Finding It Difficult To Decide? Keto vs Atkins, Read On!
What if I said that keto diet and Atkins diet are both the same? Well, you will definitely mock me. With so many people talking and researching about keto vs Atkins, there has to be some significant difference between the two. But what is that difference? Is Keto better than Atkins or is it the other way around?
Well, with growing concerns about health and increasing inclination of people towards fitness, diet has become an integral part of many lives. People choose from a variety of diet options available depending on their health and fitness goals. But with the dieting world being full of conflicting messages and confusion, it can be a difficult task to go on a diet which is the best for you. Toggling between whether to go for keto or Atkins diet in the fight between Keto vs Atkins, you need to read on.
What is the Atkins Diet?
It dates its existence back to 1970’s and takes its name from its developer Dr. Robert Atkins who was an American cardiologist. He emphasized on an eating style which involved low sugar and carbohydrates while the majority of the energy comes from fats and proteins. So, it is a diet plan in which one can eat as many fats and proteins as possible but the foods high in carbs are to be avoided. Initially, the carbs intake is limited to under 20 grams which move up to 100 grams by the end of the Atkins diet.
Phases of the Atkins diet
There are basically 4 phases of this diet:
Phase 1: The Induction phase
This phase lasts for a period of 2 weeks. One is a high fat and high protein diet. Carbohydrates intake is kept less than 20 grams per day. This phase is similar to going on keto diet as this puts the body into a state of ketosis and is the phase in which majority of the weight loss process is achieved. It does this by promoting a drop in the blood glucose thereby sending a signal to the body to burn fat for energy (basically ketosis) and also leads to loss of water retained in the body along with the loss of fat.
Phase 2: The Balancing phase
This phase allows an addition of carbohydrates to up to 50 grams per day. In this phase, a balance is to be maintained between weight loss and the carbohydrate intake thereby giving the liberty to add a few nuts, seeds, vegetables, berries, and fruits back to your diet. Actually, the carb intake is increased depending on the workouts so that the weight loss continues. It is actually the longest phase.
Phase 3: The Fine-Tuning phase
This phase is also called the ‘pre-maintenance’ phase which lets you add a few more carbs to the diet increasing to around 80 grams per day. Pasta, rice, potatoes, starchy foods, and a few whole grains can be consumed again but at a gradually increasing pace. But the weight is continuously monitored and if it seems that the weight loss has stopped, the carbs are again cut down to maintain steady weight loss. By the time you reach this phase you should be seeing the difference and experiencing weight loss and hence moving closer to the overall set goal.
Phase 4: The Maintenance phase
As the name suggests, it is the maintenance phase in which you are allowed to have as many carbs but as long as it doesn’t result in the weight gain by the body. Actually, this a continuous phase to be followed for the rest of the person’s life if he or she wishes to follow the Atkins plan. Ketosis may not be happening anymore and the requirement to have it ceased to exist.
Benefits of the Atkins diet
- The fast track diets
It is the famous fast track diet which helps in losing fat quickly by just avoiding the foods rich in carbs and instead including proteins and fats.
- Health benefits
Helps in reducing the level of ‘bad cholesterol’. Might help in prevention and treatment of Type 2 diabetes as helps to stabilize the blood sugar level, reducing the risk of Neurological Disorders, heart diseases and improving the metabolic syndrome.
- If you are a meat lover, this diet is for you as it allows you to eat meat.
- There is better control over hunger and leads to a state where there is almost no craving for sweet.
Atkins diet cons
- May result in the growth of kidney stones.
- Can sometimes lead to constipation.
- There is a possibility of regaining the lost weight in the long term.
- It allows the consumption of toxic fats, artificial sweeteners, processed foods, an unlimited amount of protein, processed meat and puts low emphasis on consumption of Green vegetables and healthy fat.
- There are no quality or quantity guidelines available.
What is the Keto Diet?
It was founded by Dr. Russel Wilder in 1924 at the famous Mayo Clinic. A Keto diet is a low carb foods and high-fat foods diet which has limited carbohydrates 5% to 10%, proteins 15% to 30% and the rest 60% to 75% fat. It stresses on the ketosis process happening in the body which is a natural process during which ketones which provide energy are produced by the body from the liver fat. It basically helps the body to burn fat to get energy rather than carbohydrates. This helps to reduce extra weight, keep you full for a longer duration, and sustain energy all day long. It aids in the treatment of epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, and metabolic syndrome.
How does it work?
- When a high carb diet is taken, most of the energy comes from the glucose which is converted from the carbs by the body and put into the bloodstream by insulin.
- In the keto diet, the carb intake is either limited or eliminated. When the carbs are not available, the body tries to get the required energy from some other form.
- In such a situation, the fatty acid present in the liver is converted to ketones by the body which provides the energy required. This process is called ketosis and hence the name keto diet which helps reduce fat by burning the stored fat in the body thereby helping in weight loss.
Variations of the keto diet
Following are some of the variations of a keto diet:
- Standard: This allows you to take a moderate amount of protein, low carbohydrate intake, and high intake of fat.
- High protein: In this, the amount of protein intake is twice of what is taken in the standard process.
- Cyclical: In this, a process is followed which involves a period of ketosis followed by an increased period of carbohydrate intake and it goes on.
- Targeted: Carbohydrates are added during the workout periods.
