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Keto vs. Atkins

Published December 13, 2018 (Revised: November 14, 2019) Read Time: 8 minutes
Kate Sullivan

Written By: Kate Sullivan, MS

Kate holds a MS in Business Psychology and is currently a PHD researcher in Well-Being and Performance Psychology.

<script type="application/ld+json"> { "@context":"", "@type":"BlogPosting", "author": { "@type": "Person", "name": "Kate Sullivan, MS" }, "publisher": { "@type": "Organization", "name": "Warrior Made", "logo": { "@type": "ImageObject", "url": "", "image": "" } }, "headline":"Keto vs. Atkins", "datePublished":"2018-12-13", "dateModified": "2019-11-14", "description":"The Keto and Atkins diets are both low-carb diets. Learn the difference between Atkins and Keto and decide which is right for you.", "image": "" } </script> <article> <div> <ul> <li><a href="#section1">The Ketogenic Diet</a></li> <li><a href="#section2">The Atkins Diet</a></li> <li><a href="#section3">Keto vs. Atkins</a></li> </ul> </div> <section> <p>Achieving your health goals is a journey. And when it comes down to it, everyone's a little different.</p> <p>This means that what works for your neighbor may not work for you, and that’s okay. </p> <p>Take for example, two low-carb diets: the ketogenic diet and the Atkins diet. Maybe you’ve seen a commercial or heard about one or both diets from friends.</p> <p>If you’re leaning toward lowering your carb intake for <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">weight loss</a> (or <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">other health benefits</a>) and are curious which diet is better for you, you’re in the right place.</p> <p>Now, you can 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.</p> <p>But first, become well-versed in keto vs. atkins so you can make a more informed choice on pursuing your health goals. The more you know, the more successful you’re likely to be!</p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset=""> <img src="" class="img-fluid" alt="keto diet"> </picture> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section id="section1"> <h2>The Ketogenic Diet</h2> <p>The keto diet is a low-carb diet approach known for its ability to help people lose large amounts of weight.<sup><a target="_blank" href="" rel="nofollow noreferrer">1</a></sup> 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.</p> <p>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) <sup><a target="_blank" href="!" rel="nofollow noreferrer">2</a></sup>.</p> <h3>Guidelines of the Keto Diet</h3> <p>While low-carb diets have been majorly popularized, this one keeps it simpler than most.</p> <p>The ketogenic diet recommends limiting carbohydrate intake to 5 percent or less<sup><a target="_blank" href="" rel="nofollow noreferrer">3</a></sup>. This means that a typical 2,000-calorie diet would call for less than fifty grams of carbohydrates per day.</p> <p><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">Macronutrients</a> are typically tracked and kept in a high-fat, moderate-to-high-protein, low-carb range that’s sustainable over time makes up the essence of the keto diet. Find more information on this keto food pyramid <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">here</a>. </p> <p>The ketogenic diet uses this breakdown to achieve a state of <i>ketosis</i>. <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">Ketosis</a> is the state the body enters where their body adjusts to eating more fat, and less carbs. </p> <p>This state switches your metabolism from burning glucose (sugar) to burning fat.<sup><a target="_blank" href="" rel="nofollow noreferrer">1</a></sup> You see, when you’re not in ketosis, carbs turn into glucose when they’re digested, and this is how you get energy. But, on keto and in ketosis, fat is broken down into ketones, which become your main source of energy. Understanding ketosis is important as it’s the main goal of the ketogenic diet.</p> <h3>Benefits of the Keto Diet</h3> <p>The keto diet, like most low-carb diets, comes with a host of positive results. While the end goal for most adopters is to lose weight, a ketogenic lifestyle comes with other health benefits<sup><a target="_blank" href="" rel="nofollow noreferrer">4</a></sup>:</p> <ul> <li>Reduced appetite</li> <li>Decreased belly fat</li> <li>Changes in blood markers like triglycerides</li> <li>Reduced blood sugars</li> <li>Disease prevention</li> </ul> <p>Since ketosis is possible on most low-carb diets, it’s possible that these ketogenic benefits are possible on the Atkins diet as well.</p> <h3>What to Eat on the Keto Diet</h3> <p>With only 5 percent of your daily calories coming from carbohydrates, your diet will be mostly composed of good fats, protein, and various vegetables. </p> <p>Healthy <strong>Fats</strong> are the primary fuel source for the keto diet:</p> <ul> <li>Healthy oils: coconut and extra virgin olive oil</li> <li>Avocado</li> <li>Full-fat dairy products: yogurt, cream, and butter</li> <li>Nuts and seeds </li> </ul> <p><strong>Protein</strong> comprises 20 percent of your daily calories:</p> <ul> <li>Seafood</li> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">Grass-fed beef</a></li> <li>Eggs</li> <li>Poultry </li> </ul> <p><strong>Carbohydrate</strong> sources are limited when on keto, but still consumed in the diet:</p> <ul> <li>Green vegetables (spinach, kale, broccoli)</li> <li>Low-glycemic berries (blueberries, blackberries, raspberries)</li> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">Keto Sweet Treats</a> are also allowed on the diet in moderation</li> </ul> <h3>What Not to Eat on the Keto Diet</h3> <p>We’re aiming for low carbs when going keto, so high-carb options aren’t part of the protocol:</p> <ul> <li>Potatoes</li> <li>Pasta</li> <li>Bread</li> <li>Rice</li> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">Sugary</a> foods: (donuts, candy, cake)</li> <li>Most fruits (<i>Though there are</i> <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">keto fruit options</a>)</li> </ul> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset=""> <img src="" class="img-fluid" alt="atkins diet"> </picture> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section id="section2"> <h2>The Atkins Diet</h2> <p>The Atkins diet, like other nutritional approaches, has evolved over time.