From Silicon Valley entrepreneurs to stay-at-home moms, people are claiming the Ketogenic Diet (Keto) helps them maintain focus, increase energy and lose weight. There are keto cookbooks, keto diet books and keto products. This may seem like the latest, greatest diet, but the science behind keto, which is inherently a very low carb diet, has been around for quite some time.
Ketogenic diets were first used by physicians in the 1920s as a treatment for epilepsy. Dr. Atkins introduced the concept of “ketosis” to the general public in 1972 in his first book, Dr. Atkins’ Diet Revolution. In simple terms, restrict your carbohydrates, and your body starts to burn fat as fuel. When your body goes into ketosis, your liver produces ketones, which provide an alternate fuel source for the brain, have anti-inflammatory activities and act as a mild appetite suppressant.
What is the difference between the Keto Diet and Atkins? While both Atkins and Keto activate your body’s fat-burning metabolism by restricting carbs, on a standard keto diet, 75% to 90% of your daily calories come from fat, 5% to 20% come from protein and less than 5% come from carbs. Unless you are trying to control seizures, this high level of fat consumption is not necessary. This is why Keto can be confusing, because there are so many definitions and philosophies.
Meanwhile, you can still achieve and maintain the fat-burning state of ketosis by consuming 40 grams of Net Carbs or less a day, with about 65% of your daily calories coming from fat, as you do on Atkins 20 or Atkins 40:
- Atkins 20: Fat: 60%-70%, Protein: 20% to 30%, Carbs: 5% to 10%
- Atkins 40: Fat: 55% to 65%, Protein: 20% to 30%, Carbs: 10% to 15%
A well-constructed Keto Diet with adequate fiber from vegetables, and healthy fats from avocado, olive oil and butter, and moderate protein (not excessive protein) has been studied in peer review clinical trials for the last four decades and shown to be safe and effective. Sound familiar? But with Atkins, you have structured, clear-cut phases to find your carbohydrate tolerance for weight loss and weight maintenance, and all of the benefits of a Keto Diet without the rigid restrictions of high fat and very low carb intake. Eventually you have more flexibility, since you can add some nuts, low glycemic fruits such as berries and melon, root vegetables, and Atkins products, which are keto-friendly. You can even incorporate any of Atkins’ low carb recipes. Emerging science continues to show that this low carb, low sugar, keto approach continues to be a healthy, balanced way of eating and living, and Atkins may just be the better Keto Diet approach!