Have you ever wondered about the differences between strict keto, clean keto and lazy keto? Or what are rules of keto diet? The truth is, there are as many definitions to these terms as there are people that talk about this topic! However, I will define my version of the strict keto diet and a strict keto meal plan.
For the purposes of this article, there won’t be an in-depth discussion about these keto methods. Suffice it to say, if you are stuck in a plateau or have been following a ketogenic or low carb way of eating for a while, there may be some good reasons to try the strict keto challenge.
Over time and when in keto weight maintenance, people tend to practice lazy keto more. The definition of lazy keto includes things like not tracking macros, carb creep, perhaps indulging in keto sweets and using substitute sweeteners a bit more. These can all take a toll over time causing stalls or even weight gain. An intentional, strict keto diet can counteract these tendencies.
That’s why it’s a good idea to do a period of clean keto every once in a while, really follow some strict keto rules. It recalibrates your body on keto and gets you back to eating more whole foods.
Already know you’re up for a keto challenge for 31 days?! Skip down to the bottom of this post to read the “rules” and commit. Or just click here to go for it! The best time to change a behavior is NOW. Don’t think about it. Just do it.
Strict Keto Diet
This clean keto challenge doesn’t require products or purchases, only commitment.
If you’ve never tried the keto diet before, check out our Complete Beginner’s Guide to the Ketogenic Diet. While a strict keto diet could be difficult for some beginners, it is not impossible and might be a fit for certain people, especially if you’re already used to eating whole foods.
If you’re just beginning keto and would like a more gentle challenge, consider the 10 day challenge. While no special products are required for this way of eating, the 10 day challenge includes supplements that support your body as it upregulates the processes needed to support your new fat-burner metabolism.
If you decide to do the strict keto challenge and have never done keto, definitely check out our beginner’s guide first and be especially careful with your electrolytes. If you’ve already been doing the keto diet for a while, this challenge is definitely for you!
Losing weight is hard but maintenance has its challenges as well. Whichever phase you’re in, it’s helpful to shake things up when you notice that your weight might be creeping up a couple of pounds or you find you’re just not feeling well. The strict keto diet is one way you can do that. Shaking things up is why I’m also creating the 21 day Keto Fat Loss Kickstart program. Register at the link to be the first to know when it’s available!
One of the best ways to do this is to do a form of an elimination diet with some keto rules. That’s the way I like to think of a keto “reset” or strict keto.
Strict Keto vs Lazy Keto
The same things that can be really helpful when you’re transitioning to a low-carb lifestyle can be a detriment later on. Things like replacement sweeteners, dairy and keto-friendly products that help you adjust to your new way of eating, can later be used to overindulge.
Keto-friendly sugar substitutes, sweet treats and fat bombs are so yummy that they’re easy to overeat. Plus some replacement sweeteners have the same effect on your body as sugar.
Strict Keto Meal Plan
I define the strict keto diet as only eating whole foods that are zero carb or very low carb foods. Dirty keto is defined as eating any product that technically fits keto macros even if it’s highly processed, includes sweeteners or lower quality food. The best foods to eat on your strict keto meal plan are meats, eggs, fish and low-starch vegetables. If you would find a strict keto meal plan that’s completely laid out for you useful, please let me know!
Clean Keto and Sweeteners
It’s well accepted that using alternative “safe” sweeteners may still cause sugar cravings in some people. We’ll have a bigger discussion of sweeteners at a later date, but for now, know that allulose, stevia, monk fruit and maybe erythritol are the only ones that are very “safe.”
Even those “safe” for keto sweeteners may have an effect beyond what we understand though. There is some new evidence that some alternative sweeteners affect the gut microbi0me.
For example, I react to erythritol. It tends to give me headaches and makes me retain water. I’ve observed this over a long period of time and it’s consistent when I consume that particular ingredient.
