The ketogenic diet, low carb diet: do you really know the difference?

The ketogenic diet, keto, low carb… These terms, which seem synonymous, nevertheless designate very different diets. If they consist in reducing, for a time, the consumption of carbohydrates, they are not based on the same mechanisms.

Low carb and ketogenic diets have one thing in common: they consist of reducing carbohydrates, mainly in favor of fat. Only, if they are often confused, certain subtleties differentiate them. We take stock with Déborah Selouadji, a dietician for the Parisian food tech Eatology, who develops nutritional programs and recipes designed with fresh products.

What is the low carb diet?

Carbohydrates reduced to 25% of the diet

Low carb literally means “reduced to carbohydrates”. With this food mode, we reduce our consumption of sugars and we increase the consumption of proteins and lipids. While the recommendations for a varied and balanced diet are 40 to 55% carbohydrates, here they are reduced to 25% maximum.

The mechanism at the heart of the low carb diet: neoglucogenesis

“The human body is partly glucose-dependent,” says Déborah Selouadji. Neurons and blood cells can only function if they are given carbohydrates. However, when we no longer provide enough of them through food, the organism has backup mechanisms that allow it to generate carbohydrates from other sources.” When you do low-carb feed, the increase in protein allows the body to use another metabolic pathway, glucogenesis. It is literally the synthesis of carbohydrates from the breakdown of proteins.

The typical menu of a low carb day

  • Breakfast: cottage cheese and red fruit coulis
  • Morning snacks: beet hummus
  • Lunch: paved with rumsteak tartar sauce and stir-fried rice with zucchini
  • Afternoon snack: energy ball with dates
  • Dinner: cod back combawa sauce and roasted broccoli in the oven

What is the ketogenic diet?

Carbohydrates reduced to 10% of the diet

The ketogenic diet (or keto) is a low-carb diet… much more advanced. Here, carbohydrates represent only 10% of the diet, to the benefit, essentially, of fats.

The mechanism at the heart of the ketogenic diet: kettogenesis

“In the ketogenic diet, for lack of sufficient carbohydrates, the body enters into ketosis and produces ketone bodies (ketogenesis) by degrading fatty acids”, teaches the dietician.

The typical menu of a keto day

  • Breakfast: Greek yogurt and crushed almonds
  • Morning snacks: mackerel rillettes
  • Lunch: paved with rumsteak tartar sauce and zucchini flan and cauliflower
  • Afternoon snack: pecan energy ball
  • Dinner: cod back combawa sauce and roasted broccoli in the oven

The distribution of nutrients in different food modes

For a conventional power supply

  • Carbohydrates: 40 to 55%
  • Protein: 10 to 20%
  • Lipids: 35 to 40%

For the low carb diet

  • Carbohydrates: 10 to 25% maximum
  • Protein: 15 to 20%
  • Lipids: 55 to 60%

For the ketogenic diet

  • Carbohydrates: 10% maximum
  • Protein: 10 to 20%
  • Lipids: 70% minimum

Can low carb and ketogenic diets really help slim down?

According to Déborah Selouadji, these two regimes would make it possible to slim down. “Weight loss is almost automatic. The decrease in sugar consumption limits the ability to store and forces the body to trigger alternative metabolic pathways and tap into its reserves stored in adipose tissue. »

Be careful, however, not everyone can follow a low carb or ketogenic diet. People with pathologies should first consult their doctor. For all others, these feedings can be followed from a few weeks to several months (but no more). In the second case, dietary supplements may be necessary to prevent any deficiency.

Why should carbohydrates be reduced when they are consumed in excess?

Even when you do not want to lose weight or follow a low-carb diet, it is better, as for other macronutrients, to be careful not to consume excess starchy foods.

“Starchy women must not be demonized,” warns Déborah Selouadji. However, our diet frequently contains too much and they are often consumed beyond the recommended amounts: plates of pasta, bread, pizzas … Starchy sugars are sugars, complex certainly, but sugars. Learning to control the amount of starchy food we consume is a good way to prevent the occurrence of many of the ills of our modern diet.”

Simple added sugars, on the other hand, are simply empty calories: they provide no vitamins, no minerals, and have no nutritional interest other than pleasure.

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