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What is the difference between atkins and ketogenic diet: Atkins vs. Keto: What’s the Difference?

Atkins vs. Keto: What’s the Difference?

Atkins and keto are two of the best-known low carb diets.

Both require a drastic reduction in high carb foods, including sweets, sugary drinks, breads, grains, fruits, legumes, and potatoes.

Though these diets are similar, they have differences as well.

This article compares the Atkins and keto diets to help you decide which may be a better fit.

The Atkins diet is one of the best-known diets worldwide. It’s a low carb, moderate protein, high fat diet.

Though Atkins has evolved to offer a variety of plans, the original version (now called Atkins 20) is still the most popular. It’s broken down into four phases, which are based on your daily allowance of net carbs (total carbs minus fiber and sugar alcohols):

  • Phase 1 (Induction): This phase allows for 20–25 grams (g) of net carbs per day until you are 15 pounds (lb), or 7 kilograms (kg), from your goal weight.
  • Phase 2: During this phase, you consume 25–50 g of net carbs per day until you are 10 lb (5 kg) from your goal weight.
  • Phase 3: Your net carb allowance is raised to 50–80 g per day until you have met your goal weight and maintained it for 1 month.
  • Phase 4: During the final phase, you consume 80–100 g of net carbs per day for ongoing weight maintenance.

As you approach your goal weight and advance through these phases, your daily net carb allowance increases, allowing you to incorporate a greater variety of foods.

However, even during Phase 4, which allows for up to 100 g of net carbs per day, you consume significantly fewer carbs than most people usually eat.

Most Americans get about 50% of their daily calories from carbs, which equates to about 250 g of carbs if you eat 2,000 calories per day (1).


Atkins is one of the most popular low carb diets worldwide. It works in phases that allow you to gradually increase your carb intake as you progress toward your goal weight.

The keto, or ketogenic, diet is a very low carb, moderate protein, high fat diet plan.

It was first used to treat children who experienced seizures, but researchers discovered that it may benefit other people as well (2, 3).

The goal of the keto diet is to get your body into the metabolic state of ketosis, during which it uses fat rather than sugar from carbs as its main energy source (4).

In ketosis, your body runs on ketones, compounds that form during the breakdown of the fat from your food or the fat stored in your body (5).

To reach and maintain ketosis, most people need to limit their total carb intake to 20–50 g per day. Following the keto diet typically involves consuming less than 5% of calories from carbs, 10–30% from protein, and 65–90% from fat (6).

Some people monitor their ketone production using blood, urine, or breath tests.


On the keto diet, you restrict your total carb intake to less than 50 g per day. This causes your body to enter ketosis and burn fat for energy.

Keto and Atkins have certain similarities but also differ greatly in some respects.


Because they are both low carb diets, Atkins and keto are alike in some ways.

In fact, Phase 1 (Induction) of the Atkins diet is similar to the keto diet, as it restricts net carbs to 25 g per day. This will likely cause your body to enter ketosis and start burning fat as its main fuel source.

Phase 2 of the Atkins diet prescribes a carbohydrate intake of 25–50 g per day, which may also be low enough for many individuals to enter ketosis.

What’s more, both diets may result in weight loss by decreasing the number of calories you eat. Many high carb foods — particularly those containing refined carbs, such as sweets, chips, and sugary drinks — are high in calories and may contribute to weight gain (7).

Both Atkins and keto require you to eliminate these high calorie, carb-rich foods, which makes it easier to cut calories and lose weight.


Atkins and keto have certain differences as well.

While keto is a moderate protein approach, with about 20% of calories coming from protein, the Atkins diet allows for up to 30% of calories from protein, depending on the phase.

Additionally, on the keto diet, the goal is to keep your body in ketosis by extremely limiting your carb intake.

On the other hand, the Atkins diet involves gradually increasing your carb intake, which will eventually kick your body out of ketosis.

Because of this flexible carb limit, Atkins allows for a wider variety of foods, such as more fruits and vegetables and even some grains.

Overall, Atkins is a less restrictive approach, as you do not have to monitor ketones or stick to certain macronutrient targets to stay in ketosis.


Keto and Atkins are both low carb diets that may aid weight loss by burning fat and reducing your calorie intake. However, on Atkins, you gradually increase your carb intake, while it remains very low on the keto diet.

Though once considered unhealthy, low carb diets have now been shown to offer various health benefits.

Weight loss

Low carb diets may result in more weight loss than other diet plans.

