Keto Diet Vs Low-Carb Diet: Which Is Better?
If you want to restrict the amount of carbohydrates you consume, there are two basic types of diets that you can follow.
A low-carb diet is a broader category of diet that controls the carbs you eat per day.
The keto diet is a little more complicated and changes the way your body creates fuel for energy.
Do not get confused with the different types of low-carb diets out there.
All you need to know is the basics behind these and you can easily choose the best for your lifestyle.
This article will help you weigh the pros and cons of both generic low-carb diets, and the keto diet and understand the differences between them.
What is a low-carb diet?
A low-carb diet is a diet that restricts the amount of carbohydrates you eat.
Generally, Indians are used to getting about 50-60% of their caloric intake from carbohydrates.
In a low-carb diet, you restrict your carbs intake to about 20-30% of your meal plan.
This means that if you are on an 1800 calorie diet, about 360-540 calories come from carbohydrates.
The remaining calories are split between proteins and fats.
540 calories may look like a lot but do remember that 1 piece of gulab jamun leaves you higher by 350-400 calories!
A small roti is about 120-150 calories.
Apart from these, all the vegetables and fruits you eat and the spices you add contain traces of carbohydrates too.
How is a keto diet created?
A keto diet is also a type of low-carb diet, however, it is more stringent in the foods that it allows and restricts.
You completely restrict the amount of carbs you eat and this pushes your body into a panic mode, making fundamental changes in the way your body functions.
These metabolic changes facilitate weight loss.
The similarities between generic low-carb diets and keto diets
Here are some ways the low-carb diet and the keto diet are similar to one another.
- These diets restrict carbs intake
- The diets are both helpful in weight loss
- They require the elimination of processed and refined foods
- Both diets consider good fats healthy
- Both diets help with overall fitness and health
How different is a keto diet from other low carb diets?
When you look closely at what these diets do to your body and how you react through the dieting phase, you will find a lot of differences in these both.
What happens to your body when on these diets?
The basic idea behind these diets is that restricting carbohydrates helps you lose bodyweight and makes you fitter.
Now when you are on a low-carb diet, you are suddenly reducing your carbohydrate intake by half or more than half of what your body is used to.
Your body still gets glucose from the carbohydrates you eat but in insufficient quantities.
The initial reaction to restricting carbs intake is tiredness and fatigue.
With time, however, you get used to this. Your body learns to deal with lesser carbs and the fact that you are staying away from refined carbohydrates, junk, and sugary beverages and treats help you lose weight.
On a keto diet, your carbs intake is restricted to 5% or less of your entire calorie plan.
Your fat intake increases by up to 75%.
By severely restricting the amount of carbs you consume, you deprive your body of needed glucose for energy. All you have is abundant fat. Now, here is what happens to your body.
- The lack of glucose pushes your liver to produce a chemical called ketone
- Ketones help convert fat resources into energy
- Your body starts using up stored fat for energy
- Your body gets into a mode called ‘ketosis’
- You keep losing weight in this mode
How effective is weight loss?
If losing bodyweight is your final goal for dieting, then you will fare so much better with the keto diet. Once your body gets into ketosis, you will keep losing weight consistently. All you have to do is eat adequate fats and keep away carbs.
On a low-carb diet, however, the weight loss is neither rapid nor impressive. You will lose weight gradually and in small proportions over the months.
Quantifying the diets
One problem with the low-carb diets is that there are no quantifying terms to it. All you are told is to restrict your carbs intake by about 20-30%. Some forms of these low-carb diets even allow carb intake up to 45%.
You are not sure if you are eating lesser or more carbs while on this diet. Hence, forecasting weight loss also will be difficult.
With the keto diet, everything including the macros you eat and the number of ketones produced in your body can be measured.
You will hence have a clear idea of how well you are progressing in your diet plan and this also makes it easier to modify the diet over time.
The flexibility of the diet
Another factor that differentiates both these diets is their flexibility. The low-carb diet is always more flexible than the keto diet.
You are allowed to eat more carbohydrates. You can choose to eat fruits, legumes, and whole grains, except that you have to control your portion sizes. You can also modify your meals based on your preference.
One day you can eat more proteins and less fat and the next day, you can gorge on cheese and avocadoes all day.
When it comes to keto, maintaining your body in ketosis takes out the flexibility in the diet.
Most of the fruits and almost all grains and legumes are restricted here.
If you miss your 75% fat intake for the day, you can come out of ketosis.
If you consume more proteins than recommended, then your body can get into a mode called gluconeogenesis and start creating energy from proteins, kicking you out of ketosis.
There are many reasons why people choose keto over other low-carb diets. Keto encourages quicker weight loss and is considered a therapeutic diet to cure many diseases like epilepsy and lifestyle conditions like obesity, diabetes, and PCOS.
Keto diet also does not let you get hungry and keeps you full and sated.
On the other hand, the low carb diet is definitely easier to follow. It is easier to continue for a longer duration when compared to other diet forms. You can include the healthier carbs you like in the meal plan.
However, low-carb diets are not as effective as keto in improving insulin sensitivity and can also leave you feeling weak and tired in the first few weeks.
Weigh the pros and cons and be truthful to yourself about your ability to adhere to these diet plans. Pick the one that will benefit you more and draw a practical lifestyle regime around the diet.
Irrespective of the diet you choose, remember that going low carb is definitely helpful to the body and the mind.