Keto vs Atkins: Which is Better

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

There is a lot of debate over Keto vs Atkins, and while these diets do share some characteristics, there are also some key differences that you should understand before you choose one over the other.

Keto Diet

The keto diet, or known as ketogenic diet, is a low-carb diet characterized by a marked reduction in carbohydrates (usually to <50 g/day). It further includes a relative increase in the proportions of proteins and fats that are usually high percentages of fat because it is tough to increase proteins after a point.

All keto diets have a low carbohydrate percentage. After a few days with a drastic reduction in carbohydrates, glucose reserves become insufficient, both for normal oxidation through the supply of oxaloacetate in the Krebs cycle and for the supply of glucose to the central nervous system (CNS). Since the CNS cannot use the fatty acids as a source of nutrition, that’s when the ketones come into play.

Picture of fish steaks, bacon, nuts, avocado, broccoli, chicken and yellow pepper.

A protein-rich diet. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Atkins Diet

The Atkins diet is one of the most popular diets around the globe. It is low-carb, moderate protein intake, high-fat diet.

In recent years, Atkins has evolved to offer a variety of plans, the original version (Atkins 20) is, however, still the most popular. It is broken down into four phases, which are based on an individual’s daily net carb (total carbs minus fiber and sugar alcohols) allowance:

  • Phase I (Induction)
  • Phase II
  • Phase III
  • Phase IV

As you approach your ideal weight and rocket through these phases, your daily carb allowance increases which allows you to incorporate a greater variety of food.

Keto vs Atkins

The small differences between these two diets can help you make a decision of which is better for your health goals.

Nutrition

  • The ketogenic diet requires high fat intake (60%), moderate protein intake (35%) and low carbohydrate intake (5%).
  • The Atkins diet begins with a similar nutrient percentage as a keto diet, but then allows the reintroduction of carbohydrates after an introductory weight-loss period.
  • Aside from the restrictions on carbohydrates, the Atkins diet is not strict on the percentage of fats or proteins.

Health Benefits

Keto Diet

  • The ketogenic diet is particularly good for diabetics, as it strictly controls carbohydrate intake.
  • A keto diet will help you lose weight, due to the reduction in overall calorie intake.

Atkins Diet

  • The Atkins diet is known to improve fat and cholesterol levels, which is good for cardiovascular health.
  • Following the Atkins diet means eating a lot of meat, making it an ideal diet for carnivores.

Both of these diets encourage the body to enter ketosis, where fat is burned, producing ketone bodies that can boost brain health. However, the Atkins diet allows for the reintroduction of more carbs, which can reduce ketosis.

Side Effects

  • Both diets are controversial in some circles; the Atkins diet fell out of favor after reports that people often rapidly gained their lost weight back following the diet.
  • The Atkins diet is also more likely to lead to nutrient deficiency, as there aren’t enough strict rules on the types of food to eat (except NOT to eat too many carbs).
  • A ketogenic diet often includes the use of supplements, rather than whole food.
  • The challenge of both diets is the removal of popular foods, making it more likely that people will cheat.

Which is Better?

While both of these low-carb diets are good for weight loss, the ketogenic diet is known to have more sustainable results and a more permanent change in eating habits and lifestyle.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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