A review of six popular diets, including Atkins, the Zone Diet, the Ornish diet, and Jenny Craig, found that Atkins resulted in the most weight loss after 6 months (8).

A similar study found that Atkins was the most likely of 7 popular diets to result in meaningful weight loss 6–12 months after starting the plan (9).

Though it is more restrictive than Atkins, the keto diet may aid weight loss as well. Research indicates that being in ketosis decreases appetite, thereby removing one of the biggest barriers to weight loss — constant hunger (4, 10, 11).

Ketogenic diets may also preserve your muscle mass, meaning that most of the weight loss you may experience is more likely to be a result of fat loss (12, 13).

In one 12-month study, participants on a low calorie keto diet lost about 44 lb (20 kg) with few losses in muscle mass, while those on a standard low calorie diet lost only 15 lb (7 kg) (12).

Additionally, ketogenic diets maintain your resting metabolic rate (RMR), the number of calories you burn at rest, whereas other low calorie diets may cause your RMR to decrease (13).

Blood sugar regulation

Research indicates that low carb diets can benefit blood sugar regulation.

In fact, the American Diabetes Association recently revised the Standards of Medical Care — a document outlining how healthcare professionals should manage and treat diabetes — to include low carb diets as a safe and effective option for people with type 2 diabetes (14).

Low carb diets have been shown to decrease the need for diabetes medications and improve levels of hemoglobin A1c (HgbA1c), a marker of long-term blood sugar regulation (15, 16, 17, 18).

One 24-week study in 14 adults with obesity and type 2 diabetes who were on the Atkins diet found that in addition to weight loss, participants experienced a decrease in HgbA1c levels and a decreased need for diabetes medications (18).

Another 12-month study in 34 overweight adults noted that participants on a keto diet had lower HgbA1c levels, experienced more weight loss, and were more likely to discontinue diabetes medications than those on a moderate carb, low fat diet (17).

Other benefits

Research suggests that low carb, higher fat diets may improve certain heart disease risk factors (19, 20, 21).

Low carb diets may reduce triglyceride levels and increase HDL (good) cholesterol, thereby decreasing the ratio of triglycerides to HDL cholesterol (22, 23).

A high triglyceride-to-HDL ratio is an indicator of poor heart health and has been linked to increased heart disease risk (24, 25, 26, 27).

A review including more than 1,300 people found that those on the Atkins diet had greater decreases in triglycerides and more significant increases in HDL cholesterol than individuals following a low fat diet (22).

Low carb diets have also been associated with other benefits, including improved mental health and digestion. Still, more research is needed (3, 28).


Low carb diets like keto and Atkins may result in more weight loss than other diet plans. They may also help improve your blood sugar regulation and decrease your risk of heart disease.

Both Atkins and keto have benefits and downsides.

The ketogenic diet is extremely restrictive and may be difficult to stick to. Limiting your protein intake to 20% of calories while maintaining a very low carb and a very high fat intake can be challenging, especially in the long term.

Some people may also feel the need to monitor their ketone levels, which can be challenging and costly.

Following a restrictive diet like the keto diet may lead to nutrient deficiencies if you do not pay careful attention to your diet quality.

Additionally, evidence on the long-term safety or effectiveness of the keto diet is limited, so its long-term health risks are unknown.

Most people can reap several of the benefits of low carb diets without being in ketosis. Therefore, moderate carb restriction on a low carb diet like the Atkins diet — as opposed to a strict keto approach — is usually sufficient.

Overall, it’s most important to focus on choosing healthy foods, regardless of the ratio of protein, fats, and carbs you eat. For example, higher carb diets rich in plant foods, such as vegetables and fruits, are known to benefit health in countless ways.

Though low carb diets are healthy and safe for most people, higher carb diets that focus on whole foods are just as beneficial for health as low carb, high fat diets (29, 30, 31, 32, 33).

It’s important to consider your weight loss goals, overall health, and dietary preferences when choosing the best eating pattern for yourself.


Atkins is less restrictive than keto. Additionally, the long-term effects of the keto diet are not well known. Choosing healthy foods and limiting refined carbs is a great way to improve health, regardless of your carb intake.

Low carb diets, particularly those focusing on high quality, nutritious foods, can be beneficial. However, be sure to consult a healthcare professional before making any drastic changes to your diet.

Atkins and keto are both low carb diets that may benefit weight loss, diabetes management, and heart health.

