Paleo and Keto diets have been making waves in the fitness and health industry recently. Both follow the low carb diet concept. You might find the two confusing as most of the foods required are almost the same but there are in fact key differences between the two.
Food is just one element of diet and there are still a lot to consider such as its method, calorie intake, etc. These are what separates Paleo and Keto. With this slight differences come varying outcomes. You then need to know better what diet best fits your needs. But before knowing which one is best for you, it is first fundamental to know what each of these diets feature.
Introduction to Paleolithic Diet
The Paleolithic diet gets its concept from the name itself. Paleolithic would basically mean the Stone Age. Paleolithic diet then follows a diet that is presumed to be the diet of the people in the Stone Age. This might sound like a gimmick but there are scientific studies that have proven the effectiveness of the said diet.
Since our Stone Age ancestors are more of animal hunters and cave dwellers, the Paleo diet’s main objective is to amp up your protein intake and lessen your carbohydrate intake. However, nuts, fruits, and vegetables are still allowed.
A big no-no would be processed foods including refined sugar, table salt, and dairy. Even alcohol and coffee fall under this as these are considered processed. Surprising to some but grains and legumes are also not allowed.
The diet was made known by a certain Walter Voegtlin. The idea behind the Paleo diet is to fight yourself against diseases as good as Paleolithic humans have done before. It is widely believed that they were very exposed to many chronic diseases yet their health was not compromised and this is due to their diet.
There is a reason why certain foods are not allowed to be taken. For instance, grains and legumes may strike off as healthy food options to some but they contain Phytic Acid. This certain component has been a topic of debate for a lot of scientists and nutritionists. Paleo diet believes it does not provide any beneficial effects to the body, worse is it acts as an anti-nutrient.
It then makes it hard for the digestive system to break down the food and its components. This is said to have effects on your gut’s health. Going on a Paleolithic diet will help ease this complication as well as other conditions such as autoimmune diseases, blood sugar imbalance, and it even helps in weight loss.
In simpler terms, Paleolithic diet encourages you to eat simple foods and have simple food choices. One that does not contain a lot of processed components and food that is in its finest state. The added protein is also seen to help you be in your “natural state” as how people from the Stone Age have been.
The foods that are restricted by the diet are said to carry a lot of complicated and conflicting components that have provided a lot of us various diseases today. To remove and prevent the diseases, Paleo urges you to remove these foods as well.
Introduction to Ketogenic Diet
The Ketogenic Diet, on the other hand, started out as a way to control and manage diseases. It targets those who are suffering from some common dietary interventions, for instance, epilepsy. However, it has now been widely used as a tool for losing weight as well.
Ketogenic diet gets its name from the concept of Ketosis. This is what the diet is trying to achieve. Ketosis is a state wherein the body burns stored fat because it cannot get ahold of glucose which is its primary source of fuel.
This is commonly achievable by fasting, however going on a low carb diet with an increase in fat also helps in achieving this. This is because carbohydrates do not only contain a lot of sugar or glucose but it also causes excess water storage in the body.
Some have even found that with their long term maintenance of the diet, they were able to reduce weight, lower blood sugar, and increase their good cholesterol or High-density lipoprotein. Due to this, the diet is a known to be a treatment for epilepsy, type 2 diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease.
However, some have found that Keto diet is very difficult to maintain and achieve because of its meticulous and strict macronutrient adherence. It is required to balance your macronutrients in a ratio of 3 portions of fat for every portion of protein or carbohydrate.
Despite this huge fat content requirement, the diet is still widely popular among those who are losing weight or those who have lost weight following it. This is because the body with very few carbohydrate intake still goes through the state of Ketosis.
Other than weight loss, the Keto diet is also used and followed by those who are joining bodybuilding contests.
Keto diet limits your food intake as well however it does not restrict food groups completely unlike with the Paleo Diet. To know more about their similarities and differences, read on.
Paleo vs Keto: Similarities
The main similarity between the two diets is they are both, in a way, a low carbohydrate form of diet. Paleo diet does not necessarily restrict carbohydrates, however, most of the foods that are Paleolithic are low carbohydrate in general. Keto diet, on the other hand, is very strict with the intake of carbohydrates with a ratio to fat even supporting it.
Other than that, Paleo and Keto are both restricting you in your intake of grains. Grains have only been widely known and used since the agricultural period and from then on it has overtaken most of our diet. This then fits the Paleo category exactly. At the same time, grains are also a huge source of carbohydrates which is exactly what Keto is trying to avoid.
The same restriction goes for legumes. Paleo restricts this because of the said amount of Phytic acids that brings about gut diseases. Keto avoids this because of its starch content and as well as the phytic acid that acts as an anti-nutrient.
Both diets encourage you to eat fats. That is of the healthy kind. These fats can be found on animals, nuts, seed, and coconut oil. For the Keto diet, this is a given as your body needs to go through the state of ketosis. For Paleo, this is because fat is largely found in animal foods. But a fat that should be avoided while in Paleo is omega 6.
