Learning Keto

  • Carnivore diet: (the latest diet crave since keto!) a strictly meat- or animal-based diet; unlike keto, carnivore is essentially zero-carbs with the exception of organ meat, which contains some carbs; removing carbs may lead to improved insulin sensitivity and reduced inflammation
  • Clean keto: ketogenic supportive foods that come from whole and natural foods with healthy fats, moderate high-quality protein, and low nutrient-dense carbohydrates; macronutrient breakdown that supports low carb, moderate protein and higher fat (includes body and dietary fat)
  • Cyclic keto: incorporating a day or two of carbohydrate consumption in a week and following a keto diet the rest of the days
  • Dirty keto: same macronutrient breakdown as clean keto, but their sources may include refined and processed ketogenic foods like conventional dairy/cheese, pork rinds and fast-food burgers (without the bun, of course); check out this post HERE or HERE or HERE
  • Eating window: the timeframe that your eating falls within; for example, you “break the fast” at 9 AM and you conclude eating at 3 PM then fast from 3 PM until you break your fast; usually used in conjunction with intermittent fasting
  • Fat-adapted: as defined by Healthful Pursuit’s Leanne Vogel, “is state of pure fat-burning where your body has climatized to low-carb eating enough that it sees fat as its primary fuel source. This fat adaptation process can take two, three, sometimes four weeks to complete after beginning to eat keto.”
  • Fatty Acids: building blocks of fat (one of 3 macronutrients) in food and the body; during digestion fat is broken down into fatty acids, which can be absorbed into the blood 
  • Intermittent fasting [IF]: fasting in intervals such as 16 hours without food and 8 hours of eating; simply put, periods of no food with periods of normal eating
  • Keto: abbreviation for ketogenic
  • Ketoacidosis: typically only occurs in diabetics, specifically type I; a metabolic state where blood glucose levels and ketone bodies are both high; check HERE for a list of symptoms
  • Keto-adapted: a stage where the body and cells can use fat as the primary fuel source; often leads to fewer cravings, feeling full longer, improved moods, improved sleep and increased energy
  • Keto flu: symptoms associated with the body adapting to a ketogenic diet; usually a result of electrolyte imbalance and/or dehydration; symptoms like nausea, constipation, headaches, fatigue/low energy, moodiness and possible food/sugar cravings (body’s demand for glucose)
  • Ketogenesis: the biochemical process of breaking fatty acids into ketones/ketone bodies
  • Ketones: created by the liver and made from free fatty acids during fat metabolism; the body has no storage capacity for ketones, so must be excreted or used; typically produced during carbohydrate restriction or fasting
  • Ketone bodies: also called ketones; compounds include acetone, acetoacetic acid and beta-hydroxbutyric acid
  • Ketosis: a metabolic state where the body uses ketones (fat burner) for fuel instead of glucose or glycogen (sugar burner)
  • Lazy Keto: a low-carb approach with a belief in the science of ketogenic diet — laid-back approach to the keto trend; this approach removes careful macro tracking and puts a loose tracking of the carbohydrate intake to under 50 grams per day; not likely to become keto-adapted or reach nutritional ketosis though
  • Low carbohydrate/carb: carbohydrates are one of the 3 macronutrients used by the body for energy; for true ketogenic diet would account for 20 grams of total carbs; for moderate LC diet total carbs are generally 20-50 grams and a liberal LC diet consists of 50-100 grams of total carbs
  • LCHF: abbreviation for Low Carb/High Fat
  • Metabolic flexibility: the capacity of your metabolism to match fuel source to fuel availability; ability to switch between burning carbs (glucose as fuel) and burning fat (ketones as fuel); Mark Sisson explains this concept HERE
  • Nutritional ketosis: shifting the body’s primary fuel preference from glucose to ketone bodies; blood ketone levels 0.5-3.0 mmol/L (millimoles per litre)
  • Targeted keto: consuming carbs around workout or competition sessions and maintaining a ketogenic diet the rest of the time; thought to improve athletic gains and exercise performance
  • Well-formulated ketogenic/keto diet: a term coined by Volek and Phinney; according to Craig and Maria Emmerich in their book, Keto, “it is nutrient-dense…supplies enough protein to preserve lean [body] mass…reduces carbs to ensure that you stay in ketosis,…[and] helps you remember that to lose fat, you need to use more stored body fat and less dietary fat…” (p 77)

I am sure I have missed a term or two, but this is a good start of the most common ketogenic diet terminology. As I discover more terms you might be curious about, I will add them to above list.


William Banting, Letter on Corpulence, Addressed to the Public,1863 https://archive.org/details/9213277.nlm.nih.gov/page/n3

Maria and Craig Emmerich, Keto (Las Vegas: Victory Belt Publishing, 2018)


Jimmy Moore, Keto Clarity (Las Vegas: Victory Belt Publishing, 2014)

Dr Oz, https://www.doctoroz.com/article/dirty-keto-vs-keto-whats-difference


Mark Sisson, “Definitive Guide to Metabolic Flexibility,” Mark’s Daily Apple blog: https://www.marksdailyapple.com/definitive-guide-to-metabolic-flexibility/

Jeff S. Volek, PhD, RD, and Stephen D. Phinney, MD, PhD, The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living, Beyond Obesity, 2011.