Dr Aidin Rawshani

Strict low carb diet (Atkins diet) vs. ketogenic diet (keto)


Atkins diet and ketogenic diet are two of the most popular low-carbohydrate diets. Both diets advocate a drastic reduction in foods and raw materials with high levels of carbohydrates, such as sweets, sweet drinks, bread, cereals, fruits, legumes and potatoes.

Atkins diet and ketogenic diet are similar but also have some differences. This article compares the Atkins diet and ketogenic diet to help you decide which one suits you better.

Strict LCHF (Atkins diet)

Atkins diet is one of the most famous diets all over the world. It is a diet based on foods with a high fat content, protein content, but low carbohydrate content.

There are different variants of the Atkins diet, the original version (Atkins 20) remains the most popular. The Atkins diet is divided into four phases, which are based on the total intake of carbohydrates per day.

The 4 phases of the Atkin diet

  • Phase 1: During this phase, 20—25 grams of carbohydrates per day are valid until you are 7 kg from your target weight
  • Phase 2: During this phase, you eat 25-50 grams of carbohydrates per day until you are 5 kg from your target weight.
  • Phase 3: Maximum carbohydrate intake is increased to 50—80 grams per day until you have met your target weight and retains it for 1 month.
  • Phase 4: During the final phase, you eat 80—100 grams of carbohydrates per day for continuous weight maintenance.

As you approach your target weight and go through these phases, your daily intake of carbohydrates increases, which also means that you can include a greater variety of foods in your diet.

Even during Phase 4, which allows up to 100 grams of carbohydrates per day, you consume significantly fewer carbohydrates than most normally eat.

Most people in Western countries receive about 30 -50% of their daily calories from carbohydrates, which is equivalent to about 200-250 grams of carbohydrates if you eat 2,000 calories per day.

Ketogenic diet

Keto, or ketogen, diet is a diet based on very low carbohydrate intake, moderately withprotein and high fat intake.

Ketogenic diet was first used to treat children suffering from severe epilepsy, but researchers found that deiten can benefit other people as it leads to severe weight loss and several other health benefits.

The main goal of ketogenic diet is that your body ends up in the metabolic state called ketosis, as a result of which your body uses fat rather than sugar from carbohydrates as its main source of energy.

In ketosis, your body goes on ketones, which are compounds formed during the breakdown of the fat in the food or fat stored in the body.

To achieve and maintain ketosis, most people need to limit their total intake of carbohydrates to 20-50 grams per day. Macronutrients for ketogenic diet are usually 5% of calories from carbohydrates, 20% from protein and 75% from fat. Some people monitor their ketone production using blood, urine or breathing tests.

Keto is difficult

Keto, or ketogenic diet is a very popular diet at the moment and many are trying to lose weight using this method. It is also known that keto is a difficult diet to follow and many who try their diet make the mistake that they eat too much food overall, to compensate for the lack of carbohydrates from the diet.

Carbohydrates are most often included in food products and raw materials that are tasty, in addition, most often carbohydrates saturate you. Excluding carbohydrates from the diet means that the total amount of calories needs to come from other nutrients such as protein and fat.

Similarities and differences

Keto and Atkins share some similarities but also differ greatly in some respects.


Both diets are low-carbohydrate.

The fact is that phase 1 of the Atkins diet is similar to the keto diet, since it limits the number of carbohydrates to 25 grams per day. In this way, your body will most likely enter ketosis and begin to burn fat as its main energy source.

In addition, both diets can lead to weight loss by reducing the number of calories you eat. Many carbohydrates, especially refined carbohydrates such as sweets, chips and sweet drinks are high in calories and can contribute to weight gain.

Both Atkins and keto require you to eliminate these high-calorie, carbohydrate-rich foods, making it easier to cut the number of calories and lose weight.


Atkins and keto also have some differences. Keto believes that 20% of the total calorie intake should come from protein, while Atkins diet allows up to 30% of the calories from protein, depending on the phase.

During the keto diet, you try to achieve ketosis all the time by limiting your intake of carbohydrates. Atkins diet involves gradually increasing your carbohydrate intake, which will eventually stop the production of ketone bodies (reduces ketosis).

Atkins diet is considered a little more flexible than ketogenic diet and allows a wider range of foods such as more fruits and vegetables.

Overall, Atkins is a less restrictive approach, since you do not need to monitor ketones or stick to some macronutrients to stay in ketosis.

Potential health benefits

Although carbohydrate poor diets were once considered unhealthy, these diets have now been proven to offer different health benefits.

Weight loss

Low-carbohydrate diets can result in more weight loss than other dietary plans. Several studies show that Atkins is among the most effective methods of losing weight. Ketogenic diet is more restrictive than Atkins diet but can also help you lose weight. Research suggests that ketosis reduces appetite, thereby removing one of the main obstacles to weight loss, namely hunger.

Ketogenic diets also preserve your muscle mass, which means that most of the lost weight is fat mass as a result of fat burning.

In a 12-month study, the participants who stood on a low-calorie keto diet lost about 20 kg in total body weight, but with small losses in muscle mass. In addition, ketogenic diets maintain your basal metabolism (BMR), or the number of calories you burn at rest, while other low-calorie diets may cause your BMR to decrease.

Control of blood sugar

Research shows that carbohydrate poor diets can benefit blood sugar control.

Dietary plans based on low carbohydrate intake are considered a safe and effective option for people with type 2 diabetes, obesity or overweight.

Low-carbohydrate diets have been shown to reduce the need for antidiabetic drugs and improve levels of hemoglobin A1c (HGBA1c), a marker of long-term blood sugar control.

A 24-week study of 14 overweight adults with type 2 diabetes who were on the Atkins diet found that in addition to weight loss, participants enjoyed lower HbA1c levels and reduced their need for diabetes medications.

Another 12-month study of 34 overweight adults noted that participants on a keto diet had lower HbA1c levels and experienced stronger weight loss.

Other benefits

Research suggests that carbohydrate poor diets with high fat content can improve certain risk factors for cardiovascular diseases.

Carbohydrate low-calorie diets can reduce triglyceride levels and increase HDL (good) cholesterol.

A high triglyceride/HDL quor is an indicator of poor heart health and has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease.

A meta-analysis of over 1,300 people found that Atkins diet had greater reductions in triglycerides and more significant increases in HDL cholesterol than individuals following a low-fat diet.

Carbohydrate diets have also been associated with other benefits, including improved mental health and digestion, yet more research is needed.

Which diet is best?

Both Atkins and keto have advantages and disadvantages.

The ketogenic diet is extremely restrictive and can be difficult to stick to. Limiting your protein intake to 20% of the total calorie intake while eating very little carbohydrates and a lot of fat can be challenging, especially in the long term.

Additionally, some people may feel the need to monitor their ketone levels, which can be challenging and costly. Adhering to a restrictive diet such as the keto diet can also lead to nutritional deficiencies if you do not pay attention to the raw materials and nutrients you get in you.

In addition, evidence of the long-term safety or effectiveness of the ketodiet is limited, so its long-term health risks are unknown.

Most people can reap several of the health benefits of carbohydrate poor diets without being in ketosis. Therefore, moderate restriction of carbohydrate intake as the Atkins diet is usually sufficient to achieve a weight loss and lower blood sugar.

Overall, the most important thing is to focus on choosing healthy food, regardless of the ratio of protein, fats and carbohydrates you eat.

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