Keto Diet vs. Atkins: What Actually Is the Difference?

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Last updated on March 26, 2023

In a bid to find ways to lose maximum weight with minimum effort, researchers, nutritionists, and dietetics have discovered two major diet plans that one could follow to achieve their weight goals. Based on being a low-carbohydrate diet, both the ketogenic diet plan and the Atkins diet have proved to be very efficient in not just losing weight but also attaining other health benefits such as healthy blood sugar levels as well as moderated blood pressure.

For this reason, the two diets have joined low-fat diets as well as the high-fat diet like the paleo and the plant-based diet, to become very popular all over the world and are particularly adapted by lots of people who would like good results eating nutritious food with minimum exertion. The difference between the two, however, is not well known. In this article, we will explore both diets and compare them to see the similarities and differences.

The Keto Diet

Keto diet is founded on the principle of maintaining ketosis which is a metabolic state where the body produces ketones from fat molecules and uses them for energy instead of fat. Typically, the body uses carbohydrates for its energy needs, but in its absence (or a limited carb intake), it turns to fat. As an added benefit, ketones also produce energy that is supplied to the brain.

When used for weight loss, the keto lowcarb diet is very efficient as it works by burning body fat to produce energy. You can eat low carb vegetables on Keto. It is also equally beneficial for those adopting it for health reasons; it known to reduce the levels of blood sugar and insulin. Keto diet was primarily intended to help in the management of epilepsy in children. During the time, it has also been found useful in weight loss as well as in attaining other health benefits.

Types of Keto Diets

Keto Diet Basics

  1. Standard Ketogenic Diet (SKD): This type involves intakes of high levels of fat and low levels of carbs. Dieter should take proteins in moderate amounts.
  2. Cyclical Ketogenic Diets (CKD): Here, the dieter alternates between periods of time with low carbs intake and refeeds. A common way of doing it involves five days of SKD and two of CKD.
  3. Targeted Ketogenic Diet (TKD): In this diet, carb intake can be strategical manipulated around workouts to provide immediate energy needs.
  4. High-protein Ketogenic Diet (HPKD): This diet is similar to the SKD, only that it involves more intakes of lean protein.

Atkins Diet

The popularity of low carb dieting can largely be attributed to Dr. Robert Atkins, with his book The Diet Revolution in 1972. At first glance, the ketogenic diet looks very similar to the Atkins diet. There are, however some key differences:

• On Atkins you can eat as much protein as you like, whereas on a keto diet you have to moderate your protein intake. The reason is that there is a process known as gluconeogenesis, by where the body will convert excess protein to glucose. This defeats the purpose of going low carb, as your blood stream will be filled with just as much glucose as when you were eating high carb.

• On Classic Atkins, you start with zero carbs and, therefore, put yourself in a ketogenic state (though Dr. Atkins never actually used the term ‘ketogenic’). This is known as the induction phase of the Atkins program. From there, carbs are slowly reintroduced to the diet. With the keto diet, you do not re-introduce carbs.

• With Atkins, you go through a number of phases: Induction, Ongoing Weight Loss, Pre-maintenance, Life-time maintenance. At each stage you manipulate your carb intake. There are no such phases on the keto diet.

The concept it is based on is similar to that of the standard Keto diet, only that it encourages the intake of more protein; they reduce the appetite which ultimately leads to low a carbohydrate intake.

It was then challenged by scientists who thought that, along with healthy fats and fatty acids, the high amounts of saturated fat intake that resulted from the diet were harmful and may contribute to heart disease, even though it may help dieters lose weight. Research and studies have since proved them wrong, giving the rest of the world the go-ahead to try the Atkins diet.

The Phases of the Atkins Diet

The original Atkins diet consists of a four-phase plan that dieters should follow to the letter to realize the full benefits. These are:

  1. Induction: this is the first phase of the diet and is essential for beginners. To begin weight loss, one should eat less than 20 carbs daily for the first two weeks. They should also take high amounts of fat and protein while avoiding anything with too many carbohydrates.
  2. Balance: In this phase, fruits and vegetables, as well as nuts are gradually reintroduced into the diet. The most crucial thing to watch out for is the number of carbohydrates in each.
  3. Fine-tuning: At this phase, the dieters should be very close to their weight loss goal. If they are, they begin adding back some more carbohydrates into their diet. This is supposed to slow down the weight loss.
  4. Maintenance: this is the last stage of Atkins dieting, and one can eat as many healthy carbohydrates as they can if they won’t gain weight back.

