What’s the Difference Between Low Carb and Keto?


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The low carb and keto diets are two popular ways of eating that involve restricting your carb intake.

Given that they both limit carbs, you may wonder what sets the two apart.

This article reviews the differences between the low carb and keto diets, the pros and cons of each, as well as which one may be a better option for you.

What’s a low carb diet?

A low carb diet is a way of eating that restricts dietary carbohydrates, mainly from grains, sugar-sweetened beverages, and bread.

Studies suggest that a low carb diet comprises 10–30% of calories from carbs, although there is no set definition. For a healthy person who consumes 2,000 calories per day, this equals 50–150 grams of carbs (1Trusted Source2Trusted Source).

When following a low carb diet, it’s common to increase your intake of protein, healthy fats, and vegetables to replace the carbs and promote fullness.

Also, by restricting carbs, you eliminate many high calorie foods from your diet. All these factors may work together to reduce your overall calorie intake and promote weight loss (3Trusted Source4Trusted Source).

A low carb diet has been linked to several health benefits in people with diabetes, including weight loss and improved blood sugar control and cardiovascular risk factors (5Trusted Source).

It’s also commonly used to induce weight loss (6Trusted Source, 7).

While a low carb diet may not be for everyone, it can be a viable weight loss option for most healthy people.

Low carb pros and cons


  • may promote weight loss (3Trusted Source, 4Trusted Source)
  • eliminates many processed high carb foods
  • can be sustained long term
  • less extreme adaptation phase than keto
  • less restrictive and easier to follow than keto


  • you may feel weak or experience constipation
  • limits food options
  • limits fruit intake
  • may impact micronutrient intake

What’s keto?

The ketogenic — or keto — diet is a very low carb, high fat diet that has gained popularity in recent years.

The keto diet has several therapeutic properties, such as helping treat refractory epilepsy. Promising research shows it may also impair the growth of certain types of cancer. Furthermore, some people utilize it to lose weight (8Trusted Source9Trusted Source10Trusted Source).

When following a keto diet, the goal is to reach nutritional ketosis. In this state, your body produces ketones from fat in your liver and uses fat as its main fuel source instead of carbs.

This is achieved by consuming fewer than 50 grams of carbs per day while keeping protein intake moderate and increasing fat intake drastically.

A standard keto diet is restrictive and may not be a practical long-term option for those looking to lose weight and improve their health.

Keto pros and cons



  • constipation is common due to low fiber intake
  • long-term data is limited
  • risk of the keto flu, which may include headaches, fatigue, brain fog, irritability, and lack of motivation
  • limits fruit intake
  • may be difficult to stick to for long periods

Which one do you consider to be best for you?

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