In the world of weight loss diets, there are two competitors that people keep mentioning for their effectiveness: the ketogenic diet and WW (formerly known as Weight Watchers).
While the two approaches couldn’t be more different, both of them have garnered a following due to their results. Many people have reported success in losing weight with both the points-based WW program and the low-carb, high-fat ketogenic, or keto diets.
This article describes how each program works, the pros and cons of both programs, and which one is better for weight loss.
It is important to note that the food budget for each diet can vary depending on the person and their food preferences.
WW is a popular commercial diet program that has been around for decades. It is based on the concept of moderation and portion size and allows followers to include any type of food in their diet that they would like.
WW assigns you a daily allocation of SmartPoints and divides you into one of three color-coded programs based on your weight loss needs. Here is a brief overview of the colors:
- Green: more SmartPoints allowed per day with 100+ ZeroPoint groceries, mostly fruit and vegetables
- Blue: moderate number of SmartPoints allowed per day with over 200 ZeroPoint foods, including fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins
- Violet: Allowed fewer SmartPoints per day with over 300 ZeroPoint foods, including fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains
Typically, foods with fewer SmartPoints have fewer calories, fat and sugar, and more fiber and protein. High-point foods are usually high in calories, fat, or sugar – like french fries, ice cream, or fatty meat.
So while you can add high point groceries, your daily SmartPoints quota will be used up quickly.
WW is also a paid program. There are different levels based on the level of support they provide. With the purchase you get access to the WW-Tracking-App and all included tools.
This table summarizes three WW plans:
Does It Work For Weight Loss?
Yes, WW appears to be effective for weight loss.
Several studies have found that WW helps with weight loss. It is important to note, however, that WW funded many of these studies, directly or indirectly, which may have influenced the results (1).
In a WW-funded study of 279 people, the researchers found that those who used the WW program lost more than double the weight of a control group in 3 months. WW participants were also more likely to maintain their weight loss 1 year later (2).
Another large WW-funded study of over 29,000 people found that, on average, participants lost about 3 kg in 12 weeks. About two thirds of the participants were able to lose at least 5% of their body weight (3).
WW is a paid diet program based on the principles of moderation and portion control. It uses a points-based system to promote healthier eating. It appears to be effective in weight loss, although WW funded many of the studies.
The keto diet is a low-carb, high-fat, moderate-protein diet that people originally used to treat epilepsy. People are now using it for a variety of other purposes including weight loss and blood sugar management.
Unlike WW, it is not a commercial diet program, but an eating pattern. With keto, your body enters a state called ketosis – in which you burn fat as your main source of fuel instead of carbohydrates.
This offers a number of potential metabolic benefits for people trying to lose weight (4):
- better blood sugar control and lower insulin levels
- decreased appetite
- Maintaining metabolism (calories burned at rest)
- Burn stored body fat more easily
The keto diet is low in carbohydrates and sugar. So while you’re at it, you need to avoid foods like:
- Sweets and desserts
- sugary sodas
- even most of the fruit
On the other hand, you can safely include:
- most types of meat
- starch-free vegetables
- Nuts and seeds
- Whole-fat dairy products
- low-sugar fruits, such as berries
Does It Work For Weight Loss?
Yes, like WW, keto appears to be effective for short-term weight loss.
Several studies have looked at the success of a keto diet for weight loss.
A study of 89 people with type 2 diabetes and obesity found that participants who followed a keto diet lost significantly more weight after 4 months and reduced their waist size more after 4 months than those who followed a standard low-calorie diet ).
In fact, over 90% of participants in the keto group lost at least 5% of their body weight during the study and over 80% lost at least 10% (5).
Another review of studies of approximately 1,500 people comparing a keto diet to a low-fat diet found that the weight losses of the keto group were significantly greater than that of the low-fat group for at least a 2-year follow-up ( 6).
Keto is a low-carb, high-fat diet that makes it easier for you to burn your own stored body fat for fuel. Compared to a standard low-calorie diet, this can result in significantly more weight loss.
WW and Keto each offer benefits that go beyond weight loss.
WW has been around for a long time and has a proven track record.
One of the benefits of the WW program is that it provides a method of practicing moderation and portion control that is easier than counting calories. It can also help you make better food choices over time.
Even if you decide to quit the program, you can use the principles you learned from WW to make better food choices.
WW also offers an integrated support network, even with its cheapest Digital Only plan.
This plan gives access to a member-only virtual community. In the meantime, higher-priced plans offer even more accountability and support options, including online or face-to-face meetings and unlimited one-on-one coaching.
Likewise, the keto diet has numerous benefits.
One of the main benefits that many keto dieters report is how quickly they can lose weight with the diet. This can be due to several factors (4).
Being in ketosis appears to have an appetite suppressant effect, making it easier for a person to ingest fewer calories (4).
In addition, the keto diet can lower your insulin levels. Insulin is the hormone that signals your body to store excess blood sugar as fat. So when insulin levels are lower, it may be easier for your body to burn its own stored fat (4).
It also regulates your blood sugar levels, which can help curb hunger and cravings.
There are also some case reports of people with type 2 diabetes who drastically increase their blood sugar control and reduce their need for insulin and diabetes medication after starting a keto diet (4, 7, 8).
WW provides interpersonal support to its participants and encourages moderation and portion control. Keto can help improve blood sugar levels and reduce your appetite, making it easier to lose weight.
Both diets also have their downsides.
One of the biggest drawbacks to WW is its price. While it’s relatively cheap if you break it down by the week, the costs can add up – especially if you have one of the more expensive plans and want to stick with the program longer.
Additionally, the SmartPoints system can inadvertently discourage you from consuming otherwise healthy foods simply because they are high in calories or high in fat.
These foods can include:
- Full fat milk
- natural fats and oils, such as olive oil
The keto diet has some drawbacks. It’s a big departure from the typical diet that most people eat, and because of this, it can be difficult to maintain over the long term. It can be especially difficult to wait while on vacation or while on vacation.
The keto diet also excludes many otherwise healthy foods, such as:
- most of the fruits
- Beans and legumes
- Sweet potatoes
Finally, there are some long-term safety concerns with the keto diet that scientists haven’t fully explored. This includes the potential to increase your cholesterol levels, which can increase your risk for heart disease (9).
WW is a paid program, so the costs can add up if you use it over the long term. On the other hand, keto can be difficult to keep up with because it’s restrictive and there are some potential long-term health issues that scientists haven’t fully explored.
Both WW and keto diets can help you achieve weight loss in the short term. Which diet is better for you depends on your individual needs.
WW may be a better option if you:
- appreciate the flexibility to eat any meal you want
- find the built-in structure and support of the WW program necessary to keep you motivated
- are fine with the cost of the subscription
On the other hand, keto may be a better option if you:
- Have type 2 diabetes or other blood sugar management concerns
- you will find it easier to make healthier choices when your food options are limited
- are okay to diet on their own or build their own support network
WW and keto each have their advantages and disadvantages. WW may be more suitable for some people, while keto may be more suitable for others. It depends on your personal needs and preferences.
WW and Keto are two very different diets. WW is a structured, paid diet program based on moderation, portion control and the WW SmartPoints system. It provides built-in social support at all paid levels of the program.
Keto, on the other hand, is a low-carb, high-fat diet that aims to get you into ketosis, making it easier for you to burn your own stored body fat for energy.
Both diets are effective for weight loss, but one may suit you better than the other for many reasons.