Benefits of the keto diet
There are a lot of benefits of Keto diet and can help improve the lifestyle and health of people. Some of the benefits are:
- Helps in stabilizing blood sugar
It limits the carbohydrate intake thus making blood sugar level stabilize faster. It helps to decrease the glucose levels and improve the resistance to insulin.
- Helps in burning fat
It triggers fat burning to get the required energy. Fat acts as a primary source of fuel in the absence of carbohydrates thereby helping in an efficient fat loss and in getting lean.
- Improve the health of the brain
Ketones can reach the brain easily by crossing the blood-brain barrier and hence the brain can get a lot of energy improving the mental performance.
- Rapid loss of weight
It helps to decrease the level of triglyceride and increase the level of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and faster weight loss.
- Helps to exercise smarter
This diet is even followed by some bodybuilders who need quick results while preparing for some competitions. This diet also helps to increase the endurance performance of the body as the oxygen requirement for making energy from ketones is lesser than from carbohydrates thereby decreasing the demand for oxygen during exercise.
- Health benefit
Beneficial for those who are at the risk of diabetes. It also helps to decrease the risk of heart disease and heart attacks and reduce the rate at which cancer tumor grows. Physical and mental performance is also increased.
- Other benefits
Other benefits include the following:
- Reduced appetite
- Faster metabolism
- Sharper memory
- Better night sleep
- Anti-aging effect and clear skin
- Reduced risk of chronic disease
Keto diet cons
There is a downside to everything and keto diet is no exception. Some of the disadvantages are:
- Need to keep a continuous check
You have to frequently measure, keep a check and be sure that you are in nutritional ketosis and not that the body is using proteins and the muscle tissues and converting it into carbohydrates rather than burning the fat.
- Restrictive diet
If not taking the supplements, the diet can be restrictive as the food being eaten has to be measured which is of course not liked by many. It requires taking supplements depending on the circumstances you are in.
You may experience the following problems too:
- Frequent Need to Urinate
- Bad Breath
- Keto Flu Symptoms
- Leg cramps
Keto vs Atkins: The main differences
Going by the face value both might seem to be the same but there are of course some noticeable differences between the two diets:
- Carbohydrate intake: It changes and gradually increases in Atkins in which there is an introduction phase after which the dieter is able to add more carbohydrates unlike in the keto diet in which the carb intake is fixed at an amount of almost 10% of the average consumption.
- Protein intake: Atkins allows to take 4 to 6-ounce servings of proteins whereas keto allows 1 gram of protein per kg weight of the body.
- Fat intake: Very less fat intake in Atkins after taking proteins and carbs. In keto, fat intake is in a significant amount to as much as 75% of the daily food intake.
- Ketosis: In Atkins, ketosis happens in phase 1 whereas in Keto it depends on the individual.
- Production of Ketone: In Atkins maximum ketone production takes place in phase 1 whereas in Keto it is a continuous process and optimum production is maintained throughout.
- Atkins diet is easier to follow than keto which has stringent guidelines.
- Ketosis offers much longer-term health benefits as compared to Atkins which shoes short term fat loss.
Common side-effects of both Keto and Atkins
The following are some of the side effects which are seen in the initial stages of both keto and Atkins diet:
- Dieter experiences lethargy, fatigue, lethargy, and decrease in energy levels
- Feeling of Weakness and a general tendency to be inactive creeps in due to the tiredness.
- One faces issues with sleep.
- Fiber intake in reduced thereby leading to constipation.
- There is an unbalance in the serotonin levels which causes irritability and mood swings.
- There develops a fruity or acetone taste in the mouth which leads to bad breath.
Which among the two is actually better?
There is nothing like ‘one size fits all’ and the same is applicable in the case of a diet too and diet alone cannot help in meeting the set goal unless supported by regular exercise and workout. Which diet is better for you depends on various factors like the daily exercise you do, the stress level, Physical Fitness Health, and the daily routine and activities carried out. But still you can ask yourself the following questions to know which is better for you:
- What are your health goals?
Decide what is your health goal before deciding which of the two: keto vs Atkins diet is better for you. If you want to lose weight fast, Atkins might be the solution for you. Whereas if you want stabilized energy and enhanced functioning then keto might be fit for you.
- What is your personal preference?
Keto vs Atkins, which one do you feel is more sustainable and preferred by you as the diet should be one which you enjoy and not the one in which you feel constantly restricted and stressed. This discomfort with the diet can lead to negative effect on the mental health, release stress hormones and therefore impact the overall well-being.
- Choose according to your biology
Each person is unique and so is his or her biology. A diet which worked for your friend might not work the same way for you. After deciding the goals and the preferred diet, go for dietary personalization. Keep a check on how your body is feeling when you start the diet and if something feels wrong, discontinue the diet.
A final word on the keto vs Atkins talk!
Considering the pros and the cons of each of the diets, in the argument of keto vs Atkins, Keto seems to be the winner. It might want you to follow more stringent guidelines but it offers long-term benefits too. Keto diet not only helps in sustainable weight loss but is also effective in improving the overall health. But the bottom line is that you know your body better than anyone and therefore should go for what is right for you.
So, after having all the pre-requisite knowledge that you should have to make that tough choice of Keto vs Atkins, choose what you feel is the best for you and your health and can help realize your set goal easier and faster. But whether you choose to go for Keto or Atkins diet the underlying fact remains the same i.e. one has to take food with limited low-carbs, controlled carbs and more of fats which helps to burn body fat and hence reduce weight which is the ultimate goal of following a diet. Good Luck!
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