Essentially, a ketogenic diet and a low carb diet are the same thing, but there are a few differences to be mindful of.
Dr Paul Mason and Dr Peter Brukner explains what happens to the body when on a low carb diet and how each person will be different when it comes to being in a state of ‘ketosis’.
Dr Peter Brukner: Well, is the keto diet the same as a low carb diet?
Dr Paul Mason: Well, basically yes. The ketogenic diet is a low carbohydrate diet. The difference from a standard low carb diet is though, that the body is actually burning fat and producing something called ketones with the fat that is burnt. So a standard low carb diet doesn't necessarily put the body into this state of fat burning where it produces ketones. But when the carbohydrates are low enough, the transition from a typical low carb diet to a ketogenic diet will occur. So basically, by definition has to be a low carb diet but not all low carbohydrate diets are ketogenic diets.
Dr Peter Brukner: So what's the level of carbohydrate intake you need to get into a ketogenic state?
Dr Paul Mason: Well that really depends on the individual. So for some people, if you're young and metabolically healthy, you might be able to be in ketosis and burning a lot of fat with 50 grams of carbohydrates a day. Or as somebody who's a bit insulin resistant or pre diabetic, they might need to be less than 20 grams of carbohydrates a day. But really, the only way to be sure that you're in ketosis is to measure ketones in your blood. We usually do that with a finger prick test and we put it through a little machine that will look for the ketones.
Dr Peter Brukner: So really, a ketogenic diet is an extreme form of a low carb diet which is great for weight loss because you're burning fat.
Dr Paul Mason: Exactly. So it is a type of low carb diet, but it's a type of low carb diet where you're just burning more fat.