Keto VS Atkins

By now, you’ve probably heard people talking about low carb diets and how great they are at helping you lose weight. Some of the most popular low carb diets out there are the paleo diet (or the primal diet!), the carnivore diet, keto, and Atkins. Of these, keto and Atkins have the biggest following. 

There seems to be a lot of confusion about keto and Akins. Are they the same? If not, what are the big differences between them? Which one is better? 

Let’s dig in and find it out!

A Look At The Keto Diet

Our bodies get most of their energy from carbohydrates (glucose). For most people, this is the primary fuel source their bodies are used to using. Another way for your body to get energy is by burning fats, or ketone bodies. When we decrease the glucose level in the blood (by reducing carbohydrate consumption), the body starts to burn fat instead. If you’re also in a calorie deficit, you’ll start to burn off your fat reserves, as well, leading to weight loss!

That metabolic state, where your body is burning fats instead of carbs for energy, is called ketosis. As you can imagine, that’s the main purpose of the keto diet. “Keto” is actually a short form of “ketogenic!”

What is ketosis?

Ketosis is the state of the body when ketone bodies or ketones become the central source of energy. For the body to start working in this mode, it is essential to keep carbohydrate starvation for 3-4 days. That’s when your body will make the transition from burning glucose to burning fat. Next, we can proceed to one of the suitable types of a Keto diet.

Types of Keto Diets

Classical Ketogenic Diet

It is a low-carb and fat-rich diet. The ideal FPC (Fat, Protein, Carb) ratio for calories in this diet typically is 75% of fat, 20% of protein, and 5% of carbohydrates.

Of course, this depends on your personal goals, your body type, and your lifestyle! If you’re athletic, you may need more carbs. If you’re trying to gain muscle mass, more protein. Play with the ratio to find one that works for you. 

The classic Keto diet is maintained 100% of the time. In other words, it’s your lifestyle, and you maintain it every single day.

Cyclic Keto Diet

In this case, the diet resembles our working week. It combines five days of a strict diet and two days of the cheat meal. On these two days, we can consume 400-500 g of carbohydrates per day, which allows replenishing glycogen reserves.

This method of nutrition is excellent if you plan to work out. Cyclic Keto diet helps to accelerate the metabolism, burn off the remaining fat, and gain lean muscle mass. Many nutritionists insist on the menu to be balanced. Therefore, a cyclic diet is the most appropriate one.

Targeted Keto Diet

It is suitable for professional athletes and bodybuilders. In this case, they can consume carbohydrates an hour and a half before the start of the workout. This type of ketogenic diet, like the above one, allows refilling glycogen reserves. Therefore, athletes can avoid exhaustion, and at the same time not to get out of ketosis.

What foods can we consume?

It may seem like the keto diet is really restrictive, but you actually have a lot of options. On the keto diet, you can eat all forms of meat (pork, lamb, beef, duck, chicken, turkey, bacon, etc), as well as all seafood. Salmon, sardines, mackerel, herring, and any seafood will be excellent. A Keto diet also allows eating eggs. Moreover, we can eat boiled, deviled, fried in butter eggs, scrambled eggs. 

Options for healthy fat include coconut oil (or MCT oil – a highly purified variety of coconut oil!), grass fed butter, avocados, and ghee. 

Vegetables are also a great food option on keto, as most of them are high in fiber and low in carbohydrates. Some of our favorites are cauliflower, cucumbers, asparagus, avocados, broccoli, spinach, green beans, and zucchini. 

That being said, you’ll have to cut out more starchy veggies, like potatoes, and fruits should be eaten sparingly, since they’re high in carbs.

A Look At The Atkins Diet

For more than 40 years, the Atkins diet has remained one of the most popular nutrition methods aimed at losing weight. Like a Keto diet, the Atkins menu combines a sharp reduction in carbohydrates and plentiful fat intake.

Its goal is to get rid of subcutaneous fat and gain muscle mass. The diet creator was an American nutritionist, Robert Scott Atkins. Based on his personal experience, he developed this nutrition system.

Many celebrities, such as Sharon Osbourne, Courtney Thorne-Smith, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Robbie Williams have achieved impressive results following this diet.

Atkins divided the weight loss process into four stages, each of which has its task, menu, and rules. It is critical to follow all the rules. Otherwise, we can harm the body. The duration of each period (except the first one) is individual.


