Gluten free and keto diets share some similarities, but there are important differences between the two as well. This article will explain what each diet entails, what they have in common, and how they differ.
What is Gluten Free?
A gluten free diet eliminates foods that contain gluten. Gluten is a protein found in grains like wheat, barley, and rye (Common Side Effects of Keto). For people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, eating gluten triggers an immune response that damages the small intestine. Going gluten free improves digestive symptoms and heals intestinal damage.
On a gluten free diet, you avoid:
- Breads, cereals, crackers made with wheat, barley or rye
- Baked goods like cakes, cookies, muffins
- Soups, sauces, salad dressings containing gluten ingredients
Instead, you eat:
- Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, eggs, meat, fish
- Gluten free grains like rice, quinoa, corn
- Naturally gluten free foods like fresh meats, fish, eggs, dairy, fruits and vegetables
What is the Keto Diet?
The keto diet is very low in carbs and higher in fat (Keto Basics Quiz). This shifts your body into ketosis, where it burns fat for fuel instead of carbs. The macronutrient ratio on keto is:
- 70-80% fat
- 15-25% protein
- 5% net carbs
On keto you eliminate or limit:
- Grains, rice, cereal, pasta, breads
- Starchy vegetables like potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn
- Legumes like beans, lentils, peas
- Sugary foods like fruit, desserts, sodas, juices
- Low fat foods
Instead, keto emphasizes:
- Meat, poultry, fish, eggs
- Nuts and seeds
- Non-starchy veggies like leafy greens, broccoli, peppers
- High fat dairy like butter, heavy cream, cheese
- Oils like olive, coconut, avocado
- Berries in moderation
What Gluten Free and Keto Have in Common
At first glance, gluten free and keto diets share some similarities:
- They both eliminate grains and refined carbs
- Breads, cereals, pasta, baked goods are restricted
- There is a focus on whole, unprocessed foods
So you may think going gluten free = going keto. But there are some important differences between the two diets.
Key Differences Between Gluten Free and Keto
While gluten free and keto diets overlap in some areas, they have distinct differences when it comes to carbs and macros.
Gluten free diets have no specific carb recommendations. You can eat unlimited amounts of rice, corn, potatoes and other naturally gluten free carbs.
Keto limits net carbs to 20-50 g per day to achieve ketosis (Keto Macros Explained). Even gluten free grains and starchy veggies are restricted.
Keto is very high in fat, getting up to 80% of calories from fat. This is key for maintaining ketosis.
Gluten free diets have no guidelines for fat intake. You can follow a low fat gluten free diet if desired.
Keto recommends moderate protein based on your body weight, activity levels and goals. Too much protein on keto can interfere with ketosis.
Gluten free diets have no protein recommendations. You can eat as much or as little protein as you want.
Gluten free diets allow processed gluten free products like snack bars, desserts, frozen meals. The only requirement is being gluten free.
Keto emphasizes whole, minimally processed foods. Many processed gluten free products would be too high in carbs for keto.
Keto is often used intentionally for weight loss, due to appetite suppression from ketosis. Many people lose weight easily eating keto.
Gluten free diets are optimal for better health, but not necessarily weight loss. You can gain weight on a gluten free diet if you overeat carbs and calories.
Sample Gluten Free vs Keto Meals
To illustrate the differences, here are some examples of gluten free meals vs keto meals:
Gluten Free Breakfast
- Oatmeal made with gluten free oats, topped with sliced banana
- Scrambled eggs with fruit, gluten free toast
- Yogurt parfait with granola and blueberries
- Eggs fried in butter with avocado and bacon (Keto Grilled Cheese Sandwich)
- Keto yogurt bowl with nuts and berries
- Veggie omelet with avocado
Gluten Free Lunch
- Turkey sandwich on gluten free bread, soup, fruit salad
- Rice bowl with stir fried veggies and chicken
- Salad with chickpeas, quinoa, dressing
- Bunless burger topped with cheese, bacon and avocado
- Tuna salad wrapped in lettuce leaves
- Chicken thighs with roasted broccoli and olive oil
Gluten Free Dinner
- Pasta with meat sauce and side salad
- Tacos on corn tortillas with rice and beans
- Roasted pork loin, sweet potato, roasted veggies
- Chicken wings with creamy blue cheese sauce
- Grass fed steak with roasted asparagus
- Salmon baked in parchment with spinach and artichokes
Wrapping Up: Is Gluten Free and Keto the Same Thing?
While gluten free and keto diets share some similarities, they have important differences when it comes to carbs, fat, and overall macros. Gluten free does not necessarily mean low carb or high fat like the keto diet.
Someone following a gluten free diet can still eat plenty of carbs through gluten free grains, starchy vegetables and more. But on keto, even gluten free carb sources must be restricted to maintain ketosis.
The keto diet specifically encourages high fat, moderate protein and very low carb intake. Gluten free simply eliminates gluten, with no other macronutrient recommendations.
So while overlapping in some foods they eliminate, gluten free and keto are not interchangeable diets. You can certainly combine elements of both, but simply going gluten free does not guarantee a state of ketosis like the true keto diet.
Hope this helps explain the key similarities and differences between these two common diet approaches!
Let us know if you have any other questions.