KETO DIET VS LOW CARB DIET - WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?
Time to read 20 min
Time to read 20 min
You're feeling a little bloated around the middle, sleep is poor and restless, and you know what you are eating is the culprit.
You are ready for a change. Low-carb seems like a good way to move some timber, but what about keto? Is it the same thing as low-carb?
And if it isn't the same, Keto vs Low-Carb, what's best for losing weight?
Read on for answers, where we make things a little clearer about where the line is between low-carb and keto.
All low-carb diets focus on protein and vegetables while limiting grains and starchy foods, making them a great choice for healthy individuals trying to lose weight. While following similar guidelines to other low-carb ways of eating, keto diets are more restrictive and consist of high fat, moderate protein, and very low carbs, and was actually originally created to treat seizure disorders in children!
One of these low-carb approaches promises quick results but requires strict adherence, while the other allows more flexibility but may take longer to see progress. Both involve cutting carbs from your diet, but they have different approaches and outcomes.
So which is which, and which one is right for you? Low-Carb or Keto?
Grains, starchy vegetables, and fruit, foods with added sugar, and most alcohol are limited to low-carb diets, but not completely eliminated like on keto. Basically, as long as your carbs are under 100g then you’re on a low-carb diet – even if you’re not meticulously measuring your carbohydrate intake. Let's just say, you can get away with being a bit naughty from time to time.
On a low-carb diet, up to 100g of carbs per day are allowed, and there’s no guidance on how much protein or fat you should be eating. A lot of people go 'dirty' while low-carb and indulge in highly processed, high-fat foods while staying low in carbs.
In short, eating low carb is a lot looser and less scientific than following a keto diet.
Some specific low-carb diets include:
Low-carb Paleo – Based on paleolithic foods while keeping carbs under 100g.
The Atkins diet – A very famous low-carb eating plan with four different phases.
Zero-carb – Eating food almost exclusively from the animal kingdom.
The Dukan diet – A high protein, low fat, low carb diet created by Pierre Dukan.
The South Beach diet – Eating foods on a low glycaemic index, unsaturated fats, and lean protein.
Overall, the low-carb diet is a simple but effective way to improve your health and wellbeing. By focusing on whole foods like meat, fish, vegetables, and healthy fats while avoiding processed junk food, you can achieve sustainable weight loss and better overall health outcomes.
Cutting back on carbs can really be a game-changer for your health, and the benefits of this dietary shift are numerous and varied. However, there are a few things you need to consider before ordering a full trolley of low-carb shopping!
Here are some pros and cons of the low-carb diet:
Reduces inflammation: This dietary approach can help to reduce systemic inflammation in the body.
Stabilises blood sugar levels: A low-carb diet can provide better control over blood sugar levels, beneficial for diabetics and those with insulin resistance.
May lead to reduced hunger and cravings: Many people find that a low-carb diet can help manage hunger and curb cravings, aiding in weight management.
Improved blood biomarkers: A low-carb diet may improve blood lipid profiles, leading to lower triglycerides and higher HDL ("good") cholesterol levels.
Potential digestive issues: A low-carb diet can sometimes lead to constipation and other digestive issues due to a lower intake of fibre.
Requires careful planning: To ensure adequate nutrient density and intake of vitamins, minerals, and fibre from non-starchy vegetables, a low-carb diet needs careful meal planning. It's much harder to grab something 'safe' off the shelves. Be aware!
Varying levels of restriction: Low-carb diets can vary in their level of restriction, with some allowing up to 100 grams of carbs per day, which may be challenging for some individuals to adhere to.
So if you're feeling like you need a change in diet, and you are looking for an alternative approach to weight loss or better health, the low-carb diet is a safe and reliable option to go with. It's been used for many decades now and has proved effective for millions of people.
However, if you are going to go low-carb, it may be worth thinking about going to the next level, to harness the power of true ketosis in your weight loss efforts...
You will actually dip in and out of ketosis while following a typical low-carb diet or by doing intermittent fasting, however, the keto diet forces you into that state all of the time, leading to amazing results and improvements to body composition!
