The Keto Diet

Googling “keto diet” gets you four hundred and fourteen million results in 0.4 seconds. One of the most heavily celeb-endorsed diets, on the rise in the world of social media (and the classic before and after shot), keto really has taken the world by storm. If I want to buy a book about keto dieting from Amazon, I’ll have to choose between one of the more than fifty thousand results yielded by searching the name, if I want to download a keto-specific app to help me on my journey, I have at least fifty options and counting. All this is to say - keto is everywhere. A low carb, high fat diet, it claims to help with myriad things including epilepsy, metabolic syndrome, glycogen storage disease, polycystic ovarian syndrome, diabetes, autism and, of course, weight loss to name a few. Buy why did we need a new low carb diet when Atkins has been around since the 60s? A cursory glance at keto seems to suggest that they are pretty much the same thing: low carb, state of ketosis, high fat, weight loss… but when you get into the details there are some key differences. 


Dr. Robert Atkins was an American physician and cardiologist who was interested in nutrition and its impact on health. In the early 1960s, he began to experiment with low-carb diets as a way to help his patients lose weight and improve their health. He formulated his diet based on the theory that by limiting carbohydrate intake and increasing protein and fat intake, the body would burn fat for energy instead of glucose, leading to weight loss and other health benefits.  Dr. Atkins began to promote his diet in the 1970s, when he published his first book, Dr. Atkins' Diet Revolution. The book became a bestseller and launched the low-carbohydrate diet trend. 

The Atkins diet is divided into four phases: 

  • the induction phase
  • ongoing weight loss phase
  • pre-maintenance phase
  • lifetime maintenance phase.

In the induction phase, carbohydrate intake is limited to 20 grams per day for two weeks to induce a state of ketosis, in which the body burns fat for energy. In the ongoing weight loss phase, carbohydrate intake is gradually increased as long as weight loss continues. The pre-maintenance phase is a period of transition to the lifetime maintenance phase, during which carbohydrate intake is further increased to a level that allows for weight maintenance.

Within the Atkins diet a “low carb, high protein” mindset is encouraged. Atkins actually allows for more carbs than a keto diet, but the protein consumption is also a key difference. Because protein is an important nutrient that plays a key role in building and repairing tissues, as well as helping to satisfy hunger and maintain muscle mass, the consumption of more protein within the Atkins diet aims to help dieters feel fuller for longer periods of time and maintain lean muscle mass during weight loss.

The Atkins diet gained a new wave of popularity in the early 2000s, when several high-profile celebrities endorsed the diet, including Jennifer Aniston, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Brad Pitt, making it the “keto diet” of its day and a buzzword in the wellbeing world.

But despite its popularity, the Atkins diet has been controversial. Critics have raised concerns about the potential health risks of a high-fat, high-protein diet, including an increased risk of heart disease, kidney damage, and certain types of cancer. Some studies have also suggested that the diet may be difficult to follow long-term and may lead to nutrient deficiencies. More than this, the Atkins diet is notoriously hard to stick to, even after reaching so called “lifetime” phase, making it more of a short-term weight loss solution. The dangers of yo-yo weight loss are high within the Atkins world.


Dr. Russell Wilder was an American physician and researcher who was searching for alternative treatments for epilepsy in the 1920s. At the time, epilepsy was often treated with fasting. In light of this, he developed the ketogenic diet as a way to mimic the effects of fasting without requiring patients to go without food. The ketogenic diet is designed to induce a state of ketosis, in which the body burns fat for energy instead of glucose.

The keto diet is all about ratios, rather than phases. There’s no easing in here, it’s a lifestyle change - and it’s designed to be a permanent one. The ratios mean those on the diet should be consuming 70-75% of calories from fat, 20-25% from protein, and 5-10% from carbohydrates. This macronutrient ratio is designed to keep the body in a state of ketosis.

By eating in this way, the diet aims to shift the body's metabolism away from glucose as its primary fuel source and toward ketones, which are produced by the liver when the body is in a state of ketosis. This is achieved by drastically reducing carbohydrate intake and increasing fat intake.

When carbohydrate intake is reduced, the body's stores of glycogen are depleted, which signals the liver to begin producing ketones from stored fat. By increasing fat intake, the ketogenic diet provides the body with a source of energy that is more sustainable and efficient than glucose. Fat is a dense source of calories that provides a long-lasting source of energy without spiking insulin levels or causing blood sugar fluctuations. This can help to reduce hunger and cravings, as well as promote weight loss.

Here’s a side-by-side of a typical diet day to demonstrate the difference in the diets:


Atkins Diet

Ketogenic Diet


3 scrambled eggs with chicken sausage and cheese

Bacon and avocado egg cups


Greek yoghurt with almonds and blueberries

Bulletproof coffee with heavy cream and MCT oil


Grilled chicken breast with mixed veggies and balsamic vinaigrette dressing

Steak salad with avocado and blue cheese dressing


Tuna salad with celery sticks

Hard-boiled eggs with mayo and salt


Grilled salmon with garlic butter and broccoli

Beef ribeye with buttered asparagus


Low-carb protein shake with peanut butter and almond milk

Keto fat bomb truffles with coconut oil and dark chocolate

Daily Carbs

~25-30 grams

<20 grams

Total Protein

160 g

90 g

Total Fat

85 g

225 g

Key Features

Low-carb, high-protein, moderate-fat diet

Low-carb, high-fat, moderate-protein diet

Main Goals

Weight loss

Achieving ketosis, weight loss

Image Sources by: Freepik
Image Author: @freepik


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