Have you wondered what the big difference is between low carb vs. keto? How about between keto vs. carnivore? Are you wondering what all the fuss is about and if it's best for your weight loss and how low in carbs you really need to go? What about the high fat that is typical on a keto diet, is it necessary? I'm sharing all these answers to your questions as well as my 3 year update on being on a ketogenic diet.
WHAT'S THE MAIN DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LOW-CARB VERSUS KETO?
Both the keto diet and a low carb diet are forms of living a low carb lifestyle to balance blood sugar, lose weight and reduce inflammation. The biggest difference between the two is in the macronutrient amount ratios between protein, fats and carbs.
When you are following a ketogenic diet you reduce your carbohydrates typically to 20 grams a day in order to get your body into nutritional ketosis. When you are in ketosis, you are burning fat for fuel instead of glucose. There are many benefits to being in ketosis, and I've shared them all in this post, Low Carb vs. Keto and my 6 week results after following a strict keto diet.
When I went to nutritional therapy school to become a practitioner, I learned the most important thing is that everyone is an individual and no two people will react to the same foods, specifically carbohydrates, the same way. Everyone will be able to get into ketosis with different macronutrient amounts. Some people might be able to get into ketosis eating 50 grams of carb a day, while others need less, maybe 35 grams or some need to go as low as 20 or less.
There is no definition for what a typical low-carb diet should look like. The most popular low-carb diet has been Atkins. But even with any low-carb program, the amount of carbohydrates could vary with anything between 0 and 150 carbs a day.
The key factor though for each diet, the keto and low carb diet, is that we remove processed sugar and refined carbs like pasta, breads, pastries, candies, grains, and high carb veggies like potatoes. Using whole nutrient dense foods, like healthy proteins, and low carb veggies like zucchini, cauliflower, squash, and nuts and seeds, seem to be the best approach no matter if you are following a low-carb or keto diet.
ARE YOU IN KETOSIS?
Besides having the benefits mentioned above, if you really want to make sure you are in ketosis I would suggest buying a glucometer which is a blood test. A simple prick on your finger using ketone strips to measure. Anywhere from 0.5 and up means you are most likely in ketosis. It's definitely not cheap, but it is the most accurate measurement. There are other methods as well, like using urine ketone strips but those will work well for a couple months and then may not register ketones since your body should be using the ketones. There is also a breath ketone meter if you hate the blood pricking idea.
DO YOU NEED TO EAT HIGH FAT TO FOLLOW A KETO DIET?
The biggest controversy with a ketogenic diet has always been in the dietary fat amount one should consume for weight loss. Some experts believe high fat is best, anywhere from 70-80% daily. Others believe it's best to use fat as a lever and adjust to anywhere from 50-70% depending on your goals and if you have any underlying conditions or autoimmune disease.
In my experience before I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism, I was gaining weight on a keto diet of 70% fat. I was not able to lose weight until I lowered my dietary fat intake and increased my protein intake. Again, everyone is different and changing things that are not working for you is the key.
In order to see weight loss, I reduced to 60% dietary fat and started incorporating intermittent fasting as well as getting properly diagnosed and on medication to treat my low functioning thyroid. How much fat you should eat to lose weight on a ketogenic diet is one that will have to be determined as you follow the basic keto macros and see what works for you.
I was so encouraged that I wasn't broken when it came to weight loss and inspired to share this with others that I created a 4 week Stall Buster Keto course for those struggling to lose weight on the traditional keto macros or those just stuck in their weight loss.
KETO VERSUS CARNIVORE
The carnivore diet is a zero carb diet which is one of the best elimination diets out there. If you are struggling with any kind of skin conditions, GI issues or any other conditions that are just not going away with a keto diet, this is the diet for you.
Not only did I have hypothyroidism, but I was breaking out in crazy, itchy hives! It was the worst time of my life and the hives were chronic. I was reacting to anything I was eating. I later learned I have a high histamine intolerance.
I decided to follow a carnivore diet for two months to see if the hives would decrease. It definitely helped calm down the inflammation in my body, though for me it was not a lifestyle I could or would want to sustain.
I am a foodie at heart and recipe development is my love! Creating keto, family-friendly recipes is a blessing and a gift I love to share with others on my blog.
WHICH DIET IS BETTER FOR WEIGHT LOSS?
Both the low-carb diet and the ketogenic diet will help you lose weight. If you have a lot of weight to lose, over 50, you might easily be able to lose weight with a low-carb diet. If you have less than 30 pounds to lose, you might do better and see quicker results if you follow a ketogenic diet limiting your carbs to 20 a day.
Every time you put food in your mouth, the hormone insulin will raise to bring glucose into your cells for energy. Depending on the food you choose, determines the effect it will have on your insulin and how high insulin will raise. Highly processed, sugary foods will increase insulin the most. Foods with fat and minimal carbs will minimally effect insulin.
