You’ve probably been hearing a bit of scuttlebutt about the latest diet trend known as the Keto or ketogenic diet.  We wanted to clear up some of the hype and make sure you have our unbiased perspective on the approach.

First you should know that during his formative body building years, Tom used a Ketogenic (Keto) diet approach for the last 4-5 weeks before a contest.

After eating super “clean” for 8-10 weeks, dropping 10-15 lbs and chiseling down to a single digit body fat percentage it always seemed to require a slightly more extreme and aggressive approach to really dial it in.

That’s where the Keto approach came in and it generally worked.

I share that with you so you understand that we’re coming from a place of personal experience not just hear say.

We did a quick comparison of the “Keto” diet to the “Clean Nutrient Rich” approach to eating we advocate in the Max Mind Lean Body Nutrition Guide.

Here are our Pros and Cons…

Ketogenic Diet:

The ketogenic diet is a very low-carb, high-fat diet that can have dramatic positive changes to your metabolism. Unlike many fad diets that come and go with very limited rates of long-term success, the ketogenic diet (or keto diet) has been practiced for more than nine decades (since the 1920s) and is based upon a solid understanding of physiology and nutrition science.

It involves drastically reducing carbohydrate intake and replacing it with fat. This reduction in carbs puts your body into a metabolic state called ketosis.

When this happens, your body becomes incredibly efficient at burning fat for energy. It also turns fat into ketones in the liver, which can supply energy for the brain.

Ketogenic diets can cause massive reductions in blood sugar and insulin levels. This, along with the increased ketones, has numerous health benefits.

The standard Ketogenic Diet: It typically contains 75% fat, 20% protein and only 5% carbs.


  • Protein levels are very low. For active over 40 men and women it may increasingly more challenging to maintain and/or build new lean muscle tissue.
  • Ketosis can become dangerous when ketones build up in the body. High levels can lead to dehydration and change the chemical (acid) balance of your blood.
  • Although we’re told otherwise – because of it extremely low carbohydrate intake the Ketogenic diet approach can be very difficult for most people.
  • To get really proficient at balancing the diet it requires testing your urine for ketone levels daily.
  • There has been little talk about the lack of dietary fiber in a Ketogenic approach. Too little fiber in our diets can have far reaching ramifications that can back the entire system up to a stand still.
  • Because of it’s extremely low carbohydrate intake levels it can cause temporary dips in physical energy levels.
  • Consumption of alcohol can completely negate the ketogenic benefit.


  • In addition to helping you burn fat, ketosis can make you feel less hungry.
  • More and more research suggests that ketogenic diets might also help lower risk of heart disease, and Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s.
  • Other studies show very-low-carb diets help people with metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, Type 2 Diabetes, leaky gut, depression, increase mental clarity, improve skin conditions, reduce auto-immunity and a decrease in overall inflammation throughout the body.

CLEAN – Nutrient Rich Eating:

“Clean Eating” simply means eating for health, fitness and longevity more than just taste, instant gratification, or comfort. This approach is similar to Paleo Diet in that you eliminate dairy and can enjoy fruits in minimal moderation while closely resembling the Keto Diet with the exception of the higher ratio of protein and just a tiny bit higher carb ratio. Protein is essential for building and maintaining muscle. Let’s face it, as we age it becomes more challenging to keep muscle on our bodies especially for those of us who are very physically active. The primary guidelines around Clean Nutrient Rich Eating from Max Mind Lean Body perspective requires eliminating all grains (oatmeal, pasta, bread, rice, etc), all dairy, fried and processed foods, fast foods, all foods high with sugar and allows for minimal low sugar fruits.

Nutrient-Rich foods are foods that contain an abundance of (micronutrients) vitamins, minerals and complete amino acids but very few calories, additives, food coloring, or preservatives. A variety of healthy foods, such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds, lean meats and seafood can all be considered “nutrient rich”.

The Clean Nutrient Eating: The ratio is 55% fat, 35% protein and 10% carbs.


  • Works best when small meals are consumed every three hours. This calls for creating some new habits.
  • Requires eliminating the addictive an unhealthy sugary foods including the regular consumption of deserts. Note: If you dive into desert on a regular basis you can stop wondering why the weight just won’t come off. It’s got to go.
  • Also requires eliminating all the grain carbs (oatmeal, pasta, bread, rice, etc). Eliminating grains isn’t difficult but it does take commitment and planning and changing current habits.
  • No “legitimate” excuse for over consuming unhealthy, greasy fried foods.


  • All the numerous health benefits of the Keto Diet.
  • Preservation of muscle mass!
  • You get to eat frequently. Eating every three hours stimulates your metabolism and keeps your appetite satiated.
  • Clean Nutrient Rich eating has been shown to lower cholesterol, triglycerides, and even the symptoms of arthritis and balance blood glucose levels.
  • It also lowers the risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes.
  • Eating an abundance of healthy fruits and veggies helps your body spare protein for tissue repair and muscle building.
  • Fruits and vegetables have been shown to boost Brain Power.

Both the Keto and Clean approaches work for rapid and reliable weight loss due to lowered insulin levels and the body being forced to burn stored body fat for energy. The main key difference between the two really comes down to the amount of protein consumed. It is vitally important that as we age to focus on reducing sugars in our diet and strive to keep muscle on our bodies so I would urge you to consider following a Keto diet with a higher ratio of protein, the Clean Nutrient Eating approach.

We invite your comments and thoughts. Please share and contribute.


Dawn Terwilliger is a Kinesiologist, ACSM certified personal trainer and a successful fitness competitor, coach and model. She’s been featured in several fitness books, magazines and videos and is the co-creator of the Max Mind Lean Body Over-40 Solution and founder of High Achievers University.