Their main difference is that you gradually increase your carb intake on Atkins, while it remains very low on the keto diet, allowing your body to stay in ketosis and burn ketones for energy.

Though some people may benefit from the more restrictive keto diet, moderate carb restriction — such as in the later phases of the Atkins diet — is sufficient for most people to experience the benefits of a low carb diet.

Differences, health benefits, and side effects

The ketogenic, or keto, and Atkins diets are two popular eating plans that restrict carbohydrate intake with the aim of promoting weight loss and improving overall health.

The recommended daily intake of carbohydrates for adults is about 200–300 grams (g) per day. The keto and Atkins diets both involve a significant reduction in carbohydrate consumption, and the two can produce similar effects on the body.

There are, however, differences in these eating plans. The differences involve the timing and extent of carb intake and specific effects on the body.

This article looks at the similarities and differences between the keto and Atkins diets, including their potential benefits and adverse effects and the foods involved.

Share on PinterestGrains, most fruits, and sugars are all excluded from both the keto and Atkins diets.

The keto and Atkins diets both aim to promote weight loss and improve health by limiting carb intake.

Foods excluded from both diets are grains, most fruits, and sugars.

The keto diet puts more emphasis on eating healthful fats than the Atkins diet.

Understanding how these diets work can help a person decide whether either is a good choice.

The keto diet

A person following the keto diet will eat very few carbohydrates, lots of fat, and some protein.

Below are the proportions of a person’s total daily macronutrient intake on the keto diet:

  • 70–80% fat
  • 20–25% protein
  • 5–10% carbohydrates

Carbs are the body’s go-to source of fuel. The keto diet involves significantly reducing levels of carbs so that the body can no longer use them for fuel.

When this happens, the body enters a state called ketosis, in which it starts to burn fat and produce ketones — molecules that serve as a new energy source. For this reason, many people follow the keto diet as a way to burn body fat.

Keto diet proponents recommend getting the carbs allowed from specific foods, including keto-friendly vegetables, such as leafy greens, and certain fruits, primarily berries. The diet excludes grains and legumes.

The Atkins diet

Like the keto diet, the Atkins diet allows for few carbs, moderate amounts of protein, and high amounts of fat.

Over the years, the Atkins diet has evolved to include various eating plans. The current name for the original version of the diet is “Atkins 20.”

According to the Atkins website, this diet consists of 4 phases distinguished by the amount of carbs that a person eats each day:

  • Phase 1 – This is the most restrictive phase, allowing for just 20–25 g of carbohydrates per day. People stay in this phase until they are 15 pounds from their ideal weight.
  • Phase 2 – During this phase, people eat 25–50 g of carbs each day.
  • Phase 3 – This allows people to eat up to 80 g of carbs per day until they meet their goal weight and maintain it for at least 1 month.
  • Phase 4 – Phase 4 is the maintenance phase, allowing for 80–100 g of carbs per day.

The final phase is the least restrictive. The aim is to help a person be conscious of their carb intake and maintain a healthful weight.

During the first phase, the body enters ketosis, as in the keto diet. As the person moves through the different phases, they begin to eat more carbs and more varied foods.

The keto and Atkins diets both involve restricting carb intake, even in the final phase of the Atkins diet. However, there are key differences.


Share on PinterestThe Atkins diet allows moderate protein intake.

In general, the keto diet is much more restrictive than the Atkins diet.

The keto diet places more emphasis on carb elimination, and it restricts protein sources, as the body may break down proteins into glucose for energy. The vast majority of calories in the keto diet come from fat.

The Atkins diet places strong restrictions on carbohydrate intake at first, but it allows for moderate protein intake. As the person moves through the stages, the Atkins diet becomes more relaxed, allowing for more carbs and a greater variety of foods.


The keto and Atkins diets can both lead to a state of ketosis.

However, in the Atkins diet, only the first — and sometimes second — stages involve the carb restriction required to maintain ketosis.

If a person follows it strictly, the keto diet involves continuous ketosis.

Long term viability

No strong, long term studies indicate that restrictive, low carb diets are healthful for extended periods. In fact, the opposite may be true.

Research published in The Lancet Public Health in 2018 found an increased risk of mortality among people following low carbohydrate diets rich in animal protein and fat.

The researchers also found that people following diets rich in plant sources of fat and protein had a lower risk of mortality.

Many of these plant sources, such as nut butters, whole grains, and legumes, also contain carbohydrates. As a result, they are highly restricted in low carb diets.

