Paleo vs. Keto Diet? While diet trends come and go, these two eating styles have grabbed hold of the fitness community with vigor. If you’re looking to clean up your kitchen, I’ll help you answer What’s the difference between Paleo vs. Keto and which one is better for you.
Like most things, there is no single answer that works for everyone. The best eating program for you is the one you can stick to! So I’ve broken down the important differences between Keto vs. Paleo so you can decide which is better for you!
What is a Keto Diet?
A Keto—or ketogenic—diet is one made up primarily of fat. Yep, that’s right…fat. If you follow a Keto meal plan you’ll consume roughly 70-90 percent of your calories from fat.
According to most Keto diet plans, you’ll divide the other 10-30 percent of your calories between carbohydrates and protein.
Fat loss occurs on a ketogenic diet when your body is forced to burn fat for fuel. When you eliminate most carbohydrates from your diet, your body doesn’t have access to its preferred energy source: glucose. In the absence of glucose, you burn fat for energy and produce ketones, or ketone bodies, as a byproduct.
Many Keto dieters test for the presence of ketones by using urine strips. When ketone levels are high enough, you are in a state of “ketosis.”
Will a Keto Diet Help You Lose Weight?
While it might seem counterintuitive to eat fat for improved fitness, health, or weight loss, the diet generally produces results if you can stay on it.
And there is scientific evidence that it works, mainly because compared to other diets, keto is more satiating so people on it aren’t as likely to overeat.
Other Health Benefits of the Keto Diet
The eating plan was first developed in the 1920s to help patients with seizure disorders.
Researchers found that not only did it help patients reduce symptoms, but many of those patients also lost weight. Now, some physicians prescribe a Keto diet for conditions like epilepsy and occasionally for weight loss.
Foods You Can Eat On The Keto Diet:
- Fish & seafood
- Olive oil
- High-fat dairy
- Non-starchy vegetables
- Berries (occasionally)
Here is a full list of foods that should be included in a Keto diet.
Foods To Eliminate On The Keto Diet:
- Fruits (except the occasional berries)
The diet has downsides. While it might seem like a dream come true to eat a diet full of fat, the eating plan is more limiting than you might imagine. Most of the foods that typical eaters crave are prohibited on the Keto diet plan.
Fatty comfort foods and certain fruits and vegetables are nearly impossible to eat on the diet because of the carb count.
Keto Risk Factors
Lastly, this diet comes with some significant side effects. Many dieters experience extreme fatigue, mood swings, and a foggy brain in the early stages of the eating plan.
And health experts often express concern over the high consumption of saturated fat, which may increase the dieter’s risk for medical conditions including heart disease.
What Is a Paleo Diet?
The Paleo eating plan is often referred to as the caveman diet because some say that it mimics the eating style of our prehistoric ancestors.
That claim has been debunked repeatedly, but the catchy name remains. The Paleo diet is popular among the hardcore CrossFit community and in other fitness circles as well.
The eating plan focuses on unprocessed or whole foods. A Paleo dieter consumes foods that our hunter-gather ancestors might have eaten:
Foods To Eat On A Palio Diet
- Grass-fed meat
- Non-starchy vegetables
Foods To Eliminate On A Palio Diet
- Vegetable oils
Fans of the caveman diet say that it provides a healthy macronutrient balance. By some estimates, the nutritional intake of a Paleo diet results in a 35 percent fat, 35 percent carbohydrate, and 30 percent protein macronutrient balance.
They also believe that by eliminating processed foods, refined carbohydrates, and dairy you naturally reduce your salt and sugar intake to boost overall health.
But critics of the plan say that it is not based on any legitimate science and that it is too hard to follow. They point out that our prehistoric ancestors lived a very different kind of life and had access to different types of meat, seafood, and vegetables than we have today.
Some health experts also express concern over the elimination of calcium-rich dairy and fiber-rich grains. And foodies often express concern over the expense of this program. Grass-fed meats and meals built around fresh seafood can be costly.
The Main Difference Between Paleo vs. Keto
While Paleo vs. Keto diets are similar, there are a few distinctions.
Paleo is more concerned with eating ample protein and getting rid of processed foods and refined carbohydrates.
And the Keto diet is focused more on eating enough healthy fats that your body is in a state of ketosis, burning stored fat for fuel.
Here’s a quick graphic that breaks down the differences:
Which Is Better? Paleo vs. Keto Diet
There is no single diet that is perfect for everyone. The diet that is best for you is the one you can stick to for lifelong health and wellness. Your medical history may also play a role in the foods you should include or eliminate from your diet.
Both ketogenic and Paleo food plans can include nutritious foods but both plans are definitely restrictive. Many dieters start the plans only to quit in frustration when boredom or fatigue overwhelms them, they can’t manage cravings, or when they aren’t able to find “allowed” foods on the road.
If you are curious about either diet, first discuss it with your primary care provider or registered dietitian. If you have a history of heart disease, for example, your doctor may recommend that you avoid the ketogenic diet.
Or a sports nutritionist may recommend that you include grains in your diet if you participate in endurance activities. And remember that any diet can be modified to meet your own personal needs.
Follow the Paleo and Keto Diet Together
If you’re already following a Paleo diet, it’s not too much harder to also be Keto at the same time. Take these simple steps to be both Keto and Paleo simultaneously:
- Make sure any animal products you’re consuming are grass-fed, organic
- Make sure you’re tracking your macros to allow your body to be in ketosis; a Keto calculator can help you figure this out.
- Don’t eat any dairy except for butter or ghee
You may choose to increase your healthy fat consumption to take advantage of the satisfaction many Keto dieters feel after mealtime.
Or you may choose to eliminate starchy processed foods to take advantage of the clean-eating lifestyle of Paleo eaters.
Just be certain that the food plan you choose is a plan that you can stick to for the long term. Everyone is individual, and what works best for one individual might not be the best plan for someone else.