Keto vs Atkins: The Difference

As much as both healthy diets work on the principle of low carbohydrates, they also have significant differences.

atkins diet

1. Protein content

The Keto diet does not place any particular emphasis on proteins. In fact, the dieter should limit them to about 20 percent of the total calorie intake. The Atkins diet, on the other hand, encourages protein intake and does not place any limits on the amount to be taken.

2. The role of ketosis

Ketosis plays a primary role in all types of Keto diets. They depend on the process to convert fat bodies to ketones which are then used to produce energy for the body and the brain.

In the Atkins diet, ketosis is only significant in the first and, perhaps, the second phase.

3. Reintroduction of carbohydrates

Keto diet works strictly with limited amounts of carbohydrates until the very end. It ends with the attainment of weight goals at which point the dieter is at liberty to decide what to eat next.

The Atkins diet only restricts carbs in the first phase and they are re-introduced as the dieter nears their body weight goals.

4. Sustainability

The Atkins diet is generally more sustainable for longer periods. That is because it allows the dieter to add back carbs as well as other nutritious supplements into the diet in the final phases. It is geared towards leading the dieter to their goal while incorporating back the carbs and other nutrients so that, by the time they are done with their diet, they have their targeted weight as well the once restricted nutrition.

The Keto diet, on the other hand, requires one to remain in ketosis throughout the diet until they achieve their goals of both weight and overall health.

Similar Post: Best Supplement for Ketosis

What About LCHF?

LCHF stands for low carb high fat. On this diet, you can eat as much meat as you want, including the fat. Both LCHF and the Atkins diet are very low carb but on the Atkins diet you reach a set amount in terms of grams of carbs for the week. From there you slowly add carbs and fruits to the diet. The key difference between LCHF and Atkins is that LCHF promotes high fat while Atkins does not. On Atkins, thinner, leaner cuts of meats are preferred. In addition, LCHF also puts the emphasis on blood sugar control and fat loss. However, the Atkins diet really only focuses on weight loss and not blood sugar control.

Technically, the ketogenic diet is a type of low carb high fat diet. The ketogenic diet is stricter than the LCHF diet. In order to get into and stay in a state of ketosis you will need to keep your carb intake down to around 5% of your total daily macronutrient intake. Daily carbohydrate intake will have to be under 50 gram per day and may be as low as 20 grams of carbs.


It is worth noting that the two diets – Keto and Atkins – also have some similarities. For one, they both lead to controlled weight loss and therefore improve health. They also don’t require tedious and meticulous processes of counting daily calories on a regular base. As long as the carbs are limited, one is good to go!

Atkins vs Keto: which diet is more comfortable to follow? It all depends on individual eating habits. They both cause mental and physical fatigue as well as dizziness, but the results are worth the discomfort

Both Keto and Atkins will lead to fat loss and therefore both great weight loss tips. However, they are both strict diets that are not easy to stick to. Going low carb is not easy as many of the stock foods that we build our meals upon are high in carbohydrates. When you push through the first couple of weeks, however, you will start reaping the benefits in terms of both fat loss and increased energy levels. In the end, your choice of which form of low carb diet you decide to go with between Keto or Atkins depends on your personal preference.

Then it is down to your commitment to following the Keto meals or Atkins plans you set yourself to achieve your goal weight. The food choices people follow have a big impact on achieving their objective. Many famous celebrities, like Martha Stewart, follow these diets and you may want to read some of their success stories to motivate you.

Steve Theunissen has qualified from the International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA) and is a certified Personal Trainer and Nutritionist. He has over 30 years experience in fitness and nutrition and currently working with famous fitness professionals. He is currently living in New Zealand with is wife and daughter.

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