mass. But, another big perk is that it’s a lot easier than an SKL. With that in mind, CKLs may not necessarily confer the benefits than an SKL would. You’re more or less bingeing on carbs on the weekend, which can take you out of ketosis. Whether or not carb loading takes you out of ketosis will depend on how much you exercise and what type of exercise you do. You have to work out pretty intensely to avoid the effects of too many carbs.
The point of the carb load is to replenish muscle glycogen, helping you to maintain the intensity of your workouts throughout the week. During the refeeding phase, you’ll take in between 450 and 600 grams of carbs, compared to 25 to 50 in the low-carb phase.
Who Is CKL For?
Bodybuilders like this option because it helps to boost fat loss while still developing lean muscle. In addition, if you find you’re having trouble sticking to a SKL because you’re constantly slipping up, giving yourself license to carb load on the weekends might help. Otherwise, CKL isn’t recommended.
Sample CKL Meal Plan (Weekday):
See above SKL meal plan.
Sample CKL Meal Plan (Weekend)
- Breakfast: Eggs benedict with ham, hollandaise, and fruit.
- Lunch: Cobb salad.
- Dinner: Alfredo pasta with chicken and parmesan.
CHOOSING A KETOGENIC LIFESTYLE
For most keto beginners, experimenting to find the right combination of macros is key. You might opt for a higher-protein version of the SKL, with 55% fat, 40% protein, and 5% carbs. The TKL offers the opportunity to stock up on carbs before you exercise, keeping your energy levels up before you hit the gym. Some people simply opt for a CKL in order to reap the benefits of keto and still give themselves a break on the weekend—by having a beer with friends or eating out. It all depends on what you want to get out of your keto lifestyle.
People who engage in high-intensity exercise need to monitor their fatigue levels carefully. Activities such as biking, long-distance running, and intense weightlifting may require you to up your carb intake. If you want to lose fat without exercising too much, SKL is ideal.
Or, you might find that the best approach for you is something in between these three options—and that’s okay, too. The point is to find what works for you and stick with it.