Keto and paleo are uber-trendy diets, but for the gains/ benefits you seek, only one of these two diets will work well for you.
The Atkins diet is also another common and also one of the earliest low-carbs diets. So, which is the right diet for you? Which of these two diets do we consider to be legitimate?
Paleo and keto diets are not the only diets peddled on the internet and in books. Obviously, the sheer volume of the potential weight loss diets on the market could easily lead you down the rabbit hole.
It’s easy to get confused, and even worse, you might adopt a diet that affects your health negatively. Today, we guide you through two of the most popular diets – paleo and keto.
Being two of the most popular weight loss diets, they are often recommended to individuals looking for ways of losing weight. Besides being effective in weight loss, as reported by online users and even celebrities, these diet plans are often recommended because they share a lot in common.
Paleo and keto diets are both low-carb diet plans. In either plan, you have to stop eating most (if not all) of your favorite foods – carbs. But fortunately, diets like the Keto diet comes with plenty of snack options to choose from.
For example, whether you are a paleo or a keto diet, you will need to stay away from cereal, cookies, pizza, and bread, among other tasty foods. The diets, however, bear some major differences, besides the shared aversion towards carbs.
What is a paleo diet?
The paleo diet represents a diet that’s focused on high-protein foods rich in fiber, and low in carbs. Paleo diet places emphasis on meats, vegetables, and fruits.
Another way to look at the paleo diet is to think of this as the diet that our ancestors lived on during the Paleolithic Era (10,000 years ago). Many proponents of the paleo diet note that Paleo is the modern-day representation and approximation of the foods consumed by our ancestors in this era.
The basic idea around the paleo diet is that human beings today are genetically a lot like the human ancestors who loved 10,000 years ago.
In studies and research conducted and concluded in July 2018, researchers examining the stomach contents of Otzi, the 5,300-year-old mummy, revealed that Otzi’s last meal was high in fat, with animal, as well as plant remains.
So, Paleo-friendly. The human species that lived in the Paleolithic era was a hunting and gathering species with no access to technology, hence their adoption of a more natural approach to food and sustenance.
Further scientific and anthropological studies of this era reveal that humans didn’t struggle with the now prevalent chronic illnesses such as cancer, heart diseases, and diabetes.
Their healthy lifestyle and the absence of these diseases is credited to their lifestyle – healthy food (animal proteins and plant foods), as well as physical activity (hunting and gathering call for a lot of movement).
If you’ve only learned about the paleo diet in recent times, you should know that this diet has been around for decades.
The first person to write about and popularize the Paleo diet is a Ph.D. professor Loren Cordain from Colorado State University’s Department of Health and Exercise Science.
On his website, the good professor notes that he had his first encounter with the Paleo diet in a medical journal article back in 1985. Of course, this tells us that this diet had been around longer than any one of us would expect.
Despite being an old weight loss/ weight management technique, the paleo diet is today one of the best strategies for weight loss. Note that legumes and whole grains are not allowed in the paleo diet.
What is a Keto/ Ketogenic Diet?
As mentioned above, both keto and paleo diets are low-carb diets. The difference between the two, however, lies in the fact that the ketogenic diet is designed, not to teach you the ways of your ancestors, but to encourage your body to enter into the metabolic state of ketosis.
In the ketosis state, your body is forced to use consumed and stored fats as a source of energy instead of carbohydrates, as would be expected in the natural order of metabolism.
Think of a ketogenic diet as this diet that allows your body to metabolize fats as it would in a naturally fasted state.
In ketosis, there is the mobilization of fats where the fat travels to your liver, where it’s broken down to form an acidic component (s) called ketones. The ketones will then enter the bloodstream, where they are converted/ oxidized to produce energy.
Is Ketosis an Instant Process?
Well, no. For your body to be in the ketosis state, between 60-80% of your calories must be obtained from fats. This is the reason why most people tend to associate keto diets with bacon, eggs, and avocados.
The general idea behind a ketogenic diet is the intake of high amounts of healthy fats, moderate protein contents, and substantially low carbohydrate content.
Therefore, you can see the difference between these two diets – the Paleo diet involves a high protein diet with plant-based ingredients, mostly fruits, and vegetables, while the ketogenic diet involves more fats, moderate proteins, and minimal carbs.
A keto diet is, therefore, a drastic low-carbs diet, and you not only need to reduce your intake of carbs, but you also have to track the numbers.
Keto, unlike paleo, is more about counting – the guiding principle involves the maintenance of the perfect balance of fats, proteins, and carbs in a way that forces the body to change its energy source.
Speaking of counting, the keto diet follows the following parameters – 5-10% carbs, 70-80% fats, and 10-20% protein intake. Before we look at which of these two diets is more restricting, let’s take a quick look at the origins of keto.
The keto diet has been around for a century or so, and it comes with a very surprising history.
The History of Keto Diets
The keto diet was originally developed as a diet plan to help in the treatment and management of epilepsy since most patients were not responding to the prescribed drugs. Keto proved quite effective in the treatment of epilepsy.
Over the years, it remains a recommended treatment strategy for epilepsy, but it’s gained popularity over the years for being one of the common weight loss/ management strategies.
Which of the two diets is more restrictive?
The Paleo diet is more restricting in terms of what you may or may not eat.
Although this diet involves eating animal proteins and the best plant-based ingredients, you cannot eat any grains, dairy, legumes, refined sugars, refined vegetable oils, processed foods, potatoes, and salt.
Quite limiting! This is also to say that the paleo diet is not for the faint-hearted since it requires a substantial amount of diet overhaul.
