Keto diet vs. low-carbohydrate diet
A low-carbohydrate diet is a way of eating that focuses on reducing carbohydrate intake. The biggest difference between these diets is the degree of carbohydrate restriction and the amount of fat that needs to be consumed. The keto diet, otherwise known as the high-fat diet, replaces the energy taken in sugars with fat and therefore a significant amount of fat is consumed when following it (90g per day is recommended).
The low-carbohydrate diet is not oriented by grams of macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats and proteins), but by the percentage of energy obtained from a given macronutrient, namely sugar, namely: 10-30%. For a healthy person with an intake of 2000 calories per day, this equates to 50-150g of carbohydrates.
In contrast, the keto diet keeps a strict limit of carbohydrates below 50g per day regardless of total calorie intake. On the keto diet, it is important to achieve ketosis, a chemical process where fats become the source of energy for the cells of the human body instead of glucose. This state is achieved precisely by limiting carbohydrates and increasing fat intake, while the amount of protein consumed is average (1-1.5g per 1kg of weight). Moreover, even too high protein intake can stop the process of ketosis. The standard keto diet is a very restrictive way of eating and is therefore not sustainable in practice in the long term.
In order to compare them even better, let’s take a general look at the pros and cons of each diet.
The keto diet
- It has therapeutic benefits, for example in the treatment of epilepsy (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2902940/)
- May improve insulin sensitivity (in type 2 diabetes)
- Reduces appetite
- Improves cholesterol levels
- Constipation can occur due to low fiber intake
- Not much data yet on the long-term effect of the diet
- Keto-flu: headaches, fatigue, irritability, loss of motivation
- Limits fruit intake
- Difficult to sustain in the long term
- May lead to yo-yo effect
- May promote weight loss
- Eliminates foods containing refined sugar and processed foods containing carbohydrates
- Is sustainable in the long term
- Less extreme and restrictive than the keto diet
- Can make you feel weak and constipated
- Limits fruit and a variety of foods
Both diets are about reducing your carbohydrate consumption, but while the low-carb diet is between 50-150g per day, the keto diet is under 50g. For the majority of the population, the low carb diet is a healthier and more sustainable form of weight loss than the keto diet.
Low carb for beginners: low carb diet
The low-carb diet is one version of the low-carb diet, and as the name suggests, limiting the amount of carbohydrates you take in, especially from cereals, sweetened drinks and bread, is central to this diet. When following this diet, it is recommended to increase the intake of healthy fats, proteins and vegetables to replace the energy normally taken from sugars while feeling satiated. In addition, by limiting carbohydrates, high-calorie foods are often eliminated. All of these factors can help reduce calorie intake sufficiently, leading to weight loss.
A low-carbohydrate diet is associated with many health benefits, especially for people with diabetes, including weight loss and improved blood sugar levels, which also helps reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. It is generally used for weight loss and is safe for most healthy individuals. However, even this diet may not be suitable for everyone and therefore it is advisable to consult a doctor.
To be a low carbohydrate diet one needs to be within the range of 10-30% of calories taken from sugars. So for a normal person consuming 2000 calories per day this is 50-150g of carbohydrates. To give you an idea, this amount means: 2-6 medium, thin slices of bread, 1 small – 2 medium portions of rice or 4-12 cucumbers. It is important to set your own limit depending on your tolerance to sugars in your diet, so if you normally gain weight easily after eating processed foods containing carbohydrates (bagels, sweets, beer) this limit will be lower. It is also important to keep an eye on whether we are in a calorie deficit and to follow a drinking regime.
- Sugars: sweetened drinks, fruit juices, agave syrup, sweets and other foods with added sugar
- Processed cereals: especially white bread, rye and barley, beer, bread, cereals, pasta
- Trans fatty acids: various margarines
- “Diet” and low-fat foods: the taste is often made up for by carbohydrates in fat-reduced foods
- Processed foods
- Some vegetables: corn, potatoes, sweet potatoes, beets
- Some fruits: mangoes, raisins, dates
- Meat: beef, pork, chicken, etc.
- Fish: sea and freshwater
- Vegetarian sources of protein: tofu, tempeh, limited amounts of beans and legumes
- Vegetables: spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, zucchini, carrots, mushrooms, avocados, green beans, lettuce, kale, cucumbers, tomatoes, garlic, onions, etc.
- Fruits: apples, oranges, pears, pineapple, raspberries, blueberries, etc.
- Nuts and seeds: almonds, walnuts, sunflower and flax seeds
- Fatty dairy products: cheese, butter, cream, yoghurt
- Fats and oils: coconut oil, butter, lard, olive oil
- Tea, coffee, water (even sparkling, without added sugar)
! When eating nuts and cheese, be especially careful of the calories, it is very easy to overeat these foods.
Low-carbohydrate foods – diet
If your goal is to consume 1600 calories per day, then the diet below is suitable for you. It contains 90g of carbohydrates and a sufficient amount of protein. The plan can be further adjusted as needed, you just need to check your calorie and carbohydrate count, which is best helped by calorie charts. When preparing food, be careful not to overdo it with oil, and it is also a good idea to avoid spice mixes, which often contain starch. If you want a dressing, for example for a salad, beware of low-fat options, but it’s also a good idea to weigh the amount of dressing, otherwise the calories will add up quickly.
- Breakfast: 3 scrambled eggs in a little oil (approx. 250 kcal), vegetables (2 tomatoes, 100g peppers, 100g iceberg lettuce) – total: 350 kcal, 15g carbohydrates, 20g protein
- Snack: protein drink: protein powder (one serving is 100 kcal), 100ml milk (50 kcal), 100g blueberries (50 kcal) – total: 200 kcal, 15g carbs (19g if you use plant milk), 20g protein
- Lunch: 200g chicken breast (raw – 250 kcal), 200g zucchini noodles (50 kcal raw), sprinkle with 20g feta cheese – total: 400 kcal, 15g carbs and 50g protein
- Snack: 25g peanut butter (150 kcal), banana (100 kcal) – total: 250kcal, 25g carbs, 8g protein
- Dinner: 125g minced beef (275 kcal raw), 3 tomatoes, 200g rocket, 100g white yoghurt as topping – total: 400kcal, 16g carbs, 36g protein