Some people find that the Atkins diet is an achievable long term option. Though it starts restrictive, a person introduces more foods and carbs as they get close to their goal weight.

The last stage, or maintenance stage, of the Atkins diet can feel more manageable than keeping up with the perpetually restrictive keto diet.

However, it is dangerous to remain in ketosis for extended periods. Also, most people are unable to maintain a very high fat intake or extreme carb restriction for a long time.


Doctors developed the keto diet to help treat epilepsy in the 1920s. Researchers noted that it may have other benefits, and since the mid-1990s, the diet has become more popular.

Dr. Robert Atkins developed the Atkins diet as a simple, low carbohydrate approach to nutrition. The diet has changed over the years to take on its four stage structure.

Both the Atkins and keto diets involve carb restriction, and the effects can be similar.

Weight loss

Many people follow the keto or Atkins diets for weight loss.

A number of studies have shown that these diets can result in weight loss, as the body burns fat very well when it enters ketosis. Most relevant studies indicate that a low carb diet produces more weight loss than a low fat diet in the short term, but in the longer term, these diets produce similar weight loss results.

As a small scale study published in Diabetes & Metabolic Syndrome: Clinical Research & Reviews notes that ketosis may help manage obesity and metabolic risk factors that are precursors to type 2 diabetes. However, confirming these findings will require more research.

Potential health benefits

A review published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that ketogenic diets protect the body from certain illnesses, such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

These benefits may result from a reduction in highly processed, high carb foods and excess sugar in the diet.

There is emerging evidence these diets may help with other issues, such as acne and neurological disorders, although confirming this will require more research.

Focus on natural foods

Both diets encourage a person to eat unprocessed foods. Highly processed foods are linked with obesity, cardiovascular disease, and other health conditions.

Side effects and risks

Share on PinterestKeto flu can develop when a person starts the keto diet.

Any diet that involves ketosis can cause adverse effects, such as keto breath, keto skin rashes, and keto flu. Staying in a state of ketosis for long periods can be harmful.

Also, people following either diet can develop nutrient deficiencies due to food restrictions. For many people, carbohydrate sources are also key sources of fiber. When reducing carbohydrates, people should be sure to get enough daily fiber from other sources, such as vegetables.

In addition, these diets may increase the risk of deficiencies in electrolytes and many water-soluble nutrients that come from fruits and vegetables.

Finally, ketosis may help burn fat, but it may also burn muscle to use for energy. Following a very low carb diet can result in a loss of muscle mass.

There are many similarities to the keto and Atkins diets. Both require a significant reduction in calories from carbohydrates and encourage a person to get their calories from fats.

The keto diet puts greater restrictions on the source of calories. The Atkins diet starts very restrictive but becomes less so over time, allowing a person to eat a greater variety of foods.

Restrictive diets may help with short term weight loss or fitness goals, but they may not be as healthful in the long term as other options.

Consult a healthcare provider before making any major dietary change. This is especially important for people with chronic health conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, or high blood pressure.

When following any diet that eliminates food groups, make sure to avoid deficiencies by meeting daily nutrient needs in other ways.

Once a person reaches their target weight goals, it may be a good idea to switch to a less restrictive diet that incorporates a variety of nutrient-rich foods. Getting the right amount of daily physical activity can also help with maintaining a healthful weight.

which diet is the most useful and effective?

Everyone has probably heard about the low-carb and high-fat ketogenic diet. But there is another option – the Atkins diet. At first glance, they are very similar, but in reality they are not!



weight loss



Proper nutrition


The basics of the keto diet

The main idea of ​​this type of diet is the transition of the body into ketosis, when fats are used for energy, not carbohydrates. Fat goes to the liver and turns into ketones, which then enter the bloodstream and become energy. You can check whether the body is in ketosis using special test strips.

To start ketosis, you need to get 75-85% of your energy from fat, 10-15% from protein, and only 5-10% from carbohydrates. Accordingly, people eat fatty meats and oils in fairly large quantities, although nutritionists recommend paying attention to avocados, nuts, seeds and eggs.

What is the Atkins diet?

Its main goal is to limit the amount of carbohydrates, and the degree of rigidity depends on how many kilograms you consider extra. The most difficult version is the classic Atkins 20 diet, it is divided into four stages, the amount of carbohydrates and the variety of foods gradually increase. When the weight decreases, you move to a new level. Vegetables, fruits and dairy products are prohibited in the diet at different stages. At Atkins 40, the bans are not so serious, there are more food options. The numbers indicate the maximum number of grams of carbohydrates per day.


