Paleo vs. Keto Diets: Know Which Diet Is Best For You

There are many diets to pick from including paleo diet vs keto. These diets have some similar features like not including grains or beans. However, there are also some major differences. Paleo is a “caveman” diet based on pre-agriculture foods. Meanwhile, keto is a low-carb, high-fat diet.

Low carb Pasta on a plate

Are you looking for a new diet? If so, then two of your options are the paleo diet vs. keto. These diets have some similarities and differences. For example, they both include healthy fats and ditch grains/beans. These two diets can also result in weight/fat loss. It is especially true if you follow the diet’s rules, so you’ll get the best results. Another similarity is both diets try to avoid processed foods. Some examples include “bad” fat like trans/saturated fat, sugar, and artificial sweeteners. Studies show that high amounts of these foods can provide unwanted results like obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.

On the other hand, there are also some major differences between these two diets. The Paleo diet focuses on what hunters/gatherers would have eaten. For example, beans, grains, and sodas weren’t available, so people on this diet don’t eat them. Then, there’s the keto diet, which is a low-carb and high-fat diet. The goal of this diet is to get your body in a state of ketosis. So, you’re getting energy from stored fat instead of your last meal. Both of these diets are significantly different yet can result in weight loss if you’re on either of them. Which diet is right for you?

What’s the Paleo Diet?

This is based on what hunters/gatherers ate. When we think about a caveman’s diet, we often have the image of Fred Flintstone eating a rack of ribs. That’s not quite accurate. While cavemen did eat lots of meat they also ate food they could “gather” like berries, seeds, nuts, veggies, herbs, and spices.

All of these foods are allowed on the Paleo diet. You can also eat healthy fats/oils like fatty fish, avocados, and olive oil.

Meanwhile, there are also foods you should avoid while on Paleo. They include ones like grains, beans, and most dairy. You also can’t eat unhealthy fats like margarine and trans fats. Other stuff you can’t eat include sugar, sodas, and processed foods.

It’s fair to say that many of the foods not allowed when on the Paleo diet are one health experts would generally consider healthy. They include grains, beans, and dairy. Foods excluded like rice, wheat, and green beans aren’t surprising since hunters/gatherers didn’t have access to them.

Dairy is more of a grey area. That’s because you’re sometimes allowed to eat full-fat dairy but not low-fat. The reason is human ancestors didn’t have access to skim/low-fat milk since it’s a process that involves factories.

This also explains why foods like processed meats, high fructose corn syrup, margarine, and vegetable oil aren’t allowed. They’re processed foods that weren’t available to cavemen, and thus aren’t allowed on the diet.

You should instead focus on whole/unprocessed foods when on Paleo. They include:

  • Real meat
  • Fish/seafood
  • Eggs
  • Fruits/veggies
  • Root crops
  • Nuts/seeds
  • Healthy fat/oils
  • Salt/spices

Some modified Paleo diets allow certain foods forbidden in the original Paleo. They include grains like rice and grass-fed butter. This also represents the fact that many people see Paleo as a general blueprint for eating instead of a strict diet.

What’s the Keto Diet?

The ketogenic diet is a low-carb and high-fat diet that’s similar to Atkins but is more complex because it includes the element of high fat. When Atkins was developed it focused on low cabs without also focusing on “good” fats found in food like fatty fish, avocados, and olive oil.

The keto diet is about reducing your carbs to about 5% to 10%. Protein is moderate and fats are high. The main goal of this diet is to swap out carbs and swap in protein/fat.

 This is one method that causes your body to go into a state of “ketosis.” This results in it getting energy from fat stores instead of food calories/carbs. The normal way your body does is by fasting so in a way this diet hacks the body’s systems.

When you follow this low-carb diet your liver produces more ketones. This is related to the process of your body breaking down fat to get the energy it needs.

We usually think of fat as generally being “bad.” However, there’s good fat and bad fat. Some good sources of fat include omega-3 fatty acids, which you can find in foods like canola oil, flaxseed, and sardines. Meanwhile, bad fats include trans and saturated fats from sources like microwave popcorn.

The keto diet can result in big losses of weight/fat. That’s because you’re getting energy from fat instead of carbs. Meanwhile, you don’t have to skip meals like fasting so it’s a plus if you tend to experience different symptoms when you fast like headaches.

Like Paleo, there are different versions of Keto. For example, there’s one version that requires you to boost carbs a little before workouts/sports. Another common type is keto diets that keep protein moderate but increases it somewhat. However, even in these versions carbs stay low and fats stay high.

Paleo Diet vs. Keto

There are some similarities between these two diets. They both focus on whole foods and good fats. However, they also eliminate whole grains, beans, sugar, and processed foods.

That said, there are also some significant differences in the Paleo diet vs. keto to keep in mind:

1. History vs. Science

The Paleo diet focuses more on ideology. The theory is that since early humans didn’t eat food grown on farms or made in factories, we shouldn’t either. The problem with this approach is some slightly processed foods like white rice and organic butter can be chock-full of nutrients.

Meanwhile, Keto focuses more on macronutrients or “macros.” More specifically it’s low-carb, moderate-protein, and high-fat. In a sense, it’s also more scientific because it’s not just about what you can and can’t eat. The goal is to hack the body’s systems so it gets energy from fat stores, not carbs.

2. Paleo allows carbs from whole foods

It’s worth noting that Paleo does limit certain carb sources. However, it’s low-carb for a different reason. This isn’t necessarily a low-carb diet. You can still get carbs from sources like whole food veggies, fruits, and sweeteners.

Meanwhile, keto puts a limit on carbs from certain sources. They include grains, starchy veggies, most fruits, most beans, and sweeteners. In other words, most high-carb foods simply aren’t allowed by the keto diet.

3. Keto allows dairy/some soy

Keto is very dairy-friendly, unlike Paleo. Full-fat milk, yogurt, butter, and cream are allowed in Keto because they’re chock-full of healthy fat yet low in carbs.

Keto also allows various soy products like tofu and soybeans. On the other hand, Paleo doesn’t allow soy and sometimes limits dairy to grass-fed butter and full-fat milk. 

Paleo also doesn’t allow soy since its from legumes. So, it’s not allowed in the first diet included in the debate of paleo diet vs. keto.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *