Keto vs Atkins Diet: What Works Better For Weight Loss?

If you’ve been trying to figure out the best ways to lose weight, there’s no doubt that you’ve heard of the ketogenic and Atkins diet.

The two sometimes get confused, and keto is even known as the “modified Atkins” because both of these popular diets are known for their reduction in carbohydrates. 

While similar, they are different in adherence, weight loss results, and safety.

Both diets are strict with carbohydrates and require you to follow these rules if you want to be successful. 

You’re not just eliminating bad carbs we know are unhealthy like donuts, processed foods, and cookies, but also fruit and even high-carb vegetables.

By restricting carbs this way, you’ll be forcing your body to switch fuel sources and enter into ketosis

Once you’re in ketosis, your body is now burning fat stores as a fuel source instead of glucose which is made from carbohydrates. 

It’s important to note that ketosis plays a different part in each of these diets, which can give you an idea of which one will be sustainable for you in the long run.

How Does The Atkins Diet Work? 

Atkins Phases Timeline

Robert Atkins in 1972 introduced the world to the Atkins Diet. Now called Atkins 20, the diet has four different phases, where the first phase is the most restrictive.

Atkins Phase 1

In the first phase of the Atkins diet, carbs are limited to 20-25 grams of net carbs. Net carbs are when you take total carbohydrates and subtract the fiber. 

The small amount of carbohydrates can come from various nuts & seeds, vegetables, and some dairy.

When the body limits carbs to this degree, the body enters into ketosis or a high fat-burning mode.

You stay in Phase 1 until you’re about 15 pounds from where you want to be. 

Depending on how much weight you have to lose, you might be in this phase for quite some time.

Atkins Phase 2

When in phase two, you can consume slightly more carbohydrates, but no more than 50 grams a day. 

You can add in foods like yogurt, cottage cheese, and fruits such as blueberries. 

You’ll only be in this phase for about another 5 pounds of weight loss, which is about 10 pounds away from your goal weight.

Atkins Phase 3

In this 3rd phase, you can increase your carbohydrate intake again to no more than 80 grams of net carbs.

You’ll need to keep a close eye on your weight loss as adding in too many carbs will cause you to gain weight.

You’re looking for the sweet spot where you can have a set number of carbohydrates and still continue losing weight.

Yes, this can be a slow process, but that’s weight loss generally. The weight likely didn’t come on all at once, and it’ll take time to lose it as well.

Atkins Phase 4

In this final phase, you’re in this one for life. 

This is all about the good habits you established throughout the other 3 phases while you maintain a healthy weight.

You’re allowed no more than 100 grams of net carbs per day as long as you don’t start increasing in weight.

How Does The Ketogenic Diet Work?

On the ketogenic diet, there are no phases you need to worry about as you’ll be eating the same throughout the length of the diet.

Like Atkins, this modified version will allow for no more than 5% of your total daily calories to come from carbohydrates. 

Around 75% of your daily calories will come from fat, and 20% will come from protein. 

After a few days of eating this way, your glycogen stores will be depleted, and your body will enter ketosis and use ketones for energy.

The ketogenic diet was not initially for weight loss. In the 1920’s it was used as a diet to help children with epilepsy. 

Upon further research, scientists found that patients following the ketogenic diet for ten weeks had lost significant weight, lowered body fat percentages, a lower body mass index, and HgA1c. (1)

Be sure to check with your doctor prior to starting any diet, as you may experience side effects as a result of changing your diet.

Some patients reported symptoms such as headaches, nausea, and bad breath, which are associated with the keto flu.

These symptoms can be prevented, however, and some people even feel euphoric on the keto diet

It all depends on how your body reacts and how well you adhere to the keto rules.

How The Ketogenic Diet And The Atkins Diet Are Similar

Most people hop on either the keto or Atkins diet because they’re trying to lose weight.

In the beginning, mostly water is being removed from your body, and that’s the main cause for the drop in initial weight the first week.

If you were to eat carbs normally, the water weight would come back immediately because carbohydrates retain water.

While you don’t have to calorie count on either diet, you definitely should. 

The only way to lose weight is to be in a caloric deficit, so it’s pretty important. You may want to adjust to the eating habits of the diet first and then ease into calorie tracking.

Just make sure to adhere to the correct ratios of fat, carbs, and protein mentioned above, and you’ll be on your way to weight loss.

Keto Vs. Atkins Diet Differences 

The main area of difference between the two diets is what each allows to consume for protein intake.

On Atkins, protein is free reigns, and there is no cap on it. On the ketogenic diet, no more than 20% of protein is allowed. 

Another main difference between keto vs Atkins is the length of time in ketosis

On the keto diet, the main objective is to get into and stay in ketosis. 

On the Atkins diet, you may be in ketosis for the first and maybe the 2nd phase as you increase your carbohydrate intake slowly. 

Carbohydrates are always at low levels on keto. On Atkins, you’re allowed to consume more and more depending on which phase you’re in.

Which Is The Safer Low-Carb Diet?

The studies done on both diets were done in the short term, and unless you have underlying conditions such as diabetes, kidney, or heart disease, you should be fine. 

Double-check with your doctor that you can get on a low-carb diet and not have it interfere with anything else. 

Once you get the go-ahead from your doctor, as long as you adhere to the diet, you’ll get the weight loss results you’re out to achieve. 

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