A common question asked by those who want to start a low-carb lifestyle is if there are any differences between the ketogenic (keto) and Bulletproof diet – two of the most popular low-carb eating plans today. While they may appear as being one and the same at first, there are key differences between these two diets worth noting. To help you make your pick to suit your specific goals, needs, and limitations, here are the main differences between keto and Bulletproof explained.
Love Keto? Dig into all our Keto recipes for more inspiration!
The Keto Diet
The ketogenic (keto) diet is a very-low-carb diet similar to Atkins that puts the body in ketosis – hence the name. While there are many versions of the keto diet, the original was designed in 1921 by researchers at the Mayo Clinic . This diet, which was originally intended as a treatment for childhood epilepsy and involved eating 1g of protein per kilogram of body weight, 15g of carbohydrates per day, and the remainder calories from fat.
Ketosis, the metabolic state induced by a keto diet, is when you have higher than usual blood ketone levels. Ketosis is a normal metabolic process that happens under prolonged fasting, starvation, and certain illnesses. It provides the body with an alternative fuel – ketones. Studies show that ketones are being the anti-seizure benefits of the keto diet . However, ketosis, ketones, and the keto diet provide a host of other benefits such as :
- Weight loss
- Diabetes reversal
- Cardiovascular health
- Reduced acne
- Brain health
These benefits come from enhanced fat burning on a keto diet, the anti-inflammatory and disease-modifying effects of ketones, but also improvements in overall metabolic functioning when you essentially force the body into fat-burning mode on this diet.
What the Keto Diet Looks Like
The standard keto diet is based on a macronutrient ratio that usually looks like this:
- 60-75% calories from fat
- 20-25% calories from protein
- 5-10% calories from carbs
In order to eat within this macronutrient ratio, keto dieters need to avoid foods high in carbohydrates and base their diet around high-fat and moderate-protein foods. Examples of food to eat on a keto diet include:
- Healthy oils
- Fatty cuts of meat
- Eggs and dairy
- Nuts and seeds
- Low-carb vegetables
On the other hand, keto dieters also need to avoid the following:
- Cereal grains
- Starchy vegetables
- Most fruit
Keto dieters will also use a wide range of ingredients as substitutes in order to make the diet more palatable and varied. Examples of such ingredients include nut flours, nut milks, non-nutritive sweeteners, xanthan gum, and glucomannan powder.
On a keto diet, the main focus is on macronutrients and where you are getting them from than food quality. However, that doesn’t mean that quality isn’t important It’s just that the primary focus is on meeting your keto macros in order to reach ketosis.
The Bulletproof Diet
The Bulletproof Diet is a version of the keto diet. More specifically, it is a branded version of the cyclical ketogenic diet (CKD) – essential standard keto with carb refeed periods. The diet was designed by Dave Asprey, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, CEO of Bulletproof 360, and self-proclaimed biohacker.
Asprey, who himself struggled through much of his youth to lose weight, invested thousands of dollars and over 15 years in trying to uncover what was preventing him from losing weight. The Bulletproof Diet was born as a result of his efforts. Asprey defines his unique diet as an “anti-inflammatory program for hunger-free, rapid weight loss and peak performance.”
The Bulletproof diet puts the body in ketosis, but it also allows your body to take a rest from ketosis. Dave Asprey argues that long-term ketosis can cause problems like kidney stones and decreased performance, and he believes a cyclical approach works better.
How the Bulletproof Diet Looks Like
The Bulletproof Diet is quite similar to standard keto. However, Bulletproof also takes things a step further by eliminating foods deemed “toxic” and including foods that supercharge ketosis. The diet is based on foods considered bulletproof and that include:
- Bulletproof coffee
- Bulletproof MCT oil
- Pastured egg yolks
- Fish oil
- Organic grass-fed ghee
- Organic grass-fed butter
- Sweet potatoes
However, the full list of foods allowed and forbidden on the Bulletproof eating protocol is much wider and is carefully organized on a Bulletproof diet “roadmap” to make navigating this diet easier. Besides eating foods deemed “bulletproof,” Asprey encourages the following cooking methods:
- Cooking at temperatures below 320 degrees F
- Pressure cooking
- Low heating
Other cooking methods like deep frying and stir-frying are considered bad because they degrade food.
On the Bulletproof Diet, you’re supposed to eat within the standard keto macronutrient ratio for 5-6 days a week and do carb refeeds where you eat most of your calories from carbohydrates for 1-2 days a week. This helps break ketosis and replenish muscle and liver glycogen.
Keto vs. Bulletproof Diet
There are three main differences between keto and the Bulletproof Diet and that center around the following:
- Length of ketosis
- Food quality
- Role of supplements
The keto diet is said to work best with long-term ketosis. Being in ketosis for at least 6 weeks leads to what is known as keto-adaptation . This is when the body is perfectly adapted to utilizing ketones for fuel. The Bulletproof Diet, on the other, won’t lead to keto-adaptation since you’re breaking ketosis each week, but it will provide other benefits not seen with long-term ketosis like:
- Greater production of anabolic hormones like insulin
- Reduced risk of ketosis side effects
- Reduced carb cravings
Furthermore, the keto diet does not focus on food quality to the same extent as Bulletproof. Keto focuses on basic principles of healthy eating such as eating real vs. processed foods and focusing on getting all your nutrients by eating a variety of keto-friendly products. The Bulletproof diet is based around eating foods considered not toxic, free of mold, organic, pasture-raised, and cooked on low heat.
And lastly, supplements play a big part in the Bulletproof diet, whereas they’re completely optional on the standard keto diet. The Bulletproof brand offers everything from MCT oil and ghee to protein powders, coffee, and even water.
Which of these two diets you should go for depends on whether you find the extra investment in keto diet supplements worthwhile and effective. You may also want to consider the Bulletproof diet over keto if you need a diet plan that’s carefully laid out in steps and dos and don’ts and that’s also supported with supplements to make adhering to the diet easier.
Learn More About the Author
Join the Our Food Fix Family
Subscribe to our list to receive FREE recipes, healthing living resources, and planning and efficiency tips.