Weight Gain or Stalls on Keto
While appetite generally regulates when following the keto diet, it’s still possible to eat beyond your daily energy requirements. Even if you stay in ketosis and only eat “keto” food, it’s absolutely possible to gain weight.
Weight gains or stalls could be from overeating or for some of the same reasons we gain weight on any type of diet. In fact, this is so common that I’m in the midst of developing a 21 Day Keto Kickstart Fat Loss Program to help with stalls and kickstart weight loss when you’re really motivated to make something happen.
Typical culprits are too much stress and lack of sleep. Problems with either of these key health markers can cause a hormonal cascade that contributes to weight gain or stalls.
If you’re having trouble with sleep and stress, be sure to check out our articles Six Tips for Better Sleep and Abhyanga: A Easy and Effective Self Care Practice-Based in Ayurveda.
Regardless of whether you subscribe to calories in calories out or hormonal theory of weight gain and loss, most would agree that you will gain weight if you eat more than your energy requirements on a regular basis.
Strict Keto as a Reset
Regardless of how long you’ve been following keto and especially if you find yourself in a stall or gaining, strict keto following my strict keto rules for a period of time can get you back on the right track. Short dietary challenges of any kind can be useful.
Challenges such as strict keto give you a goal, refine what good dietary choices are and act as a reset for your relationship to food and especially sugar.
Keep in mind, these are just “rules” for this challenge. Your keto diet is your keto diet and you may choose to do whatever works for your body, goals and lifestyle. However, these keto rules are fantastic for the purpose of a kick start into weight loss or a keto reset.
However, the rules here exclude foods and additives that tend to be the culprits of stalls or gains, so the choice about what you choose to eat is always up to you depending on your personal health and goals. If you have any concerns, please consult your medical professional.
How do I know this works? You’ll see from the rules below this is basically extreme clean keto eating. I’ve done this strict keto reset a few times since going keto while already being at a healthy weight for my height. I lost four to seven pounds in 31 days each time without having to track calories.
- No sweeteners of any kind. Even the “safe” ones. By extension, this obviously rules out any sugar (duh) and most keto “treats.”
- No dairy. A longer discussion of dairy at some point, but in the meantime suffice it to say dairy can be inflammatory and is a common allergen for a lot of people. Plus it can cause a lot of digestive issues and has a few carbs and lots of calories.
- No flours. This obviously rules out wheat flour which is, of course, full of carbs. For this challenge, common keto substitute flours such as almond and coconut are also off the menu.
- No fruit (because fructose), even those that would fit in your macros otherwise.
- Nuts in moderation and only in whole form (no nut butter).
- No processed items…this rules out seemingly benign things like protein powder and exogenous ketones for the purpose of this strict keto challenge.
- Limit fast food and then only if it follows the other rules.
- Make sure to keep up with your electrolytes.
- No more than 25 grams of TOTAL carbs per day. Even if you normally do fine with net carbs, we are sticking with total carbs for this challenge.
Pro Tip: Don’t be afraid to be boring with your clean keto food. Nothing helps with eating the proper amount more than eating the same things over and over again. This is actually one of the biggest dieting tips that is the same no matter what way of eating you choose.
Basically, all you need to do for 31 days is to eat whole, low carb, foods such as meat, eggs and leafy green vegetables to satiety and not drink calories. This is the strict keto meal plan.
Eating to satiety is a key phrase here. You definitely want to pay extra attention to your hunger and satiety cues with this challenge. Practicing mindful eating will help.
You could choose to track your macros and calories carefully on this challenge but that’s not a requirement. You could also choose to ditch vegetables altogether and treat this as a carnivore challenge. Giving up coffee is also optional.
It’s difficult to overeat clean keto whole foods. Usually, it’s the keto substitutions, sweeteners and treats that tend to contribute to excess eating.
You can do this strict keto challenge any time but it’s always more fun to have accountability and support. Click here to make your commitment to start the challenge any time you like! Please use hashtag #HNGketochallenge on social so we can hear about how it’s going.