Today, it’s hard to read a health magazine or step into any gym without hearing about paleo and keto diets. Many people follow these diets because they want to lose weight or improve their overall health. However, since these two diets are so popular, you may be wondering how they differ. Here is a detailed comparison of the paleo and keto diet, including which one is best.
What is a Paleo Diet?
The name of the Paleo Diet comes from the Paleolithic period, referring to the Stone Age. The main reason for this is due to the core principle of its practice: eat like the hunters and gatherers of that era. A typical Paleo Diet is based on whole foods, which means that all foods should be whole and unprocessed. Just like keto foods, Paleo requires eliminating high-content sugar products and grains. It is also important to avoid dairy products, artificial sweeteners, legumes, vegetable oils and trans fats.
Paleo can be customized and does not require as strict a ratio of intake as keto. Some diet plans may opt for a low-carb diet consisting primarily of protein, while others may follow a plant-based, high-carb intake. While it is important to consider that all products consumed must be unprocessed, allowable foods include: meat, fish and seafood, eggs, vegetables, fruits, tubers, nuts and seeds, healthy fats and oils, and salt and spices.
What is a Keto Diet?
The keto diet focuses on high-fat foods, adequate protein, and limiting carbohydrate intake. If you’re going to try a keto plan, you’ll want to follow a 60% fat, 30% protein, and 10% carbohydrate plan, based on a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet.
The keto diet was first used to treat seizures. It was designed as a therapeutic diet, but has since grown in popularity for its rapid weight loss effects. For this diet, you would eat foods such as fatty fish, eggs, dairy products, meat, butter, oils, nuts and seeds, and low-carb vegetables.
Similarities and Differences between Keto and Paleo
Paleo and ketogenic diets have many major similarities that allow people to confuse the two diets, however, the differences between them are significant.
- These two diets limit processed sugar.
- Both diets prioritize healthy fat consumption such as avocados, olive oil, nuts and seeds to aid in satiety, brain health and nutrient absorption.
- They also eliminate whole food groups to accomplish specific health outcomes.
- Both diets emphasize moderate protein intake.
- Given the restrictive nature, both the ketogenic and paleo diets are difficult to maintain in the long term.
- Both diets can help regulate blood sugar levels, improve weight status, insulin sensitivity, and symptoms associated with disease states.
- The main difference between the Paleo and Keto diet is the percentage of macronutrients. The keto diet requires about 70 percent of total calories to come from fat, while the Paleo diet is more moderate at about 35 percent.
- Ketogenic diets are extremely low in carbohydrates, only 25 net grams, or about 5-10% of your daily calories. Paleo diet can be much higher in carbohydrates, especially if a modified version of the ancient Greek diet and desserts are followed.
- In order to reap the full benefits of the ketogenic diet, individuals must be in nutritional ketosis and follow the diet strictly. In order to reap the health benefits of the Paleo diet, individuals can be more relaxed.
- While the Paleo diet does allow for some nutritious sweeteners such as dates, coconut sugar, maple syrup and honey, the keto diet does not allow for any high-carb sweeteners.
- The Paleo diet focuses on high quality foods such as grass-fed, organic, and wild-caught; while the keto diet does not emphasize quality, but includes any form of permitted foods.
Which One is Healthier?
Both the Paleo diet and the Keto diet can be healthy options, depending on how they are implemented and what they are used for.
In a side-by-side comparison, the paleo diet is a healthier option for most people.
The paleo diet allows for more flexibility in food choices and more options to get the wide range of nutrients your body needs on a daily basis. It also encourages an overall healthy lifestyle. Freedom in food choices makes cereals easier to maintain over time and less likely to be socially isolated.
Keto foods are not for everyone and may be beneficial as a treatment for some health conditions.
In addition, people should generally avoid eating too much saturated fat in a high-fat diet. Studies have shown that this may increase the risk of heart disease. Ketosis is more difficult to maintain because achieving ketosis requires strict adherence. It requires careful planning and is less adaptable to different social environments.
The lack of flexibility in ketosis can also make getting adequate nutrition a challenge due to limited options.
Both Paleo and ketogenic diets offer health benefits. However, some studies have found that the long-term exclusion of whole food groups may lead to nutritional deficiencies in some people and even lead to changes in the microbiota in the gut. I recommend working with a qualified provider to evaluate which diet is best for you and your health.