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LCHF versus ketogenic diets – find out the differences

Low-carbohydrate diets have been gaining popularity recently. Their advantages include not only their high effectiveness in weight loss, but also an overall improvement in body condition. In this article, you will find out what LCHF looks like in practice, how it differs from the ketogenic diet and the benefits of both diets

Low carb diet – what is it?

All low carbohydrate diets are based on a similar principle – reducing or almost eliminating carbohydrates from the diet. The main difference is in the amount of ‘carbs’ consumed. Depending on the variant, a low-carbohydrate diet involves taking in between 20 and 100 grams per day.

One example of a low carb diet is the LCHF (Low Carb High Fat) diet. Its name literally translates as ‘low carbohydrate, high fat’. LCHF is one version of the low carb diet, where reduced carbohydrate intake is also the main concept. The difference is that the classic low carb diet is based solely on the reduction of carbohydrates, while in the LCHF diet carbohydrates are additionally replaced by fats and protein. Thanks to the presence of fats, by eating low-carbohydrate meals, we still feel satiated, we are not lacking in nutrients and we notice a significant weight loss.

How do I prepare for a low-carbohydrate diet?

If you want to skilfully introduce the LCHF diet into your everyday life, you should plan your meals carefully, give up all prohibited products and look for healthy substitutes. What should necessarily be excluded? For the LCHF diet, prohibited foods include sweets, crisps, sugary drinks, sugar, rice, pasta and other flour products, high-carbohydrate fruit (e.g. bananas, grapes) and most vegetables. Instead, a low carb diet should include foods that are low in carbohydrates and high in fat. These include:

  • butter and fats of animal origin;
  • cream;
  • fatty fish;
  • meat;
  • eggs;
  • high fat sour cream;
  • low-carbohydrate vegetables and fruits;
  • vegetable oils and fats;
  • seeds, nuts, seeds;
  • yellow cheese;
  • coconut milk.

What is the difference between the keto diet and the low carb diet?

What primarily differentiates the two diets is the restrictiveness. The rules of the low carb diet are definitely more lenient and occasional deviations from the guidelines will not negate the weight loss effects. Furthermore:

  • With LCHF you can consume between 20 g and 100 g of carbohydrates per day, while on the keto diet you can consume around 20 g – 30 g of net carbohydrates;
  • during the LCHF diet, the body still derives energy from the carbohydrates supplied to it, whereas during the keto diet, the carbohydrate-deprived body produces ketone bodies and these are responsible for extracting energy from fat;
  • The ketogenic diet is used for the treatment of certain conditions, such as epilepsy and insulin resistance;
  • The ketogenic diet is an extension of the low carb diet;
  • With keto nutrition, physical activity is very important;
  • During the LCHF diet, the weight loss process takes longer than with keto, when the body enters a state of ketosis;
  • LCHF involves reducing carbohydrates in favour of fats and protein, whereas with keto the protein supply is not increased.

The ketogenic diet and the LCHF diet – what do they have in common?

The ketogenic diet can be successfully classified as one of the most restrictive variants of the low carb diet. Both low-carbohydrate diets mean:

  • a reduction in the amount of carbohydrate intake;
  • similar ingredients used in the preparation of meals;
  • that the main macronutrient provided in the diet should be fat;
  • the need for adequate preparation: blood tests and the establishment with a dietician of dietary conditions suitable for the body, the development of a varied menu, getting rid of forbidden ingredients;
  • the loss of excess weight.

Common benefits of both low-carbohydrate diets

Both diets carry a number of positive effects overall and in terms of weight loss. These include:

  • faster weight loss than other types of reduction diets;
  • high effectiveness in reducing belly fat;
  • reduced appetite and a longer feeling of satiety than other types of reduction diets;
  • increase in hdl (healthy cholesterol) levels;
  • increased triglyceride levels, thereby reducing the risk of heart disease;
  • improving overall health and wellbeing.

Supplementation on a ketogenic and LCHF diet: MCT’s and others

Changing eating habits involves some nutritional deficiencies and, therefore, adequate supplementation on keto and low-carb diets is necessary. Reducing carbohydrates can result in a decrease in energy and therefore a worse mood. The body mainly needs electrolytes, vitamins and minerals to recover. Healthy fatty acids in the form of MCT oil and digestive enzymes, which have a positive effect on weight reduction, will also prove helpful.

Ketogenic diet compared to other low-carbohydrate diets

The ketogenic diet stands out from other low-carbohydrate diets mainly because of its unique approach to macronutrient ratios and its emphasis on a state of ketosis. Unlike other popular low-carbohydrate diets, such as the Atkins, Paleo or LCHF diets, the keto diet requires a very strict restriction of carbohydrates to a level that puts the body into ketosis – a metabolic state in which ketone bodies are the main source of energy. This means consuming less than 20-50 grams of carbohydrates per day, which is significantly less than other low-carbohydrate diets. While diets such as Atkins and Paleo also restrict carbohydrates, they do not aim to consistently achieve ketosis and often allow more flexibility in food choices. The LCHF diet, like keto, focuses on a high fat intake, but typically allows for a higher carbohydrate intake and is not focused on inducing ketosis.

If you are looking for more information and comparisons of the ketogenic diet with low-carbohydrate diets we refer you to our other post

Which low-carbohydrate diet will be better for me?

Which to choose: the ketogenic diet or the LCHF diet? To decide, first answer a few questions:

  • Do you have enough free time to plan and prepare meals?
  • What is your main goal? Do you just want to lose weight or do you want to build your figure?
  • How much time are you able to devote to physical activity?
  • And most importantly… are you strong-willed enough?

The ketogenic diet works best when combined with exercise, but it requires a lot of sacrifice and giving up a lot of common ingredients in individual dishes. A bit of innovation and experimentation will also come in handy, so that the menu is not monotonous and does not turn from eating and tasting into a mere ‘calorie refuelling’. In addition, breaking the rules of the ketone diet will knock you out of a state of ketosis, and this can significantly slow down the final results.

With the low-carb high-fat diet, the requirements are not as strict, because a slight bending or even a one-time breaking of the rules does not affect ketosis and does not cause a cessation of the production of ketone bodies. As a result, it does not require the same strict control of low carbohydrate foods as the keto diet. Nevertheless, the low-carb diet is still full of health benefits for the body and helps you lose weight.

Which low-carbohydrate diet is better? It all depends on your character and motivation. If following a restrictive diet, preparing food and exercising don’t scare you, the keto diet is for you and in return will guarantee you faster results, help you lose weight and improve your figure. Don’t have time for frequent shopping and regular gym attendance? The low carb high fat (LCHF) diet is less demanding, will still help you limit carbohydrates and will deliver the results you want, albeit over a longer period of time than the keto diet.

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