The Ultimate Guide To Understanding Keto vs Low Carb Diets

Keto vs Low Carb Guide


To really understand the keto (ketogenic) diet, one has to understand the main objective of the diet: significantly limit the number of carbs you consume, while at the same time increasing your fat intake as a main source of calories in your daily regimen. Don’t worry, protein is another aspect of the keto diet as well. If we were to put percentages next to the daily calorie intake of the keto diet, it would look something like this: healthy fats (70%), protein (25%), and good carbs (5%). A couple of things to highlight here. Notice how we used the terms “healthy fats” and “good carbs”.

A really simple way to determine the difference between healthy fats vs unhealthy fats and good carbs vs bad carbs is to look at the source. Is it processed? Is it refined? Or does the carb come from whole foods directly from the source? Those are important guiding questions to continually ask yourself while you are engaging in not only the keto diet but any diet. A lot of bread, pasta, pastries, and sugars heavy in bad carbs need to be reduced significantly. On the flip side, some of the foods you can increase could be fish, eggs, healthy fats (think avocado and olive oil), lean meats, leafy greens, and non-starchy veggies.

The fundamental logic behind the ketogenic diet is that carbs break down into glucose and act as an energy source for our bodies. When those carbs are not available anymore, the body breaks down fats for energy and produces ketones, which become the primary source of energy for the body. And when your body hits ketosis, fat becomes the main fuel for the body instead of the carbs.

What Is Ketosis?

In really simple terms, ketosis is the process of what happens when your body begins to run low on carbs for energy. In scientific terms, ketosis is a natural metabolic state which involves the body creating ketones out of fat and repurposing them for energy. Here are some simple ways to tell if your body has hit a state of ketosis:

  • An increase in ketones in the body (the best way to know is to get keto strips)
  • A decrease in hunger. If you feel full and don’t feel the need to eat as much or as often as you did previously, your body is probably in a state of ketosis
  • Since your brain burns ketones instead of glucose, you may experience an increase in mental focus and energy. Reducing carbs in your diet can help control and stabilize blood sugar, which potentially can add to that increase in focus and cognitive functions.

How Long Does It Take The Body To Hit Ketosis?

Reaching that level of ketosis in the body can vary from person to person. For some, hitting ketosis can happen in about two days, while for others it can take up to a week or more. Some of the most effective ways to speed up the process of ketosis is to exercise (because you deplete glycogen reserves faster), cut out “bad” carbs immediately, and get optimal sleep.


It’s all in the name: the low-carb diet restricts carbs mostly found in foods such as sugar, bread, and pasta. Rather than going to the pantry for these “bad” carbs, you’ll be steered to eat whole foods in the form of fats, vegetables, and proteins. You will see an increase in protein and fewer carbs, but don’t think you’ll be cutting out vegetables because you won’t. Do vegetables contain carbs? Absolutely. But most of the carbs found in vegetables come in the form of fiber, which is why many low-carb diets include vegetables. The aim is very similar to the ketogenic diet: keep blood sugar levels at an optimal level so your body can optimally burn fat.

Simply put, with the low-carb diet you can eat fish, eggs, vegetables, natural fats, and meat while at the same time avoiding foods that are sugary and starchy (bread, pasta, rice, etc). If we were to put percentages next to the daily calorie intake of the low carb diet, it would look something like this: healthy fats (40%-50%), protein (40%-50%), and good carbs (10%-20%).


One of the biggest differences between keto and low carb diets lies within the percentage of daily calories coming from fat, protein, and carbs. As you can see below, there are slight differences in the daily % intake of these three food categories. With the Ketogenic diet, expect to consume more healthy fats and not as much protein as you would with the low carb diet. Likewise, you’ll see a stricter approach to carbs on the keto diet as well. Each comes with its own unique set of benefits.

A good baseline to go off of is our Nutrition Guide and you can adjust as needed to fit your needs and lifestyle.


Once again...this depends on your personal preference. So how do you choose between low carb or keto? Asking, “Which diet is better?” is probably the wrong approach. Instead, ask yourself, “Which plan aligns with my health and wellness goals, and which one is going to fit my lifestyle?” Look at the daily percentages of daily calorie intake and decide which plan works best for you. If you think eating a healthy balance between fats and proteins is more your style, you’ll want to opt-in for the low-carb option. If you don’t think you can drop carb levels to 5%, you’ll again want to opt-in for the low carb option. If you are comfortable with eating more healthy fats, keto may be right for you. Since you will consume more protein and fiber on the low carb diet, you may stay fuller longer which helps with cravings and hunger and that extra metabolism boost.

Another advantage to low carb diets is the much cherished “cheat day”. With a low-carb plan, you can choose one weekly cheat meal. It’s a way of rewarding your hard work during the week. One thing is for sure: both diets stress the importance of healthy fats, good veggies, and good carbs. And where on average, Americans get about 42% of their daily calories from “bad” carbs, either one of these plans is going to benefit you. Just the simple act of cutting down on those “bad” carbs you may begin to see some really positive health benefits.

DISCOVER: 25 Of The Best Low Carb Desserts!


There is a lot of anecdotal evidence that you will lose more weight quicker on the keto diet than you would on the low-carb diet. At the same time, there is anecdotal evidence that maintaining the keto diet for long-term weight loss goals is harder to stick with than traditional low carb diets. The best course of action is to choose one and stick with it for a while. Really commit to it. If you have difficulties and struggle, you can always give the other one a try. Both have positive benefits, but neither is a one-size-fits-all approach to health and wellness and losing weight.


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