</p> <p>While keto 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 fat led to disease and obesity.</p> <p>Nowadays, of course, that isn’t so much the case. Low-carb, high-fat diets are some of the most popular options out there (<a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">paleo</a>, keto, atkins, etc.)</p> <p>An Atkins plan promotes lowering carb intake and is broken into two versions: the <strong>Atkins 20</strong>, for people who want to lose 40 pounds or more or have Type 2 diabetes, and the <strong>Atkins 40</strong>, for people wanting to lose less than 40 pounds<sup><a target="_blank" href="" rel="nofollow noreferrer">5</a></sup>.</p> <h3>Guidelines of the Atkins Diet</h3> <p>The idea behind the Atkins diet is to count and limit carbohydrates. Therefore, Atkins and keto have similarities (more on this later). But they are different. </p> <p>Here are some of the unique elements of the Atkins diet:</p> <h4>Phases</h4> <p>The Atkins diet is split into four different phases <sup><a target="_blank" href="" rel="nofollow noreferrer">6</a></sup>:</p> <ul> <li><strong>Phase 1 (induction)</strong>: 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.</li> <li><strong>Phase 2 (balancing)</strong>: 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.</li> <li><strong>Phase 3 (fine-tuning)</strong>: 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.</li> <li><strong>Phase 4 (maintenance)</strong>: 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.</li> </ul> <h4>Net Carbs</h4> <p>One foundation of the Atkins diet is counting <i>net carbs</i>, which is part of their nutritional approach. They use this formula:</p> <p>Net Carbs = Total Carbohydrates - Fiber - Sugar Alcohols (if applicable)<sup><a target="_blank" href="" rel="nofollow noreferrer">7</a></sup></p> <p>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 with higher fiber have less of an impact on blood sugar.</p> <p>The Atkins 20 diet (for people who want to lose a lot of weight) allows for twenty grams of net carbs per day. The Atkins 40 allows for forty grams.</p> <p>Keep in mind that the term “net carbs” is not recognized by the FDA as a nutritional term<sup><a target="_blank" href="" rel="nofollow noreferrer">8</a></sup>.</p> <h3>Benefits of the Atkins Diet</h3> <p>Similar to keto, an Atkins plan is a proven method for losing weight.</p> <p>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><a target="_blank" href="" rel="nofollow noreferrer">9</a></sup>.</p> <h3>What to Eat on the Atkins Diet</h3> <p>Although this is an Atkins vs. keto debate in some ways, you will see some of the same foods listed here as with the keto diet. Here are some recommendations for the base of the diet <sup><a target="_blank" href="" rel="nofollow noreferrer">10</a></sup>:</p> <p><strong>Meats</strong>, <strong>fatty fish</strong> and <strong>seafood</strong>, and <strong>eggs</strong> 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. </p> <p><strong>Low-carb vegetables</strong> like kale, spinach, and broccoli. This is very similar to what you’d see on keto. </p> <p>And for your <strong>fat sources</strong>, full-fat dairy like butter and cream, nuts and seeds, and healthy oils like olive oil and coconut oil round out the diet. </p> <p>Water, coffee, and tea are the only beverages promoted.</p> <h3>What Not to Eat on the Atkins Diet</h3> <p>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.</p> <p>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).</p> <p>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.</p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset=""> <img src="" class="img-fluid" alt="keto vs atkins"> </picture> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section id="section3"> <h2>Keto vs. Atkins</h2> <p>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.</p> <h3>Similarities Between Keto and Atkins</h3> <p>By now you know that keto and Atkins share a lot of similarities. </p> <p>For one, they are both low-carb approaches known for helping people lose weight and ward off disease like cancer and diabetes. They also promote similar food choices with a diet based around green vegetables, lean meats, and some carbohydrates―limiting ones that spike your blood sugar.</p> <p>Low-carb diets offer many health benefits in both the short- and long-term.</p> <p>Both diets, at least according to one report, can be difficult for some to follow due to the restrictions on carbohydrates<sup><a target="_blank" href="" rel="nofollow noreferrer">11</a></sup>.</p> <h3>What is the Difference Between Keto and Atkins?</h3> <p>So here’s the bottom line.</p> <p>There are two major differences between the Atkins diet and keto.</p> <p>The first has to do with <strong>protein intake</strong>. </p> <p>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 isn’t a high-protein diet, but Atkins does not limit intake.</p> <p>The other major difference has to do with <strong>lifestyle</strong> and following a “diet”.</p> <p>Keto is a <i>one-size-fits-all</i> solution that doesn’t require you to change your macros over time. You simply stay mindful of your carb intake and your goal is ketosis. </p> <p>Those living a ketogenic life follow the macronutrient split and figure out what works for their life with the foods they enjoy and achieve their goals. A low-carb lifestyle is just that, a lifestyle change. And with the ketogenic diet it’s pretty straightforward and simple. </p> <p>Atkins is more regimented, divided into four phases, and has more “structure” to it than keto does. On Atkins you follow along, increasing your carb intake and changing your diet over time. </p> <p>Atkins is a brand and franchise, while the ketogenic diet falls into more of a general diet widely promoted by health companies, influencers, and physicians. As always, consult your health care physician before going for a diet change like this! For more information on the ketogenic diet, we have plenty of articles <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">here</a>.</p> </section> </article>

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