The most striking difference between these two diets nowadays is the fact that Atkins is a ‘name brand’ of diet. Admittedly, it may have been quite revolutionary when it was first conceived, and indeed, many of the things that the Atkins people now talk about as the key to the Atkins’ diet success, are the very same things that the Ketogenic diet talks about and focuses on. There are distinct similarities.
Fat Burning is Key
First off, both the Ketogenic diet and the Atkins diet now talk about switching your body’s metabolism so that you burn fats, rather than carbohydrates, for energy.
The Atkins diet first came out in 1972, and it is pretty remarkable to note that the focus was very definitely not on the consumption of vegetables, at all. Dietary fibre is seriously de-emphasised.
If you compare that to nowadays, the Atkins diet now recommends a great deal of vegetables. This is only sensible. If you compare that to the ketogenic diet, which because it is not a trademarked brand, does not have a set canon of guidelines, they are very different.
I do feel like the Atkins diet helped to pave the way for the popularity of the modern Ketogenic movement – even though the ketogenic diet was first used for therapeutic purposes in the 1920’s.
The Atkins people have altered their recommendations over time, predominantly with the fact that they admit all diets must be tailored to the individual.
Of course, since in 1972 the best way to put this information out there was to release a book, and you can’t ask questions for a book, nor tailor it to each individual reader, it is only reasonable that their guidelines have changed with time.
The Difference is in the Protein
A key difference between the two diets is that, in general, the Ketogenic diet recommends only eating a moderate amount of protein whereas with Atkins you are to get most of your calories from protein.
Admittedly, the Atkins focus was on previously forbidden ‘fatty’ proteins like cheese or red meats, so the idea was that the fats would take care of themselves.
In essence, the Ketogenic diet takes this a step further, and fats are given supreme importance over protein. That’s not to say that the Atkins diet has nothing to offer, far from it.
Thanks to the fact that you can now get the full Atkins dietary guidelines online and there is the option for you to ask questions and have ongoing guidance, if you follow the Atkins diet, you may well find yourself eating a diet that is virtually identical to some people who are following the Ketogenic diet. They stress the fact that the diet can be tailored to suit you.
So, in many ways, to compare the Atkins diet with the Ketogenic diet is rather like comparing fresh orange juice with store bought. Admittedly, the store-bought stuff is going to be more reliable – i.e. there will be very little variation from one batch to the next. When you make it from fresh you cannot always guarantee this kind of consistency of flavour or sweetness. However, of course, there are great advantages to the freshly-squeezed.
The Ketogenic diet is much more do-it-yourself. There is no central authority who you pay to get your meal plans from. There are hundreds of people who are all recommending different approaches to the Ketogenic diet, and in the end, the responsibility for getting it right rests with you.
At the End of the Day, Eat What’s Right for Your Body
Going down the Atkins route may be useful for you, and you will undoubtedly learn a great deal, but the major disadvantage for me is that you are limiting yourself to one set of opinions.
I have also found that moderating my protein intake was a key component of being able to stay in ketosis. If I eat more than 25g of protein in one sitting I will pop out of ketosis. This is just me, though, other people (for example those who exercise a great deal more than I do), may be able to eat more.
For some people, following the Atkins diet really works, and they enjoy having a strict set of guidelines and the ‘inclusive’ factor of being on an Atkins diet.
Personally, I enjoy the keto focus on whole foods, health, and general lifestyle. I don’t want to be on a ‘diet’ for the rest of my life, I want to eat in a way that serves me and my health for the rest of my life.