Keto vs Atkins: Which Diet is Best for You?


Which is best, keto vs Atkins? It’s no secret that the Atkins Diet and the Keto Diet are two of the most popular low-carb diets in the world, each boasting millions of weight loss success stories. 

On the surface, both diets may seem pretty similar. 

After all, both are designed around reducing carbs and increasing your fat intake to produce a state of ketosis through which the body relies on fat sources as its primary fuel source. 

Look a little closer, however, and you’ll see that there are just as many differences, the foremost being in their approach. 

Introduction to the Diets

keto vs atkins

Developed by cardiologist Dr. Robert Atkins in the 1960s, the Atkins diet follows four distinct phases in which your carb intake slowly increases as you move into each stage. Meanwhile, the keto diet, initially developed in the early 20th century to treat epilepsy, keeps carbs at a very low level for the duration of the diet to maintain ketosis around the clock. 

When you consider other differences, such as which foods you can and can’t eat and the macronutrient ratios, the Atkins vs. Keto conundrum can feel tough to solve if you’re trying to determine the best diet. 

That’s why we put together the following guide. 

Below, we break down the key differences and similarities between the Atkins and Keto diets so that you can decide which is the best option for achieving your weight loss goals. 

Atkins vs. Keto: How Are They the Same?

Atkins and Keto are often compared to one another because they share several key principles and employ them to achieve similar results. 

Here’s a closer look at the three main ways both diets are identical. 

1. Both Require a Low-Carb, High-Fat Diet

Atkins and Keto both rely on putting the body into a state of ketosis, forcing the body to burn fat for energy. 

This not only helps to shed belly fat but also helps you to feel satiated sooner and for longer than you would if you were consuming a higher quantity of carbohydrates. 

While both use different approaches to achieve this ketosis, the overall goal is the same. 

2. Both Rely on Protein-Dense Foods

Proteins are essential macronutrients that support healthy muscles and bones and contribute to maintaining a healthy weight, so it makes sense that both diets would emphasize protein intake. 

3. Both Offer Health Benefits Beyond Weight Loss

Losing weight may be your primary objective when weighing up Atkins vs. Keto, but did you know that, by adopting either one, you could experience other valuable benefits too? 

For example, each diet has been linked to improvements in heart health and blood pressure, while Keto has also been tried as a potential treatment for things like Alzheimer’s, autism, Parkinson’s, and sleep problems.

Keto vs Atkins: How Are They Different?

keto and atkins differences

Ultimately, there are three significant differences between Keto and Atkins, and these differences may help you decide which diet is the best to pursue.

These are:

1. Macronutrient Ratios

The most significant fundamental difference between the Keto and Atkins diets is the ratio of macronutrients you’re supposed to consume on each one. 

Keto followers are required to stick to a rigid ratio of 70% fat, 20% protein, and 10% carbohydrate to induce and maintain ketosis consistently. A keto calculator can help you determine this.

On the other hand, Atkins followers go through a four-step program with different macronutrient ratios introduced at each step. 

2. The Four Phases of the Atkins Diet

In the first introductory phase, the goal is to get the body used to entering ketosis by following practically identical ratios to Keto, i.e., 0 – 70% fat, 20 – 30% protein, and 5 – 10% carbohydrates.

In phase 2, the ‘balancing’ phase, those ratios shift to 45-65% fat, 20-30% protein, and 10-30% carbs.

The third ‘fine-tuning’ phase is designed to get you within just a few pounds of your goal weight using the following ratio: 

40 – 60% fat, 20 – 30% protein, and 20 – 30% carbohydrates.

Finally, the ongoing maintenance phase is a little less restrictive, utilizing a ratio of 50-60% fat, 20-30% protein, and 20-30% carbs.

To put all that another way, not only do the Atkins diet’s ratios change as your diet progresses, but they also typically allow for higher protein content in your meals. 

While that may benefit you if certain foods you don’t want to do without, it can also mean that the Atkins diet takes longer to produce results, as too much protein can hinder the onset of the fat-burning ketosis process. 

3. Fat Sources 

Of the two, it’s perhaps fair to say that Keto is the more pure and healthy option. 

While both encourage eating lots of healthy fats, such as those found in fresh fish, nuts, and avocados, the Atkins diet offers greater leeway in that you can also consume a moderate amount of trans and saturated fats, such as those found in your favorite cookies and baked goods, butter, and some processed foods. 

In other words, if you’re serious about going all-in with this result and are OK with avoiding certain types of food, Keto may produce better results. However, the Atkins diet may be your preferred option if there are certain unhealthy foods you’re not ready to say goodbye to. 

4. Long-Term Sustainability 

The ultimate goal of any diet isn’t just to lose the pounds in the first place but to keep them off for good. 

Regarding which one is easier to maintain, the debate rages between Keto fans and Atkins advocates. 

Some say Atkins is the easiest of the two diets to stick to due to the ratio changes throughout the different phases. This allows for plenty of variations in your diet, meaning you’re less likely to get burned out by consuming the same old meals daily.

Moreover, the Atkins diet has a specific phase to help you maintain your ideal weight. 

In contrast, others argue that since Keto adheres to a consistent ratio for the duration of the diet, it’s less complicated to follow and, thus, easier to sustain long-term. 

Keto vs Atkins: Which Diet is Best for You?

To sum up, while both diets will be effective in helping you achieve your weight loss goals, there are several reasons why you may prefer to try one diet over the other.

If you’d benefit from greater leeway in your food choices and the kind of variety you can enjoy by switching up your ratios over different stages, the Atkins diet may prove to be a suitable starting point for you. 

However, suppose all that ratio recalculating is enough to give you a headache. In that case, you may prefer the long-term consistency of Keto, a diet that -thanks to its lower protein levels- may produce the results you want much faster. 

The good news is that there’s no reason why you can’t try each one to see what works best for you. If Atkins initially sounds like a good idea, but you’re having trouble with the phases, you can always switch over and start again with Keto

If you decide Keto is the way to go, check out our complete beginner’s guide to the Keto diet to help you get started.