Keto vs Atkins: Re-branding Of The Keto Diet? -PeakCodex
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Keto vs Atkins Diet

15th October 2019
Many different kinds of vegetables on a table with a bowl of food

What is the Atkins diet?

The Atkins diet is a low carb diet created by Robert Atkins who wrote a best selling book in 1972 called “Dr. Atkins Diet Revolution”. His book went against the mainstream view of fat and challenged the popular low fat, high sugar diets and products of the time. Since then there has been a shift in mainstream opinion due to studies showing the benefit of dietary fat.

The Atkins diet is a weight loss program which focuses on changing your eating habits to eliminate high carbohydrate foods.The aim of the diet is to determine your personal carb balance which refers to the amount of carbohydrates you can consume while still losing weight without starvation or loss of energy.

This is achieved in four separate phases. At first you begin by following a ketogenic diet and incrementally add more carbohydrates back into your diet until you have reached your goal weight.

The flow from a ketogenic diet to a general low carb diet was branded the Atkins diet.

A plate with creamy chicken with mushrooms and asparagus

The induction phase:
The first phase is basically a ketogenic diet where only 20g-25g of net carbs are consumed daily for two weeks or until you are 15 pounds from your goal weight. The diet at this stage consists of low carbohydrate vegetables, proteins, healthy fats and most cheese. Some nuts and seeds are also included. The aim is to be in a ketogenic state and burning fat for energy.

The balancing phase:
The second phase is also a ketogenic one and the amount of daily carbohydrates are increased to be between 25g-50g. In addition to the food allowed in the first phase you can eat berries, cherries and melons, other dairy products, legumes and tomato sauce. The aim is to start finding how many carbohydrates your body can tolerate while continuing to lose weight.

The maintaining phase:
The third phase of the Atkins diet increases the daily carbohydrates to 50-80g while allowing a wider array of foods in including a wider array of fruits, starchy vegetables and whole grains. For most individuals this stage is no longer low carb enough to be ketogenic. This phase will last until you are at your target weight and have maintained it for one full month.

The lifetime maintenance phase:
The last and final phase has the exact same foods as in the previous one however extends the daily carbohydrate limit to 100g. The aim is to maintain your healthy goal weight by consuming a low carbohydrate diet long term.

The Atkins diet is a popular low carbohydrate weight loss program that uses different steps to guide what you are eating

Measuring tape on a table

The benefits of Atkins diet

The Atkins diet has clearly defined stages which are great for providing structure and goals for individuals to follow. This makes the program motivational which in turn leads to good success rates.

The aim of the last stage of the Atkins plan is to follow a low carb diet for long term. The last stage allows for a wide variety of foods which makes it easy to follow. The amount of carbohydrates is high enough that it does not need to be specifically calculated daily.

There are a lot of resources on the Atkins diet ranging from books, meal plans and courses to their own line of snacks and meals.

What is a keto diet?

The body has glucogen (sugar) storages in the body which it uses for energy and are replenished every time you eat carbohydrates. On a ketogenic diet these glycogen storages are depleted and the body starts using fat for fuel. Eating between 25g-30g of net carbohydrates daily is low enough for your body to start turning fat into ketones which are used for energy.

Unlike the Atkins diet there are no specific steps or phases to follow in the ketogenic diet. The main source of energy is always fat consisting of around 75% of the total calories of the diet. This means the diet is high in olive oil, butter, avocados, low carb nuts, high fat dairy and meat. Leafy greens and low carb vegetables are included for nutrition.

Grilled chicken on a plate with colorful coleslaw

How are a ketogenic diet and Atkins similar?

Both diets fall under the low carb diet umbrella. The ketogenic diet is a very strict low carb diet whereas only the first two stages of the Atkins diet are ketogenic. The last two stages of the Atkins diet can be classified as low carb.

The Atkins diet shares all of the benefits of the ketogenic diet. As the first two phases of the Atkins diet are ketogenic, you are consuming the same foods and eliminating high carbohydrates from the diet. The first two phases of the Atkins diet could be called ‘the keto phases’ which would eliminate some confusion between the diets.

The Atkins brand owns their own food line which makes it easy to grab Atkins approved snacks and meals. Similarly there are snacks and other products created just for the ketogenic diet. However, both diets can be followed without buying specific keto or Atkins products.

They both focus on changing eating habits by being aware of carbohydrate intake and eliminating foods that aren’t low carb. Both diets have a clear list of what is allowed and what should be eliminated.

To follow both diets properly you will need to be counting the carbohydrates daily.

The differences of keto vs Atkins diet

The Atkins diet is specifically designed weight loss program whereas the ketogenic diet is followed for many reasons. While the keto diet is excellent for weight loss it is also followed for medical reasons and by those looking to optimise their health and longevity.

The ketogenic diet does not have multiple phases to follow. The four different stages with varying amounts of carbohydrates are great for understanding how your body responds to different foods however is not necessary for weight loss. The same results can be achieved simply by following a ketogenic diet until you have reached your goal weight.

The later stages of the Atkins diet allow for a higher carbohydrate amount than the ketogenic diet does. This means more varying foods can be consumed, such as starchy vegetables and grains whereas to follow the ketogenic diet these foods cannot be eaten. Some claim that this makes the Atkins diet easier to follow in the long term compared to the ketogenic diet.

Neither diet specifically focuses on the amount of calories consumed. The Atkins diet views carbs as the only source of weight gain. In reality, you can gain weight even on the strictest ketogenic diet if you eat too many calories. The Atkins success isn’t based on the amount of carbohydrates being consumed, rather, is about individuals eliminating high calorie junk foods, being aware of their food choices and eating healthy whole foods.

Ultimately the goals and methods are different between the diets. The goal of the ketogenic diet is to eat low carb foods to gain the benefits of ketosis whereas the Atkins diet is strictly about weight loss and figuring out your personal carb allowance.


The Atkins weight loss plan is broken into four phases. During the first two phases individuals are following a ketogenic diet. Instead of following the ketogenic diet indefinitely, which would provide similar results, they encourage adding more carbohydrates and different foods back into the diet until you have figured out how many carbohydrates your body can tolerate and still lose weight. Both diets require the user to be aware of their daily food choices which helps break old habits and create new ones.

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