Keto vs Low Carb – Know the Difference

Keto vs Low Carb

In recent years it has been firmly declared that the number one enemy of the perfect body and health is carbohydrates.

Therefore all the trendy diet plans for weight loss tend to be low on carbs and high on proteins and healthy fats.

What are the first diets that come to mind? That’s right.

Low-carb and Keto Diet

They are different diets, but what is the difference exactly? And which one is better? You are in the right place to find the answers.

We will explore the fundamental differences between low-carb and ketogenic diets so that you can make a competent and informed choice of the most suitable meal plan for you in the future!


Let’s briefly discuss the history behind these two diets.

Despite being trendy nowadays, the Keto diet was created back in the 1920s originally intended as management for children suffering from refractory epilepsy, as it has been found when the body was in ketosis – meaning – burning fat as a primary fuel instead of carbohydrates, the frequency of seizures is reduced.

Many years later, the beneficial effects of the Keto Diet on fat-burning were recalled – and its popularity raised to the skies.

In contrast, low-carb diets have always been in demand, but in different forms.

It first came to the surface with The Atkins Diet in 1972 when doctor Robert Atkin published a book, “Dr. Atkins’ Diet Revolution”, which advised the low-carb diet he had successfully used in treating overweight people in the 1960s. It was the Mediterranean, Paleo Diet and so on.

What’s the difference between the ketogenic diet and the low-carb diet?

The main difference between low-carb and Keto diets is that one is characterized by a low-carb intake and the other is a very low carb intake. Is there anything else you need to know? Of course, yes.

At first glance, it might seem that if you start consuming a couple of fewer servings of rice, you can easily switch from a low-carb diet to a ketogenic one.

After all, both nutritional strategies focus on reducing carbohydrate intake, and both are often followed due to their powerful fat-burning potential. There are quite a few analogies, aren’t there?

But not so fast, keto fans. While both diets are considered low carb meal plans compared to the standard Western diet, which is mostly processed carbohydrates and questionable ingredients, the similarities end here.

In low-carb diets, since you consume carb-deprived meals for a while body first starts to break down the carbohydrates it has stored. Then if it does not receive new carbs, it converts fat into ketone bodies, making the body go into starvation mode without actually starving.

The brain normally uses glucose as fuel, but during starvation, it can use ketone bodies, which produce more energy per unit of oxygen than glucose.

How do meals differ?

Meal-wise, the main difference is the number of carbs and fat consumed.

In Keto Diet, you deprive yourself of carbohydrates so much that the body changes the way it uses energy, from carbohydrates to ketone bodies, which is a pretty drastic change and needs time to adapt.

While with the simple Low-carb diet, you just cut off extra carbs, minimize their consumption and deprive yourself of fuel but not to the level to make the body go into ketosis.

The ketogenic diet is all about fat. As many as 70-75% of your total daily calories should come from fat because they are now your body’s primary source of energy.

Fat is used as a readily available fuel source when consumed without carbohydrates.

Simply put low-carb diet is low on carbs and Keto Diet is very low on carbs and high on fats. With low-carb diets, the change is not as significant as with Keto, which changes your metabolism.

While a diet can become low-carb by reducing only one macronutrient, the ketogenic diet requires particular changes in the ratio of quantitative intake of all three macronutrients.

For this reason, it can be difficult to start following a keto diet if you don’t know how to track your macros intake properly or are not serious about studying your diet in detail.

Which one is better?

The answer to this question is not as simple as it seems. If you want to lose those extra pounds, choosing a low-carb diet is best since it won’t significantly affect or change how your body works.

You can eat a lot of protein, vegetables only slightly limit cereals, fruits, and starchy vegetables like potatoes and completely exclude refined sugars, chocolates, candies, and sweetened beverages. 

In addition, such a diet is easier to maintain for many years.

If you want to switch to Keto, remember that it has more side effects than a regular low-carb diet.

For example, ketotic breathing (with the smell of acetone), and ketosis flu (symptoms similar to seasonal flu) increased fatigue. 

Long-term effects – nausea, diarrhea, lack of iron and other trace minerals, and kidney stones (which is why keto is highly discouraged for those with kidney problems). 

The Keto diet was also known to increase cholesterol levels, slightly impair the functioning of the immune system and can exacerbate chronic diseases.

Besides that, Ketosis does not work for high-intensity athletes. It will help you lose some fat, although you will also be weaker and have less energy since ketosis does not provide you with quick fuel in the form of ATP.

Although once you go past the side effects adaptation phase, most people start to feel more energized, physically active and even have more mental clarity.

In short, each of these diets has its pros and cons. It is important to remember that, in addition to losing weight, you need to stay healthy, and this is easier to do on a less restrictive diet which is low-carb.

How to know which diet fits you the best?

Everything is very individual. Some people go into ketosis and feel extremely uncomfortable. Others find that this is precisely the condition that has brought them the long-awaited results and maximum effectiveness.

Both diets are beneficial to weight-loss strategies and there is a wealth of research to support their effectiveness (assuming you are maintaining a calorie deficit, of course).

What works for you is typically determined by personal preference and lifestyle.

However, it is fair to say that a typical low-carb diet with moderate to high protein intake will likely require less drastic changes to your current eating plan and diet than a specific ketogenic diet.

See Also

List of Keto Vegetables

500 Calorie Meal Plan

Low Cholesterol Meal Plan with Grocery List

3 Day Cleanse to Lose Belly Fat

Egg Diet Plan

Free 28 Day Keto Meal Plan

Low Carb Lunch Ideas

High Fat Low Carb Food List