Which diet is stricter?

Consider first the ketogenic. It does not directly prohibit sources of carbohydrates like bananas or bread, but it is better not to get involved in them. Even innocent vanilla yogurt contains 24 grams of carbs and can kick your body out of ketosis.

Keto dieters eat a lot of saturated fats (cheese, butter, whipped cream) instead of healthier monounsaturated fats (avocados). A good recipe is baked meat with broccoli.

Now about the Atkins diet. At the first stage, it is very tough: nuts, seeds, cheese, fats, proteins and some low-carb vegetables. Fruits, whole grains, starchy vegetables, soft cheese, dairy products are prohibited. Gradually, there are fewer prohibitions, at the last stage you can eat everything without going beyond -100 g of carbohydrates per day.

To summarize: the keto diet is more rigid, and the Atkins diet is mobile. At the third or fourth stages, there are almost no prohibitions, those fruits that you can forget about in ketosis mode are allowed.

What is the easiest diet to follow?

The keto diet is quite tricky because carbohydrates are found almost everywhere. Nuts, avocados, yogurts and other fatty foods are literally stuffed with them! In addition, food must be weighed.

On the Atkins diet, it is not so important to get 80% of calories from fat, and it is a little easier in this sense.

Interestingly, nutritionists have observed that many keto dieters eat more protein and less fat. That is, they adhere to a completely different nutrition plan than they think!

Which diet is healthier?

Not all experts agree on the benefits of high fat intake for weight loss. In some cases, the risks outweigh. If you eat for so many months in a row, vitamins B and C will begin to be washed out of the body, and cholesterol levels will increase. That is why the ketogenic diet is recommended to be kept for no longer than 2-3 months.

The Atkins diet appears to be more beneficial, but there are no studies on long-term effects on the body. However, it is believed that extreme types of nutrition should not become the mainstay of the diet for a long time.

Is it possible to lose weight?

Both diets provide fairly rapid weight loss, but then it can come back. If it’s a matter of a few kilograms, it’s better to consult a specialist and switch to a healthy diet that allows you not to keep yourself in strict limits.

Keto diet and Atkins – what’s the difference?

Pros of the Keto Diet

Cons of the Keto Diet

Pros of the Atkins Diet

Cons of the Atkins Diet

Keto or Atkins

The best diet

Many people think that the keto diet and the Atkins diet are synonymous. After all, they’re both high in fat and low in carbs, right? But if you compare them, a list of differences will immediately appear. And the parallel comparison of these two diets may surprise you.

Benefits of the Keto Diet

To get energy on keto, you switch to burning more efficient metabolic fuels (ketones). This process produces powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects that fight and prevent disease. Among other pluses:

  • Effective fat loss while maintaining muscle mass
  • Increasing endurance and performance during training and exercise
  • Improving brain function and protecting it from neurodegeneration
  • May increase the length and quality of life.
  • Normalizes blood sugar levels

How do you like the keto diet?

Super) Not so good

Disadvantages of the keto diet

But it also has several disadvantages, including:

  • A low-carb keto diet can seem quite restrictive at first
  • At first, you should carefully monitor your food, count macros and measure ketones
  • Keto flu may appear at the beginning

Benefits of the Atkins Diet

The Atkins Diet is similar to keto only during the induction phase when the dieter follows the same nutrient ratios as on the ketogenic diet.

This phase limits carbohydrate intake to about 20-25 grams per day, which causes the body to burn fat instead of using glycogen (glucose stores) for energy. It has a number of pros, including:

  • Diets are easy to follow because you can eat a lot of carbohydrates later in life
  • Rapid fat loss in the early stages
  • Reduces hunger

Have you tried the Atkins diet?


Cons of the Atkins diet

After the initial phase, the diet allows people to introduce more carbohydrates into the diet (albeit in a very limited amount). In stages 2, 3, and 4, people eat 25 to 100 grams of carbs per day, which puts them in glucose-burning mode. In this regard, the following disadvantages arise:

  • Risk of weight gain after initial phase
  • No mental or physical advantage
  • Does not help create metabolic flexibility

Keto or Atkins

At first glance, the keto diet and the Atkins diet are similar in that both focus on low carbs—and this is where a lot of people get confused.