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Low Carb vs. Keto: Which Is Best for You?

Head and shoulders photograph of Anju Mobin
Woman in workout clothes standing in kitchen holding bowl and spoon
Is low carb or keto better for you? The answer depends on your health goals. Both diets are very popular as they address the root cause of most modern-day ailments. While low-carb diets help reduce your insulin levels and regulate the reversal of diseases based on insulin resistance, ketogenic diets promote faster weight loss via ketosis.

Low carb and keto diets have become very popular these days as they both address insulin resistance. Carbohydrates trigger insulin, which is a storage hormone. The more carbs you consume, the more insulin your body releases. Gradually, the continuous high insulin will downregulate the insulin receptors on the cells, causing insulin resistance. This will jeopardize the effectiveness of insulin, which allows the cells to take in sugar. The result is high blood sugar, high insulin, and other complications.

There are great prepared meal delivery and keto meal delivery services for those who don't have the time to cook, such as Hello Fresh and Home Chef. Using these meal delivery services can help you follow a low-carb or keto diet without having to put in too much effort into planning your meals.

But what's the difference between the two diets? While low-carb diets help reduce insulin levels and regulate the reversal of diseases based on insulin resistance, ketogenic diets can put you into ketosis, where fat is broken down for fuel.

What Is a Low-Carb Diet?

A low-carb diet is a diet plan wherein you eat fewer carbohydrates. For a 2,000-calorie diet plan, your carb intake should be between 50-150 grams. Increase your protein and healthy fat intake to account for your calorie needs. Low carb is most effective for weight loss (1).

Minimize your sugar and starches, get adequate protein, and enjoy enough natural fats to keep yourself satiated and healthy.

Advantages of a Low-Carb Diet

  • Effectively reduces insulin levels, resulting in weight loss
  • Burns visceral fat, which is strongly associated with many metabolic diseases
  • Reduces triglyceride levels by using them for energy
  • Cures digestive problems caused by eating too many carbs
  • Triggers ketone bodies, an alternative fuel source that comes from burning fat
  • Reduces cravings and hunger pangs

Disadvantages of a Low-Carb Diet

  • Affects your micronutrient intake
  • Causes constipation as you reduce your vegetable and fruit intake
  • Limit your food options
  • Weakness due to initial energy deficit

What Is a Ketogenic Diet?

A ketogenic diet is a customized diet form wherein you force your body to use ketones instead of sugar as an energy source. You go into a state of nutritional ketosis, and your body burns dietary or stored fat. This comes from a diet plan with very low carbohydrates, moderate protein, and high fat. The shortage of glucose will promote fat burning, resulting in weight loss (2).

A healthy ketogenic diet should consist of 75% healthy fat, 10-35% protein, and 20-50 grams of carbs.

It is a long-term solution to many ailments that have plagued modern society. It is a nutrient-rich, more sustainable solution than many other forms with higher failure rates.

Advantages of a Keto Diet

The keto diet has more advantages than disadvantages, especially if done correctly. These advantages include:

  • Improves insulin resistance
  • Reduces blood sugar levels
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Burns fat in the gut area
  • Reduces fat in the liver
  • Improves cognitive performance
  • Decreases inflammation
  • Improves mood
  • Triggers autophagy
  • Helps reduce weight

Disadvantages of a Keto Diet

The keto diet does have some disadvantages if not followed correctly under the guidance of a health expert. It could lead to:

  • Nutrient deficiencies, especially B vitamins
  • Dangerously lower blood sugar, especially amongst diabetics
  • Kidney disease
  • Digestive issues such as constipation and change in gut bacteria
  • Keto flu

Therefore, people with kidney problems, risk of heart disease, and pregnant and lactating mothers shouldn’t go for this diet. Those with Type 1 diabetes or liver or pancreas problems should not attempt this diet. The same goes for anyone who has undergone gallbladder removal.

Similarities in Low-Carb and Ketogenic Diets

There are quite a few similarities between a low-carb and ketogenic diet, the main difference being that both diets restrict carbohydrate portions in your diet. They also both decrease insulin levels, improve insulin sensitivity, and lower your blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and triglycerides.

Neither of them restricts entire food groups as long you keep your carbs in check. Low-carb and ketogenic diets are both excellent tools for losing weight.

Key Differences Between Low-Carb and Keto Diets

The key difference between a low-carb and keto diet is the amount of carbs you are allowed to eat. While the intake varies between 50-150 grams in a low-carb diet, keto restricts the carb intake to 20-50 grams.

In a low-carb diet, the protein intake is high. Around 40% of your total calories will come from protein. However, the protein intake is moderate in keto. A high amount of protein will trigger insulin synthesis, kicking you out of ketosis.

Fat intake is purposefully higher on the keto diet compared to the low-carb diet. It recommends nearly twice as much fat as a low-carb diet.

In a low-carb diet, your body may or may not enter a state of ketosis. In a ketogenic diet, the goal is to reach nutritional ketosis.

Choosing Between a Low Carb and Keto Diet

By restricting carbohydrate intake in a low-carb or ketogenic diet, you can definitely enjoy the health benefits. However, there is no one-size-fits-all approach.

Practicing a low-carb diet and consuming high amounts of protein may cause difficulties, especially if you have liver damage. You can start building up uric acid and ammonia in your body. It can have toxic effects on your brain and kidney. On the other hand, if you are doing dirty keto, the high amount of sodium and saturated fat combined with fewer micronutrients will cause havoc on your health.

The keto diet is perfect for you if you want to lose weight faster. If you want to build your muscles and lose weight, the low-carb diet will be a better option. Before you choose between the two, make sure you consult your healthcare provider.

Resources

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK537084/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK499830/
Head and shoulders photograph of Anju Mobin
Anju Mobin is a certified nutritionist and has worked in numerous medical clinics. She specializes in nutrition and fitness content with over a decade of experience as a writer and editor.

*The information on this site is based on research, but should not be treated as medical advice. Before beginning any new diet plan, we recommend consulting with a physician or other professional healthcare provider. Results may vary based on various health factors, individual weight loss plans and adherence to the meal plan.