Many people are confused between Keto and Low Carb diets and the main takeaway from this article should be that these diets are actually different. Keto diet may involve low carbs but low carbs do not necessarily translate into a keto diet. There is a distinct difference in a low carb vs keto lifestyle.
Low carb vs Keto
When following a ketogenic diet, a person strives to have their body reach a state of ketosis. This is the state where the body’s metabolism turns fatty acids into ketones which are then used by the body to burn fat.
A low carb diet is similar to the Atkins diet. The focus is on higher fat, lower carb foods but not specifically on reaching the state of ketosis. In general a low carb diet eliminates sugar and grains and focuses on higher fat foods and some vegetables.
Someone following a ketogenic diet usually maintains around a maximum of 20 grams of carbs per day. A low carb diet allows for more carbs, and often allows you to track your grams of net carbs which is carb value minus fiber. There is more leeway in a low carb vs keto diet for how many carbs you eat in a day.
Read more about Ketosis.
How our bodies gain and lose weight
Our bodies need energy to function. The readily available source of energy is carbohydrates. When we have excess carbohydrates in our bodies, the excess is converted into a complex element called glycogen. Fat starts to accumulate around our waist and around important organs such as the heart.
When we deprive the body of these carbs by limiting their intake, the body is forced to seek alternative energy sources. This is where it goes to retrieve the stored glycogen. Eventually, as the level of carbs drastically diminish, the body starts looking for better sources of energy and this is when the fatty acids are targeted.
The metabolism will convert these fatty acids into ketones. Consumption of these fats will lead to loss of weight.
A Low carb diet is less restrictive
The important point to note is that low carb is a random food choice rather than a strict set of guidelines. If you reduce the amount of total carbs you take into your body, it does not necessarily mean that you will lose weight as you desire.
There is more to it. If you want to lose weight, you will need to balance between fat and protein intake, carbohydrates as well as vitamins. Generally this type of diet is low carb high fat. People who don’t lose weight on a low carb diet often turn towards keto to finetune their diet and jump start weight loss.
Side effects of the low carb diet
When eating low carb, you should be on the lookout for some of side effects of this diet. The most notable side effects include;
- Mood swings
- Gain weight (from eating too much protein)
- Fatigue and low energy levels
- Diminished physical activity
- Hunger pangs
- Low blood sugar
You will want to adjust your carb levels until you find the amount that works for you. Also, you still may need to monitor your daily calories in order to achieve weight loss.
Side effects of the Ketogenic diet
The Keto diet has side effects too but once you are through the first few weeks of ketosis state, you will be able to achieve the desired effects much faster and without much struggle. The side effects of Keto diet during the very first stages of ketosis can be quite difficult. This is called the keto flu and symptoms include:
- Rapid weight loss
- Bad breath
- Loss of appetite
The Keto diet results in a metabolic state (ketosis) that the body gets into after there is a reduction of intake of carbohydrates and with regulation of other types of foods - otherwise known as macros. A low carb diet is a diet that limits the amount of carbohydrates you eat without taking into consideration other elements such as usage of fatty acids as a source of energy and macros. On a low carb diet you aren’t counting specific macros so much as you are just reducing your overall carb intake.
Both diets can help you achieve long term weight loss but a keto diet follows a more strict regimen of tracking and requires more precise breakdowns of the nutrients in your food. A low carb diet doesn’t have as much precision in keeping track of the specifics but you are more likely to need to track calories if your goal is weight loss.
While low carb diets are often recommended if you are type 2 diabetic, a ketogenic diet can be potentially dangerous. Always consult with your doctor before starting a new diet plan, diabetic or not.
When it comes to low carb vs keto, the general idea is the same - to reduce carb intake. But the specifics vary. Keto is much more restrictive and requires precise tracking. Low carb is simply eating fewer carbs or eating below a certain number of carbs per day without the strict tracking.
Whichever you choose, I have plenty of recipes that fit into both categories!