When you maintain balanced blood glucose levels and limit insulin from spiking, you will see fat loss. When insulin is high or constantly high from constant snacking, no fat loss will be happening.
The take away then is figuring out what carbohydrates and how many will you be able to enjoy to keep your blood sugar balanced and which ones will you need to avoid in order to reduce the frequency of insulin being raised. Once you have that figured out you can certainly adjust your carb intake to what works for you.
HOW TO BEAT SUGAR AND CARB CRAVINGS
I tell all my ladies during their first week starting out on my 6 week Sugar Detox course and also in my 5 day Sugar Detox challenge that the very best way to beat sugar and carb cravings is to increase protein intake.
Some listen and are astounded at how great they feel in the first few days, many are just shocked at how greatly it made a huge difference in their hunger. Others take some time to listen, thinking they already eat enough protein, but inevitably they fall culprit to wanting to eat all the things by dinner time.
Using a keto calculator can help you determine the right amount of protein for your body and weight loss. Most women I've worked with are under-eating protein and once they increase it, they see amazing results, cravings gone, more satiety and lose weight! Do not underestimate the power of protein!
MY 3 YEAR KETO UPDATE
I held off on writing this post since March because of the simple fact, I don't have 6 pack abs and I don't have my body fat down to 20%! Don't get me wrong, I'm grateful I am about the same weight as I was back in March of 2018 when I wrote my 6 week results, but I do look the same in the photos and that really bothers me.
I've had lots of struggles in the 3 years since I wrote that post of my 6 week results. By September of 2018, I was finally diagnosed with Chronic Epstein Bar, which became active again and Hypothyroidism. It was a blessing to finally have a diagnosis, but in the process I gained about 10-15 pounds, bringing me up to about 145 and on my short 5 feet 2 .5 inches, that was really depressing.
The thyroid medication was not correct for about 6 months and has had to be adjusted over the course of 2019 as well as 2020. I've also been working with Dr. Will Cole, a functional doctor who has been treating me for Candida and what we believe was exposure to mold in our home and which has been corrected.
Recently though, even more upsetting, has been the fact that in the spring of 2021, we discovered high estrogen in my body. With high estrogen has come extreme hair loss. Clumps of hair in my hands after brushing and washing it.
I'm certainly not writing this to share my pity party story, nor to use any of these issues as an excuse as to why I look exactly the same as I did in 2018.
I'm working on my body fat through daily intermittent fasting and keto with no more than 20 total carbs a day. I work out with a trainer 3 times a week and walk my dog daily for about 3-4 miles. Considering all I've been through in the last 3 years and now trying to detox from high estrogen too, I feel grateful I've at least gotten back to the weight I was when I first experimented with a keto diet after having been low carb for so many years.
I hope one day soon to write a post about getting my body fat down to what I would consider perfect for my height, but until then I give you the truth. This is where I'm currently at and I'm not ashamed about it. I feel good in the bathing suit I picked and honestly that just makes me happy.
This year I will be turning 50 in November and I hope to be in the best shape of my life! I'm doing all I can to fix the issues and I will always be an advocate for keto helping me control cravings and feel my best.
EASY LOW CARB KETO RECIPES
Making meals that are low-carb and keto for you, does not have to be hard at all, even if the rest of the family is not eating this way. I've been doing this for years without my hubby on board and have found a way to make one meal for everyone and that all will happily eat!
Here are some of my very best, fool-proof, family-friendly low carb keto recipes:
- Bacon Cheeseburger Casserole
- Caesar Chicken Broccoli Casserole
- Instant Pot Chicken Tacos
- Air Fryer Bacon Cheese Stuffed Burgers
- Slow Cooker Balsamic Chicken Thighs
LOW CARB VS KETO: THE BOTTOM LINE
A low-carb diet and a keto diet can both be effective for weight loss, depending on your goals. If you are looking to simply lose a few pounds, a low carb diet under 100 grams of carbs a day may be all you need to get results. But to get lean and build muscle, a ketogenic diet is the better option. If you're looking to heal any kind of inflammation, a ketogenic diet would provide immediate results.
Ultimately the best diet is one you will follow through on and works for your body. Following either diet as a way of life as opposed to a "diet" to simply lose weight, is the key to lasting weight loss and maintaining that weight loss.
- The Hungry Brain by Stephen Guyenet, PhD
- Obesity Energetics: Body Weight Regulation and the Effects of Diet Composition
- Beyond Weight Loss: A Review of the Therapeutic Uses of a Very Low Carbohydrate (Ketogenic) Diet
- Nutritional Ketosis and Weight Loss
- Do Ketogenic Diets Really Suppress Appetite?
- The Effects of High-Protein Ketogenic Diet on Hunger, Appetite and Weight Loss
- 5 Benefits of a Carnivore Diet