What Is Keto 2.0?

The ketogenic diet, or keto diet, has become popular in recent years. The high-fat, low-carb plan has a history of being used as a way to help manage certain medical conditions and is now more widely used for weight loss.

But the keto diet restricts foods that contain carbohydrates, including fruits, starchy vegetables, whole grains, certain dairy products, and legumes (like beans and peas). This diet can also be high in saturated fat, such as from processed meats.

The characteristics of the keto diet are not in line with the current 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which are food-based recommendations to promote health, prevent diet-related disease, and meet nutrient needs. 

Plus, the restrictiveness of the keto diet can make it difficult to stick with in the long term. What's more, research on its long-term health effects is limited.

Enter keto 2.0. As a less strict version of the traditional keto diet, keto 2.0 was likely designed to boost long-term adherence and improve the healthfulness of the foods consumed.

While the exact origins are unknown, Whitney Linsenmeyer, Ph.D., RD, LD, assistant professor, Saint Louis University, Department of Nutrition and Dietetics and a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, told Health that she started hearing mentions of keto 2.0 in the beginning of 2020.

“My sense is this version is a reaction to the criticisms and limitations of the [traditional keto] diet as being too extreme and unsustainable for most people,” said Linsenmeyer.

Here’s how keto 2.0 differs from a traditional keto diet, and what some experts think about its ability to support weight loss and health. 

Person eating a variety of foods at a wooden table.

Yagi Studios / Getty Images

Features of Keto 2.0

There are no formal, published keto 2.0 guidelines. But some nutritionists have understood keto 2.0 to have the following macronutrient breakdown: 

  • 50% fat
  • 30% protein
  • 20% carbohydrate

This ratio is lower in fat and higher in carbohydrates compared to a traditional keto diet. 

Keto 2.0’s higher carbohydrate limit allows for a greater consumption of health-protective fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. These foods are staples of the Mediterranean diet, an eating pattern that’s been shown to counter obesity and help prevent chronic diseases, including heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends 45% to 65% calories of carbohydrate per total daily calories. For a daily total of 2000 calories, that's about 900–1,300 calories of carbohydrates.

Both traditional keto and keto 2.0 have lower limits compared to this recommended carbohydrate limit. Talk to your healthcare provider before making any major changes to your diet.

Keto 2.0 also emphasizes leaner protein sources, like fish in place of steak, and plant fats over animal fats, such as extra virgin olive oil instead of butter. 

How Is Keto 2.0 Different From the Keto Diet?  

Both keto 2.0 and the traditional keto diet are based on the same foundation: increase fats, maintain a moderate amount of proteins, and restrict carbohydrates. But the traditional diet and its newer counterpart have a few key differences.

Keto 2.0 Allows for More Carbohydrates

The traditional ketogenic diet consists of 90% fat, 8% protein, and 2% carbohydrate. Some variations suggest an average of 70–80% fat, 10–20% protein, and 5–10% carbohydrate.

At 2,000 calories per day, 5-10% carbohydrate equates to just 25 to 50 grams of carbohydrates daily. 

To put that in perspective: 

  • One medium apple contains almost 30 grams of carbohydrate 
  • One medium baked sweet potato provides 30 grams of carbohydrate
  • One-half cup of cooked brown rice contains about 25 grams of carbohydrate 

The carbohydrate limit of a traditional keto diet makes it difficult or even impossible to consume the suggested daily intake of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.  

Since fiber is also a type of carbohydrate, the limit makes it difficult to hit the recommended target of 30–35 grams of fiber per day for men and 25–32 grams for women.

Eating enough fiber has been shown to support digestive function and weight management, as well as lower the risk of heart disease.

“The traditional ketogenic diet is highly restrictive of foods that are routinely recommended to promote health,” said Linsenmeyer. 

In contrast, keto 2.0’s 20% carbohydrate limit allows for about 100 grams of carbohydrates per 2000 total daily calories. This limit allows for a higher intake of key nutrients found in plant foods, including dietary fiber, as well as many vitamins and minerals, according to Linsenmeyer.

Keto 2.0 Focuses More on Food Choices

Another key difference between keto 2.0 and its traditional counterpart is that the revised plan emphasizes leaner proteins and plant-based fats, which makes it more aligned with a Mediterranean diet. 

Measuring a diet based on specific healthful foods can sometimes offer a greater health benefit than only looking at the level of macronutrients like fats and carbs, according to Linsenmeyer. 

When following any diet, it’s important that the diet also offers added health benefits apart from weight loss, such as reducing the risk of heart disease or cancer, according to Andrea Glenn, PhD, RD, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the University of Toronto. 

“If good plant fat and healthy protein sources are included over higher saturated fat animal products, people may see improvements in their cholesterol levels and other risk factors for heart disease and type 2 diabetes,” said Glenn.

Traditional Keto Has More Research

The traditional keto diet has been researched in numerous studies. 

“The ketogenic diet has recently become an active area of research for treatment of type 2 diabetes, cancer, and obesity, among other diseases,” said Linsenmeyer. 

On the other hand, there are no formal studies on keto 2.0. And so there is currently not enough evidence to justify recommending the diet for particular health conditions. 

Can Keto 2.0 Lead to Ketosis?

