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The Keto Diet vs. the Atkins Diet – Learn Which One Is Better

Information, Nutrition
keto diet vs atkins diet
Last modified: August 14th, 2018 11:59 am

There are plenty of diets out there to choose from when you’re finally ready to give one a go. Some are more difficult than others, but they tend to all promise the same results – tremendous weight loss and health benefits. If you’ve started to look into several types of diets, your head is probably starting to spin.

For those of you who are considering both the ketogenic diet and the Atkins diet, you’re at the right place. We’ll be answering all your questions about the two diets and hopefully help you discover which is best for you. Ready to find out if ketosis is better than Atkins? Let’s dive in.

 

What Is the Ketogenic Diet?

The ketogenic diet has one goal, which is to enter ketosis. Ketosis is a natural metabolic state in which the body burns fat for fuel instead of glucose. But how is it achieved? We can control what our body burns as fuel by what we eat. In a ketogenic diet, followers follow a suggested diet consisting of 75% fat, 20% protein, and 5% carbs. This is most likely much different than the diet you currently consume.

For most, carbs are the main staple of their meals and snacks. Carbohydrates are turned into glucose by the body and rapidly burned through for energy. But by limiting our carb intake, those glucose stores are eliminated, and the body begins to look for an alternative fuel source. Its options are protein and fat. But with a diet high in fat, like in the keto diet, it will start to burn the fat you consume and excess fat throughout the body. This leads to a multitude of benefits.

However, the transition to ketosis can be difficult for some. First, the diet is a drastic change from what most are used to. While there are mental challenges, the physical changes are often harder. The transition to ketosis isn’t easy. Many feel drained, fatigued, sore, and sick. But these struggles are temporary. The testament to this is the large percentage of people who stick with keto, treating it as a lifestyle change rather than a temporary adventure.

 

Benefits of keto

We told you there were plenty of benefits to keto. We’ll list the most commonly praised below but know that there are many more than these. Keto affects everyone differently and certain benefits are stronger for some than others. But there’s no doubt that remaining in ketosis for prolonged periods of time can provide you with a multitude of personal and health benefits that can change your life forever.

 

  • Weight loss – One of the best benefits of keto is the weight loss. It can happen quickly and as long as you don’t go back to a carb-heavy diet, you don’t have to worry about the weight slowly creeping back on. The weight loss that occurs immediately after entering ketosis is typically water-related. This means it can add up to a lot of pounds fairly quickly. As time goes on, weight loss may slow down but because it’s more likely to be pure fat instead of water, you’ll notice drastic changes in the way your clothes fit and how your body looks.

 

  • Improved energy – When your diet is high in carbs, you’re likely to experience moments of high energy followed by crashes of pure exhaustion. But with keto, you’ll experience consistent energy that lasts all day. You’ll be able to tackle workouts, get through whatever the day asks of you, and not collapse into bed at the end of the day.

 

  • Mental clarity – Put simply, the brain loves to operate on ketones. Because ketones are able to easily cross the blood-brain barrier, they can instantly help power your mental performance. There are also plenty of studies to suggest links between ketosis and neurological protection from certain diseases like epilepsy and Alzheimer’s.

 

  • Health improvements – Ketones have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Inflammation is linked to a multitude of diseases. With other positive health choices, keto can help prevent the onset of diseases like Type II Diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer.

 

Final verdict

How does the ketogenic diet sound so far to you? There’s a lot more to it than what we’ve covered in this short section and while it’s not for everyone, we do believe its benefits make it worth the consideration.

There are several advantages to keep in mind about keto, such as its ability to burn stubborn fat, including dangerous belly fat that can lead to serious illnesses. Because being in ketosis gives you not just more energy but more consistent energy, you can tackle every day with confidence. This can boost your workouts and even work performance if you work a physically demanding job.

If you spend your days behind a desk, don’t think you can’t benefit. The mental clarity ketosis provides can have you climbing the corporate ladder faster than ever. There is also the notion that being in ketosis can improve your overall quality of life and even the length of it. As it keeps blood sugar levels in control and keeps your body at a healthy weight, health conditions can be improved and prevented.

