Low Carb vs. Keto: What’s the Difference?

Explore the differences between low carb and keto diets to see which fits your lifestyle and health goals better.

If you’re trying to choose between a low carb diet and a ketogenic (keto) diet, you’re not alone. Both diets limit carbohydrates but have different rules and goals. In simple terms, a low carb diet reduces the amount of carbohydrates you eat, focusing on proteins and some fats. A keto diet goes a step further, greatly lowering carb intake to make your body burn fat for energy instead of carbs.

Key Takeaways

Understanding Low Carb and Keto

What Is a Low Carb Diet?

A low carb diet involves reducing the number of carbohydrates you eat. This includes sugars and starches like bread, pasta, and sweets. You’re not cutting them out entirely, just cutting back. On this diet, you’ll eat more proteins like meat and eggs, and you’ll still enjoy some carbs from veggies and fruits.

What Is a Keto Diet?

The keto diet takes low carb to the next level. Here, the goal is to enter a state called “ketosis,” where your body uses fat for fuel instead of carbs. This requires eating about 70% of your calories from fats, and keeping your carb intake super low—usually under 50 grams a day. Think lots of avocados, cheese, and oils, with very few carbs.

Comparing the Diets

AspectLow Carb DietKeto Diet
Carb IntakeReduced, not specificVery low (usually under 50 grams)
Fat IntakeModerateHigh (about 70% of calories)
Protein IntakeHigher than normalModerate (focus is on fat)
FlexibilityMore flexibleStrict
GoalWeight loss, health improvementKetosis, weight loss

Pros and Cons

Low Carb DietLow Carb Diet
More flexible food choicesCan be less structured, harder to track
Focus on whole foodsLess dramatic weight loss than keto
Keto DietKeto Diet
Rapid weight lossCan be restrictive and hard to maintain
May improve blood sugar levelsHigh in fats, which may not suit everyone

Real-Life Implications

Everyday Eating

In everyday terms, following a low carb diet means you might skip the bun on your burger, choose salads over fries, and enjoy fruits instead of sugary snacks. Keto, on the other hand, means your plate might have more cheese and meats, with very few carbs like a small side of spinach.

Eating Out

Eating out on a low carb diet can be easier—you can usually find something on the menu, maybe a grilled chicken salad or a steak. Keto is a bit trickier since you need to keep carbs very low and fats high, so you might be asking the waiter to swap out sides or ditch the bread.

What the Experts Say

Research suggests both diets can be effective for weight loss. Studies show that keto can lead to quicker weight loss initially, possibly because it’s very strict about carbs . However, a low carb diet is often easier to stick with in the long run .


Choosing between a low carb and a keto diet depends on your personal goals, lifestyle, and how you like to eat. If you want more flexibility and easier meal planning, a low carb diet might be the way to go. If you’re looking for quicker weight loss and are okay with a stricter plan, keto could be better. Remember, it’s always a good idea to talk to a healthcare provider before starting any new diet to make sure it’s right for you!

I hope this guide helps you understand the differences between these two popular diets. Happy eating, and remember to choose what feels best for your body!


  1. Study on the effectiveness of ketogenic diets – here
  2. Research on low carb diets – here


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