A keto diet is a very low carb diet. The purpose of a keto diet is to encourage your body to produce ketones, which are breakdown products of fat metabolism. Ketones can be measured, and if your body is producing them – you are burning fat.
In other words, a keto diet is an effective fat-loss diet. But what if it is too extreme for you? Restricting your carb intake to around 20 or 30 grams per day cuts out a lot of favorite foods and limits fruit and other plant-based foods.
So what do you do if keto feels out of reach? You can get fat loss results by simply reducing your carb intake and making better carb choices. This blog post explains the difference and how you can enhance this less extreme strategy to make fast, healthy progress.
- A low-carb and keto diet vary in the number of carbohydrate grams consumed daily. Low carb dieters consume between 50g and 125g/day. Keto dieters consume less than 50g.
- Except for some dairy products, animal-based foods are naturally low in carbs.
- To follow a lower-carb/better-carb diet, omit ultra-processed foods and focus on foods with the best fiber-to-carb ratio (i.e., non-starchy vegetables, low-carb fruits, nuts, and seeds.
- A lower-carb/better-carb diet can be paired with intermittent fasting and exercise to enhance results.
Is Keto TOO Much for You? Do This Instead (Video)
In this video, you’ll learn…
- The difference between a low carb and a keto diet.
- Examples of Lower-Carb/Better Carb foods.
- Additional things you can do to enhance your diet results.
Low Carb vs. Keto
Low carb vs. keto. What’s the difference? Plainly stated, it is the number of grams of carbohydrates you consume. While there is no established cut-off point, it is generally accepted that for a person who eats 2,000 calories a day to be considered a low carb dieter, their daily carbohydrate intake needs to be below 125 total grams. To be considered in the keto range, their consumption would drop to less than 50 grams per day.
Some people feel it is splitting hairs to think of a keto diet and a low-carb diet as different strategies. However, I make that distinction because of the degree of food restrictions from one to the other, which I will get into in a moment.
Avoid Ultra-Processed Foods, and You’ll Lose Weight
One thing I’ve noticed is that we fight a lot about dieting. It seems like picking a diet is like picking a team. You are either in camp keto, camp Mediterranean, camp Paleo, or camp vegetarian. And if anyone disagrees with our perspective, we hurl insulting comments at them. Unfortunately, when we focus on the differences, we overlook the similarities.
The reality is that all of these diets cut out the same diet destroyer—ultra-processed foods.
Because nearly 60% of the calories consumed by Americans are ultra-processed foods, cut them out, and you lose weight and improve your health. So all of these diets are a step in the right direction.
Ultra-processed foods include soda, potato chips, sugary cereals, cookies, cakes, candies, chicken nuggets, french fries, ice cream, and many of the toppings and dips that go with them.
Not only are these foods the first to go on any healthy diet. Most are also high-carb foods, so cut them out, and you are already headed toward a lower-carb/better-carb diet.
What Are Lower-Carb/Better-Carb Foods?
When we talk about carbohydrates, the focus is on plant foods for a very good reason. Plants make carbohydrates through photosynthesis. So if it is a plant, it contains carbs. A few animal-based foods, like dairy products, may contain carbohydrates, but for the most part, carb foods are plant foods.
This is why a keto diet limits plant food. If you do not want to go to that extreme, then aim to eat a lower-carb/better-carb diet. That is achieved by choosing foods with a favorable fiber-to-carb ratio.
I have a blog post that ranks the best to worst carbs if you’d like a more in-depth list.
But for a quick reference, plant foods with the best fiber-to-carb ratio include non-starchy vegetables, lower-carb fruits, and raw nuts and seeds.
So, think about building your diet around a large salad with slices of avocado, berries, nuts, and seeds for one meal and having a cooked non-starchy vegetable, like broccoli, asparagus, or cauliflower, as a side dish alongside a protein entree for another meal.
Animal-based foods like meat, fish, and poultry make great entrees because they provide protein and fat without carbs. If you are a breakfast eater, eggs are an additional source of protein and fat.
By building your eating day in this way, you’re continually feeding yourself foods that promote fat loss.
Foods containing protein, fat, and fiber promote fat loss because they digest slowly and prevent blood glucose and insulin spikes. That means that your hunger stays under control longer, and the energy from your meal is gradually released, providing a nice, sustained level of energy with less leftover energy to go into fat storage.
Making Ketones without Keto
When you have lower-carb/better-carb food choices under control, you can add weight loss accelerators that may allow your body to make ketones. In other words, following a keto diet is not the only way to coax your body into making ketones.
Ketones are produced when your body’s primary fuel, glucose, is running low. A ketogenic diet leads to the production of ketones because there are so few carbs to raise blood glucose.
However, any action that sufficiently depletes glucose will result in the production of ketones. These actions include intermittent fasting and exercise. By combining your lower carb diet with these actions, you improve fat burning.
Some people will find that they must keep their carb intake in the keto range to continue losing weight. But an individual’s carb tolerance is not something you can predict; it is discovered through experience. So if starting a keto diet is intimidating, start with a lower-carb/better-carb diet and go from there.
Thank you for reading and have a wonderful week!