But there are concerns with keto, some superficial while some are serious. First, the transition is difficult. Some find the diet to be too restrictive and difficult to adhere to. You have to closely monitor everything you eat. Testing can be costly as well when looking for confirmation your body is in ketosis.

If you can get past the big changes keto demands, it could be the perfect diet for you. But before you throw away your bread and potatoes, let’s learn about the Atkins diet.

 

What Is the Atkins Diet?

You’ll find many similarities between Atkins and keto. But there is one major difference. While the ketogenic diet involves limiting carbs for prolonged periods of time, the Atkins diet is broken down into four phases. In each phase, more carbs are added. This means that if you love carbs, the Atkins diet could sound more appealing. But it’s not quite this simple.

Let’s start by going through the different phases.

 

  • Phase 1 – This is known as the induction phase and is the closest to a ketogenic diet. During this period, followers are to stay under 20 grams per day of carbohydrates. Their protein and fat intake should both be fairly high.
  • Phase 2 – Called the balancing phase, this is where carbs are slowly introduced back into the diet. But don’t go crazy just yet. These should be healthier carbs, like vegetables, nuts, and fruits.
  • Phase 3 – Ready for more carbs? You’ll do just that in the fine-tuning stage. But you can’t start this stage too quickly. You’ll have to wait until you’re close to your goal weight so some might reach this stage faster than others.
  • Phase 4 – This final stage is called maintenance and is just that. In this stage, you’re able to eat as many carbs as you can without regaining weight.

 

Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? The Atkins diet has been around since for decades and plenty of people have found tremendous success with it. But the problem with the diet lies in the fourth phase. Weight can creep back on quickly, even overnight, when you start to reintroduce carbs to your diet.

Finding the perfect balance of carbs for your diet isn’t easy. There’s a lot of trial and error that goes into it. Mistakes are common and can throw off your weight loss. If you have the time to find the perfect balance and possibly spend more time losing weight than you had planned when you unexpectedly put more on, this won’t be an issue for you. But for most, the wasted time and efforts can be frustrating.

 

Benefits of Atkins

Just because Atkins has a pitfall or two doesn’t mean you should rule it out. It still provides plenty of benefits. If you’re successful on the diet, you can expect to experience the following.

 

  • Weight loss – Just like keto, you can expect to experience weight loss with the Atkins diet. While you might be eating too much protein to enter ketosis, just about any low-carb diet can prove successful in dropping weight. The weight loss may or may not last though. This will depend how quickly you move through the phases of the Atkins diet and whether you introduce too many carbs too quickly back into your diet.

 

  • Lower appetite – One common benefit with the Atkins diet is a much smaller appetite. Rather than feeling like you’re on a limited diet and starving yourself, you’ll feel fuller than normal. Because you’re not just cutting calories or putting less on your plate, you might be surprised when you find yourself skipping your usual snack or not going back for seconds. When you eat a diet full of rich protein and dietary fat, your stomach will remain satisfied. Just remember that skipping meals is never recommended so if you’re finding it near impossible to keep up with meals, work on spacing them out differently.

 

  • Heart health – The Atkins diet consists of plenty of fat, including saturated fats. These have been on the radar for years, with doctors typically recommending we stay away from them as much as possible. But when they come from healthy sources, like grass-fed beef of coconut oil, health can be improved instead of hurt. HDL cholesterol levels can be raised and risk factors for cardiovascular concerns are lowered. If you’re losing weight, which you should be on an Atkins diet, you’re also relieving heart stress and lowering LDL cholesterol.

 

Final verdict

The Atkins diet is sometimes preferred to keto because of one reason – you can eventually add more carbs to your diet. There is quick fat loss in the beginning and there can be many other health benefits. Many Atkins diet followers also rave about the reduced hunger and cravings.

However, there are a few concerns about the Atkins diet you should know about before jumping in. For some, the weight loss is impressive but comes right back. This leads some to feel cheated. And unlike keto, there are no mental or physical performance benefits. If fast weight loss is your goal and you like the idea of being able to slowly introduce carbs back into your diet, Atkins could be the perfect diet for you. But you’ll need to be able to show restraint when reintroducing carbs, so you don’t go overboard and erase all of your progress.

