The Atkins diet and the ketogenic diet – What’s the difference between the both?
Today, I want to talk about the Atkins diet and the ketogenic diet. In the 1970s, Dr. Atkins published his pioneering book on the Atkins Diet.
The sales figures for it went through the roof just as much as the successes that showed that you could lose weight quickly with it and sustainably. The smash-hit continued into the 80s. Hardly any wave of diets has been able to match the success of the Atkins diet.
But this sellout did not last forever. In the absence of innovation, the inclusion of scientific knowledge and waning media interest, the company Atkins Inc. filed for bankruptcy in 2005.
Atkins Diet Today – Phoenix from the Ashes
The Atkins diet remains one of the best diets when it comes to rapid weight loss. Today I want to introduce you to the Atkins diet – its advantages and disadvantages, as well as ways to optimize it even further. I call this the Atkins Diet 2.0.
The Atkins diet at a glance
So that we all have the same level of knowledge, I would like to briefly summarize the core theses and the phases of the Atkins diet; also expose their weaknesses and point out possibilities that help them to improve.
Phase I (introductory diet)
In the introductory phase of the diet, fat burning should be greatly increased and ketosis initiated. In this phase, the dieter consumes a maximum of 20 g carbohydrates daily. The staple in this phase: lettuce, vegetables, eggs and meat. Soy is also allowed. This phase lasts 14 days and aims to end up in the so-called ketosis, as known from the ketogenic diet.
What is ketosis?
Phase II (reduction diet)
In this phase, we increase the intake of carbohydrates by 5 g every week, the target range should ultimately be 40-60 g carbohydrates daily.
In addition, you can eat more vegetables, nuts, berries, seeds and some beans. Otherwise, there are not many changes compared to phase I, just a little more complex carbohydrates.
As soon as you notice that you are no longer losing weight during weekly weighing, you should reduce the carbohydrate intake again. The goal of this phase: lose as much weight as possible.
Phase III (pre-maintenance diet)
This phase is intended to prepare the maintenance diet. The carbohydrates are increased until you either lose weight or reach your target weight. The recommended carbohydrate sources are known from phase II.
Phase IV (lifelong maintenance diet)
The actual diet has ended and you have not been in ketosis for a long time. You should maintain this phase for a lifetime in order to keep the target weight.
It is a kind of low-carb paleo diet, the main focus of which is on fruits, vegetables, healthy fats and meat. You should continue to consume larger sources of carbohydrates such as grains and potatoes in moderation.
This is how the Atkins diet works, groundbreaking success has been recorded. But why isn’t Atkins as successful today as it used to be?
The Atkins diet had some weak points – disadvantages of the Atkins diet
Preliminary: Atkins 2.0 no longer has the following vulnerabilities. These issues presented problems:
1. Too much protein
One of the basics of the Atkins diet is to keep blood sugar levels as constant as possible while avoiding carbohydrates. But insulin, the hormone released by carbohydrates, is also produced by the body through protein consumption (through various sources of protein). Ergo: Too much protein leads to too high an insulin level, which prevents the condition of ketosis. Ideally, the protein content is a lot lower than in the Atkins diet.
2. Too little fat
Only less overweight users reach the condition of ketosis under the following conditions: The protein and carbohydrate content of the diet is low, while the fat content is correspondingly high. The liver needs the signal via dietary fats to form ketones.
Soy as a legume and controversial food should not play a role in a disciplined diet, such as Atkins or Keto. Absolute exceptions are vegetarians and vegans (see vegetarian and vegan lifestyle) who carry out this diet. But I would also like to advise them to use soy only in exceptional cases.
Today we know that the intestinal flora makes a decisive contribution to metabolic health and that a sick intestine can be a big problem. This knowledge, which did not exist in the 1970s, must be taken into account today. Therefore, probiotics such as yogurt, kombucha or apple cider vinegar should play an important role.
Atkins Diet 2.0 is nothing more than the ketogenic diet. An overview of what’s behind it:
What is the ketogenic diet?
The ketogenic diet has also become popular in America for the past few years, but has repeatedly been subjected to severe criticism, especially from the public side such as the FDA.
This is because the ketogenic diet seems to contradict many common dietary recommendations (very few carbohydrates, a lot of fat). So it is not considered a “balanced diet”.
Because it is not intended as a long-term form of nutrition for everyone, the ketogenic diet does not necessarily have to be balanced.
In fact, the ketogenic diet was founded about 100 years ago for therapeutic purposes: at that time it was used to treat epileptic children – it was very successful.
Over the past 100 years, ketogenic nutrition has been used for all kinds of therapeutic purposes, and since then another wide range of uses have emerged.
Since the body is in ketosis and fat-burning mode 24 hours a day and the ketogenic diet offers some really convincing advantages, it is suitable for losing weight (losing weight without diet and exercise) and thus as a diet. As I said, lessons have been learned from the mistakes of the Atkins diet.
By the way: Ketogenic means that a condition or a food supports the formation of ketone bodies in the liver. This term is used frequently here.
But what’s the difference between the two diets?
The Differences Between Atkins Diet and Ketogenic Diet? The direct comparison
1. Scientific knowledge
The Atkins diet was established in the 1970s and 1980s. Over the years, new scientific knowledge has emerged that Atkins has not adapted as much as it should have. The situation is different with the ketogenic diet: it corresponds to the current scientific standard.
You can achieve the state of ketosis more easily with a good ketogenic diet than with Atkins. Why? Because the protein intake is very low and the fat intake is very high. This was not always the case with Atkins.
