Your approach to eating and achieving your health goals is a journey. When it comes to that journey, everyone's a little different. That might mean what works for you won’t work for your neighbor and that’s okay. We just need to be smart and make informed choices.
For example, you may know about two low-carb health diets: the keto diet and the Atkins diet. You may have seen results online or heard about one diet or the other from friends. You may also be ready to lower your carb intake, and are curious which diet is better for you.
Now, you could skip to the bottom and see the answer right away―though, spoiler alert, the answer depends on what you prefer in a diet, and what’s best for your personal health. But first, we totally encourage you to become well-versed in both diets. This will help you make a more informed choice for your health goals. The more you know, the more likely it is that you will achieve your goals.
In this guide, we’ll break down both diets: Atkins and the keto diet, and give you a final verdict on the Atkins vs. keto debate and how they may help your health.
<h4><p style="color: rgba(20, 117, 135, 1)">Going Ketogenic: The Ketogenic Diet</p></h4>
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The keto diet is a low-carb diet approach known for its ability to help people lose tremendous amounts of weight. Though the diet was first developed in the 1920s, going ketogenic has become incredibly popular in the last decade due in no small part to the internet’s profusion of amazing case studies describing it.
For example, one study has shown that subjects who started a ketogenic lifestyle followed the keto diet for ten weeks saw health changes in body weight, body fat percentage, and BMI (body mass index)
<h5>Tenets and Guidelines of The Keto Diet</h5>
While low-carb diets are today’s <i>soup du jour</i> of nutritional approaches, the ketogenic diet keeps it simpler than most.
When going ketogenic, the diet recommends you limit carbohydrate intake to 5 percent or less <sup>2</sup>. This means that a person on a typical 2,000-calorie diet would consume less than fifty grams of carbohydrates per day, which is not at all unusual on the keto diet.
A high-fat, moderate-to-high-protein, low-carb diet that’s sustainable over time makes up the essence of the keto diet and a ketogenic journey.
Oh, and as we’re laying out the guidelines of a keto diet, let’s not forget about <i>ketosis</i>. Ketosis is the state one enters on keto once their body adjusts to eating more fat, and less carbs. Ketosis means your metabolism enters a fat burning mode instead of a glucose burning mode. You see, when you’re not in ketosis, carbs turn into glucose when they are digested, and this is how you get energy. But, on keto and in ketosis, fat is broken down into <i>ketones</i>, which become your main intake of energy. Understanding ketosis is important as it pertains to low-carb diets.
<h5>Benefits of The Keto Diet</h5>
The keto diet, like most low-carb diets, comes with a host of benefits. While the end goal for most adopters is to lose weight, a ketogenic lifestyle comes with other health positives like reduced appetite, decreased belly fat, changes in blood markers like triglycerides, reduced blood sugars, and disease prevention <sup>3</sup>.
Keep in mind that the benefits of going ketogenic are not exclusive to keto, but to low-carb diets in general. Therefore, it’s possible to at least suggest that these ketogenic benefits are also possible on the Atkins diet.
<h5>What to Eat on the Keto Diet</h5>
With only 5 percent of your daily calories coming from carbohydrates, your diet will be mostly composed of good fats, protein, and various vegetables when eating ketogenic <sup>4</sup>.
<h5>Here are some ketogenic options:</h5>
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As <b>good fats</b> are the primary fuel source for the keto diet, let’s start there. Healthy oils like coconut and extra virgin olive oil, avocado, full-fat dairy products like yogurt, cream, and butter, and nuts and seeds are all encouraged with a ketogenic lifestyle.
For <b>protein</b>, seafood, beef, eggs, and poultry are staples of the keto diet. One thing to note is that when going ketogenic, it is recommended that you limit your protein to no more than 20 percent of your daily calories.
Your <b>carbohydrate</b> sources are limited when you go ketogenic, but that’s not to say you won’t eat your share of them. They’ll be in the form of green leafy vegetables, low-glycemic index berries like blueberries, and the occasional sweet morsel like dark chocolate. Lessening your carb intake helps you lose weight, as over-eating carbohydrates are a big factor in weight gain.
<h5>What Not to Eat on the Keto Diet</h5>
We’re aiming for low carbs when going ketogenic, so potatoes, pasta, bread, and rice are out of the equation on keto. Sugary foods like donuts or cakes are also no-gos. Unfortunately, even many pieces of fruit, like bananas, are too high in sugar and carbs to fit well into this diet.
<h4><p style="color: rgba(20, 117, 135, 1)">The Atkins Diet</p></h4>
The Atkins diet, like other nutritional approaches, has evolved over time. While ketogenic started in the 1920’s, Atkins was developed a lot later. When it first gained popularity in the early 2000s, it was billed as the “eat all the meat and fat you can stomach” approach. At the time, this was unheard of. Most people believed that a diet high in fats led to disease and obesity.
Nowadays, of course, that isn’t so much the case. The American food pyramid (now <a target="_blank" href="https://www.choosemyplate.gov/"><b>MyPlate</b></a>) has evolved and so have most diets. Low-carb diets are some of the most popular options out there.
An Atkins plan promotes lowering carb intake and is broken into two versions: the <b>Atkins 20</b>, for people who need to lose 40 pounds or more or have Type 2 diabetes, and the Atkins 40, for people wanting to lose less than 40 pounds.
<h5>Tenets and Guidelines of the Atkins Diet</h5>
The idea behind the Atkins diet is to count and limit carbohydrates. Therefore, Atkins and keto have some similarities (more on this later). Low carbohydrate intake forces the body to adapt by burning fat stores for fuel, resulting in weight loss.
