Low Carb Diets Versus Keto Diet: What’s the Difference?

Low carb and ketogenic diets are popular with many people trying to lose weight fast.

While both may be effective for rapid weight loss, many registered dietitians are skeptical about their long-term effectiveness.

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Overview of low carb diets

Dietary guidelines for Americans 2020-2025 recommend that consumers get 45% to 65% of their total calories from carbohydrates. With a low carb diet, the calorie content of carbohydrates is lower than what is normally recommended for people. Normally, with a low-carb diet, one would get between 25% and 40% of their caloric intake from carbohydrates, says Julie Zumpano, a registered dietitian at the Cleveland Clinic Human Nutrition Center.

Typically, with diets that are not low in carbohydrates, the calorie count of carbohydrates is similar to the calorie count of fats and proteins.

Low Carbohydrate Diet Basics

A low carb diet recommends less carbohydrates than the daily recommended dietary guidelines. In many low-carb diets, it is recommended to choose complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables with starch, because they will provide more fiber and protein, healthy fats and protein from lean meats, poultry and fish.

There is no single version of the low carb diet. For example, low carb diets include: Atkins, Paleo, South Beach.

Diets share some similarities but are not the same. For example, there are different iterations of the Atkins diet, depending on how much weight you want to lose. Broadly speaking, the theory behind Atkins is that by limiting carbohydrates, the body has to resort to an alternative fuel: stored fat. People on the Atkins diet can eat sugars and “simple starches” like potatoes, but little or no white bread and rice. It incorporates protein and fat, including chicken, meat and eggs.

On the other hand, the paleo diet is based on the premise that if the cavemen didn’t eat it, you shouldn’t eat it either. So supporters of this regime say no to refined sugar, dairy, legumes and cereals; they can eat fresh meat, fish, poultry, fruits and vegetables.

Meanwhile, the South Beach diet is based on the idea that there are good carbs and fats, and that there are unhealthy carbs and fats. The key to losing weight is to choose the best of each. Therefore, the South Beach food diet emphasizes many starch-free vegetables; ous; whole dairy products; whole grains and nuts; and proteins such as chicken and turkey.

In general, here are the foods you can eat with a low carb diet:

  • Eggs and lean meat, poultry and fish (beef, chicken, turkey, tuna and more).
  • Cheese.
  • Cruciferous vegetables.
  • Dairy products.
  • Dark chocolate.
  • Fats and oils.
  • Green leafy greens.
  • Nuts and seeds (almonds, cashews, flax seeds, hazelnuts, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds).

Similarities between low-carbohydrate and ketogenic diets

For many people, low-carb and keto diets are interchangeable, says Natalia Groat, a UW Medicine registered dietitian at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. The center is run by UW Medicine, the formal brand of the University of Washington health care system.


Meal delivery services are available for both diets. There are a variety of low carb meal delivery services that offer prepared or fast food meals for prices ranging from about $ 7 to $ 20 per meal. The best ketological diet meal services can cost a little more, ranging from about $ 9 to $ 22 per meal.

Health benefits

As for the keto diet, research suggests it may be helpful in treating epilepsy. The classic ketogenic diet consists of a diet high in fat and low in protein and carbohydrates, with restricted calories and fluids, according to a study published in Frontiers in Neuroscience in 2019: “The CKD (classic keto diet) and its As an alternative to non-surgical drug-resistant patients (people who do not respond to at least two anti-epileptic drugs) with epilepsy, of any age, each patient should follow an individualized diet, but adults have more difficulty stay. the CKD “. This diet should only be used under the direction of a registered nutritionist who specializes in the treatment and prevention of epilepsy.

Health risks

Low-carbohydrate and ketogenic diets carry similar risks. For example, research published in July 2021 in Frontiers in Nutrition suggests that very low-carb diets (which could be considered ketological diets) are associated with a number of marked health risks.

Pregnant women on these diets are more likely to have a child with a neural tube defect, even when supplemented with folic acid. Increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Increased risk of cancer.

Other potential risks with the keto diet include:

Weight loss effects

You can lose weight with any of the diets. However, Groat points out, “I don’t know if it’s sustainable either.”

The low carb approach to eating is probably more sustainable for people who are used to it, such as people with diabetes. Maintaining any diet in the long run is problematic because both are restrictive and not in line with the typical eating patterns of many people.

Keto can cause rapid and dramatic weight loss, but maintaining it could be a problem. By restricting certain fruits and vegetables, you may not get enough vitamins and nutrients. Similarly, you can lose weight fast with a low carb diet, but maintaining it in the long run is difficult because it does not allow people to eat many of the foods they like.

Following a ketogenic diet is more likely to lead to a rapid and dramatic weight loss, so you reach the top of the best fast weight loss diets.

Which is better?

Groat would not recommend any diet to most people. However, between the two diets, the low carb diet is less restrictive and allows you to consume more of the nutrients your body needs.

Keto diet Low carb diet
Health benefits It can be useful in the treatment of epilepsy. It can be useful for people with diabetes.
Health risks Increased risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, kidney stones, liver disease and diabetes. Increased risk of constipation, headache and muscle cramps.
Weight loss Effective for rapid and possibly significant weight loss, but can be difficult to maintain. Effective for fast weight loss, but can be difficult to maintain.
Food Rib fillet; chicken with skin; roast pork; bacon; nut butter; broccoli; cauliflower; cucumbers; whole dairy foods; dried fruit; tahini; apples; mores; raspberry; grapefruit; nectarines; watermelon; strawberries; peaches. avocados; eggs and lean meat, poultry and fish; cheese; cruciferous vegetables; dairy products; fats and oils; green leafy vegetables; apples; mores; raspberry; grapefruit; nectarines; watermelon; strawberries; peaches.

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