It seems like the ketogenic diet went from obscurity to one of the top trending weight loss diets overnight.
And although keto can certainly help you shed some extra pounds, the benefits to overall health are likely what’s keeping keto in the headlines.
But all of a sudden something new has emerged, “keto 2.0” seems to be popping up everywhere. But what’s up with this new take on keto? And is keto 2.0 really an upgrade, or a distraction from the tried and true traditional keto diet?
Let’s take a look at what keto 2.0 is all about, and whether you should give this new diet a whirl.
Keto 2.0 takes the traditional low-carbohydrate, high-fat ketogenic diet and adds in a few more guidelines.
What Foods Can You Eat On Keto 2.0?
Similar to traditional keto, keto 2.0 centers around low-carb dieting, with a special focus on consuming fat from plant-based foods while reducing meat consumption. And to make up for the protein loss, keto 2.0 suggests a higher consumption of protein coming from fish.
Proponents of keto 2.0 claim that this version of the keto diet is more flexible and easier to follow. In addition, the inclusion of more plant-based fats results in a reduction in saturated fat intake.
Foods like green leafy vegetables, extra virgin olive oil, avocados, fish, nuts, seeds, and eggs are mainstays in keto 2.0. While red meat, poultry, and dairy take a back seat.
And of course, sugar, whole grains, root vegetables, and other high-carb foods are all on the no-no list as well.
Additionally, keto 2.0 followers are given more leeway with their macronutrient ratio ( a concept we’ll dive into in more detail below). While traditional keto follows a macronutrient ratio of:
- Fat: 55-60%
- Protein: 30-35%
- Carbs: 5-10%
Keto 2.0 shifts this ratio to allow for more carbs, with a ratio of:
- Fat: 50%
- Protein: 30%
- Carbs: 20%
Is Keto 2.0 Healthy?
Similar to traditional keto, keto 2.0 requires a reduction in carbohydrate intake when compared to a standard diet. By cutting carbs, you naturally support your blood sugar and stave off issues like obesity, diabetes, and heart disease that can come with high-carb diets[*].
The focus on fatty fish in keto 2.0 means that you’ll also be reaping the anti-inflammatory benefits of omega-3 fatty acids[*]. Some examples of omega-3 rich fatty fish include salmon, mackerel, sardines, and herring[*].
Research shows that high levels of omega-3s in your diet can improve blood lipid levels, relieve symptoms of arthritis, and may even halt the growth of tumors in your body[*].
Keto 2.0 also shines the spotlight on plant-based unsaturated fats coming from sources like avocado, olive oil, nuts, and seeds. These food sources tend to be high in monounsaturated fat, which research shows can support[*][*][*]:
- Healthy cholesterol levels (lowered LDL and increased HDL)
- Weight management
- Blood pressure
- Blood sugar
- Heart health
And finally, with a focus on green leafy and other low-carb vegetables, keto 2.0 offers a diet that’s high in fiber as well as a range of vitamins and minerals[*].
Now that you’ve gotten a glimpse at some of the benefits of keto 2.0, the question remains — how is this new version different from traditional keto?
The Traditional Keto Diet
Let’s begin by taking a look at the traditional keto diet in its bare-bones form:
As far as we know, humans have always had the ability to shift into a state of ketosis when carbohydrate food sources were scarce. This is how many of your ancestors survived the long, cold Winters back in the times of hunter-gatherers. When the snow and frost of the cold months took over, it’s likely that humans survived mostly on game meat from whatever the hunters of the tribe could find.
The result? A diet that was high in fat and protein and very low in carbohydrates. Therefore, it’s likely that hunter-gatherers spent months at a time in a state of ketosis simply out of necessity for survival.
Fast-forward thousands of years and in the 1920’s a doctor named Russell Wilder discovered that severely limiting carbohydrates could significantly reduce the number of seizures that children with epilepsy experience. He termed this carb-restricted diet “the ketogenic diet,” and hence the keto diet was born[*].
