Atkins and Keto are two of the best known low-carb diets. Both call for a drastic reduction in high-carbohydrate foods, including sweets, sugary drinks, breads, grains, fruits, legumes, and potatoes. Although these diets are similar, they also have differences.
This article compares the Atkins diet and the keto diet to help you decide which diet may be better for you.
The Atkins Diet
The Atkins diet is typically a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet. However, during the induction phase of the Atkins diet, the recommendations for fat intake are somewhat similar to those of the keto diet. The maintenance phase of the Atkins diet has a higher protein goal than the keto diet, and a more liberal carbohydrate intake. Studies have found that a low-carbohydrate, Atkins-like diet, including lower saturated fat and high protein, can help maintain weight and reduce the risk of heart disease.
The Keto Diet
The keto, or ketogenic, diet is a very low-carb, moderate protein, high-fat eating plan. It was first used to treat children who have seizures, but researchers have found that it may benefit others as well.
The purpose of the keto diet is to put your body into a state of ketosis metabolism, during which it uses fat, rather than carbohydrate sugar, as its primary source of energy.
In a state of ketosis, your body runs on ketones, which are compounds formed during the breakdown of fats in food or stored in your body.
In order to achieve and maintain ketosis, most people need to limit their total carbohydrate intake to 20-50 grams per day. Following a keto diet usually involves consuming less than 5% of calories from carbohydrates, 10-30% from protein, and 65-90% from fat.
Some people use blood, urine or breath tests to monitor their ketone body production.
Similarities Between the Ketogenic Diet and the Atkins Diet
Will you lose weight on a low-carb diet like this one? Most likely you will, if you follow it strictly.
Dolinsky, RD, a clinical dietitian specialist at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan, suspects that you will lose most of your water weight in the beginning because carbohydrates retain water. She suspects that once you start eating normally, you will regain a lot of water. A study published in November 2014 in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, found that after one year, people who followed Atkins lost a modest amount of weight (4.6 to 10.3 pounds), although some of the weight came back by the end of the second year.
In Atkins or keto, you don’t have to count your calories. But you do need to keep track of the amount of carbohydrates you consume. In ketosis treatment, you also need to make sure you’re getting the right ratio of calories from fat and protein.
As for which diet is easier to follow, Gerin, RD, a Hamilton, Ontario–based blogger at NutritionArtist.com, says it depends on the individual and his or her eating habits before starting the diet. Neither is easy, though, says Dolinsky, because low-carb diets can lead to dizziness, nutritional deficiencies and mental and physical fatigue. U.S. News & World Report rated the Atkins diet as “easy to follow” at 1.8 out of 5, and the keto diet at 1.4.
There are also certain differences between Atkins and Keto.
Keto is a moderate protein approach, with about 20% of calories coming from protein, while the Atkins diet allows up to 30% of calories to come from protein, depending on the phase. In addition, in the keto diet, the goal is to put your body in ketosis by extremely restricting carbohydrate intake.
On the other hand, the Atkins diet involves a gradual increase in carbohydrate intake, which will eventually kick your body out of ketosis.
Because of this flexible carbohydrate restriction, Atkins allows for a wider variety of foods, such as more fruits and vegetables and even some grains.
Overall, Atkins is a less restrictive approach because you don’t have to monitor ketones or stick to certain macronutrient goals to stay in ketosis.
The Bottom Line
Low-carb diets, especially those that focus on high-quality, nutritious foods, can be beneficial. However, be sure to consult a healthcare professional before making any drastic changes to your diet.
Atkins and Keto are both low-carb diets that may be beneficial for weight loss, diabetes management and heart health.
The main difference between them is that on the Atkins diet, you gradually increase your carbohydrate intake, while on the keto diet, carbohydrate intake remains low, keeping your body in a state of ketosis and burning ketones for energy.
While some people may benefit from a more restrictive keto diet, moderate carbohydrate restriction – such as in the later stages of the Atkins diet – is sufficient for most people to experience the benefits of a low-carb diet.