The ketogenic diet has become one of the biggest weight-loss trends over the past few years, though its focus on low-carb meals might remind you of Atkins, another popular diet everyone was talking about recently, too. In fact, you may wonder if there’s even that much of a difference between the two plans, so we decided to take a closer look at each one to figure out if anything sets them apart.
For keto diets, the restriction of carbs is done in order to kick you into a state known as ketosis. Ordinarily, our bodies create energy by burning carbohydrates. With the lack of carbs in ketosis, you’re forcing yourself to burn fat for energy instead. This is why the meal plans include lots of “good” or “healthy” fats like avocados and coconut oil. Different versions of the keto diet allow for varying levels of carbs, but they all typically cut the amount down to 20 to 50 grams a day.
The Atkins diet also significantly slashes carbohydrates — but allows you to slowly bring them back to your meals in a series of four phases. According to the diet's official website, you’re restricted to 20 to 25 grams of carbs per day in the first phase, which you continue until you are 15 pounds from your goal weight. The next phase increases that level to 25 to 50 grams carbs until you’re 10 pounds away from your goal weight. For the next phase, you can have 50 to 80 grams of carbohydrates until you have met and maintained your weight loss goal for a month. After that, the final phase allows up to 100 grams of carbs to maintain your goal weight.
You probably noticed that the first two phases sound a lot like a keto diet, but there's still one main difference. The focus on “good fat” in keto makes up about 75 to 90 percent of a daily diet, with only about 10 to 25 percent remaining for protein and carbs to share. Depending on how strict you're going with keto, that can leave only 5 percent of your diet for protein (like lean chicken or grass-fed beef), which isn't very much at all. On the other hand, the added flexibility of Atkins allows for at least 20 percent protein throughout the phases.
Atkins is essentially a looser version of the keto diet, which can make it easier to follow without feeling like you’re constantly depriving yourself. Both have been shown to help people lose weight, it’s just a matter of what works best for each individual. Of course, you shouldn’t start any restrictive diet without consulting your doctor first.
If you’re not interested in cutting carbs at all, you might want to look into the Mediterranean diet instead. Click here for more information on how its emphasis on plant-based food can help you lose weight without giving up bread.
Whichever way you go, you can still enjoy delicious meals while getting fit!