I’ve heard it countless in daily conversations and read it on forums. The age-old discussion of any diet or lifestyle is normally around which will give you the best results in the quickest time frame. The conversation generally will go something like this:
Them: “Oh you lost weight since the last time I saw you. What did you do?”
Me: “Oh, not much. I’ve just been eating well, exercising a bit more, you know. No magic pills or secrets.”
Them: “C’mon, tell me the secret! What food did you eat?”
Me: “I followed a combination of Keto and Paleo.”
Them: “See, I knew you weren’t telling me something. Give me the scoop. Low carb vs Keto vs Paleo.”
The conversation typically continues on to Paleo vs Keto? Which is better?
It’s important to remember that there really is no one size fits all when it pertains to diets, weight loss, lifestyles, or your body. Everyone’s body is different and there is no way of knowing what is best for you. Trial and error are how I figured out what’s working for me now. At the core of what worked for me, is low-carb high-fat. If you enjoy health benefits, mental clarity, and living on a low-carb diet, keep reading our guide and make your own assessment.
Paleo is a method of living on foods that are high quality and focuses on delivering optimal health to the doorsteps of your body. Paleo focuses on eating meat, vegetables, fruit, seeds, nuts, eggs, etc. The exiled foods include dairy, legumes (beans, peanuts, etc.), grains, sugars, etc.
This is considered a typical hunter, gatherer diet. This is how the cavemen and women would have eaten in the Stone Age. They didn’t have modern agriculture or farming methods, so those associate foods would not have been consumed. By cutting out dairy, grains, and legumes can help lose some weight and lower the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
Most Paleo-ers do not follow any macro requirements, as none are really advertised or required. Calories aren’t restricted, and you aren’t really removing any food groups. I found that lowering my carb intake helps me to be lighter and not retain as much water weight.
Keto is primarily a high fat, low-carb diet that induces your body into a metabolic state called ketosis. Ketosis is the state where your body transitions off glucose (from carbs) and turns to ketones (from fat) as its primary source of energy. Keto makes the body enter ketosis through limiting the number of carbs we consume. Keto focuses on eating high-fat content (65-70%) from meats, cheeses, oils, nuts, etc. while being very low carb (under 30-50 grams per day). You can’t have any fruit except berries, no bread, pasta, sugars, grains, rice, potatoes, etc. Just one banana (27 grams of carbs) on Keto is just about your entire day of carb intake. Let that sink in for a minute. If you love oatmeal in the morning, that’s about 29 grams of carbs.
Similarities of Paleo and Keto
Both Paleo and Keto are forms of low carb diets. They both encourage high quality protein and fats from foods such as nuts, meats, seafood, eggs, olive oil, coconut oils (other oils work well too) and avoid highly processed foods. On each diet, they avoid grains, rice, legumes (peanuts, beans, soy, lentils) sugars, crackers/chips, anything with sugar, agave among other foods and ingredients. Moderate exercise is encouraged within each plan as well.
Key differences of Ketogenic vs Paleo
Paleo focuses mostly on the highest quality foods you can find (that your budget allows of course), while not restricting carbs as much. Since we are eating potatoes and other starchy carbs (beets, carrots), fruit (berries, citruses, melons are preferred over sweeter fruit like mangoes, bananas, grapes), honey, syrups, date sugar, coconut sugar (naturally sweeteners) etc., we are getting many more carbs and sugars in our diet.
Paleo tends to avoid dairy (non-dairy milk like unsweetened nut milk, coconut milk tend to be accepted), sugars, artificial sweeteners, peanuts, and other lower-quality oils. Paleo will typically avoid processed deli meat such as bacon, salami, ham. If you include these as part of your life, it would be suggested to find these foods without nitrates.
Paleo tends to allow more choice in foods and is a bit easier. There is no tracking of calories or anything either. Paleo is a bit friendlier to those without a lot of time to look up every single thing they ate and track it.
Keto also encourages high-quality fats, but unlike Paleo, you can have dairy, some artificial sweeteners, and vegetable oils. Absolutely no potatoes or starchy vegetables, no mangoes, honey, syrups or anything else from Paleo that would be loaded with sugar or carbs (stevia and sucralose are OK since they don’t cause your blood sugar to spike). Fruit on Keto is limited in choice. You’d only be able to have berries in small quantities.
Dairy consumption on Keto is limited to higher fat milk (cream). Keto includes deli meat as long as there is no sugar in them to kick your body out of ketosis. Food like sausage, cheese, bacon typically has some sugars, so its best to check the labels.
Because of the limited quantities of carbs, you can have, its best to track everything you eat. Some people have too many nuts, and that kicks them out of ketosis. Going in and out of ketosis is not fun. Tracking everything is simple to say, but harder to practice what we preach.
What foods do you like best?
If you’re a meat and potatoes person, you can still have those meals on Paleo. It might be a sweet potato instead of regular potatoes, but the meal still comes together. If you’re the double bacon cheeseburger, no bun type of person, Keto is right up your alley.
