One diet is low-carb, the other is lower-carb. Is there anything else you need to know? . Learn the differences, and decide which is better for you.
The words “low-carb” and “keto” get thrown around a lot. Are they the same thing?
At first glance, it may appear that if you eat one less cup of rice, you can transition from a low-carbohydrate diet to a ketogenic diet. After all, both nutritional strategies place an emphasis on reducing carbohydrates, and both are often followed for their fat-loss potential. Pretty much the same thing, right?
Not so fast, ketobro. Although both diets are considered low-carb compared to the standard Western diet—you know, the one made up mostly of processed carbs and mystery ingredients—the similarities stop there, both in philosophy and execution.
Here’s what you need to know about low-carb and ketogenic diets so you can make an informed choice!
The Low-Carbohydrate Diet Defined
A low-carbohydrate diet is a pretty vague description in and of itself. After all, “low” is a relative term. But in the most effective versions of this approach, the priority is being more selective about your carbs and where they come from.
In many cases, you can still eat fruit, vegetables, and beans, while eliminating or cutting back on grains, baked goods, and processed sugars. This shift from carb-dense sources to low-density ones naturally reduces the daily amount of carbs you take in.
However, a low-carbohydrate diet lacks specific classifications of what “low” means, and often neglects protein and fat recommendations. Technically, if you’re used to eating 300 grams of carbohydrates per day, and drop to 200 per day, you’re following a lower-carbohydrate diet. If you don’t replace those lost calories, you’ll probably lose some weight, but it may have been the lower calories that caused it, not the lower carbs. Conversely, if you replace those missing calories with either more fat or more protein, you produce two very different diets.
It’s safe to say that this approach has many potential interpretations—and outcomes.
The Ketogenic Diet Defined
While a diet can become low(ish)-carb merely by cutting back on a single macronutrient, a ketogenic diet demands specific changes to all three macronutrients. For this reason, it’s hard to recommend a keto diet to someone unless they know how to track their macros or are serious about learning.
A ketogenic diet is a high-fat, very low-carbohydrate, moderate-protein approach that, when done correctly, shifts your body’s preferential fuel source from carbohydrates (or glucose) to fat in the form of ketone bodies and fatty acids.