Since Paleo deals with eating more animal meat and less processed food, it is just rational that it also encourages you to eat animal meat that did not ingest any processed food. This means organic and grass fed animal meat only. Meanwhile, the keto diet encourages this as well because the fats these animal meats contain have healthier ones.
Refined sugar is also one thing both diets restrict. Any kind of diet, in fact, encourages you to stop taking refined sugars. Refined sugars are culprits as they do not really provide the body anything beneficial, worse is they even have bad effects on eventual intake. There’s no wonder why these two stricter than usual diets would avoid refined sugar.
Finally, both diets also encourage you to eat vegetables. However, vegetables that are low in starch. Ones that are more leafy and green. The Paleo diet would restrict this because, of course, starchy vegetables are a product of the agricultural period. Keto, on the other hand, restrict this because starchy vegetables have a lot of carbohydrates in them.
With all these similarities, you might think that both are one and the same. Others really do find a hard time distinguishing the two. To understand more about this and to know what exactly is the diet that is fit for you, you have to know the differences between the two diets.
Key Differences of Paleo and Keto Diet
First and foremost, the diet’s main difference is their purpose. Although nowadays, both are widely known as a way to lose weight, their purpose actually differs since they were formulated. Until now this purpose still stands and are still widely used.
Basically, Paleo diet is more of a lifestyle. A way to change your eating habits and choices because of various external factors such as the prominence of processed foods. On the other hand, Keto diet is more of a treatment. The ultimate reason behind doing it is because of internal reasons such as having diseases or preventing these diseases.
It is fairly obvious why Keto diet is stricter in terms of numeric values specifically in its macros. As mentioned, it aims to put your body in the state of Ketosis. And the strict guidelines of the Keto diet is the only way to be able to achieve this.
While Paleo may seem to have more food restrictions, this is only because there just happens to be more processed foods than organic foods nowadays. If your food choices do not have that much processed food in them, in fact, Paleo diet would not be so restrictive at all.
With that said, here are some of the differences between Keto and Paleo diets that some tend to overlook or find no distinction between.
Keto is high-fat, low-carb. Paleo is not.
Paleo is not strictly a low-carb diet. It just happened to be so because the only allowed foods to take while in this diet are low-carb ones. If you can, you are allowed to consume all the carbs that you want on a Paleo diet. It’s just it would be a little hard what with a few carbs Paleo foods contain.
If you really wanna get your dose of carbs, you can have it in the form of starchy vegetables such as sweet potato, squash, and pumpkin.
Keto, on the other hand, is very strict with your carb intake. This includes avoiding sweet potato, squash, and pumpkin. Or keep it at a minimum of 5% in order for your body to produce ketones.
You can have dairy while in Keto, you can’t while in Paleo.
If you are a fan of anything creamy and milky, you are better off with Keto. Keto allows dairy products, even full-fat ones. This is because dairy products are a good source of fat as well as protein. These are not allowed on a Paleo diet simply because these are not around during the Paleolithic area.
Other than that, dairy products contain components that sometimes the body finds hard to break down. As mentioned, Paleo diet is very careful with your gut health. Dairy products are known to cause people with lactose intolerance a great amount of hassle. A lot of people are suffering this actually because most of us do not produce enough amount of lactase.
Lactase is responsible for digesting the components found in dairy such as the milk sugar lactose.
Paleo does not count macros, Keto does
This strict concept behind the practice of Keto is because it is initially used as a treatment to those with cognitive disease and seizures. It is only important to follow the guidelines to achieve treatment. On the other hand, Paleo is a lifestyle. These kinds of diet do not encourage calorie nor nutrient counting.
For ketosis to take place, you should follow a macronutrient percentage designed specifically for this diet. This is called a Standard Keto Diet (SKD). On average this would be around 75% of fat, 20% of protein, and 5% of carbs.
Protein intake differs between the two diets.
Low carb and high protein are often how these 2 diets are distinguished and associated. However, Ketogenic diet does not really require you to increase your protein intake like how you should do it in Paleo. What makes them the same is their sources of protein should primarily come from meat, fish, eggs, nuts, and vegetables.
Vegetables, little do people know, are actually a source of protein as well. However, Paleo diet requires a stricter source of plant-based protein. As mentioned, legumes are not allowed in a Paleo diet however high amount of protein they have.
The amount and sources of fat are different between the two.
It must be remembered that Ketogenic is the diet which requires fat intake increased. With that said, any kind of fat is accepted although not always encouraged. This would include cooking oil and dairy products.
On the other hand, Paleo’s source of fat is highly restricting. Specifically in using cooking oil. Cooking oil should only be derived from plants such as avocado, coconuts, or olives. Butter may be a dairy product but some allow it as long as the animal was grass-fed.
