Keto vs. Atkins

Last Update: September 27, 2022

Need to know the difference between keto and Atkins diets? You’re in the right place. These two diets both emphasize a low-carb approach to eating, but they’re not one in the same. Today’s post looks at some nuances between keto vs. Atkins which are worth noting before jumping in.

What Is a Keto Diet?

“Keto” is short for ketosis, a fat-burning metabolic state that happens when you limit the number of carbs you eat. Without carbs, your body switches to burning fat for energy instead of glucose, and produces compounds called ketones as a result. This “fat-burning” state is called ketosis, which a keto-centric diet helps you achieve.

Keto Diet Benefits

While weight loss is often a positive side effect for those who are looking to shed some extra pounds, the diet was originally used by neurologists to help reduce seizures in epilepsy patients. While more research needs to be done, studies suggest a keto diet may be more effective than a low-fat diet for achieving weight loss and may offer certain health benefits, including potentially increasing HDL (healthy cholesterol) levels and lowering blood pressure.

Keto Diet Basics

Here’s everything you need to know about how to start a keto diet. The first thing to do is clear your pantry and fridge from the following foods:

  • Grains (rice, pasta, quinoa, and wheat)
  • Processed food
  • Beans
  • Legumes
  • Vegetable oils
  • Milk
  • Juice
  • High-carb nuts (pistachios and cashews)

For a full keto diet grocery list, check out this post. And here are a few basic keeps to jump start your keto diet.

  • Be a smart snacker. Snacking isn’t really a hallmark of the keto diet since it may spike blood sugar levels and bring you out of ketosis, but it’s OK to enjoy a few nibbles here and there. Try hard-boiled eggs, nuts and seeds, or nut butters. Thrive Market also offers an extensive selection of keto-friendly snacks, like CHOMPS, a brand that offers a responsibly raised alternative to the classic jerky stick. With lean proteins, healthy fats, and nearly 0 grams of carbohydrates, it’s the perfect road trip snack for your keto companions.
  • Manage “keto flu” symptoms. If you end up experiencing unpleasant side effects of starting a keto diet that make you feel like you have a cold, be sure to take care of yourself until symptoms subside. This post has lots of tips!
  • Read the menus. Dining out? Keep an eye on hidden carbs that may lurk in popular restaurant meals. A smart bet is focusing on vegetables, egg dishes, or bunless burgers. When in doubt, chat with your server about any ingredient questions you might have.

Keto Diet Recipes

Our blog has lots of keto-friendly meals to choose from, but these are some of our favorites!

Keto Tsukune Chicken Meatballs

You’ll love this ketogenic twist on spaghetti and meatballs. This Japanese-inspired dish features a base of zoodles topped with tender meatballs made with ground chicken, baby bok choy, scallions, coconut aminos sauce, and spices.

Keto Pork Chops With Creamy Mushroom Sauce

You can’t go wrong with perfectly cooked pork chops coated in a decadent cream sauce. Meaty mushrooms add extra dimension to the dish, and parsley and thyme lend freshness to every bite.

Keto Mashed Cauliflower

Meet the perfect keto side. Whether you serve it with grilled steak, roasted chicken, or as a side dish on your Thanksgiving table, silky cauliflower enhances any meal and works for a range of diets.

Atkins vs Keto Diet Differences

Is Atkins keto-friendly? Like keto, Atkins is also a low-carb diet. It was created by cardiologist Dr. Robert Atkins, who noticed that eating right—not necessarily less—improved his patients’ health outcomes. Some proponents have described the Atkins diet as “a more flexible keto,” because Atkins is broken down into four phases based on your weight goals, and allows for more carbs overall than keto. For example, an average keto diet recommends aiming for 20 grams of carbs or less per day, and up to 50 grams for a more moderate approach.

Here are the four phases of an Atkins diet.

  • Phase 1 (Induction): This phase recommends eating 20–25 grams of net carbs per day until you are 15 pounds from your goal weight.
  • Phase 2: During this phase, eat 25–50 grams of net carbs per day until you are 10 pounds from your goal weight.
  • Phase 3: For Phase 3, your net carb allowance is raised to between 50–80 grams per day, until you’ve reached your goal weight and maintained it for at least 1 month.
  • Phase 4: In the final phase, eating 80–100 grams of net carbs per day is the goal, which is believed to support ongoing weight maintenance.

Atkins Diet Benefits

When a Stanford University School of Medicine study compared four popular diets, Atkins was declared the most effective in terms of both weight loss, cholesterol, and blood pressure. However, another study found that while low-carb eating offered better weight loss results after six months, outcomes didn’t change much after the one-year mark. So, is Atkins healthy? If this question is on your mind, the answer all depends on your unique health goals. If you’re looking to lose weight and improve your overall health, Atkins may be a smart diet to experiment with. If you have any questions, schedule an appointment with your health care provider to discuss the best options for you!

Atkins Diet Shopping List

One of the main differences between keto and Atkins diet meals is the focus on protein. When you’re following a ketogenic diet, most of your calories come from fat, which doesn’t always leave room for as much protein. The Atkins diet believes protein is essential for maintaining muscle mass, and recommends including it on your plate.

Preparing Atkins-friendly meals will depend on which type of program you’re following. (Atkins 20®, Atkins 40®, and Atkins 100® are all options, with the numbers indicating the amount of carbs you’ll be eating per day. Overall, the program emphasizes the following types of ingredients that build on each other depending on the phase you’re in. This is not a full Atkins shopping list, but it will help you get started.

  • Healthy fats
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Cheese
  • Berries, cherries, or melons
  • Vegetables
  • Tomato juice
  • Legumes
  • Starchy vegetables
  • Whole grains

If a low-carb diet is in your future, keto and Atkins both offer benefits, but if you don’t feel ready to make an informed decision just yet, ask your doctor to more about the differences between to keto and Atkins so you can make a plan that works for you!

For more, check out our ultimate guide to the keto diet!

This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before changing your diet or healthcare regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

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Nicole Gulotta

Nicole Gulotta is a writer, author, and tea enthusiast.

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