Fact checkedExpert's opinion

We believe information about products and services that could benefit people should be made available to consumers to help them make informed decisions about their health care. Therefore, we try to provide accurate and reliable information by working with different fact-checkers to review articles for factual accuracy, relevance, and timeliness. A team of qualified and experienced fact-checkers rigorously reviewed our content before publishing it on our website. At EHproject, we rely on the most current and reputable sources cited in the text and listed at the bottom of each article. Content is fact-checked after it has been edited and before publication.

Modified Keto Diet: What It Is, How It Differs & Diet Plan 2023

andrew mathis

Reviewed by Dr. Maggie Herrmann, PT, DPT
Modified Keto Diet
The MKD is less challenging for dieters to follow. Photo: Mikhail Leontyev/Shutterstock

Each article is created without any external influence. When you use our provided links to buy products, we receive a commission as an affiliate. To understand how we generate revenue, please read our advertising disclaimer.

Ketogenic or modified keto diets (MKD) appeared more than a century ago to treat seizures in children. Since then, research[1] has suggested the low carbohydrate diet may have even greater contributions to diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and diabetes. When they were first introduced, the goal at that time was to consume more than 90% of daily calories from fat and help us lose weight. 

This led to concerns about providing sufficient amounts of other macronutrients like proteins and carbohydrates. Modifications have since taken place to address these insufficiencies allowing the classic ketogenic diet to include all three macronutrients (proteins, carbohydrates, and fats) by decreasing the percentage of fat consumed daily. This allows greater metabolic changes to be addressed leading to increased weight loss.

The Modified Keto Diet

The modified keto diet takes the classic keto diet and changes the percentages of macronutrients allowed. It sets daily consumption of the three major macronutrients at 50-55% fat, 30-35% protein, and 15-20% carbs with slight variations This allows eating to be more satisfying because MKD increases the amount of protein and carbohydrates which allows you to feel fuller for a longer period of time. The trade-off is that it might not be as effective as the classic keto diet.

What Is A Modified Keto Diet?

The modified keto diet, or MKD, is used for weight control but includes fewer limitations and restrictions. It sets daily consumption of the three major macronutrients at 50-55% fat, 30-35% protein, and 15-20% carbs with slight variations depending on the research[2] setting.

This is different from the regular keto diet which allows for 70%-80% fats, 10%- 20% protein, and 5-10% carbohydrates for macronutrient proportions.[3] With the MDK, fats are decreased and protein and carbohydrates are increased. People have found it an easier diet to be compliant with due to its flexibility. 

The goal of modified keto is to provide a diet that offers the health benefits of the classic keto diet but is less challenging for dieters to follow. Despite its benefits, classic keto is more rigorous, and adjusting to it can be difficult. The modified keto offers some relief for this problem in exchange for more modest benefits. 

Benefits Of Following A Modified Keto Diet 

Benefits Of Following A Modified Keto Diet
A modified keto diet brings a lot of health benefits. Photo: Azra H/Shutterstock

Better Control Of Cholesterol And Triglycerides 

Despite its health benefits, a ketogenic diet can be problematic if you have high low-density lipoproteins (HDL) cholesterol, bad cholesterol, or high triglycerides (blood lipids). Even for people without genetic cholesterol or triglycerides issues, the classic keto diet can increase your levels into areas of concern.

By cutting back on fat, the modified keto diet is beneficial for people with high triglycerides and cholesterol, and less likely to raise these levels in those whose levels are normal. In fact, a trial testing a drink based on modified keto found positive effects[4] on triglycerides in obese adults.

Increased Energy

Many people try low-carb diets, such as keto, because they lack energy from limiting their sugar intake. These people may benefit greatly from a modified keto diet by returning energy[3] levels to near normal. It’s important to remember that everyone’s body is different and though some can tolerate the classic keto diet without feeling a drop in energy, others may not.

Better Compliance   

Keeping carbohydrates to a feasible level, rather than severely limiting them, is more beneficial for most individuals. Carbohydrate cravings are easier to manage if there is some reward daily for keeping to your dietary targets. Plus, you’ll feel fuller after eating on modified keto than on classic keto. If you’ve tried (and failed) with classic keto, modified keto might be for you.

Modified Keto Diet Plan: Foods To Eat & Avoid   

Foods To Eat   

The healthy foods you can eat on modified keto are the same as those on regular keto, the proportions are what differ. The modified keto diet food list includes the following:

  • Low-fat dairy products, including cheese and yogurt.
  • Nuts and seeds, which are very high in fat.
  • Lean meats, such as chicken and fish.
  • Fresh berries and non-starchy vegetables.