When your body switches from using glucose as its primary source of energy to using ketones (which are produced by the liver when fat is broken down), this shift not only promotes weight loss but also has other health benefits such as improved blood sugar control and increased mental clarity.
To achieve ketosis, it's necessary to limit carbohydrate intake to less than 50 grams per day (20g or lower when starting) and increase consumption of healthy fats like avocado, nuts, and oils such as MCT oil or olive oil.
Protein should also be consumed in moderation since excess protein can be converted into glucose through a process called gluconeogenesis.
By following these guidelines, you can train your body to rely on fat as its primary source of fuel rather than carbohydrates.
Once you’ve been on a keto diet for anywhere between a few days to a couple of weeks, your body will be shifting into ketosis. Fasting and exercise can speed up the process of getting into ketosis. But it's always best to take your time if you are adjusting to a new eating plan.
Your liver will start producing a higher amount of ketones.
Ketones are chemicals that are produced when fat is broken down – they can then be used as an energy source by the body.
Every cell in the body can produce the energy molecule known as Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP), from either glucose or ketones. However, ketones are more efficient and produce fewer free radicals than glucose – which means ketones as a fuel source can be both healthier and more sustainable than glucose. And may lead to improved mental clarity for the follower.
In other words, being on keto fuels your body and brain with energy more efficiently than a standard or low-carb diet.
The benefits of going keto extend beyond just shedding pounds. As we have been through above, the keto way of life has many bonuses. However, it isn't all rosy, and some may struggle with the keto way:
With Keto being more restrictive than a general low-carb diet and consisting of 70% fat, 20% protein, and 10% carbs, it may not be an easy diet for everyone to attempt. There are also short-term side effects like 'keto breath' and 'keto flu.'
However, we are called The Keto Collective for a reason! We believe the keto diet is the perfect choice to turn back the clock and help reinvigorate your body and mind. It is superior to the standard low-carb diet in almost every way and will result in quicker results that last longer.
You won't get to exist in a state of ketosis if you don't lower your carbs sufficiently, and that is the true superpower of keto that typical low-carb dieting does not provide.
While both low-carb and keto diets share similar goals of promoting weight loss and better health outcomes through reduced carbohydrate consumption, they differ in terms of macronutrient ratios as well as how strictly they need to be followed and how quickly the user wants to see results.
While we would always recommend keto over other low-carb diets, we also know that it's important to consider your personal preferences and lifestyle. Not everyone is the same at the end of the day!
If you enjoy eating high-fat foods like avocados and cheeses, then keto is probably going to be the better option for you. On the other hand, if you prefer a more moderate fat intake and don't want to restrict carbs as severely, then other low-carb diets might be a better fit. But you should know that you won't get the full power of ketosis without going keto!
A factor that is important to consider is your health status. If you have certain medical conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure, you should consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new diet plan. Both keto and low-carb diets have been shown to improve these conditions in some people; however, they may not be suitable for everyone.
Get in touch with your doctor if you have any concerns.
When transitioning into either of these diets, there are certain tips that can help ensure success. Let's look at them next.
Consistency is key when it comes to sticking with any new dietary approach and its especially important on Keto! One dietary mistake and you can be kicked out of ketosis!
Remember that both keto and low-carb diets require a significant shift in eating habits which can take time for the body to adjust to. Be patient with yourself and don't get discouraged if you experience setbacks along the way! It happens to us all.
Regardless of your eating habits, remember, the ultimate goal of any diet should be overall health and not just weight loss. Make new sustainable habits, and avoid the cycle of yo-yo dieting to achieve lasting health benefits.
It's achievable for anyone. It just takes some effort and knowledge.
If you liked this article, check out our post on Losing weight on the Keto Diet
The amount of time one should stay on a keto or low carb diet depends on the individual's goals. Generally speaking, it is recommended to stay on the diet for at least 3-6 months to see optimal results. However, for those looking to lose weight quickly, a shorter period of time may be beneficial. It is important to speak with a doctor or nutritionist to determine the best plan for your body type and lifestyle.
