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Anabolic or keto - What's the difference?

Christina Ablahad

Posted by Christina A.

03.24.21

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Anabolic or keto - What's the difference?

Sometimes, we all need to lose a little weight and work on being lean. It happens to every single guy at some point, except Bruce Lee. When you're looking at getting lean, you're going to consider a ton of different diets, exercises, and approaches, and sometimes, it's hard to choose. For many guys, the keto diet and other low-carb approaches tend to do well, so that's where we'll focus our attention today. We're going to compare the keto diet to the anabolic diet, and you'll be able to see if one of them is right for you.

How the Keto Diet Works

The keto diet is one of the most popular diets around right now. Everyone who tries it raves on it, and it has helped millions of people cut weight and get lean, but like any diet, its success depends on how well you use it.

The keto diet is built on the principle of ketosis; this is a state that your body enters when you cut access to carbohydrates and sugars. Typically speaking, simple sugars like glucose are the primary source of fuel for your body. If you cut carbs and sugars from your diet, then your body has to compensate. It does this by subbing in ketones to replace sugars as a primary source of energy, and it gets those ketones by breaking down fat. When this is happening, you are in the state known as ketosis.

You can see why this diet is so popular. It quite literally targets fat by changing how your body operates. 

Maintaining ketosis takes dedication. For most people, you will need to keep carbohydrate consumption below 50 grams a day. For anyone without experience checking carb intake, this is dramatic. Look at a few food labels around your house and see how easy it is to eat too many carbs on this diet.

Still, if you stick to it, it can work as well for you as it has for many others. That said, let's get into the pros and cons.

keto diet salmon avocado

Pros of the Keto Diet

One of the best things about the keto diet is that it isn't necessarily calorie restrictive. Ultimately, if you want to lose weight, you have to cut calories, but the keto diet makes it easy to do this without feeling hungry. The high fat and protein diet makes you feel full longer and with less food, making it easy to eat less overall.

Keto also holds to its promise. It does burn fat faster than other diets, and as it is a high-fat and -protein diet, many people can still enjoy food while cutting calories and burning fat.

Mostly, keto is very popular. That means there's a lot of support out there for anyone who wants to try it. You don't have to reinvent the wheel. A lot of regular people have already gone through this possess, and they can help you get started.

Cons of the Keto Diet

Keto isn't all rainbows and sunshine. Like anything, it has downsides. One of the biggest is that it's hard. Did you check food labels earlier? Carbs are everywhere. If you're cutting them, you have to give up eating out. You also have to give up drinking — especially drinking beer. It'll be hard for you to do meals with friends, family, and significant others because this is a very restrictive diet.

Another weird fact is that it can cause bad breath. This bad breath is commonly known as Keto Breath. As your body expels ketosis byproducts, they are exhaled through your mouth and nose, causing a bad breath that would rival any morning breath you have ever encountered.

It's also easy to misfire on this diet and be unhealthy. A lot of nutrients come from foods with carbs and sugars. Have you ever heard of fruit? Every single fruit has sugars that you're trying to cut. That can make it hard to get some of the good things in fruit.

It's also easy to raise your cholesterol on this diet. There are good, healthy fats that you can consume to maintain ketosis. There are also a lot of bad fats that will still keep you in ketosis. If you don't manage this part of the diet, you're risking heart and kidney health problems.

Lastly, ketosis is easy to mess up. You can't have cheat days with this diet. It can take up to four days to enter ketosis. If you slip up and have too many carbs just once, you lose your fat-burning state for another four days. That's rough.

bodybuilder

How the Anabolic Diet Works

The anabolic diet is a twist on keto; this is a low-carb diet, but it specifically avoids long states of ketosis. Bodybuilders designed this diet to help them gain muscle and lose fat for competing, and when done correctly, it's very good for accomplishing that.

The anabolic diet is structured into low-carb and high-carb days. Generally, you'll do low carb intake during the week and transition to high carbs on the weekend. By alternating on this schedule, you'll never be in ketosis for more than a day or two at a time, and that's deliberate. Long-term ketosis can cause your body to burn proteins and fat, which can make it hard to gain muscle.

Instead, the anabolic diet works by helping you feel full on less food. That's what helps with reducing fat levels. It turns out that eating fat to burn fat can work even when you aren't focused on ketosis. Also, many people do experience short ketosis cycles on this diet, which burns a little extra fat along the way.

One of the major differences with this diet is that it includes a weight-gain phase. Typically, the anabolic diet encourages you to start with four weeks of maintenance. You aren't trying to gain or lose weight. You're just getting used to the diet.

After that, you enter a bulk phase. You'll be working out like crazy, and you're trying to add muscle mass. In this phase, you figure out your ideal weight and try to get above it by about 15 percent.

When you're done bulking, you go into the cutting phase. The cutting phase is where you lose weight down to your ideal number, and by doing that, you get nice and lean. From there, you cycle back to maintenance.

The anabolic diet is an interesting take, and if you want to pack on muscle, it's one of the better choices, but of course, it has pros and cons.

Pros of the Anabolic Diet

Keeping carbs in the diet helps you maintain muscle mass. We already discussed how it pumps the brakes on ketosis, and that's very important.

Like the keto diet, the anabolic diet isn't really calorie restrictive. You can eat a lot of enjoyable foods, and the diet will still work.

It is much easier to balance your nutrition with this diet. Foods you might be cutting during the week can come back to the table on the weekend to ensure you're getting everything your body needs.

Cons of the Anabolic Diet

This diet is super restrictive. Low-carb days will have you eating fewer carbs than most keto diets. It's quite tough.

Like the keto diet, the anabolic approach can make it easy to hurt your cholesterol levels. Be very deliberate about the fat sources you choose for this diet. Getting lean should not also mean getting unhealthy.

anabolic peanut butter

Other Popular Diets

Keto and anabolic diets are popular and effective, but they aren't the only way to go. A few other good diets are worth mentioning, and they can help you control your weight without going crazy on carb counting.

The Mediterranean diet is extremely popular right now too. This diet is based on popular eating habits in Italy and Greece around the 1960s. You cut most red meat and lower your dairy intake. Eat lots of veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds, and fish; cut sugar drinks and refined grains. It's a healthy diet that is easy to maintain for a long time once you get used to it.

The paleo diet is another take that is similar in principle to the Mediterranean diet. The paleo diet concept is to eat things that our prehistoric ancestors ate; this means cutting processed wheat and sugars out of the diet completely. Focus on nuts, seeds, fruits, veggies, and lean meats. This diet is shown to have tons of health benefits, but getting started can be tough.

Intermittent fasting isn't exactly a diet, but it's another popular approach. With this one, you only eat during a specific part of the day. Most people start with a 16/8 approach. That means you fast for 16 hours every day and can only eat during an 8-hour window. Usually, this comes down to skipping breakfast and cutting all snacks and beverages with calories during the fast. By doing this, your stomach will shrink, and your blood sugar sensitivity will improve. That makes it easier to eat the right amount and maintain a healthy weight.

03.24.21

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