The low carb and keto diets are popular approaches to eating that reduce your carbohydrate consumption.
These diets share the common feature of carb limitation, leading to curiosity about their distinct characteristics.
This article will explore how the low carb and keto diets differ, examine the advantages and disadvantages of each, and help you decide which might be the best fit for you.
What’s a low carb diet?
A low carb diet involves cutting back on carbohydrates, primarily from sources like grains, sugary drinks, and bread.
Research indicates that in a low carb diet, carbs make up about 10–30% of your total caloric intake, although a precise definition isn’t established. For someone consuming 2,000 calories daily, this means 50–150 grams of carbs.
Adopting a low carb diet typically means you’ll eat more protein, healthy fats, and vegetables to compensate for the reduced carb intake and ensure you feel full.
Additionally, cutting carbs means you’re likely cutting out many high-calorie foods, which might help decrease your total calorie consumption and support weight loss.
For individuals with diabetes, a low carb diet has shown potential benefits like weight reduction and improvements in blood sugar control and cardiovascular risk factors.
It’s also a popular choice for those looking to lose weight.
Although a low carb diet might not suit everyone, it’s a feasible option for weight loss for many healthy individuals.
Benefits of a low carb diet
- Can aid in weight reduction
- Cuts out many processed, high-carb foods
- Can be a long-term dietary choice
- The adjustment phase is less intense than with keto
- More flexible and easier to adhere to compared to keto
Drawbacks of a low carb diet
- Might cause feelings of weakness or constipation
- Restricts the variety of foods you can eat
- Reduces fruit consumption
- Could affect your intake of essential micronutrients
Summary: A low carb diet limits carbohydrates like grains, rice, and starchy vegetables to 10–30% of your total calorie intake, potentially leading to weight loss. It’s important to weigh the diet’s benefits and drawbacks before starting.
What’s the keto diet?
The ketogenic, or keto, diet is a diet plan that significantly reduces carb intake and emphasizes high fat consumption, gaining widespread attention in recent years.
The keto diet is recognized for its potential therapeutic effects, including its ability to manage refractory epilepsy and its promising role in hindering the progression of certain cancer types. Additionally, it’s a choice for individuals aiming for weight loss.
The primary aim of the keto diet is to achieve nutritional ketosis, a state where the body generates ketones from the liver’s fat and primarily uses fat, rather than carbs, for energy.
This state is typically reached by consuming less than 50 grams of carbs daily, moderating protein intake, and significantly increasing fat consumption.
While the standard keto diet offers various benefits, its stringent nature may pose challenges for sustainable long-term adherence, particularly for those pursuing weight loss and overall health improvement.
Advantages of the keto diet
- Offers therapeutic advantages, like epilepsy management
- Potentially enhances insulin sensitivity
- Might help in reducing hunger
- Can positively influence cholesterol and triglyceride levels
Disadvantages of the keto diet
- Commonly leads to constipation due to low fiber consumption
- Paucity of long-term research data
- Possibility of experiencing ‘keto flu’, symptoms of which may include headaches, fatigue, confusion, irritability, and decreased motivation
- Restricts fruit consumption
- Adherence may be challenging over extended periods
Summary: The keto diet limits carb intake to 50 grams or less each day, ushering your body into nutritional ketosis where fat becomes the main energy source. It’s essential to consider the diet’s various pros and cons before embarking on it.
Is a low card or keto diet better for most people?
When deliberating between the low carb and keto diets, you’ll want to consider a few key aspects.
Suggested read: Ketosis: Definition, benefits, downsides, and more
The primary distinction between these diets lies in the carbohydrate intake. A low carb diet typically includes 50–150 grams of carbs daily, while the keto diet restricts this to less than 50 grams.
Protein consumption also differs notably. While low carb diets may allow for higher protein intake, the keto diet recommends moderate protein levels, about 20% of your total caloric intake. This moderation is crucial because too much protein can hinder the state of ketosis.
Moreover, the keto diet generally involves a significantly higher fat intake, as fats become the primary substitute for carbs and protein.
Given its stringent nature, the keto diet might prove overly restrictive for many, potentially leading to challenges in maintaining the diet long-term and an increased likelihood of adverse effects.
Consequently, for the majority, a low carb diet may be the more manageable and sustainable choice.
However, it’s always wise to consult with a healthcare professional before embarking on any new dietary regimen to minimize health risks.
Summary: While both diets implement carb restrictions, the keto diet’s stringent approach makes it less viable for the general population over the long term compared to the low carb diet, which is seen as more sustainable and adaptable.
The low carb and keto diets are structured around carb limitation to potentially enhance health.
Although both diets reduce carb intake, they differ notably, especially in terms of carb and fat consumption.
Considering the unique advantages and disadvantages of each diet is crucial. It’s also wise to seek advice from a healthcare professional before deciding to adopt either diet to ensure it aligns with your individual health needs.