3. Better nutrition plans
The ketogenic diet has evolved through application and experience reports and has developed better and healthier diet plans over time.
The Atkins diet is successful, no question about it. But we can implement the ketogenic diet in a more direct and practical way.
5. Low-carb junk food
Over time, Atkins Inc. has also developed low-carb bars to make the diet more suitable for everyday use. However, behind these low-carb foods is nothing more than junk food that was sold as “healthy”. The ketogenic diet, on the other hand, relies on 100% natural foods.
You have surely realized that, in comparison, I think more of the ketogenic diet or nutrition than of Atkins; and why I call it Atkins 2.0. But in the spirit of good research, I would now like to list the advantages and disadvantages of the ketogenic diet so that you can get an idea of it yourself.
Atkins Diet 2.0 Pros and Cons of the Ketogenic Diet
Disadvantages of the ketogenic diet
We usually get the majority of our food calories from carbohydrates. As part of the ketogenic diet, we reduce carbohydrates to the absolute minimum. That means that there is a fairly strong changeover.
Fat burning needs to be increased significantly while greed for carbohydrates has to be reduced. Switching to ketosis takes a few days and requires discipline and perseverance. Not easy, but it’s worth it!
Not only is it difficult to do without carbohydrates, which results in a kind of carbohydrate withdrawal, but also the food selection is restricted by the ketogenic diet.
The dieter eliminates typical and familiar foods such as pizza, pasta and bread from his menu, so that many users feel like something would be missing in everyday life.
At this point, the following information may help you. All of these foods make losing weight extremely difficult. Or in other words: your discipline will be rewarded!
Since the great increase of fat consumption, some users may experience sensitive reactions. Digestion first has to adapt to the large amounts of fat that many people are not used to. The recommendation: a slow switch to ketosis over 2 to 3 weeks, not overnight.
A sign that you are in the state of ketosis is a slightly fruity bad breath. It occurs because one begins to exhale a decomposition product of the ketone body as acetone.
It is recommended to drink plenty of water and herbal tea and to use sugar-free peppermint candy and chewing gum. This way no one should notice.
Physiological insulin resistance
Since you temporarily hardly consume carbohydrates, but the blood sugar level remains constant, the body goes into a corresponding interim state of insulin resistance.
This condition is not permanent and has nothing to do with diabetes! Nevertheless: After using the ketogenic diet for 1–2 months, it is recommended to consume a few carbohydrates (from healthy sources, i.e no cereals, gluten or sugar) for 1–2 weeks. If you stick to it, you have nothing to fear.
Ketogenic diet and diabetes
The ketogenic diet can be a very useful and effective intervention for type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes.
If you switch to the ketogenic diet without losing weight – you are, so to speak, isocaloric. If that is the case, I recommend that you only follow the keto diet for a maximum of two months.
After about 6–8 weeks, the isocaloric ketogenic diet sets a very high blood lipid level. In this case, please only implement the ketogenic diet temporarily, so that you benefit from the advantages.
Benefits of ketogenic nutrition
1. 100% fat burning
You are only burning fat 24 hours a day, 100% of the time. It’s like a fat-burning machine. Ideal for dropping weight, reducing fat layers, and one reason why the ketogenic diet is so successful.
2. Mental clarity
You can tell that you are really deep in ketosis by the fact that you are very clear in your head and show a high level of brain activity.
The reason: Ketone bodies are a very efficient source of energy for the body and brain and release more energy than glucose. This extra energy is noticeable.
3. Less hunger and appetite
Ketones inhibit appetite; the high consumption of fats and fiber also keeps you full for longer. Ideal for a diet!
4. Lower need for sleep
The hormones also adapt to ketosis. This applies to two hormones that are responsible for repair at night while you sleep. Increased during ketosis: GABA and HGH (human growth hormone).
As a result, it has been observed in many users that they suddenly get by with one hour less sleep a night, wake up earlier, and they achieve healthy sleep easier.
In endurance sports in the non-maximum intensity range – this includes normal jogging, hiking, cycling or swimming – the body prefers to use fat.
During ketosis, this fat-burning gets more efficient and stronger than normal, so that you achieve a higher level of endurance during exercise. Endurance sports and Tabata or HIIT during ketosis increase weight loss enormously.
6. Higher basal metabolism
The body’s energy consumption slightly increases due to ketosis.
7. Lower blood pressure
In various ways, the ketone bodies activate biochemical signals in the body that lower blood pressure.
8. Increasing libido
Many people often observe an increased testosterone level and libido in men due to high-fat consumption.
9. Better mood
Since the fasting state is imitated, the body releases endorphins and increases serotonin, which is noticeable through an improved mood when you are in a state of ketosis.
10.LDL cholesterol drops
This point is interesting for patients with high cholesterol. The ketogenic diet lowers the harmful LDL cholesterol (this is true for most diets, but especially for keto).
Ketones have the ability to neutralize free radicals (oxidative stress) by reacting with them. At the same time, they activate enzymes in the body that are also capable of this. This can reduce inflammation in the body.
Athletes who fear losing muscle through the diet also benefit from the ketogenic diet. Because ketones have a strong anti-catabolic effect – this means that little or no muscle mass is lost.
As a further development of the Atkins diet, I introduced you to the ketogenic diet. I explained to you why it is better than the Atkins Diet and should be called Atkins Diet 2.0.
I also showed you all the advantages, disadvantages and differences between the Atkins and the ketogenic diet. Now it’s your turn. Share your experiences and thoughts regarding this topic with us in a comment below. I’m looking forward to reading from you.
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