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Here are some of the unique elements of the Atkins diet:
The Atkins diet is split into four different phases <sup>5</sup>:
**Phase 1 (induction):** Under twenty grams of carbs for the first two weeks. This phase is to “kick-start” weight loss. Like keto, you may enter ketosis and produce ketones to enter a fat burning mode.
**Phase 2** (balancing): As you adjust to the diet (everyone is different), you add more nuts, low-carb vegetables, and other carbs like fruit back in. You can watch your weight and adjust accordingly.
**Phase 3 (fine-tuning):** By this point, weight loss is occurring, and you’re close to your target weight. In Phase 3, you add more carbs until weight loss slows.
**Phase 4 (maintenance):** In the final phase, you’ve likely achieved your goal weight. You are then allowed to add in as many healthy carbs as you want, assuming they don’t result in weight gain.
One foundation of the Atkins diet is <i>net carbs</i>, which is part of their nutritional approach. They use this formula:
**Net Carbs = Total Carbohydrates = Fiber = Sugar Alcohols (if applicable)**
The goal of using this formula is to help you figure out the glycemic (blood sugar) impact that your food is having on your body. Foods with high carbohydrates and no fiber have a higher impact on blood sugar, while things like fruit and vegetables will not.
The Atkins 20 diet (for people who need to lose a lot of weight) allows for twenty grams of net carbs per day. The Atkins 40 allows for forty grams.
Keep in mind that the term “net carbs” is not recognized by the FDA as a nutritional term <sup>6</sup>.
<h5>Benefits of the Atkins Diet</h5>
Similar to keto, an Atkins plan is a proven method for losing weight. Low-carb diets offer many health benefits in both the short- and long-term <sup>7</sup>.
According to their website, Atkins promotes that, on top of weight loss, their nutritional approach can help people with epilepsy, GERD, acne, headaches, heart disease, cancer, dementia, narcolepsy, and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) <sup>8</sup>.
<h5>What to Eat on the Atkins Diet</h5>
Although this is an Atkins vs. keto debate in some ways, you will see some of the same foods listed here as with the ketogenic diet. Here are some recommendations for the base of the diet <sup>9</sup>:
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<b>Meats, fatty fish</b> and <b>seafood</b>, and <b>eggs</b> are all some great protein options. Atkins is a high-protein diet compared to keto. In the case of fish and eggs, you’re also getting healthy fats.
<b>Low-carb vegetables</b> like kale, spinach, and broccoli. This is very similar to what you’d see on keto.
And for your <b>fat sources</b>, full-fat dairy like butter and cream, nuts and seeds, and healthy oils like olive oil and coconut oil round out the diet.
Water, coffee, and tea are the only beverages promoted.
<h5>What Not to Eat on the Atkins Diet</h5>
The Atkins goal is to increase metabolic flexibility and help you lose weight by using your fat as a fuel source. Therefore, any carbohydrates that are high on the glycemic index and raise blood sugar quickly are no-nos.
Things like white bread, pasta, and cookies are not recommended on the Atkins diet. Sugary foods and drinks like cookies and soda are prohibited as well (though that’s kind of expected in any diet).
As you’ll see in the next section, the main differences in the keto vs. Atkins debate doesn’t really have to do with food choices. After all, they’re pretty similar to one another.
<h4><p style="color: rgba(20, 117, 135, 1)">Atkins vs. Keto</p></h4>
Now that you’re well-versed in both diets, let’s draw some conclusions about the Atkins vs. keto debate so you can make the right choice for you.
<h5>Similarities Between Keto and Atkins</h5>
If you’ve made it this far into the guide―kudos to you!―you now know that keto and Atkins share a lot of similarities.
For one, they are both low-carb diet approaches known for helping people lose weight and ward off disease like cancer and diabetes. They also both promote similar food choices with a diet based around green vegetables, lean meats, and some carbohydrates―just not ones that spike your blood sugar.
Both diets, at least according to one report, are not the easiest to follow due to the restrictions on carbohydrates <sup>10</sup>. But take into account that few other diets offer proven weight loss benefits like keto and Atkins.
<h5>Difference Between Keto and Atkins</h5>
There are two major differences between the Atkins diet and keto.
The first has to do with protein intake. On keto, you’re advised to consume no more than 20 percent of your daily calories, which is about one hundred grams of protein. Atkins, on the other hand, does not restrict protein. Not that keto is not a high-protein diet, but Atkins does not limit intake.
The other major difference has to do with lifestyle and adherence to diets. Keto is a <i>one-size-fits-all</i> solution that doesn’t change. You stay in ketosis the entire time. Those living a ketogenic life follow the guidelines and figure out how to make them work in their life with the foods they enjoy and keep going until they reach their goals. Atkins is more regimented, divided into four phases, and has a little more “structure” to it than keto does.
<h4><p style="color: rgba(20, 117, 135, 1)">Where Atkins and Keto Miss The Mark</p></h4>
There are many different approaches to healthy eating that help one lose weight and achieve other positive benefits. As we’ve discussed, both the Atkins and keto diet can help you reach your health goals.
However, to see truly life-changing results, we believe that exercise is equally important. Keto and Atkins might help, but they don’t advise you on how to move your body. That’s where we come in.
At Warrior Made, we structure our nutrition and exercise programs to give you the tools to eat well <i>and</i> exercise effectively, resulting in a total body transformation.
To learn more about Warrior Made body transformations, visit <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/"><b>our homepage</b></a>. You can also read more about nutrition by visiting <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/"><b>our blog</b></a>.
<h5><p style="color: rgba(20, 117, 135, 1)">Resources</p></h5>