One of the most commonly confused diets include the Keto diet vs the Atkins diet. While they are both foundationally similar, there are some key differentiators between each, and understanding these specifics may help you to choose which one is the right fit for you!
In order to compare the Keto diet vs the Atkins diet, it is helpful to start with a background for each. The Keto diet was created in 1924 by Dr. Russell Wilder at the Mayo Clinic. This diet was actually originally intended to be a highly controlled low carbohydrate diet that helped treat epilepsy in children. However, once studies showed significant health improvements and weight loss that was brought on through the diet, it began to pick up steam until it has become what it is today.
The Atkins Diet was another low carb diet that was created by Robert Coleman Atkins and brought to the public in the 1970s with the launch of his first book detailing the diet. This diet was created with the specific intent of helping the masses to quickly and efficiently lose weight. For this reason, it has been classified as a “fad diet”.
Both diets follow particular regimens that track your path to success. The Atkins diet follows a four-phase plan, which is shaped in a way that helps you to rapidly lose weight at the start of the diet, and then slowly ease your way towards maintenance once you hit your goal weight. The phases are detailed below:
Phase 1: This is the “induction” phase, and also the strictest phase. You are only allowed 20 grams of carbohydrates per day for 2 weeks. This is done to kick-start your body into losing weight, and burning fat instead of carbs. This portion of the diet is the closest to the Keto diet.
Phase 2: This is the “balancing” phase, which is intended to help you approach a realistic harmony with the day-to-day food that you eat. During phase 2, you are allowed to add more vegetables (albeit low carbohydrate), nuts, and a very small amount of low-carbohydrate and low-sugar fruit (such as berries).
Phase 3: You reach phase 3 when you start to approach the goal weight that you set for yourself at the beginning of the diet. When you get about 5-10 pounds out from your desired weight, you can add more carbohydrates to help maintain the new weight loss.
Phase 4: The fourth and final phase is all about maintenance for the long term. It is really up to your judgment and understanding of your body’s reaction to carbs, but hypothetically, you can start to eat as many carbs as you would like. The goal is for you to personally find a balance between the carbohydrates you allow, and also the weight that you level out at.
These phases are intended to help new dieters stick to the diet honestly and thoroughly, while also helping them to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Depending on what type of person you are, this diet could be ideal since you can theoretically hit your goal weight and be allowed to eat carbohydrates!
The Keto diet aims to help you achieve a fat-fueled lifestyle, in which the body consistently burns fat as fuel instead of fast-burning carbohydrates. In order to achieve this, the Keto diet follows an incredibly strict and regimented structure, which also means that carbohydrates won’t ever be a large portion of the diet. The Keto diet is specifically focused on the breakdown of fats, protein, and carbohydrates allowed in your day-to-day food , with 60% portioned for fat, 35% protein, and 5% carbohydrates. The overall mission of the diet is to launch your body into a state of continuous ketosis, where the body burns fat for fuel and produces ketones for energy. That being said, the diet offers very little room for “unapproved food groups”, such as wheat, grains, fruits, sugars, and certain types of dairy.
The Final Prognosis:
Now that you have this information, there are a few key takeaways that can help you to decide how effective each diet will be for your diet goals. Although the first phase of the Atkins diet is very similar to the Keto diet, the fact that it loosens the reigns and allows users to slowly re-introduce carbohydrates into the diet makes it largely separated from the Keto structure.
There is also no specific breakdown of how many fats, proteins and carbohydrates to eat for the long term, which sometimes leads users to confusion and failure with weight loss maintenance. This can also lead to complications since your body can only process a limited amount of protein at a time, and if you don’t have a set amount, you might risk overeating protein, which will then likely be converted into carbohydrates (negating any benefits of the low carb rules).
On the other end of the spectrum, the Keto diet proves many benefits over long term, including blood sugar stabilization, fat burning is triggered, faster weight loss, helps you exercise longer (you use less oxygen from ketone bodies than carbohydrate), improved mental health (ketones cross blood-brain barrier easier and improve cognitive functioning and mental sharpness).
However, many people fail on this diet because it is highly restrictive and controlled, and can be difficult to maintain, or triggering for others. It is also fairly time-consuming in terms of portioning out meals and can be intimidating to track since it requires you to measure your ketones to make sure you have fully achieved ketosis.
All of this being said, both diets prove to have a litany of fans and dedicated followers, but also come with side-effects and hurdles, as most diets typically do. In the end, your preferred choice comes down to an evaluation of how your body responds to each, and what type of regimen you see fitting into your lifestyle for the long run.