So, keto vs low carb – is there a difference and if so what is it? I don’t know about you but I’ve wondered that a lot. Should I eat keto? Should I eat low carb? Argh! So many decisions! Well, here’s a guest post I think will help us all! This post contains affiliate links.
The first time I heard about Keto and ketosis was on the Low Carb Cruise many years back.
Several low carb experts (including Jimmy Moore, Andreas Eenfeldt, and Dr Westman) started talking about how healthy fats were. And how if you eat more healthy fats and less carbs, your body will go into nutritional ketosis.
My interest was piqued, and I started to research Keto more and more. I got so interested in Keto that I co-hosted The Keto Summit with Chris Kelly last year.
However, one question that a lot of low-carbers ask me is whether Keto is different from Atkins or low carb at all?
Having tried Atkins, Paleo, AIP, and Keto, I feel like I’m in a unique position to answer this question. And that’s what I’ll try to do in this post.
What is Keto?
Here’s a quick definition of Keto…
It’s a low carb, high fat diet that can help put your body into nutritional ketosis. When you’re in nutritional ketosis, your body uses ketones (made from the breakdown of fats) as its primary energy source instead of glucose.
Being in nutritional ketosis can help you lose weight, clear brain fog, regulate your blood sugar levels better, and potentially even prevent/heal various health conditions.
Sounds pretty good, right? So, how is this any different from a low carb diet?
Keto vs Low Carb: 3 Differences
Honestly? Not very much!
Having started off as a lowcarber in my early 20s, I can tell you that my basic diet on Keto isn’t that different from what I ate on low carb many years ago.
However, there are 3 main differences that I think are helpful to understand, and in particular, I want to tell you about #3 because it’s a really huge distinction.
Keto vs Low Carb
- The goals are different:
Low carb wasn’t designed to put people into nutritional ketosis (although many of you might actually be in ketosis when you’re eating a low carb diet). Low carb was mainly designed to restrict your carb intake. Keto, on the other hand, is designed to put you into nutritional ketosis. And it just happens that in order to get into nutritional ketosis, you decrease your carb intake and increase your fat intake.
- The macros can be different:
Because a low carb diet typically focuses on reducing carbs, it’s often easy to forget about fats and proteins. So some people on a low carb diet end up on a super high protein diet instead. Keto tries to balance the macros a bit more. There’s a lot more emphasis on eating healthy fats and not overdoing it on the protein front.
- The focus on food quality can also be different:
Not everyone on Keto cares about food quality, similar to people on low carb. But for me, food quality is highly important. It’s not just about macronutrients; micronutrients (those essential vitamins and minerals) are critical to our short-term and long-term health. (You can get a full Keto food list here.)
Should you be Keto or Low Carb?
Whatever you choose to call your diet or lifestyle doesn’t really matter. In the end, making sure you’re eating food that works for your body and gets you the results you want is the important thing.
So, how is my keto diet today different from my low carb diet many years ago? Here are the main differences:
- I am not afraid of fats, but I use healthy fats like coconut oil, ghee, olive oil, and avocado oil.
- I’ve removed dairy (even cheese and butter) because I found it helped me not overeat. It also cleared up my skin and digestive issues dramatically.
- I eat more vegetables. For a while on low carb, I avoided pretty much all vegetables and fruits because they have carbs of course. But vegetables have a ton of nutritional value (as well as prebiotics to help my gut flora flourish). So, I add in lots of arugula, kale, spinach as well as some berries into my Keto diet.
- I try not to eat so many nuts. Nuts and nut flours are so easy to overeat and can cause digestive issues for many people. While I might enjoy some almond flour bread occasionally, I make sure I don’t go overboard.
- I cut out processed low carb foods. For a while, I started buying low carb salad dressings, drinking diet sodas, and snacking on low carb bars filled fake sugars. Yes, those foods are convenient, but they weren’t good for my long-term health.
How To Make Your Low Carb Diet Healthier
I’m not here to convince you to become Keto! But I do invite you to think more carefully about exactly what low carb foods you’re eating and not to fall into the trap of only caring about the carb count.
If you’d like an easy way to eat low carb but eat a healthier version of it, then please check out my 3-2-1 Keto Meal Plans.
We’ll send you weekly meal plans designed to be under 20 g net carbs per day. The shopping list is short (just 30 nutritious, easy-to-find ingredients each week) and the recipes are simple but delicious.