know your dna logo
search iconmenu Icon

Atkins vs Keto

Updated on November 12, 2021
Written by
Kelly Jamrozy
4 sources cited
KnowYourDNA is reader-supported. This means we may receive a commission when you buy something from one of the links on this page.

Of all the diet trends there are, the Atkins Diet and the Keto Diet are two of the most popular. Both Atkins and Keto are restrictive diets and limit the dieter’s intake of sugar and other high-carbohydrate foods.

However, even though they are similar, these diets have significant differences. How do you know which is right for you?

Atkins Diet

Atkins is a high-fat low-carb diet. There are several different modern-day versions of Atkins, but the original form is still the most popular used by dieters.

Atkins dieters experience four phases in the program, including:

  • Phase 1 (Induction) (20 to 25 grams of net carb intake): Lasts until someone is 15 pounds from their goal weight
  • Phase 2 (25 to 50 grams of net carb intake): Lasts until someone is 10 pounds from their goal weight
  • Phase 3 (50 to 80 grams of net carb intake): Lasts until someone’s goal weight is met and for one month after
  • Phase 4 (80 to 100 grams of net carb intake): Ongoing maintenance

The Atkins diet allows for the intake of a wide variety of foods as someone progresses through the phases. This makes it less restrictive than the keto diet. However, even in phase 4, which could last a lifetime, carbs are limited to 100 grams of net carbs. 

This is less than the average person consumes on an average day. The average carb intake of Americans is about 250 grams – approximately half of their daily calorie intake.

Keto Diet

The keto diet is similar to Atkins but limits carbohydrate intake long-term. It was originally used for treating seizure-prone children.

Keto diets are extremely low carb and high fat. The goal of eating this way is to trigger your body to reach a state of metabolic ketosis. 

This means it’s turning to its fat stores for energy instead of using the glucose it would otherwise get from food. This creates an efficient fat-burning process that leads to weight loss and other benefits.

Keto dieters limit their total carb intake per day to 20 to 50 grams. The average macronutrient breakdown for a keto dieter is as follows:

  • Carbs: 5 percent
  • Protein: 10 to 30 percent
  • Fat: 65 to 90 percent

What are the Similarities Between Atkins and Keto?

Both keto and Atkins are low-carb diets. Phase 1 of Atkins is nearly identical to the keto diet. In both cases, dieters restrict their daily carbohydrate intake to 25 grams per day, triggering the body to enter ketosis and burn fat for fuel.

Both diets encourage weight loss for most people, in part because they decrease the number of calories from refined carbohydrate foods.

What are the Differences between Atkins and Keto?

Despite how similar they are, these diets have their differences.

For starters, Atkins is a phased diet, while keto is a long-term eating plan. Both require a commitment, but it’s expected that keto dieters will continue eating very low-carb forever. This keeps their body in ketosis indefinitely.

Additionally, Atkins dieting is more heavily protein-dependent. It allows for up to 30 percent of calories from protein, while keto limits protein intake to 20 percent.

Atkins is also a more comprehensive diet that allows for a wider variety of food. Many believe this makes it healthier, but this might not be the case for everyone. It’s important to work with your doctor when making decisions about what to restrict while following any diet.

What are the Benefits of Atkins and Keto?

Both diets share many benefits. For example:

Low-carb diets are usually great for weight loss

First and foremost, this is because it makes someone more conscious of what they are eating. Carefully monitoring your macronutrient intake almost always results in reducing overeating. Additionally, both diets cut processed carbs, which tend to be very high in calories.

Low-carb diets can be beneficial for managing blood sugar levels

People who adopt the Atkins or keto way of eating do so to help them manage type 2 diabetes and other health issues related to high blood sugar. The American Diabetes Association considers low-carb diets safe and effective for people with type 2 diabetes

Low-carb diets might improve heart health

This is a debate concerning heart health issues and eating low carb due to the increased intake of saturated fats many people experience when low-carb dieting. However, there is some evidence that low-carb diets reduce triglyceride levels and increase HDL (good) cholesterol.

Low-carb diets are associated with:

  • Improved digestion,
  • Better mental health 
  • Increased energy levels 
  • Better sleep
  • Improved mood

Is One Better than the Other?

Determining whether the keto diet or the Atkins diet is better for you is a personal decision that depends on your weight loss and health goals.

Keto diets are very restrictive. For many, this makes them difficult to adhere to, especially long-term. Even someone that determines that keto dieting improves their health might find it a challenge to stick to long-term.

Furthermore, it’s recommended that people on the keto diet monitor their ketone levels. This can be inconvenient and expensive.

There is also concern that the keto style of eating can lead to nutrient deficiencies because it’s so restrictive. 

It’s important to pay close attention to the foods you’re including in your diet and carefully monitor your micronutrient levels when eating a restrictive diet. Many people find that dietary supplements help them maintain good health when restricting macronutrients.

Many people find that Atkins is a less-restrictive approach to low-carb eating that is easier to maintain long-term. 

The initial phase is as restrictive as keto, but over time, you’re able to add more foods into your diet and increase your carbohydrate intake. It remains low compared to the average diet, but it is much higher (by about 80 grams per day) than the keto diet.

When choosing between keto and Atkins, it’s important to consider your eating patterns, your health and weight loss goals, and your lifestyle. 

Ultimately, you want to focus on eating whole, healthy foods that provide you with the nutrition your body needs to perform at its best. This likely requires some trial and error. Low-carb eating helps you recognize how your body responds to carb intake and adjust as needed. 

Resources

SHOW
HIDE

Harvard T.H. Chan. “Diet Review: Ketogenic Diet for Weight Loss.The Nutrition Source, 7 May 2018, www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/healthy-weight/diet-reviews/ketogenic-diet/. 

Campos, Marcelo. “Ketogenic Diet: Is the Ultimate Low-Carb Diet Good for You? - Harvard Health Blog.Harvard Health Blog, 6 July 2018, www.health.harvard.edu/blog/ketogenic-diet-is-the-ultimate-low-carb-diet-good-for-you-2017072712089.

The Atkins Diet.Sphweb.bumc.bu.edu, sphweb.bumc.bu.edu/otlt/mph-modules/ph/nutritionmodules/popular_diets/Popular_Diets3.html.

Mayo Clinic Staff. “Atkins Diet: What’s behind the Claims?Mayo Clinic, 2017, www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/in-depth/atkins-diet/art-20048485

Kelly Jamrozy
Content Contributor
Kelly has experience working with clients in a variety of industries, including legal, medical, marketing, and travel. Her goal is to share important information that people can use to make decisions about their health and the health of their loved ones. From choosing the best treatment programs to improving dental and vision health to finding the best method for helping anyone who is struggling with health issues, she hopes to share what she learns through informative content.
back to top