Low Carb vs. Keto (How do they compare?)

When researching low carb, paleo and keto diets - a question often comes up: what’s the difference between low carb and keto diets?

At first glance, they may seem similar (or even confused for each other), but there are some important differences between the two diets as you decide which one you’ll choose to follow on your health journey.

First of all, let’s start with some definitions:

What Is The Keto Diet?

A ketogenic diet is a diet so low in carbohydrates that it kicks your body into “ketosis” - which is a way of burning fat to generate energy and creates “ketones.” It was first diagnosed for neurological disorders, but many people currently use it to lose weight rapidly.

Keto puts a heavy emphasis on the fat and protein ratios in a diet and you'll be tracking both of these metrics constantly throughout the diet. If that's something you're into - you'll be right at home, but you should be aware going into it.

-→ For a full keto beginner’s guide read this.

What Is Low Carb?

Low carb diets can be both a general diet that is low in carbohydrates as well as a class of diets that encompass this way of eating.

For example both paleo and aip diets could be considered “low carb diets” - but they both count carbohydrates differently. Keto on the other hand is explicitly about the exact # of carbohydrate consumption per day.

-→ For a full low carb guide read this.

Is Low Carb or Keto Better For You?

Both diets can be helpful with weight loss or just re-establishing a better relationship to food.

With that said - keto is not a cure-all and low-carb isn’t magic. Neither diet is “better” for you - they both have pros + cons and the better question to ask is “what goals are you trying to achieve?” And which diet is better for that?

Which Diet is Better for Weight Loss?

When it comes to weight loss, the general consensus is that you’ll get faster results with keto (IF you can stick to it).

While both will likely get you into a caloric deficit - so they will both work for weight loss - because you’re rapidly reducing carbohydrate content explicitly (and possibly combining it with intermittent fasting), keto is usually the choice if you want to lose weight.

That said - if you’re not sure if you can stick to a diet - you might want to try low carb to start with.

Is Keto or Low Carb right For You?

If your main goal is weight loss and body composition - then you may want to consider keto. 

If you’re newer to real food, low carbohydrate eating - then you may consider a low carb diet as an ‘entry’ into this world. Many people find “paleo” to be an easy low carb diet to stick to. From there, you can choose a low carb, keto or entirely other diet if you choose.

Low Carb & Keto Meal Plans

If you want to try a meal plan from either of these diets - you’re in luck - that’s exactly what we do.

Other Keto & Low Carb Resources

Some of our other keto & low carbohydrate resources you may find useful:

Other Versus Articles

This is just one of several articles we have in our diet “versus” series. Check out our other articles below:

Joel Runyon

About the Author

Joel Runyon

Joel Runyon is the founder of Ultimate Meal Plans. Joel is an ultra endurance athlete and entrepreneur. He's also the founder of Ultimate Paleo Guide, MoveWell and is the founder of IMPOSSIBLE ® - a lifestyle performance brand helping people push their limits in fitness and life.