The Ketogenic Diet vs. a Low Carb Diet
What is the Difference and Which one is best for Weight Loss?
Dr. Courtney Ranieri
To put it simply, a Ketogenic diet is a Low Carb diet, just with strictly enforced macronutrient ratios. The difference is it forces your body to be in a state of ketosis, which means that your body is burning fat (ketones) for energy instead of sugars from carbs (glycogen and glucose). To achieve this, most people must keep their carb intake to below 5-10% of total calories, which is usually around 30 grams per day. To put this into perspective, 1 banana has around 27 grams of net carbs. Another facet is that protein intake is kept quite low, at around 20-25% of total calories and fat intake high, at 70-80%. These ratios help shunt the body into a ketotic state.
A Low Carb diet emphasizes less strict control over carbohydrate percentages, and instead focuses on eating foods that are lower carb, while avoiding those that are higher carb. Following a Low Carb diet might not be adequate to force your body into a state of ketosis, which is only maintained if the carb/fat/protein ratios mentioned above are strictly enforced. Most of the time, a Low Carb diet leads to an increase in protein intake (around 50% of total calories).
There really is no short answer to which diet is better for weight loss. While both are have been shown to lower your insulin, keep blood sugar levels to a more manageable level and usually lead to weight loss, many factors can impact which diet is right for you. Eating low carb foods, and not supplementing with adequate healthy fats and proteins, might leave you feeling sluggish or worn down due to a decrease in metabolic rate. This usually causes a plateau (or stall) in weight loss. On the flip side, a Ketogenic Diet high in saturated fats might not lead to weight loss if your body’s genetics aren’t primed to break it down properly.
The key to weight loss on either of these diets is to ensure that you are eating foods that promote health and keep your long-term goals in mind. It is very important to fine-tune your eating to what works with your lifestyle and body type.