Foods Not To Eat

The greatest difference between modified keto and classic keto is that some of the high-fat foods that classic keto favors are now out. These foods include

  • Oils that are high in saturated fats, like coconut oil and palm kernel oil.
  • Butter and mayonnaise.
  • Whole milk and products made from it.
  • Red meat, bacon, and high-fat shellfish, such as shrimp and lobster.

Examples Of The Modified Keto Diet Vs. The Traditional Keto Diet

Examples Of The Modified Keto Diet Vs. The Traditional Keto Diet
MDK offers more flexible macronutrients. Photo: Natali Ximich/Shutterstock

The modified keto diet offers more flexibility with its range of macronutrients. In contrast to the traditional keto diet, it offers fewer healthy fats, increased protein (consider using a keto protein powder), and more carbohydrates. See below for how these two diets differ in macronutrient intake.

For example, a typical day of eating on a traditional ketogenic diet might look like this:

  • Breakfast: Coconut-based yogurt with mixed nuts and berries as a garnish.
  • Lunch: Tuna salad with avocado.
  • Dinner: Chicken parmesan with cauliflower pasta.

On a modified keto diet, the greater flexibility with carbs would result in a diet more like this:

  • Breakfast: More berries in your yogurt, with a fortified milk alternative.
  • Lunch: Tuna salad on thin-sliced multigrain bread.
  • Dinner: Chicken parmesan with a modest serving of semolina pasta.

The greatest difference between these two meals is the increase in carbohydrates in the modified keto diet as compared to the increase in fats in the traditional keto diet. The subtle changes, however, can be the difference between breaking a diet during the first couple of weeks and sticking with it long-term.

Small adjustments to your carbohydrate and lean protein intake, without overdoing them, can significantly strengthen your willpower and leave you feeling fuller for a longer period of time.

Is A Modified Keto Diet Right For You?    

Ultimately, whether a modified ketogenic diet is right for you will depend on your goals and limitations. First and foremost, if you have health concerns, such as diabetes, high triglyceride, or cholesterol levels, any keto diet should be adopted only with caution and after consulting with your physician.

If you have tried and failed on a classic ketogenic diet in the past – because of the side effects of adjusting to keto or cravings for carbohydrates – then a modified ketogenic diet might be a good alternative. It is important to be aware that the weight and fat loss with a modified keto diet will likely be more modest. Thus, keep realistic expectations and plan accordingly.


Modified keto is an adjustment of the more rigorous macronutrient proportions of the classic keto diet, trading fewer fats for substantially more carbs. The result is a diet that is effective in cutting weight and fat and is easier to stick to. The MKD is more likely to result in permanent changes because of its flexibility, allowing you to stick to it for a greater period of time and see the changes you desire.

Frequently Asked Questions

How is modified keto different from classic keto?

The main difference is that there are fewer fats in the modified keto diet and more carbs and protein.

Is modified keto as effective for weight loss as classic keto?

Likely not, but it can be effective if with slower and more modest progress.

Are there any downsides to modified keto?

No, a keto diet may not be right for everyone. If you have health conditions that make keto more risky, proceed cautiously and talk to a doctor first.

+ 4 Sources

EHproject has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We work mostly with peer-reviewed studies to ensure accurate information. We avoid using tertiary references. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.

  1. Ludwig, D.S. (2020). The Ketogenic Diet: Evidence for Optimism but High-Quality Research Needed. Journal of Nutrition, [online] 150(6), pp.1354–1359. doi:https://doi.org/10.1093/jn/nxz308.
  2. Martin‐McGill, K.J., Lambert, B., Whiteley, V.J., Wood, S.M., Neal, E., Simpson, Z. and Schoeler, N.E. (2019). Understanding the core principles of a ‘modified ketogenic diet’: a UK and Ireland perspective. Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, [online] 32(3), pp.385–390. doi:https://doi.org/10.1111/jhn.12637.
  3. Dowis, K. and Banga, S. (2021). The Potential Health Benefits of the Ketogenic Diet: A Narrative Review. Nutrients, [online] 13(5), pp.1654–1654. doi:https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13051654.
  4. Martin‐McGill, K.J., Lambert, B., Whiteley, V.J., Wood, S.M., Neal, E., Simpson, Z. and Schoeler, N.E. (2019). Understanding the core principles of a ‘modified ketogenic diet’: a UK and Ireland perspective. Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, [online] 32(3), pp.385–390. doi:https://doi.org/10.1111/jhn.12637.


Andrew E. Mathis was born and raised in the Philadelphia area and, with the exception of an eight-year sojourn in New York, has always lived there. He entered the publishing industry as a graduate student, joining… See More

Related post