The ketogenic diet is notoriously tough to stick with and, as a result, many people who were once all-in with the low-carb eating plan have stopped following it. But not everyone who was once big into keto wants to completely cut ties with it—they just want something that’s a little more approachable. Enter keto 2.0.
It’s hard to say where, exactly, the term keto 2.0 came from, but it seems to be a growing movement—and many keto fans are now tagging their Instagram posts with #keto2.0.
So what is keto 2.0 and why are so many people into it? And is it even keto if the diet is tweaked? We asked dietitians to weigh in.
What is keto 2.0—and how is it different from the original keto diet?
To understand keto 2.0, let’s quickly refresh your understanding of the original ketogenic diet plan. Keto is an ultra low-carb diet that focuses on increasing your fat intake to the point where your body uses fat for energy, explains Scott Keatley, R.D., of Keatley Medical Nutrition Therapy.
Everyone’s body and approach to the diet is slightly different, but that usually means you strive to get 60 to 75% of your calories from fat, 15 to 30% of your calories from protein, and 5 to 10% of your calories from carbohydrates.
As a result, using a 2,000-calorie diet as an example, keto fans usually try to have no more than 50 grams of carbs a day, with some aiming for an even lower amount. (To put that in perspective, a medium-sized apple has 25 grams of carbs.)
The goal of all of this is to go into a state of ketosis, where your body doesn’t have enough carbs to use as energy, Keatley says, so it starts burning through fat instead. At this point, that breakdown of fat also produces compounds called ketones (which is ultimately where the diet got its name from). This high fat intake is also highly satiating, so people who follow keto to lose weight are able to do so without feeling hungry.
But keto 2.0 takes a more laidback approach.
There are no “rules” with this modified version of keto, but one dietitian points out that keto 2.0 followers would generally try to get 50% of their calories from fat, 30% of their calories from protein, and 20% of their calories from carbs. As a result, you could have 100 grams of carbs daily on a 2,000 calorie keto 2.0 diet, Keatley says, or double the amount.
There’s another huge aspect of keto 2.0 that needs mentioning: If you increase your carb intake to 20% of your calories, it would no longer be considered a ketogenic diet, because “it’s impossible to reach ketosis anymore,” says Karen Ansel, R.D.N., co-author of Healthy in a Hurry.
What kind of foods can you eat on keto 2.0?
As with regular keto, you can technically eat anything you like within the parameters of the diet, but things like sugar, fruits, beans, legumes, and grains are typically severely limited.
A huge issue many nutrition pros have with keto is that it tends to pack in a lot of saturated fats or, at least, many people fall into the trap of eating lots of foods loaded with saturated fats, like bacon and butter. While these foods can ~technically~ help you lose weight on keto when you stay within your macros, they’re not exactly great for your heart health or overall well-being.
But keto 2.0 seems to be big on achieving a well-rounded diet, with more fruits, vegetables, and leaner proteins thrown into the mix. Sure, you can have these in limited quantities on regular keto, but keto 2.0 gives you more wiggle room for them, along with healthier, complex carbs like beans and oats.
Another big perk, per Ansel: You’ll get more fiber in your diet on keto 2.0 (compared to regular keto, which has not much at all)—and that can help keep you satiated, lower your disease risk, and improve overall digestion.
So, is keto 2.0 healthy?
It’s definitely healthier than traditional keto, given that it focuses on eating more heart-healthy unsaturated fats, leaner proteins, and more plant-based foods high in nutrients, Ansel says.
Ultimately, keto 2.0 is “really a low carbohydrate diet,” Keatley says. “It is much more similar to the traditional Mediterranean diet than a keto diet and that’s a good thing,” he says, since experts agree that the Mediterranean way of eating can improve overall health. “By incorporating more lean proteins, especially fish and shellfish, as well as more fruits and vegetables, you’re increasing nutrient diversity which is the key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.”
Keatley warns that the approach matters here—it’s easy to just add pasta to the mix to get more carbs in keto 2.0 but “this will not be as good of a change as it could be,” he says. Instead, he recommends getting your carbs from fiber-rich sources like beans, legumes, fruits, and whole grains.
…but can keto 2.0 still help you lose weight?
If you do it right, yes. “It’s not that carbs are bad, it’s that we as Americans are consuming too many high-calorie carbs such as potatoes, bananas, rice, pasta, and other refined grains,” Keatley says. “Shifting the keto diet away from fat and towards non-starchy fruits and vegetables is a great way to improve fiber intake, which can help you feel fuller longer, improve gut health, and help prevent some cancers.”
Add naturally lean meats like fish and shellfish to the diet and “you’ve got a recipe for healthy weight loss,” Keatley says.
Just keep in mind that you might not drop weight as drastically as you would on the original keto diet, given that you’re not going into ketosis with a higher carb intake, Ansel says. But, if you weren’t on the healthiest of diets before trying keto 2.0, it can definitely make a difference in the number on the scale.
Should you try keto 2.0, even if you hated regular keto?
It’s ultimately up to you, but experts don’t hate these modifications. If regular keto wasn’t for you, it’s definitely worth trying this approach if you think it might work for you, Keatley says.
There are still healthier, more sustainable diets out there, though, Ansel says. “The Mediterranean or flexitarian diets are much better bets,” she says.
Ultimately, the best diet for you is the one you will actually enjoy and stick with consistently—that way, you make a lifestyle change that is actually sustainable.