On Paleo, you can have a bit more options pertaining to foods that you can eat. You can eat many leafy greens, non-starchy vegetables, and more carbohydrates (not grains, rice, pasta etc. – all complex carbohydrates) than you can on Keto. You can also enjoy some fruit each day while not being restricted just to berries. I often make some delicious shakes (LINK HERE) but on Keto, these shakes would be a no go due to the fruits included in it.
On Keto, you can consume very little carbohydrates, and eat higher fat content. Your fat and protein consumption will be much higher and your carbs and sugars will be much lower.
You can still cook with butter, ghee, olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, enjoy nuts, seeds, and plenty of protein from meat,
With both lifestyles, your macronutrient levels will break down to roughly the same ratios of protein, fat, and carbs depending on what works best for you. Some Paleo-ers don’t even follow a macro ratio at all, they just eat “Paleo” in their desired quantities.
You still need to watch the amounts of processed foods, no added sugars or sweeteners, no legumes, etc. The diets are really quite similar, just that the allowed foods are a bit different.
Thinking about what we just covered, which foods are more “you”? Are you the meat and vegetable person? Are you the double bacon cheeseburger, no bun person? Making the right food choices impacts your day to day diet, so you might as well at least have the foods you enjoy on the diet. That will make you stick with it longer. If you don’t like the food, you won’t stick to it, even if the results are excellent.
Does Paleo put you in ketosis?
In general, no, however, it all depends on the macronutrient ratios that you follow. If you restrict your carbs enough, you will eventually hit ketosis, and still may go through what’s known as the carb-flu or keto-flu. Your body will eventually change its energy source from glucose (sugar or carbohydrates) to target its fat stores and burn fat for energy. This will help to lower your sugar level as you will not be consuming as much and use it quicker. This has many benefits including getting rid of those pesky sugar highs and crashes.
Do you lose weight faster on the ketogenic or paleo diets?
I’ve personally experienced the same weight loss with both the Ketogenic diet and the Paleo (caveman diet). I usually hover more on the Paleo side of things to enjoy fruits and higher amounts of vegetables. I found that I was not getting enough fiber on Keto, so that’s a bit easier for me on Paleo.
For others, each of the diets will provide different results. It’s important to test and find what works for you. The sudden reduction in the number of consumed carbs will usually impact weight loss very heavily. Over time your body adjusts and you will have a lot less bloat and thin out a bit. If your sole focus is the number on the scale, it may frustrate you at times as you will visually look better, but that pesky number on the scale went up or didn’t budge at all. #NSV – nonscale victory at it’s finest.
If you decide to stick with Paleo, I’d recommend going easy with the potatoes, fruits, and nuts. Yes, they are compliant. Yes, you can overeat them.
But I thought you said I didn’t need to worry about calories?
You’re right, I did say that. You still need to be reasonable with your intake.
So is Keto or Paleo better?
I think the correct answer is up to you. Which does your body respond better to? The introductory periods of the Keto and Paleo lifestyle can be somewhat painful, however, your body will thank you after about a week or so. Once that introductory phase is over, you will enjoy the benefits and reap the rewards. Mental clarity, more energy, less “fog”, a lot higher sleep quality, being sick less often, we’re all benefits I’ve personally experienced on high fat, moderate protein, low carb diets or lifestyles.
Can I combine Paleo and Keto?
It’s absolutely possible. Since Keto has more strict macro requirements, you can incorporate the foods from Paleo, and follow the Keto macros. If you allow yourself to eat under 30-50 grams of carbs per day, you can still include your fruits and vegetables to your diet, you just need to keep track of the carbohydrates. Enjoy the potatoes, cheese, sour creams etc, just in moderation. You can also eat higher quantities of carbs if you find yourself working out more. This will give your workouts a nice boost of energy, just be careful in overdoing it. You don’t want to bounce in and out of ketosis every day.
There is no right or wrong answer here. Both Paleo and Keto will work if you work the diets. You need to take your current health into consideration, be strict in following the plan and make sure you are eating enough food at each meal. Remember, we are not aiming to starve ourselves to lose weight, we are aiming to eat well, and enjoy the perks of eating healthy.
You need to be reasonable with your food intake as well. Even if Paleo isn’t all about calorie counting, and just because you can fit a mountain of Paleo compliant food on your plate, doesn’t mean you should. It all depends on how well you know your body and how food affects you. Pretty soon you’d know what foods to have and which to avoid.
The introductory phases of Paleo and Keto will take some getting used to. It is difficult. I promise you its worth it. It’s not easy to just make this jump without thinking about all those foods you’ve grown up with and will miss out on. I’m happy to tell you, just about every recipe you’ve ever had, can be remade in a compliant form. OK, you got me. There are probably exceptions, but instead of thinking of all the reasons these diets won’t work, think of how to make them work for you.
There is effort required to plan the meals, it takes time to cook real food, and it is a bit more expensive than being on the SAD.
Just remember, the SAD got you here, looking for the solution to your problem. Why are we so quick to run back to it and close to things like heart disease?