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Keto vs. Atkins diet

Starting a diet can be daunting, no matter what type of diet, and it is important to learn what needs to be done for each, and how it affects the body. Both the Keto (or ketogenic) and the Atkins diets are meant to lower a person’s carb intake and increase the amount of fats eaten. Usually, the body will burn carbs to gain energy, but these diets force the body to burn fats, instead. This will lead to weight loss and is usually the main goal for each diet. So, what is the difference between the two?

The Ketogenic Diet

The ketogenic diet is mostly focused on fat, protein, and carbs. The formula to follow is to eat a percentage of your daily macronutrient intake, which means “70–80% fat, 20–25% protein, 5–10% carbohydrates.”[1] This forces the body to enter a state called ketosis. Ketosis is when the body “starts to burn fat and produce ketones — molecules that serve as a new energy source.”[1] The number of carbs per day that you can eat with this diet is 20-50 grams, when the average is 300 grams. For visual purposes, “one piece of whole-wheat bread has about 22 grams of carbohydrates.”[2] Many people will follow this diet with the goal of burning body fat. This diet benefits anyone who does want to burn body fat, but “it was first used to treat children who experienced seizures” circa the 1920s.[3]

The Atkins Diet

This diet was introduced by Robert Atkins, a cardiologist, in 1972. Where the ketogenic diet is strictly one way of eating throughout the diet, the Atkins (20) diet has four phases.

● Phase 1: Carbohydrates are limited to 20-25 grams a day. Usually these carbs come from “nuts, seeds, veggies, and cheese.”[4] This phase lasts until your around 15 lbs away from your target weight.

● Phase 2: The carb limit raises to 20-50 grams a day, so you’ll be able to add foods like “blueberries, cottage cheese, and yogurt.”[4] This phase lasts until you’re around 10 lbs away from your target weight.

● Phase 3: The carb limit raises to 50-80 grams a day. If you can maintain this stage for a month, it’s onto the last phase.

● Phase 4: Also called “lifetime maintenance,” this phase is a continuation of phase 3, where you keep up a similar carb limit. The limit for this stage is usually 80-100 grams.

Commonalities Between the Two

There are also side effects that can occur following these diets. For example, Erin Dolonski, a clinical dietitian, states, “The buildup of ketones can cause a lot of side effects, such as nausea, headaches, mental fatigue, and bad breath.”[3] Aside from that, it can also cause “deficiencies in essential vitamins and minerals” from only eating certain foods and heart disease “depending on the types of fats people choose.”[3]

Weight loss is clearly the main goal for participants of these diets. With all these details being said, it is wise to speak with a dietitian or doctor before following through with these diets to see if they are the right fit for you.


1. Johnson, J. (2019, September 12). Keto vs. Atkins: Differences, health benefits, and side effects. Medical News Today. Retrieved February 19, 2022, from

2. Ball, S., &; White, D. A. (2021, December 23). What's the difference between the Keto Diet and the Atkins Diet? Food Network. Retrieved February 19, 2022, from

3. Shoemaker, S. V. (2019, June 13). Atkins vs. Keto: What's the difference? Healthline. Retrieved February 19, 2022, from

4. Lawler, M., Haupt, A., Rapaport, L., Migala, J., Barrie, L., Palinski-Wade, E., & Upham, B. (2018). Ketogenic Diet vs. Atkins Diet: How they differ. Retrieved February 19, 2022, from



Author: Kayjah Taylor

Editor: Lauryn Agron

Health scientist: Jonn'ea Williams

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