The ketogenic diet is also restricting and but it’s very inflexible. You cannot have more than 10% of your macronutrients from carbohydrates, and you can only consume too many fruits and vegetables since they are high in natural sugars.
Therefore, looking at these two diets, the paleo diet offers more flexibility than the ketogenic diet. Even so, the paleo diet has way more foods on its foods-to-avoid list.
What do you eat on the paleo diet?
Your options include seafood, grass-fed meat, fresh foods and vegetables, nuts, eggs, seeds, olive oil, avocado oil, and coconut oil. Interestingly enough, sweet potatoes are acceptable in the paleo diet.
A paleo-friendly dinner, for example, would include grilled chicken served with some steamed vegetables, fruit, and maybe avocado.
Despite being restrictive, a paleo diet doesn’t involve counting calories or macronutrient restriction. You only need to make sure that you are eating the right/ acceptable foods.
Note that the paleo diet may involve not eating too many carbs, but at the end of the day, the fruits and vegetable eating contribute to a huge bulk of carbs at between 35 and 45% of total calories.
What can you eat on the ketogenic diet?
As mentioned above, the idea behind the keto diet is to force the body to burn and obtain energy from the non-carb-y foods; encouraging ketosis. As a carb-avoiding and a fat-loading diet, here are the foods you may or may not eat.
Keto-friendly foods – full-fat dairy (including cheese, cream, and butter), avocados, fish, fatty meats, oils, eggs, nuts, leafy greens, seeds, as well as the low-sugar berries such as raspberries.
Keto-unfriendly foods – grains, fruits, sugar, starchy veggies, and legumes. Also, you can’t eat too much of the non-starchy vegetables.
Which Diet Will Help You Reach Your Weight Loss Goals Faster? Paleo or Keto?
Under the paleo diet, you eat like your ancestors, essentially.
But even though this diet allows you to eat more of the healthy food options that are generally ideal for weight loss, you would have to reduce your food intake and eat fewer calories for you to see changes in your weight.
This means that if you decide to binge on fruits and nuts, the paleo diet will encourage weight gain. In the keto diet, however, your body is forced to burn fats.
Also, the food you eat has such little carbs that none is stored as fats, not forgetting the fact that you actually eat less food. As a result, you’ll lose more weight by sticking to the ketogenic diet.
But there’s one catch: although the ketogenic diet promises fast weight loss, most people end up gaining back most of the lost weight within weeks. Your body goes on the defensive and stores more fats once ketosis stops.
Paleo vs. Keto: Which is easier to stick to?
When considering a diet, one of the things you should keep in mind is whether you will be able to stick with it in the long run or not.
The reason for this is that you can easily tell when you are dealing with a healthy diet or a fad by looking at the diet’s longevity.
Paleo Diet – This diet doesn’t require the counting of macronutrients, and you don’t have to force your body to maintain ketosis. Also, you don’t have to monitor the carbohydrates on your plate.
And for most people, the paleo diet is more of a lifestyle than it is a diet since it’s easier to stick with it in the long run.
The Keto diet, on the other hand, is more restrictive in terms of the carbs you can eat, and it’s impossible to stick with it in the long run.
For example, the decision to eat a banana or even too many nuts could easily throw your body off and stop ketosis. There is also the fact that you cannot force your body to stay in ketosis for too long because of potential side effects like keto flu or ketosis acidosis.
Also, ketogenic diets don’t work for most of us because we are unable to stick to the keto macro rules diligently. Therefore, between paleo and keto diets, the paleo diet is a lot easier to stick to in the long run.
A Paleo diet is also less intensive in terms of the necessary physical and mental energy needed for you to stick to the diet.
Potential Side Effects – Paleo vs. Keto
Obviously, in addition to looking at the long-term effectiveness of a diet, you also need to be aware of the potential side effects of either diet. The paleo diet is known to leave the diet’s subscribers feeling a bit lethargic, especially as you try and adapt to the low-carb diet.
However, these effects will not last too long.
Besides lethargy, the other risk of following the paleo diet exclusively is that even though this diet is high in proteins and fiber, it’s lacking in vitamin D and calcium since this diet omits all manner of dairy products.
The absence of these two could hurt your health significantly, weakening your immune system and the bones.
So, if you wish to lead a paleo lifestyle, you might want to eat more of broccoli, dark leafy veggies, and all other paleo-friendly sources of calcium.
The ketogenic diet also has some side effects.
The ultra-low-carb diet causes keto flu, which is characterized by nausea, headaches, bad breath, fatigue, and muscle cramping. But these side effects will lift after some weeks, especially if you drink a lot of water and sleep well.
Note, however, that extending your keto diet for too long will cause nutrient deficiencies. Also, the lack of fiber in the diet causes constipation and other digestive issues.
So, if you have to stick to either diet for weeks or months, we’d recommend going the keto way. You don’t want to risk your health or cause subsequent irreversible damage.
Verdict: Paleo Vs. Keto?
The paleo diet might have its side effects, and it might not result in excessive weight loss, but it’s a better dieting option that could easily be adopted into a lifestyle if you so wish.
The paleo diet is great for your overall health since it gives your body most of the nutrients you need. You might want to talk to your doctor about supplements and alternative sources of vitamin D and calcium.
Lastly, this diet is more balanced, and you won’t have to worry about or fear eating carbohydrates. The keto diet, on the other hand, tends to be less sustainable, and it forces you to come up with unrealistic expectations while forcing you to develop an unhealthy relationship with food.
Also, you often gain back most of the weight lost, and in other cases, you may gain more than you lost. Therefore, if you must choose betwPaleo Vs. Keto Dieteen paleo and keto diets, you might be better off with the paleo diet.