keto-vs-low-carbThis is an important post for your fat loss success. Will going into ketosis produce better results than a regular low carb diet?

Controlling your carbohydrate intake, eating fat, and getting your daily target of protein is THE optimal route for fat loss, and has been proven over and over again to be superior for body recomposition i.e. less fat and more muscle as opposed to total weight loss.

However, is it necessary to go on a VLCD (very low carb diet) or “ketogenic” diet? Or will a regular (non-ketogenic) low carb diet produce the same results?


In this study [1] 20 overfat individuals were put on 1500 Calorie diets to ensure a caloric deficit. They were split into 2 groups:

(1) ~30g carbohydrate per day

(2) ~150g carbohydrate per day

Remember, the calories were exactly the same (protein was virtually the same too, and the fat was higher for the keto group to make up the calories).

The results over a 6-week duration were:

(1) Weight loss was the same for both groups (the difference was not statistically significant)

Keto – 14lbs average weight loss

Low Carb – 16lbs average weight loss

(2) Fat loss again was the same. From a scientific perspective, the difference was not statistically significant, but worth noting that the non-keto group lost more fat mass, although more research with more people would need to be conducted to see if this could be replicated.

Keto – 7.5lbs average fat loss

Low Carb – 12lbs average fat loss


tanita-biaNote: Remember that this was a non-training study, unlike most studies I comment on. Subjects therefore may have lost some muscle, and certainly would not have gained any over the 6 weeks.

Note 2: A criticism I would have is that the results were gathered using Tanita Bioelectrical Impedance scales. I’ve been discouraging my readers for years from using these – use calipers instead, or if you can get your butt in a “bod pod“, go for it. Bioelectrical Impedance has fluctuations depending upon the subject’s water/hydration levels, so I personally don’t like it.

However, this study does help strengthen the idea that while low carb may be superior for body composition changes, you don’t need to go very low i.e. 30g per day. You can if you wish; the point is that it is just not necessary.

People are often surprised by the somewhat generous carb alowance I have on Total Six Pack Abs – my fat loss program. Perhaps they are expecting a VLCD and often ask me, should I take my carbs lower to make it even more effective? My reply is that it’s simply not necessary. You can have a little bread, potato, rice etc. even on the low carb portion of the diet, and achieve astounding results like these guys.

For those on my MANS carb-cycling diet and wondering about how this fits in – MANS involves “above maintenance” calories, therefore it’s a whole different beast with its own rules. Also, 30g carb per day is only a beginning point to assess how you do at that level. MANS dieters can have up to 60g net carbs per day. They also have a 36hr carb-up at the weekend, and the option of a mid-week carb-spike on Wednesdays. MANS does not change in light of this study.

So the take home message is: when cutting:

  • low carb is best
  • keto or cyclical keto is an option for lifters
  • but it’s just not necessary for optimal results.


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[1] Ketogenic low-carbohydrate diets have no metabolic advantage over nonketogenic low-carbohydrate diets. Carol S Johnston, Sherrie L Tjonn, Pamela D Swan, Andrea White, Heather Hutchins, and Barry Sears

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Cool! Click here to take you to the download page. (or check your email for the download link)