How to Ditch the Keto Fad Diet Mentality

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There’s more to life than stressing the macros.

Do you find yourself bouncing between being “on keto” and “off keto”? Are you finding it difficult to achieve and maintain results like weight loss, increased energy, and optimal health?

If so, you might just be stuck in a “dieting” mindset where the focus is solely on weight instead of on health as a long-term goal. Here’s how to kick the fad-keto mentality and how to be successful with intuitive keto.

What is Fad-Keto?

hand holding box of keto test strips

Fad-keto is a short-term, quick-fix, restrictive diet with a tunnel vision for weight-loss. The common language of fad-keto includes terms like “cheat” and “accountability” and phrases like “that’s not keto!” and “I can’t have that!”.

A person on fad-keto is stuck in the typical “dieting” mindset, which focuses solely on tracking numbers (weight, macros, ketones). They often spend little time planning, preparing, and cooking real, whole food. Little thought is spent on the quality of the food itself, but instead entails a diet consisting mainly of processed ingredients, such as refined vegetable oils, artificial sweeteners, processed meats, with little-to-no fresh vegetables or keto-friendly fruits.

holding a box of Atkins endulge bars

People following fad-keto often seek out and depend on “ready-to-eat”, “on-the-go”, pre-packaged foods like protein shakes and bars, in addition to making frequent trips to fast-food “keto-friendly” restaurants.

Fad-keto tends to be very black-and-white, with an all-or-nothing approach to eating, often using food as a reward or punishment, rather than understanding and embracing it as vital nourishment and fuel for the body.

How does it differ from an Intuitive-Keto lifestyle?

collin wearing t-shirt with keto diet pyramid graphic on front

Intuitive-keto is quite the opposite of fad-keto. Intuitive keto is practiced as a lifestyle choice with a sole focus on increasing health-span, longevity, and quality of life.

One chooses to adopt this way-of-eating with a desire to live healthier and mindset to provide optimal nourishment and fuel for the body. It involves consuming whole, fresh ingredients as much as possible with a strong motivation to do away with overly processed foods, refined sugars, starches, and oils.

zesty keto jicama pico de gallo salsa recipe - a keto taco being topped with jicama pico de gallo

People following Intuitive-keto typically prioritize extra time to plan menus and cook food in order to maintain healthy eating habits throughout the busy week. Someone following this lifestyle is in it for the long haul, with little focus on tracking numbers and macros. Instead, they’re patiently allowing time to develop good habits, rid old pesky ones, and troubleshoot through expected learning curves.

Intuitive-keto is a path to wellness and viewed as a journey to health rather than a quick detour to losing weight. Although many people who follow this lifestyle have a desire to lose weight, they have come to recognize that a healthy weight is a side-effect of a healthy body.

So which version of keto are you following?

If you’ve discovered you’re mainly following a fad-keto diet, or somewhere in between the two versions, then congratulations! You’ve gotten through the first step, which is recognizing the issue. But where do you go from here?

Changing one’s mindset doesn’t happen overnight and will require a bit of dedication, prioritization, and patience as you slowly redirect your focus from weight loss to living a healthier, better quality of life.

Some best practices to shift to Intuitive-Keto:

It’s time to acknowledge that food is nourishment and fuel for your body, rather than simply viewed as calories which results in a burden of weight gain. We need food like we need air to breathe—it’s vital for life, and the type of fuel we choose to provide for our body can result in either a positive or negative outcome of health.

Check out the best foods to eat while following a ketogenic diet.

Join The Discussion

Comments 4

  1. bdubs

    What a great post! For people who have a hard time starting any weightloss journey I think fad keto is a gateway to good habits — but you need to walk through it and see what’s on the other side! When you get to the lifestyle keto it’s often easier (IMO) because you can walk through the store and put meals together. You’re eating FOOD! (which I think should be the ultimate goal of everyone) You no longer crave all the sweets & grains, but you know what’s available to get you over the hump in a pinch without making it your daily intake.

    Thank you for a great resource site and all of the support you put out there!

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      You are SO welcome, Bdubs! Thank YOU for leaving such a helpful and positive comment! We sure appreciate it!

  2. Susan

    I was initially in favor of “fad keto” as I think it can be a good tool to use when you are first starting out and used to eating junk. It can really be overwhelming going from garbage to healthy food if you’ve been eating like that for many years. I used to tell friends who were starting keto to find replacements for food they already loved (sub nachos for pork rind nachos, sub tacos for tacos with fried cheese shells, etc). Looking back, I still think this isn’t a bad choice if you can use it as a tool to get into ketosis. Once you get past the first few weeks (and past the phase of feeling frantic for sugar & carbs), that is a good opportunity to practice intuitive eating as you mentioned.

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Thanks a bunch for taking the time to share your thoughts with us, Susan! Good to know what tips have worked best for you when starting out!

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