A lot of people are unaware that there is a difference between the two types of diets. In fact, it was a little surprising how many people I saw in various communities asking about a low carb vs. keto diet. There is quite a bit of difference between the two and it’s important to understand each one.
What is a low carb diet?
Typically, a low carb diet consists of staying within a range of 50-100 grams of net carbohydrates per day. Some individuals will eat up to 150 grams of carbohydrates per day, depending on the person and what type of lifestyle they live. Certain people are more active than others and can get away with or need more carbs while others don’t.
When we think of “low carb” foods, these are foods that have fewer carbs than “regular” foods, and are not considered very low carb or VLC. A lot of people use a low carb diet as a means of losing weight or to maintain their weight loss once they’ve reached their goal weight. Diabetics may also need to follow a low carb diet to control their glucose levels.
For example, looking at the picture below, we have a piece of low carb pizza, breaded shrimp, and a diabetic strawberry cake. The one thing all of these foods have in common is that they are modified versions of the typical recipes that you would find, and none of them are considered to be very low carb or keto.
These are normal foods of a typical low carb diet that are completely acceptable. As the saying goes, “If it fits your macros….”. Just remember to calculate all net carbs and keep track of them throughout the day.
What is a keto diet?
A keto diet is more strict when it comes to consuming carbs. Many people who follow a ketogenic diet stay at or below 20 grams of net carbs per day. You may find some individuals who will stay below 50g of net carbs, if they’re more physically active or if their body requires more carbs for specific purposes.
Staying under 20g net carbs can be challenging, especially in the beginning. But it is doable if you want to get into ketosis. With a keto diet, your body can get into ketosis, which is the state where your body burns fat for energy instead of carbs. This type of eating accelerates your weight loss because the fat almost literally melts off of you as your body uses it for fuel.
You cannot achieve ketosis by following a low carb diet because you are consuming more carbs, whether they are natural or man-made. Your body will always burn off excess carbs for energy before it begins to burn fat. This is why those who follow a low carb weight loss diet tend to shed unwanted pounds at a slower rate than those who follow keto.
When considering foods for a keto diet, you’ll want to consume foods that are high fat, moderate protein, and low carb. Each of the dishes pictured below are all below 20g net carbs and are considered keto meals. As you can tell, the carb count is much lower in all of these foods because they don’t have as many sugars, flours or starches in them as the foods pictured above.
Bottom Line Low Carb Vs. Keto?
When it comes to looking at low carb vs. keto, the difference is quite clear. It’s all about how many carbs you’re willing to burn off before your body starts burning fat. Of course, with either diet, it’s still a numbers game. Here is an article that does a very good job in explaining how and why calories are important, but if rapid fat loss is your goal, keto might be your best choice. If you’re just maintaining or looking to lose weight at a moderate pace, low carb is the way to go.
Another consideration to take into account about low carb vs. keto is your ability to stick with the diet. Some find keto too restricting, so they give up and quit because they think it’s all or nothing. This is far from the truth. You can follow a low carb diet and still lose all the fat you’d like while enjoying occasional desserts, breads, and crusts. There is no right or wrong answer, it’s a matter of a personal choice and what is attainable for you.
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