 

Keto Vs. Atkins Q&A

Now that you know the basics of both a ketogenic diet and the Atkins diet, do you have a clear idea of which is for you? Maybe not just yet. That’s why we’ve included a short Q&A section, so you can get more clarification on the two and decide if ketosis is better than the Atkins diet or not.

 

Is keto or Atkins easier?

This is a tough question to answer. It really depends on the person starting the diet. For example, some people need more guidance while others can be trusted with fewer restrictions.

If you’re the type who needs a diet to be stricter, keto is for you. You’ll know exactly how much of each macronutrient you’re supposed to have every day, especially if you calculate your specific macros. But if you can be trusted with a little slack, the Atkins diet could be more ideal as you’ll be able to slowly add carbs to your diet. But if you know your personality and that you’ll likely go overboard, the restrictions of a keto diet could set you up for better success.

 

Which diet do you lose more weight on?

Again, this will come down to the individual and their dedication. In just about all low-carb, high-fat diets, losing weight is a basic benefit. It comes with ease. But there are always exceptions and some people may experience more weight loss on one diet than the other.

Our advice is to start with the diet that appeals to you more. Set a healthy weight loss goal and work towards it. If you’re making good progress, you’re probably on a diet that will work just fine. But if you’re struggling, determine what’s holding you back and see if the other diet could answer some of your problems.

 

Which diet is safer?

Most diets can be safe but just about every diet can be dangerous if poorly executed. If taken to extremes or not followed consistently, both the keto and Atkins diets can be dangerous. But even when followed correctly, there are still some concerns about both.

When it comes to the Atkins diet, the notion that it allows for consumption of dangerous fats, artificial sweeteners, and processed foods can be alarming. When it comes to the ketogenic diet, its followers proclaim that because ketosis is a natural metabolic state and one that was most likely used more often than not by our ancestors, it must be completely safe. There are plenty of studies to suggest that the keto diet can be life-changing. It has been used as a treatment for epilepsy and new studies suggest it could be a treatment for conditions like Type II Diabetes.

But because scientists are unsure of the long-term effects of a high-fat, low-carb diet, there should still be some precautions taken. This is why it’s always recommended to speak with your doctor before starting any type of diet and keep them informed of changes as you progress.

 

Which diet do people stick with longer?

We don’t have any hard data to go with, but we find that people tend to stick with the ketogenic diet longer. This is because of the mentality that it isn’t a diet at all but rather a lifestyle change. The Atkins diet has several phases and evolves over time. This makes it easier to continue evolving, even after the diet is no longer giving you guidelines.

After a period of months or even years, you could find yourself claiming you’re on the Atkins diet but in all actuality, you’ve made up a diet that works for your needs and preferences. When it comes to the ketogenic diet, there are very few changes you’ll make, making it easier to stick with it in the long run.

 

So, Which Is Better?

Maybe we’re a bit biased but there is always one diet that will stick out in our minds. The ketogenic diet ticks all the boxes on our checklist. It’s simple to follow, helps dieters lose weight quickly, safely, and easily, and provides plenty of proven health benefits that make life easier.

The Atkins diet doesn’t provide mental clarity or excess energy like keto does. It also has several dietary recommendations that we question, like the consumption of processed foods. We think the ketogenic diet is more natural and better for our bodies and minds. While we won’t stop you from trying the Atkins diet, we do ask that you consider keto. If you try the Atkins diet and don’t get the results you were hoping for, the ketogenic diet will always be a terrific option.

SR Content Strategist & Fitness Expert

Matt Weik, the owner of Weik Fitness, LLC, is a well-respected fitness expert/author/podcaster with a global following. His work has been featured in nearly 100 fitness magazines (Flex Magazine, Men’s Muscle & Health Magazine, Oxygen Magazine), 2,000+ websites, as well as having numerous books and audiobooks that are published.  Matt Weik graduated from Penn State University with a degree in Kinesiology. He is a certified strength and conditioning specialist, personal trainer, and sports nutritionist. Matt is a member of the supplement expert panel at the Bodybuilding.com Awards 2018.

You can contact Matt via www.weikfitness.com or on social media links below.

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