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All information presented here is for informational purposes ONLY. It is based solely on my personal experience living life as a lifestyle-controlled Type 2 Diabetic since 2015. The information and ideas presented here are in no way intended to be medical advice. Always discuss any potential changes to your diet with your medical team PRIOR to making changes. For this blog, we will be focusing on lifestyle options for non-insulin dependent type 2 diabetics only.
Low carb and keto (or ketogenic) diets are currently in the news a lot and with good reason. One of the groups finding success with these diets is individuals who have struggled with their weight and other health issues for years. So how to they compare to one another? Here we will explore the low carb vs keto confusion.
Much of the evidence in support of low carb and keto diets is currently anecdotal, but more and more studies are investigating these diets to help with all sorts of health issues. And all the while, the anecdotal evidence is growing by the day.
The amount of research and information has exploded since I first started following a low carb way of life in 2015, and it is growing daily.
One of the most commonly reported effects of a low carb or keto diet is that most people are fully satiated on either of the diets. Not fighting the sensation of hunger does make them easier to stick with as a permanent lifestyle change.
I will not go into the specific benefits but, instead, will focus on the differences between the two and my own experience with both.
What is the Difference Between Them?
There is no standard definition of what either is. In general, a keto diet is lower in carbs than a low carb diet. But keto is a low carb diet, and a low carb diet is not necessarily keto.
One of the most common definitions I see is keto is less than 20 NET grams of carbs per day. Low carb can be defined as anything under 100 TOTAL grams of carbs per day. Moderate low carb is defined as under 50 carbs per day and very low carb as under 20.
Both diets emphasize low carbs, MODERATE protein, and adequate good quality fat to keep you feeling satisfied and full. Both diets focus on minimally processed food. Both diets focus on calculating your “macros” to determine what percentage of your food comes from each area of protein, fat, and carbohydrates.
What Are The Advantages?
A low carb diet may be adopted with several different goals in mind. Individuals with diabetes or pre-diabetes frequently adopt it to maintain tighter control over their blood glucose levels. Keto and low carb are both often used for weight loss. And many people are reporting success with improving their other medical conditions when following either of these diets.
A keto diet may help with blood glucose and weight control. A keto diet forces your body into ketosis, a metabolic state where your body uses fat for fuel rather than carbohydrates.
To further add to the confusion, some define keto as anything below 20 grams of carbs per day. Some describe it as anything under 50 grams per day. Some define it solely on whether or not you test as being in “ketosis.”
Generally, the difference comes in with how low in carbs each of the diets is. There is an overlap between the two. How they are defined depends on who is doing the defining and what results they hope to achieve.
There are also issues between the two when it comes to how to count carbohydrates. Individuals doing low carb for blood glucose control often count TOTAL carbs, where people doing keto may have a goal of less than 20 NET carbs. Net carbs are calculated based on a formula that takes into account the fiber content too.
Additionally, there are foods that a person doing keto for weight loss may consume that individuals doing very low carb for blood glucose control won’t. Even more confusing is the difference in what different diabetic patients follow as far as their treatment plan. Some prefer to eat more carbs and be on more medication. Some choose to eat fewer carbs and minimize or eliminate medications.
Low Carb or Keto for Me?
I started with a low carb diet of 70 – 100 grams of carbs per day when first diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2015. I saw good results with it. I made significant progress in controlling my blood glucose and losing weight.
After a few months (and lots of research), I asked my doctor if he had any reason that I should not try dropping my carbs to a lower level. His only response was to tell me, “My only concern is whether you can maintain a lower level or not”. That was our last conversation about it, as I had no problem maintaining it and saw even more significant progress.
Since that time, I have settled into a pattern of most days between 25 and 35 grams of carbs per day. I do have an occasional day of about 50. I do follow a strict list of “off limits” foods that an individual doing keto for weight loss rather than glucose control might choose to eat.
Why Are Keto and Low Carb Used Interchangeably Here?
As you check out the information and recipes on this site, you will notice that I often use the terms “keto” and “low carb” interchangeably.
I use both terms because the recipes and reviews presented here take into account the parameters of both.
Should You Try Low Carb?
You and your medical team will need to decide if it is the right choice for you. Do not under any circumstances try it without discussing it with your medical provider, especially if you are on any medication.
Do be aware that research is evolving quickly, and your current medical providers may or may not be keeping up with the latest research in this particular field.
You will need to educate yourself. You may encounter medical personnel who are not in favor of the whole idea. And you may meet others that are keeping up on current research and are excited about the possibilities.