Have You Actually Been Doing a Modified Keto Diet All Along?

Think you've reached ketosis? Think again.

Egg, bacon and black coffee, view from above.

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Egg, bacon and black coffee, view from above.

Photo by: Carlo A

Carlo A

Thr truth is, it's actually really difficult to follow a true keto diet. That's why many people just starting to follow keto, transitioning out of keto or for those who want more flexibility opt for a Modified Keto Diet instead. What's more, many people who think they're doing full-blown keto might really be following this modified plan without knowing it. Here’s a look at what a modified plan looks like and how to tell if you've been doing Modified Keto all along.

The Keto Diet

A typical keto diet contains 70-75% fat, 20-25% protein, and 5-10% carbs. That means that most of the food you choose to eat will be pure fats like olive oil, coconut or heavy cream, or proteins like eggs, chicken, beef and fish. A small percentage of the diet comes from low-carb vegetables like cauliflower and kale, lower-carb nuts and seeds like almonds, walnuts and chia seeds, and a narrow selection of fruit like apples and berries. The diet is very rigid and counting your grams of carbs is essential in order to ensure that your body enters ketosis.

How to Find Out of You've Reached Ketosis

There are several ways to check that you’re actually in ketosis and using ketones as energy. These include:

• Ketone urine strips: You'll dip keto strips in collected urine and determine, based on the color, if you are in ketosis. This is a crude estimate of ketones and is the least reliable method.

• Breathe test: Similar to a breathalyzer for alcohol, you breathe into a small contraption that measures the ketone by-product acetone in your breathe. This method is also an estimated or crude measure.

• Finger prick: Similar to diabetics testing their blood sugar, you prick your finger using an expensive machine and it reads the amount of ketones in your blood. This is the most accurate measure, and the priciest.

What’s Modified Keto?

Similar to your typical keto plan, the modified version has a slightly different carb-to-fat ratio. This version has about 55% fat, 30% protein, and 15% carbs. The modified plan is also used by some folks who have been on a keto diet for a long time to help them ease out of ketosis.

It is also what many keto-followers are unknowingly doing. For those who are keto newbies, it provides a less restrictive carb intake, and much more doable. It also allows for more fiber and nutrients from fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. The modified version does have room to add in a touch of whole grains, legumes, and other strictly forbidden foods from the typical keto diet which would also help increase dietary fiber and hopefully help alleviate the constipation and hydration issues that go along with following a stricter keto plan.

If you find you're not in ketosis after following the keto diet, take a look at what you're eating. You may be following a modified plan.

Bottom Line: Diets shouldn’t feel torturous! If you’re following a modified keto diet, knowingly or unknowingly, don't stress. You’re probably taking in many more nutrients than the stricter typical version of keto. Another thing to consider: The keto plan did place at 38 out of 40 (almost dead last) in the US News & World Report’s Overall Best Diet Rankings, so experts agreed that it isn’t necessarily the healthiest to follow.

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. She is the author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day.

*This article was written and/or reviewed by an independent registered dietitian nutritionist.

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