The first stage lasts two weeks, and its goal is to start ketosis – the process of burning fats. According to Atkins, during this period, we can lose 6-8 kg. The menu should consist of seafood, lean meat, hard cheeses, eggs, vegetable oils, greens.

Additionally, we should avoid sugar and sugar-containing products, flour, nuts and seeds, caffeine. Besides, the number of carbohydrates in the menu should not exceed 20 g per day. Also, we need to drink at least eight glasses of still water every day.

We should eat 3-5 times a day in small portions. And the breaks between meals should not be longer than six hours. Dr. Atkins recommends moderate physical activity. To avoid problems with the digestive system, we can also add more plant foods and fiber to the diet.


In the next 2-4 weeks, we can add more carbohydrates to the diet – up to 150 grams per day. At this stage, it is necessary to determine our maximum carbohydrate daily rate. Knowing it, we can be sure that the fat burning does not stop, and weight loss continues.

The menu of the second stage of the diet is more comprehensive. We can add spinach, tomatoes, broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower, onions, avocado, cream cheese, fat cream, walnuts, pistachios, and other foods to our daily menu.


The purpose of this stage is to determine the optimal amount of carbohydrates, so we can maintain the ideal weight that we’ve gotten down to. We should add new foods (fruits, cereals, legumes, nuts) and observe the change in body weight. Also, we will need to eat more protein foods.


This phase should last a lifetime. Atkins is sure that the optimal carbohydrate intake and regular exercise allow avoiding gaining weight in the future. But we should always control it. Otherwise, we will have to return to the first phase and go through all the steps again.

Keto VS Atkins

Many people think that the Keto diet and the Atkins diet are basically the same. Both of them are high in fat and low in carbohydrates, right? But if we compare them, we will get a list of key differences. And a comparison of these two diets may surprise you.

Keto diet pros

To get energy on Keto, we switch to burning more efficient metabolic fuel (ketones). This process causes powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects that fight and prevent many diseases. The benefits of the Keto diet are as follows:

  • Effective fat loss while saving muscle mass
  • Increased stamina and efficiency during training and exercise
  • Improving brain function and protecting it from neurodegeneration
  • May increase duration and quality of life.
  • Normalizes blood sugar

Cons of a Keto diet

The biggest cons of keto are:

  • At first, a low-carb Keto diet may seem pretty strict
  • It can be overwhelming to control your daily menu, count macros, and estimate ketones
  • As your body gets used to burning ketones, you may get a short term “keto flu.”

Atkins diet pros

The Atkins diet is similar to Keto only during the induction phase when we use the same nutrient ratios as in 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 reserves). It has several benefits, including:

  • It is easy to follow because we can eat a lot of carbohydrates at later stages
  • Rapid fat loss in the early stages
  • Reduces hunger

Atkins diet Cons

After the initial phase, the diet allows people to introduce more carbohydrates into the menu (albeit in limited quantities). At stages 2, 3, and 4, we can eat from 25 to 100 g of carbohydrates per day, which puts our bodies in the mode of glucose burning. It causes some drawbacks of this method:

  • Risk of gaining weight after the initial phase
  • No mental or health benefits
  • Doesn’t help to create metabolic flexibility

Keto or Atkins?

At first glance, the Keto and Atkins diets are similar, as both are focused on low carbohydrate levels. Many people get confused by the differences, but ultimately, these diets have several fundamental differences in approaches and goals.

The principal difference is that a ketogenic diet requires creating a precise nutrition plan that changes our metabolic state. We put our bodies into ketosis and start using ketones for energy instead of glucose. For most people, keto isn’t just a short term weight loss plan. It’s a lifestyle commitment. 

Even though we need to track macros and the level of ketones, a Keto diet is worth trying it. Its advantages are scientifically proven, and there are many studies related to this topic. Ketosis gives us not only quick and efficient weight loss but also long-term health benefits. Besides, we can reduce the side effects of temporary keto-flu by adding more electrolytes to the menu and consuming enough fat.

On the other hand, while the Atkins diet is more convenient to follow, it doesn’t provide the significant health benefits that you see on the keto diet. 

It goes to show that both Atkins and keto may be effective with weight loss, but keto is the clear winner if we’re looking at longer term success and other incredible health benefits.

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