While many people have seen success on these diets, the high-fat, low-carb nature of them may not be suitable for some individuals. People with existing health conditions, such as diabetes or kidney disease, may need to be extra careful when considering either diet as they could potentially worsen existing health conditions. Additionally, certain individuals may not be able to consume a large amount of fat due to digestive issues. Ultimately, it's important to consult with a doctor or nutritionist before beginning either diet.
For people looking to lose weight and improve their overall health, there are many alternatives to a keto or low carb diet. Some popular options include the Mediterranean Diet, which focuses on eating whole, unprocessed foods like fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats; the Flexitarian Diet, which emphasizes plant-based foods and limits the consumption of animal products; and the Paleo Diet, which follows a diet similar to that of our ancient ancestors. Each of these diets has its own set of advantages and disadvantages, and it's important to find the one that works best for you and your lifestyle.
Common side effects include fatigue, constipation, headaches, bad breath, nausea, and difficulty sleeping. While these side effects may go away after a few weeks, they could also indicate more serious underlying health issues, so it's important to discuss any side effects with your doctor.
I know that giving up carbs can be tough, but if you're considering a keto or low-carb diet, it's important to understand what you can and cannot eat. The answer to whether or not you can still eat carbs on these diets is a bit complicated. While both diets restrict carbohydrates, the main difference lies in the amount of carbs you can consume. On a keto diet, your carb intake is limited to just 20-50 grams per day, while on a low-carb diet, you may be able to consume up to 100-150 grams of carbs per day. It's important to note that these limits will vary based on individual needs and goals. So while you may still be able to incorporate some carbs into your meals, it's essential to monitor your intake carefully and choose healthier carbohydrate options like vegetables and whole grains.
When starting a keto or low-carb diet, there are some common mistakes that people make. One of the biggest mistakes is not properly tracking their intake of carbs and other macronutrients. It's important to stay within your daily allowance of carbs to remain in ketosis or achieve weight loss goals. Another common mistake is not consuming enough healthy fats, which are essential for energy and satiety on these diets. Some people also make the mistake of overeating protein, which can lead to gluconeogenesis and kick them out of ketosis. Lastly, not drinking enough water or electrolytes can cause dehydration and other negative side effects. To avoid these mistakes, it's important to educate yourself on the specifics of your chosen diet and track your intake closely.
I know it sounds crazy, but yes, you can actually gain weight on a keto or low-carb diet. Here's the thing: just because you're cutting out carbs doesn't mean you can eat unlimited amounts of high-fat and protein-rich foods. At the end of the day, weight loss comes down to calories in versus calories out. If you're consuming more calories than your body needs, regardless of where they come from, you will gain weight. Plus, many people make the mistake of overeating keto-friendly snacks and processed low-carb foods that are still packed with calories. So if you want to lose weight on a keto or low-carb diet, be sure to keep track of your calorie intake and stick to whole, nutrient-dense foods as much as possible.
In my experience, it typically takes about 2-3 weeks to start seeing noticeable results on a low-carb or keto diet. This is because your body needs time to adapt to using fat as its primary fuel source instead of carbohydrates. During this time, you may experience some initial weight loss due to water weight and a decrease in inflammation. However, it's important to keep in mind that everyone's body is different and results may vary. Consistency with the diet and incorporating regular exercise can also play a significant role in how quickly you see results.
When it comes to following a keto or low-carb diet, there are certain foods that should be avoided. These include high-carb items such as bread, pasta, rice, and sugary snacks. Instead, focus on consuming plenty of healthy fats like avocado and nuts, along with protein sources like eggs and lean meats. It's also important to limit your intake of fruit due to its high sugar content. Remember that the key to success on either of these diets is maintaining a consistent level of carbohydrate intake while still meeting your nutritional needs. By avoiding certain foods and making smart choices about what you eat, you can achieve optimal results in terms of weight loss and improved health.