Differing Dietary Guidelines
The crucial piece to note about the keto diet is that your hunter-gatherer ancestors and those children with epilepsy were not simply reducing carb intake. In order to get into a state of ketosis (where your body is producing ketones), carbohydrates have to be drastically restricted.
If there’s enough glucose in your blood to supply your body with energy, ketone production won’t take place[*].
Therefore, the traditional ketogenic diet provides a guideline around macronutrient (fat, protein, and carbohydrate) consumption — as opposed to guidelines around which foods to eat.
With that being said, for many people, the ketogenic diet conjures up images of bacon, cheese, and greasy burgers. This had lead to a common misconception that the ketogenic diet has to be rich in animal products and devoid of vegetables.
The keto 2.0 diet, on the other hand, defines specific guidelines around which types of food you should consume. The upside of these guidelines is that it highlights some of the lesser-publicized keto-friendly foods like nuts, seeds, leafy greens, and fish.
Shifting Macronutrient Guidelines
Another key difference between traditional keto and keto 2.0 is the macronutrient guidelines. While traditional keto offers guidelines that are meant to help most people get into a state of ketosis, keto 2.0 loosens the reins a bit — particularly for carbs.
It may not seem like a big difference, but shifting carb intake from 5-10% to 20% of total daily calories is actually quite substantial. For a person eating a 2000 calorie diet, that would mean grams of carbs a day would go from 25-50 grams a day to 100 grams a day.
As mentioned above, the basis of a ketogenic diet (regardless of what foods you eat) is to keep carbohydrates low enough so you can enter a state of ketosis. Unless you’re exercising heavily and timing your carbohydrate intake around your workouts, it will be hard for most people to reach ketosis while consuming 100 grams of carbs a day.
While in theory keto 2.0 sounds like an upgrade from the traditional keto diet, the fact of the matter is — it’s not really a “keto” diet at all. It’s much more like a low-carb version of the Mediterranean diet.
What’s more, the idea that we need to upgrade the keto diet in the first place comes from the misconception that keto dieters need to load up their plates with cheese and meat.
Traditionally, people have likened the keto diet to the Atkins diet of the 1990s; greasy burgers topped with bacon and cheese wrapped in lettuce. But loading up your plate with meat and dairy is no longer synonymous with being in ketosis.
This is the result of industry leaders promoting healthy fats paired with low-carb veggies and sustainably sourced protein as a ketogenic lifestyle.
While the foods on keto 2.0 are certainly healthy, the macronutrient ratio is a considerable issue. For many people, unless they’re working out and strategically eating carbs around their exercise, consuming 20% of your calories from carbs isn’t going to get you into ketosis.
This version of the keto diet is also supposed to be more flexible. However, if you look at the dietary guidelines of keto 2.0 compared to traditional keto, you’ll only see foods being omitted (dairy, chicken, red meat, etc.), and nothing new added.
If anything, keto 2.0 perpetuates the fear around saturated fat that many researchers and low-carb health professionals have worked so hard to dispel.
If you’re unfamiliar, the latest research has shown over and over that the idea that saturated fat causes heart disease is unfounded and, in fact, replacing saturated fat in your diet with omega-6’s may have adverse effects on your heart[*][*].
What if you want to reap all the benefits that Mediterranean diet foods can provide? Go ahead and add them in.
In fact, any balanced ketogenic diet should already be rich in a variety of protein and fat sources, including omega-3 rich fish, olive oil, and nuts.
You can have the best of both worlds by continuing to follow the traditional keto diet (with the standard macros) while making adjustments to include a variety of keto-friendly foods.
While the sentiment behind keto 2.0 is well-intentioned, the reality is that this version of the diet is likely going to do more harm than good.
If your keto diet is heavy in meat and cheese, and you want to shift to a more plant and fish-based approach, then switching up your weekly meal plan to include more of these foods is an excellent idea.
However, if you accompany that shift with more leniency around carbs, to put it plainly — you’re missing the point.
Want more omega-3s and monounsaturated fats in your keto diet? Have at it. Just be sure not to lose the plot by confusing low-carb dieting with the ketogenic diet.