October 24, 2019

That's Not Keto!

We hear that phrase a few times a week, almost always from someone who is experienced enough with keto that they've experienced some changes, but not quite experienced enough to have a nuanced understanding of keto.

Keto is one of the more misunderstood diets & terms out there right now.  I thought I'd take some time and explain the biggest aspects of keto, and how you can fit Paleo Treats (especially the Bandito and the Mustang) into your keto lifestyle.


One of the most common misconceptions is that keto is based solely on macros ("20 grams of carbs or less!") or ingredients ("Raisins aren't keto!")  It's not. 

"Keto" is short for a few terms.  The first is "ketogenic", which is the state your body goes into as it runs low on carbs and starts converting fats to ketones in the liver.  A ketogenic diet is one that encourages or allows your body to run on ketones.  When you're running on ketones, you're in a state of ketosis, also referred to as “keto”. 

“Keto" does not mean "no sugar", which is a very common misconception. 

That misconception leads to the widespread use of stevia, erythritol, xylitol, monk fruit, and others as sweeteners in order to get away from a higher carb count.  Those ingredients carry their own challenges of gut irritation and triggering a “sweets craving”, plus they don’t taste great, so we don’t use them.

We use honey as our sweetener.  Again, a common misconception is that honey (and raisins) are “not keto”.  That is false, but a common misconception.  How is that possible? 

Keto is usually applied as a diet of macros because that’s easy to understand, but macros aren’t the whole story. 

First, what are macros? 

Macros refer to the amount of protein, carbohydrate, and fat in your diet.

Standard keto runs about 70-80% fat, 10-20% protein, and 5-10% carbs.   That is generally implemented by eating less than 50 grams of carbs per day, often less than 20.

Are macros the whole story?

No. You can eat more carbs and stay in keto, or eat less carbs and be knocked out of keto. 

How is that possible?  If you compress your feeding window and time it with exercise, you can increase your carb intake while still reaping the benefits of ketosis. 

If you make the very common mistake of eating too much protein while restricting carbs and staying high fat, you’ll easily bump out of ketosis.

We've done extensive testing (blood & breath) on whether or not the Treats we recommend for keto followers (the Bandito and the Mustang) will knock you out of ketosis and found that as long as you’re following standard keto protocols, they don't. 

What are the standard keto protocols? 

As indicated above, the ratio of macros is a good thing to pay attention to, and keeping carbs low in general is a major component of staying in keto.  However, staying in ketosis is heavily influenced by how often and how much you eat, the amount and timing of your sleep, your activity level, and your stress levels. 

The aspect of how much and how often you eat is hugely important but commonly ignored.  This is one of the nuances that allows you to eat more carbs than the general public thinks of as “keto” and still  receive the benefits of a keto diet.

Fasting and Keto

Most people know this as intermittent fasting, although it’s also called the Warrior Diet, or the 20/4 or 16/8.  Fasting during the 24 hour cycle keeps your body in ketosis and allows you, when you break your fast, to have more flexibility in what and how much you eat.  We've covered fasting extensively and sell a whole course that walks you through everything you need to know.

This last point, of how much to eat, is also important.  Most people are used to eating too much food, encouraged by the incredible amounts of “filler” in most modern foods.  They make you feel full but are nutritionally poor.  On the other hand you have nutritionally dense foods which allow you to eat less, still feel full, and end up with far more actual nutrition. 

How do Paleo Treats fit in?

Paleo Treats are nutritionally dense and make it so you can eat a Treat, feel satisfied, and NOT have to force your body to go through the huge digestive cost of processing the many fillers and chemicals found in standard modern day desserts.

Wait, how do we know all this?

We’ve been actively living a low carb lifestyle since 2009 when we started Paleo Treats, and in 2015 I (Nik) ran the Leadville 100 on a low carb diet, guided through understanding low carb performance by both Barry Murray (Tour De France cycling nutrition coach) and Peter Defty (owner of VESPA), both of them endurance athletes and coaches with a huge wealth of knowledge & experience with low carb performance. 

I’ve done podcast interviews with both of them that go deeper into how to get the benefits of a low carb and keto diet, I strongly recommend looking those up and checking ‘em out (episodes 30 and 39 on The Nik Hawks Show, linked above).

Actual Blood Testing for Ketones

As a quick point, let me share two actual blood ketone readings with you.

The other day (Tues the 22nd of October) I did a blood test with the KetoMojo machine in the morning and had a blood ketone level of 4.8 mmol/L.  That is well into ketosis (more than most would go, but that was after a fast followed by my world famous mega coffee). 

4.8 reading on the KetoMojo reader

Over the course of the day I ate 3 Treats.  That’s unusual for me, but just to make a point, I measured my ketones again about an hour after the last treat and had a 4.7 mmol/L reading. 

4.7 reading on the Keto Mojo device

What are optimal ketone levels?

For the layman or someone new to the keto diet, you’re generally considered to be in ketosis when your readings are above .5 mmol/L, and fasting ketosis is at 5.0.  Optimal ketosis is generally considered to be between 1 and 3 mmol/L.

Keto Mojo Zone chart

Readings of 4+ are well beyond what most followers of the “public” keto diet get, mostly because people don’t generally understand how to get in and stay in keto.

However, 4+ is normal for me, in large part due to following a combination of keto and paleo protocols that optimize for staying in healthy ketosis. 

These are a nice demonstration that “keto” has much less to do with ingredients than it does with timing & amount of carbs.

This is all a longer way of saying that our Treats (and any food in general) can definitely support you staying in a state of ketosis as long as you maintain the general framework of a ketogenic lifestyle (food, timing, sleep & recovery, activity, etc).

Liked this article?  Check out these other interviews and writings I think you'll enjoy.

Nik Hawks


Nik Hawks helps run the show at Paleo Treats. Fascinated by humans in all their strange glory, Nik is harnessed in and pulling hard in pursuit of excellence with the rest of the PT Crew. Enjoy!

Too much reading...
How about dessert?

Too Much Reading...How About Dessert?

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