The keto diet has gotten a ton of attention—good and bad. Boosters say the high fat, very low carbohydrate diet nets serious weight loss. Detractors contend it’s too extreme. The modified keto diet may be the middle ground. Fat still reigns supreme, but it’s more user-friendly and can yield results. Both the traditional and modified keto diets train the body to enter ketosis; when you severely limit carb intake, it starves the body of its main fuel source, glucose. That forces the liver to metabolize fat cells, turning them into ketone bodies, an alternative fuel source. People on the keto diet report losing weight, having more-consistent energy, and sleeping better.
It’s all about the breakdown of macronutrients. A traditional keto diet calls for up to 75 percent of calories to come from fat, 20 percent from protein, and 5 percent from healthy carbs—equal to about one cup of blueberries. In the modified plan, carbs tick to as much as 20 percent of your calories, fat goes to 50 percent, and the remainder is protein.
“The modified keto diet is healthy living—that’s it,” says Brett Osborn, author of Get Serious: A Neurosurgeon’s Guide to Optimal Health and Fitness.
For those looking to lose weight, aim to shed about a pound per week. Any more and you could be stealing from muscle mass—which is bound to happen on the traditional keto diet, Osborn says. People warn of the “keto flu”—a low-energy time when the body is adjusting. Avoid it by easing into the diet. Keep a food diary to determine how many calories you typically consume from carbs. Keep overall calorie intake the same, but reduce the number of carbs by 25 grams and up fat intake by 10 grams per day, until you reach the desired breakdown. Complement the new eating plan with a foundational lifting routine (bench press, deadlifts, squats, pullups, and the like).
Before you buy an industrial-size container of coconut oil, learn the essentials for a safer keto diet.
Eat Salty Foods
Ketosis alters kidney function, so it’s important to replenish electrolytes with foods like nuts and bone broth. You can take exogenous ketone supplements like Keto Weight Loss from BPI Sports, too. “It helps stoke the body chemistry, making it easier to convert fat into ketones for fuel,” Osborn says. Drink lots of water to avoid dehydration.
Take it Easy on The Protein
For every pound of lean body mass, aim for .9 grams protein. “It’s possible to build muscle with less protein than commonly thought,” Osborn says. So a 180-pound man with 20 percent body fat needs 130 grams of protein a day. That’s around 4 eggs, 2 cups of cottage cheese, and 8 ounces of chicken.
Go Vegetable Wild
Nonstarchy vegetables are low in carbs and contain tons of nutrients your body depends on. Eat salads with diced organic veg, nuts, a lean protein like sardines, and extra-virgin olive oil.