“Ketosis is one of the main goals of a traditional keto diet,” said Glenn.

Ketosis is a shift in the way your body digests and absorbs nutrients. Ketosis occurs when the body is deprived of carbohydrates. A low carbohydrate intake triggers the breakdown of stored carbohydrates, called glycogen, and fats. 

The breakdown of fats causes an increased production of ketones, which are acids the body makes when there is not enough glucose for energy. The brain, heart, muscles, and kidneys then use the ketones as a fuel source.   

Experts question whether the amount of carbohydrates allowed in the keto 2.0 plan would result in ketosis. 

“My sense is that a diet that is 20% carbohydrate would prevent someone from being in ketosis, though ketone levels would need to be monitored to provide a definitive answer,” said Linsenmeyer.

Without the potential to trigger ketosis, keto 2.0 could be referred to as simply a low-carbohydrate diet, according to Glenn. 

Benefits of Keto 2.0

Since keto 2.0 hasn’t been researched, its potential benefits aren’t fully known. 

One potential benefit of keto 2.0—in comparison to the traditional keto diet—is that the plan is less restrictive, meaning it may be easier to follow long term, said Glenn.

A higher fat diet like keto 2.0 may also lead to weight loss, if that is something you and your healthcare provider have discussed. The dietary fats of keto 2.0 can keep you feeling fuller for longer, according to Linsenmeyer. 

Another potential benefit of a higher-fat diet in which the fats come primarily from plant-based oils, nuts, seeds, and fatty fish is a higher intake of essential fatty acids like omega-3s, said Linsenmeyer. These fatty acids can help protect your heart, brain, and eyes.

Keto 2.0’s reduced intake of carbohydrates may also provide some health benefits, particularly in blood sugar management for people with diabetes, said Glenn.

Keep in mind that the benefits of adopting a keto 2.0 diet largely depend on what someone was eating before. 

“If one’s previous diet was high in a lot of ultra-processed foods, refined carbohydrates, added sugars, and salt, they will likely see benefits to their health,” said Glenn. 

The keto 2.0 plan likely makes it difficult to include a lot of ultra-processed foods, and people may generally feel better after removing these foods from their diet. However, following a Mediterranean diet and then switching to keto 2.0 may offer less or no benefits, said Glenn. 

When following a keto or lower-carbohydrate diet, try to include more plant sources of fats and proteins, said Glenn. 

Some plant-based fats include nuts, avocados, and olive oil. Some plant-based proteins that are lower in carbohydrates include tofu, tempeh, and seitan, according to Glenn. 

“Including lots of low-carbohydrate vegetables is also important to ensure you get enough fiber,” said Glenn. Some low-carb vegetables include:

  • Asparagus
  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Green beans
  • Leafy greens

Risks of Keto 2.0

Possible research-based risks of keto 2.0 are not yet known. 

The term modified keto has been used in some research, but the macronutrient breakdown of the diets used in these studies does not match that of keto 2.0. Modified keto limits carbohydrates to 5-10% of total calories while keto 2.0 sets carbohydrates at 20% of total calories.

If the keto 2.0 diet is high in saturated fat-rich animal products, like red and processed meat, butter, and heavy cream, people may experience a rise in their cholesterol levels, said Glenn. High cholesterol levels can increase heart disease risk, the main cause of death for U.S. adults. 

“It is important to keep cholesterol levels as low as we can for as long as we can to help prevent heart disease,” said Glenn. 

Keto 2.0 may result in undesirable changes in lipid levels depending on the nature of the fats consumed, said Linsenmeyer. Lipids are fat molecules and include cholesterol. High levels of LDL cholesterol could lead to clogged or blocked arteries. High levels of other lipids, such as triglycerides, can increase the risk of heart disease. 

Another potential risk of keto 2.0 is the diet may include micronutrient (vitamin and mineral) deficiencies due to a limited intake of nutrient-dense plant foods. The lower-fiber diet might also lead to constipation, according to Linsenmeyer. 

Finally, sticking to a keto 2.0 diet long term may be difficult for some people, according to both Glenn and Linsenmeyer. 

Eating a more restrictive diet may cause a person stress if they do not enjoy the diet, and it can potentially impact the ability to participate in social activities that involve eating, said Glenn.

Long-term risks of lower-carbohydrate diets are currently not well known. “It’s possible there are other risks that we don’t know about yet,” said Glenn. 

A Quick Review

Keto 2.0 is an eating plan that offers a new spin on the traditional keto diet. Mainly, keto 2.0  allows for a higher intake of carbohydrates, which makes it seem less restrictive than the keto diet. Keto also tends to emphasize more healthful protein and fat sources compared to a traditional keto diet. However, keto 2.0 hasn’t been researched, so its effectiveness, potential benefits, and possible side effects haven’t been established.  

Experts question if keto 2.0’s carbohydrate level would allow for ketosis, the primary goal of a keto diet. 

It’s important to consider that both your eating habits before adopting any diet as well as your ability to stick with a diet long term can impact the outcome of the diet. 

A true ketogenic diet should not be attempted without medical supervision, said Linsenmeyer. If you are considering a keto 2.0 diet consult with a registered dietitian or healthcare professional for guidance on the best plan for your personal health needs and goals.

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