What is the difference between the keto diet and a high protein diet?
This is a good question because many people use these terms interchangeably.
Both diets restrict carbohydrates.
A high protein diet is one in which most of the calories come from protein. Since carbohydrates cause the body to retain water, high protein diets cause rapid water loss in the early stages, and are popular for weight management because of this effect. The popularity of high protein diets is a concern because too much protein is toxic to the liver and kidneys.
“Keto” is short for ketogenic. A ketogenic diet is one in which most of the calories are sourced from fat, or fat and protein. Ketogenic diets were originally developed as a treatment for children with epilepsy. They continue to be used for this purpose and to treat other neurological conditions.
A ketogenic diet, followed rigorously, will induce a metabolic state known as ketosis. Ketosis is a process that switches your body from relying on carbohydrates for fuel to relying on fat. Because ketogenic diets promote fat burning, they have become popular for weight management.
What some people misunderstand about ketosis and high protein diets is that your liver has the ability to convert certain amino acids into carbohydrates. This conversion can take people out of ketosis if the protein intake is too high, and therefore diminish the fat burning aspect of the diet.
Because ketogenic and high protein diets can have significant metabolic impacts, you should check with your doctor prior to making any big changes to how you eat.
Parts of this article originally appeared on Quora.