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Keto vs. Low-Carb Diet: Which Should You Choose?

Updated: Jan 8

Don’t get stuck wondering what is considered to be a low-carb diet or what is considered to be a ketogenic diet. Read on to know which one is for you. Low-carb or keto diet?

Image of a salad option that could be eaten on a low carb and keto diet

Both the keto diet and low-carb diet are often mentioned. While keto and low-carb share similarities, they are different diets that consist of low carb intake. Here is what makes each diet different so you can choose the best option to incorporate into your life whether your goal is weight loss or just clean eating.

Low-Carb vs. Keto Diet: What Are the Differences and Which One Is Better?

Obesity continues to be one of the major health issues prevalent throughout the world. |*| With obesity correlating with other diseases like diabetes and heart disease, many people turn to diets to lose weight with hopes of decreasing the likelihood or the symptoms of related illnesses.

Both ketogenic diets and low-carb diets have been in use for this purpose. Below, you'll find information on what each option entails, the similarities and differences between low carb vs. keto diet, and whether each option suits your needs and health goals.

What Is Considered to Be a Ketogenic Diet? Is It Healthy?

The keto diet consists of a high-fat diet in combination with a low carbohydrate intake. This way of eating has been used to treat illnesses such as epilepsy over the years. However, it has been noted as an effective way to lose weight through multiple studies. |*|

Each day, high-fat diet foods are chosen to replace carbs usually consumed. This substitution of carbohydrate intake allows the body to reach ketosis, many people consider this the body's fat-burning mode. This phenomenon occurs when the body uses ketones instead of blood sugar for energy. |*|

According to the Cleveland Clinic, the keto diet is healthy as a short-term weight loss method. |*|

Benefits of a Ketogenic Diet |*|:

· Encourages weight loss
· Can improve the appearance of skin (acne)
· May lessen the possibility of some cancers
· Potentially aids in maintaining a healthy heart
· Can lessen seizures
· Can help with specific PCOS symptoms


Below are some tips to help you establish a keto diet if this is the correct option.

  1. Check food labels and know what to look for when purchasing items.

  2. Find keto-diet-friendly options of your favorite foods to help you stay on track.

  3. Consider pre-made keto diet meals if you have a busy schedule.

Image of a keto shopping list printable page

What Is Considered to Be a Low-Carb Diet? Is It Healthy?

A low-carb diet consists of choosing lower carb solutions to replace a standard higher carb option. |*| For example, many who pursue a low-carb diet use lettuce to replace tortillas or bread.

Low carbohydrate diets usually replace part of the carb intake with higher healthy fats and protein-rich food sources. Various low-carb diets exist (including the ketogenic diet and the Atkins diet), with the main differences consisting of how many grams of carbs to consume and from what sources.

According to the Mayo Clinic, low-carb diets that focus on carbs, fats, and protein from healthy sources (i.e., produce, complex carbs, lean meats) can be a good strategy to lose weight with potential additional health benefits. They also may help to lose weight faster in the short term than low-fat diets.|*|

Benefits of a Low-Carb Diet |*|:

· Can reduce appetite, leading to weight loss
· Higher levels of HDL, aka the beneficial cholesterol
· Lowers blood sugar and insulin levels
· Can reduce blood pressure levels
· Potentially boosts heart health by lowering LDL numbers
· Can reduce seizures by half


Here you'll find some tips that will make eating fewer carbs on a very low-carb diet easier.

  1. Learn and understand which foods are low-carb to make snacking, and meal prep go more smoothly.

  2. Aim to eat carbs that are complex like starchy vegetables to aid in being satiated for longer between meals.

  3. Plan out your meals and cook them beforehand to avoid reaching for foods that are not included in your low-carb eating plan.

Increasing your activity level will also aid in weight loss.

Read 5 Tips to Increase Physical Activity Without Even Realizing It for easy ways to add more activity to your routine.

Similarities Between Low-Carb and Keto Diets

The low-carb diet and keto diet share some similarities. Both ways of eating include reducing daily carb intake and replacing it with other macronutrients. Both low-carb and ketogenic diets are popular tools to lose weight and can be helpful for short-term goals.

They also share some similar health benefits and potential benefits, including potentially improving heart health lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease, and the potential to decrease seizure occurrences.

Many meal delivery companies now include keto and low-carb options for customers, making it easier and more convenient to follow each type of diet.

Image of an Instant Pot

Purple Carrot is the perfect option for a well-balanced plant-based diet full of fiber, fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds.

Differences Between Low-Carb vs. Keto Diets

A keto diet and a low-carb diet can both aid in weight loss; there are some major differences between the two diets.

The first difference is that low-carb diets are a broader category of eating. As noted, the ketogenic diet is a subcategory of low-carb diets. Due to this categorization, keto diets have stricter guidelines than other low-carb diets.

A significant difference between low-carb and keto diets is the number of carbs to consume daily while pursuing each option. Keto diets require 50 grams, or less, of carbs per day. In comparison, a low-carb diet has a goal of 50-150 grams daily.

As another distinction, low-carb diets can have higher protein intake goals. However, a keto diet requires consuming only enough protein to equal about 20% of your total calorie intake.

The final difference between each diet is the fat intake. Generally, keto diets require a higher amount of healthy fats, which is the primary substitute for carbs and protein. |*|

*A food journal is a great way to keep track of your carb and protein intake as well as your total calorie intake each day.

Net Carbs, Body Fat, & Total Calories

Net carbs, body fat, and total calories are all important factors to consider when trying to lose weight. Net carbs are the amount of carbohydrates that your body can absorb and use for energy. Body fat is the amount of fat stored in your body. Total calories are the number of calories you consume in a day.

There are a few different ways to measure net carbs. One way is to subtract the fiber from the total carbohydrates. Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that your body cannot digest. Another way to measure net carbs is to subtract the sugar alcohols from the total carbohydrates. Sugar alcohols are a type of carbohydrate that your body can partially digest.

Weight loss occurs when you burn more calories than you consume. This can be done by reducing your calorie intake, increasing your physical activity, or a combination of both.

Conclusion: Which is Better?

Those who are seeking a diet that can aid in maintaining more stable glucose levels would benefit from a low-carb diet. Anyone seeking to explore a route that can potentially clear acne and help with PCOS symptoms can try consuming a keto diet.

Ultimately, the best option will be which diet is more sustainable for you. If a diet is not easy to follow and can't fit into your lifestyle, it will be more challenging to keep up with it. Looking through the benefits and what each diet consists of will allow you to choose if you should begin one or the other. It's best to consult a doctor before pursuing any diet changes.

No matter what diet you decide is best for you, packing a nutritious lunch is a great way to practice self-care at work!

Now that you're aware of the differences and which diet can help you pursue and meet your goals, it's time to plan your weekly grocery trip. Write down your Keto Grocery List so you can head into the store with a plan. Maintaining a keto diet has never been easier.

So which one is best for you? Are you with team low-carb or keto diet? Or, are you sticking with a simple low-fat diet?

Medical Disclaimer: The information on this site, including text, graphics, images, and other material, is provided solely for informational purposes and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other healthcare professional with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your specific condition.

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