With this little-known sources of fat with the Paleo diet, where can you get more? This should come from seeds, nuts, and even seafood.
If you plan on doing Keto diet, you need to test for Ketosis.
As mentioned, the goal of Keto diet is to go through a ketosis. You don’t guess whether you have gone through it. To know if it did really happen, you have to test for it. This should be in the form of various testing methods available. These testing methods, such as a ketone testing strip, detect ketone bodies flowing through your blood.
The Paleo diet does not have any goal it wants your body to produce. Rather it wants to be a part of your lifestyle. There are no tests required for this diet then.
As with any diet, the body goes through an adaptation or an adjustment period. This is how your body reacts to a rather new process as your body digests newer nutrients. Both newbie practitioners of the diet might experience this adjustment period but each differs in length and in experience.
In starting the Paleo diet, you might find yourself on a “Paleo flu” that could happen in your first two to three weeks. This is the average period of adaptation. Initially, you might experience a bit of a weight loss and this might come from the loss of water retention. Eventually, you will start to burn fat and with that comes a lot of unpleasant cravings.
To be able to prevent yourself from the cravings, some suggest that you can add magnesium and sea salt to your food.
On the other hand, you might find yourself stuck in the “Keto flu” for more than a few weeks. For some, this can even last for months. After all, the diet completely changes your macronutrient count. Some find this hard to tolerate.
Fruits have carbs and sugars and are not Ketogenic. Paleo encourages fruits.
You might think fruits are the healthiest source of vitamins and nutrients. It’s not wrong but it’s not entirely right either. Fruits have a lot of nutrients but they also contain a huge amount of carbs and sugars. How else would they taste so good?
This is why fruits are discouraged with the Ketogenic diet. Not only are some fruits a source of carbs but they contain high amounts of fructose and glucose. With these sugars in the body, Ketosis would be impossible to achieve.
However, you are not left with no choice. A certain group of fruits allowed in the Ketogenic diet is berries. Berries may contain sugar but it balances well with their antioxidant value. Something very beneficial when you are on a Ketogenic diet.
Meanwhile, Paleo diet allows all forms of fruits so long as it is low in sugar. Fructose and glucose have no health benefits for the body after all.
Which One’s Right For You? Paleo or Keto?
Now that you have read and understood the main differences between the two kinds of diets. You may now be wondering what is right for you then. Doing both requires a lot of effort and commitment and it’s just right to weigh each of them well according to your needs and preferences.
If your plan is to lose weight, it has been discussed that both diets have the ability to do so. Not only are they restrictive of what you eat, the component required of their foods are also very helpful in losing body mass. If that’s the case, what then are your criteria in choosing between the two?
It is clear now that between the two, the Paleo diet is much easier to kick start and obviously much easier to maintain. After all, all you have to do is restrict your intake of certain foods. That’s not an easy feat at all but if you compare it to the Keto diet, it’s far easier.
The Keto diet is much harder to maintain as it requires you to measure very well your protein, carbs, and fat intake. There may be fewer restrictions but there may also be fewer options to choose from if you have no experience in macro counting. However, with the strict process Ketogenic applies, it is also seen by most people as a faster way to lose weight.
If you are trying to lose a little weight, you can do Paleo. This may not be as fast as a weight loss method than the Keto diet, but it is proven to help you lose weight as well. However, if you plan on losing huge weights as much as 50 lbs, Ketogenic diet might suit you well. This is because it targets your fat faster.
The Ketogenic diet might also work best for you if you have in your family a medical history of cognitive diseases and diabetes. If there’s none, best to stick with the Paleo.
Try to also gauge your day to day life. If you are a busy person and calculating macros is something that could eat a lot of your time. Best to stick with the Paleo diet. It’s much better to do something less intense for a long time than do a high-intensity diet for a short period of time.
Paleo and Keto at the Same Time
However, you’re not obliged to choose between the two. In fact, you can do both diets if you think it will suit your lifestyle and health better. There are plenty of ways on how to alter your diet to fit the requirements of both of them. Understand that in doing this, you are committing to a lot of food restrictions not to mention the initial adjustment period.
The main goal of Keto, as mentioned is to enter Ketosis. To be able to do that while you are on Paleo, you should first learn how to track your macros. A specific amount of macros can be determined in most keto calculator. Remove all artificial sweeteners and choose natural ones. Learn how to meal plan before going grocery shopping as well.
Keto and Paleo Diets are known to help in improving your lifestyle and health. With the same principles behind the process of the diet, often times the two get mixed up. However, between the two lies a lot of differences.
In choosing which one suits you the most, it is first important to understand your goals. But if you really want it, incorporating both diets in your lifestyle is also possible. With that comes a huge level of commitment as well.
Remember that before going through intense diets such as these, it is best to consult your doctor prior to doing it. While you are on your adjustment period, it is also recommended to go for check ups.