Ketogenic diet and low-carb diet are two of the most popular diets people follow to lose weight. Both of them require limiting daily carb intake to a tiny amount. These days, there really are hundreds of diets coming up daily that can leave you unsure about which one is ideal for you to follow.
Since keto diet, the rising star that has gained widespread attention these days has principles that imitate those of the low-carb diet, so being well informed about each of them is a must before choosing one of them.
In this article, we will address the discrepancies between ketogenic and low-carb diets, the advantages and disadvantages of each and then leave you to decide which is best for you.
What is the low-carb diet?
A low -carb diet restricts carbs, like those in grains, starches, as well as fruits — whereas high-protein and fatty foods intake are higher. Several styles of low-carb Diet plans exist.
As its principal source of fuel, your body uses carbohydrates to fulfill many body functions, including heat. Naturally, complex carbs are usually digested slower and have less impact on blood sugar. During digestion, complex carbohydrates are divided into simple sugars. Then, sugars flow freely into your blood. The body releases insulin because of elevated blood glucose levels, which helps to inject glucose into your body cells. Finally, excess glucose is usually saved for later use or transformed into fat in your liver, muscles and other cells.
The theory behind the low-carb diet is that limiting carbohydrates intake lower insulin levels, which makes the body burn out excess fat for energy and eventually leading to losing weight.
Although the recommended carb intake per day varies from one to another according to the daily activity and the goal weight you want to reach, it is recommended to stick within the range of 50-150 grams of carbohydrates daily. Yet to lose weight efficiently, you better consume carbs below 100 grams, then once reaching the weight goal raise the daily intake to fit within the range of 100-150 grams to achieve maintenance.
I believe that It is hard to mark specific food as not allowed or allowed, as all kinds of foods including the green vegetables contain a certain amount of carbs. So, instead of using the term of foods not allowed on the low-carb diet I used better avoided. Even though you can have a limited amount of carbs you better avoid these types of foods to give a space for other types with higher nutritional value and lower carbs to maintain your health while losing weight.
So, think of your carbs as limited pocket money that you have to spend it wisely on buying what you actually need rather than wasting it on what won’t benefit you.
Foods better avoided on the low-carb diet are;
- Fruits especially with high sugar like bananas.
- Sugars in all types (white and brown) except non-caloric sugars like stevia.
- Refined carbs; all bakery made of white flour including bread, pizzas, biscuits and the list goes on.
- Vegetables (starchy like potatoes and sweet potatoes)
- Milk; contains lactose (milk sugar).
- Dairy products like cheese.
- Nuts especially chestnuts, cashews, and pistachios as they contain high levels of carbs.
- Legumes and grains; beans, lentils, and chickpeas.
- Processed foods; as it contains hidden carbs in the form of sugar.
The foods that are low-carb friendly;
Of course, the long list of foods not allowed on a low-carb diet leaves you wondering what you can have on your plate if you decided to go along with this diet. Don’t panic as the list of foods allowed is not short as you may think.
- Red meat.
- Non-starchy vegetables, especially leafy green vegetables, as they have low-carb content like spinach.
- Seeds like sesame and flaxseed.
- Fruits with low-sugar content like avocados.
- Healthy fats.
Maybe you have noticed that both lists include fruits, vegetables, and nuts. No doubt, these three major food categories have a wide variety of kinds with different nutritional values. However, the key that will ensure your success in the low-carb diet is to reach the perfect optimization between the amount you eat, your actual daily carbohydrate needs, and the food you are eating.
Detailed lists of low-carb vegetables, fruits, and nuts;
- Fruits; watermelon, berries, cantaloupe, avocados, peaches, star fruit.
- Vegetables; cucumber, lettuce, celery, spinach, broccoli, zucchini, tomatoes, bell pepper, cauliflower, eggplant.
- Nuts; pecans, macadamia nuts, walnuts, hazelnuts, and almonds.
I’ve made a detailed table to show you some kinds of the three categories and their carb content in grams per 100 grams. This will help you adjust your low-carb meal plan by calculating the exact amount of carbs you are taking.
Pros and cons of a low-carb diet;
To show the differences between the ketogenic diet and the low-carb diet, here are some pros and cons of the low-carb diet.
- A low-carb diet helps to lose weight.
- Having a diet clean from processed foods which are known to be high in carbs.
- It lowers cholesterol levels.
- It lowers the risk of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease events.
- A low-carb diet can be sustainable for long terms.
- It’s easy to follow more than keto.
- It has less adaptation phase, as you won’t cut entirely carbs like the ketogenic diet.
- Develops weaknesses and constipation.
- Limits the intake of many kinds of healthy foods rich in vitamins like fruits.
The ketogenic or keto diet is a diet that involves cutting carb even more than a low-carb diet and increase fat intake aiming to reach a level of nutritional ketosis. However, ketosis is a state in which your body uses fat as the main food fuel instead of depending on carbs. As your body breaks fat in the liver, it produces ketone as a by-product.
So, reaching ketosis is not that simple as your body takes from days to several weeks to reach this metabolic state. I won’t dig deep in this article about the ketogenic diet as I’ve covered it before in some of my previous articles;
- ketogenic diet and ketosis accelerators.
- 9 health benefits of following ketogenic diet other than weight loss
- 3 SIGNS THAT TELLS YOU ARE KICKED OUT OF KETOSIS
- Keto Diet Plans; The Worst Foods On Keto Diet
Pros and cons of ketogenic diet
Here are some pros and cons of the ketogenic diet.
- Keto diet has many health benefits other than losing weight.
- Boosts insulin sensitivity.
- Eliminate hunger and this state is reached because of stable insulin levels.
- It helps lower levels of triglyceride and cholesterol.
- Keto flu when starting ketosis state.
- Low fruit consumption which is a rich source of vitamins.
- Tough to implement as a lifestyle.
Which is better, ketogenic diet or low-carb diet?
One of the most important aspects, you should consult your doctor before deciding which one to start with, especially when having a certain health condition.
So, which is better, keto or low-carb diet??
The answer depends on your preference according to your health and ability to adapt to certain diet plans as nutrition varies depending on many factors such as genetics, style of life, age, gender, and all sorts of other determinants.
In general, the keto diet has more restrictive rules than the low-carb diet, for many people, the low-carb diet can be more sustainable if they use it in the long term. It’ s very important to take into consideration the pros and cons of the ketogenic and low-carb diet, then decide which one is better for you and suitable for your health.