Low Carb vs Keto: What’s the difference?

I have a good number of weight loss clients. And one of the first thing they asked me the very moment they receive their meal plan is, “Is this Keto?”

We communicate with emails and messenger so i can’t be sure if the inquiry comes from excitement or from resentment. And i understand. Keto isn’t something i push for my weight loss clients to try even if it’s the most “effective” and “efficient” way to lose weight.

Instead we go for the traditional approach to weight loss, “going low carb” unless they personally request to do the keto way.

In this post we are not gonna explain why going low carb or dropping carb in bare minimum delivers weight loss. Let establish that you already sort of understand the concept and are just wondering which way to go, “All in Keto” or “Tradional Low Carb”.

And to help you with this drama, am gonna explain in my own personal “simple” and “understandable” terms the difference between the two.

But before going to the difference, first, let’s talk about what’s in common.

Both weight loss approach seeks to control carbohydrate intake. The meals will look 80% the same and the grocery list is almost identical.

So what’s the difference?

Though they are both minimizing your carb intake low carb dieters can eat any carb sources as long as it does not exceed the suggest carb max for the day, meaning you can eat banana or cereal or even rice if your macro for the day allows you to.

Keto on the other hand has to maintain less than 30 grams of net carbs for the day and thus, eating 1 medium size banana may not make the cut.

Carb cycling

When you are in the low carb diet option, you do regular carbohydrate refeeds. Meaning, you will have days were you can eat a happy portion of carbohydrates to refeed your liver and your glycogen stores. This refeed cycle about every 3-5 days for muscle gain and 7-10 days for weight loss or.

Keto on the other, especially when in the induction phase will have zero refeed days until day 30. Yes, you read it righ, 30 days of less than 30 grams net carbs.

Energy Source

If you are a lowcarb dieter, your fuel for energy is glucose which is sourced from carbohydrates. The traditional way of eating.

Keto’s energy source on the other hand is “ketone bodies” or beta hydroxybutyrate. When carbs is to glucose, fats is to ketones. Thus instead of sourcing energy from carbs, in a ketogenic life, you source it from fat.

Fat content

When you go lowcarb, since your energy source is still glucose you must keep your fat not more than 40% if you want to stay lean.

For keto, you NEED to hit 70-80% of your macro from fat because ketones is your fuel sources.


Since low carb is a traditional diet, your protein in take will follow the standard 0.7 to 1 g per lean body mass in lbs. Or 35-40% macro ratio. Therefore, in low carb, your fat and protein are balanced but your carbs are low.

If you go keto, that drops to 0.4 to 0.6 gram of protein per lean body mass in lbs. Or 20-25% macro ratio. Therefore in keto, your carbohydrates is almost non existent, your protein is low or just enough, and your fat is HIGH.

That’s it.

See, told you it was simple.

The main take away here is to go for a weight loss protocol you accept. If you don’t believe in it, you won’t follow it. And if you don’t follow it, it won’t work. Simple as that.

If you want to go try Low Carb Approach to weight loss, you can try my Body Type Meal Plan where i will give you weekly set of meals customized following the low carb approach and principles with diet breaks and cheat days.

If you muster some rebellion and try the fat for fuel way, my 30 Day Keto Start Up Guide for fat adaptation is here for you. Be brave and hold on.

If you want to learn weight loss and adapt to it as a sustainable lifestyle, then you should check out 30 Day Weight Loss Boot Camp.

Thank you so much for your time and hope this post helps.

Published by joanniemaryc

Strongwoman, Powerlifter, Fitness Coach

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