Health & Wellbeing

Low Carb or Keto: Which is better?

An expert weighs in!

Every celebrity from Kim Kardashian to Jennifer Aniston either goes low carb or Keto these days. But which one is better. New Idea speaks to wellness expert and founder of The Beach Life Fitness plan Richard Kerrigan to give us his top tips!

Keto Diet

According to Richard, the Keto diet isn’t for everyone with a diet rich in fat, little protein and a very small amount of carbohydrates, It can be fairly difficult to maintain and is actually a form of fasting.

“Once the carbohydrate levels in our body drop to a low enough level our body triggers certain chemicals which release ketones into the liver and blood and start the process of ketosis. However, this isn’t an instant process and takes a little time to get our body into ketosis which is why it can be confusing to the general population believing it is instantaneous,” he says.  

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“We are being misinformed and mislead into buying products claiming to promote ketosis. For example, a bulletproof coffees which contains grass fed butter and MCT oil and claims to burn fat if you drink it, Yes this is true but only if you are actually in a state of ketosis, otherwise the only thing this highly calorie dense coffee (400 cals+) is going to lead to is weight gain instead of fat loss,” Richard adds.

Low carb diet

According to Richard, on paper the low carb diet is a very effective way to lose weight fairly quickly as reducing one of the main macronutrients from our diet will result in an overall calorie deficit.

“The issue that can often come about after following a low carb diet is it can be difficult to maintain long term and you may experience low energy levels, fatigue, loss in muscle mass and even a slower metabolism,” says Richard.  

“Women following a low carb diet can also experience problems with hormones more so than men. 

“On top of that once you start to increase your carbohydrate intake for any reason you may quickly see additional weight gain leading to a yo-yo effect in weight loss and weight gain,” he warns.

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So which one is better?

In summary as you can see both diets follow a lower calorie approach which will in turn lead to weight loss and fat loss.

“The question you need to ask yourself when following any diet or trend is, can I sustain this long-term? If you can’t do that then in my opinion it isn’t worth it. A healthy sustainable lifestyle comes from eating a balanced diet rich in nutritious food, exercising sensibly and getting as much sleep as you can,” Richard says.

“If I had to my preference over the two it would be the ‘low carb diet’ simply because it’s very easy to dip in and out of and suitable for the days where you feel like ‘keeping it a little lighter’. Something that has worked very well with the clients I work with looking to lose weight is to choose one or two days a week where they reduce their carbohydrates technically following a low carb style diet whilst still consuming high protein and a good source of healthy fats,” he adds.  

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It’s important to keep in mind that carbohydrates are not only found in grains, pasta and rice but also vegetables, so even a green, leafy nutritious salad could still contain a fairly high amount of carbohydrates. In order to get enough calories and energy into your body you will need to increase your healthy fats and protein to account for the lack of carbohydrates which your body uses as its preferred energy source. 

Low carb day on the plate

Breakfast: Three egg omelette with spinach, avocado, chilli flakes and a squeeze of lemon

Snack: Handful of almond

Lunch: Chicken thighs (skin on) with a salad of fresh tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, olive oil, fresh basil leaves and seasoned with salt and pepper   

Dinner: Pan fried salmon fillet (skin on) with a side of asparagus and cottage cheese. Drizzle soy sauce over the salmon and top with sesame seeds and finely chopped spring onions

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