The two latest dieting trends that are blowing up the internet may leave you wondering whether the paleo diet or the keto diet is right for you. On the surface, these low-carb diet plans may seem the same, but there’s a good chance that once you dig deeper, you’ll develop a preference for one over the other.
Paleo vs. Keto: How Do They Compare?
When debating between the paleo diet vs. keto diet, you may notice that the diets restrict many of the same foods. By default, both diets will cut out carbohydrates, but for different reasons.
The paleo diet focuses on eating foods that were found in the caveman era—meat, fish, nuts, seeds, vegetables, fruits, herbs, spices, and healthy fats and oils—and excludes any processed or artificial foods, which most often equal carbs. You end up eating a lot of protein, fiber, and fat on the paleo diet, and not very many carbs.
The keto diet is all about cutting down on carbohydrates and eating fats instead in order to send the body into ketosis, which is when the body burns ketones for fuel. On the keto diet, you’ll be eating 60 to 80 percent of your calories from fat and only about 10 percent of your calories from carbs.
Both diets emphasize whole foods or foods that have undergone no or very limited processing. Both diets eliminate grains, legumes, and added sugar.
Paleo vs. Keto: The Differences
We already acknowledged that the paleo and keto diets are similar in terms of foods that they restrict. However, the approaches to each diet differ greatly.
In fact, you can argue that the paleo diet is not really a diet at all; rather, it’s a lifestyle choice. The main goal of many paleo dieters is live an overall healthy lifestyle by cutting out foods that cause the body harm. Foods that are difficult to digest, foods that increase inflammation, and foods that cause you to feel slow and sluggish are all done away with. What you’re left with is an array of healthy, whole foods to choose from as you please. Meat, fish, nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables—they’re all fair game.
For many, the result of the paleo diet includes shedding extra pounds that your body has been holding on to. This is just one of many benefits of the paleo diet, although weight loss is not the main goal.
The keto diet is less forgiving. The intention of most keto dieters is to lose weight. The concept is that your body normally uses its carbohydrate store for fuel when energy is needed. Only after the carbohydrates are used up does the body dip into the fat store for energy burning. The keto diet causes the body to skip the first step by cutting out carbohydrates, forcing the body into ketosis—a metabolic state in which the body is using fat for energy.
Since the goal is fat burning and weight loss, the keto diet is a lot more restrictive. It allows only 5–10 percent of calories from carbohydrates every day. That means that even whole foods like fruits and vegetables are restricted because they contain natural sugars and carbohydrates.
In addition, keto dieters must remain totally and steadfastly dedicated to the keto guidelines in order to succeed. It takes a while for the body to enter a state of ketosis—up to 7 days, in fact. One slip-up and the body falls out of ketosis, causing you to have to start all over again.
Foods Eaten on the Paleo Diet vs. Keto Diet
Paleo Diet vs. Keto Diet: Which One Is Right for Me?
It all comes down to what you’re after. If you’re determined to lose weight, it’ll happen more quickly with the keto diet. It’s restrictive, but if you have the willpower to stick to it, you’ll succeed at shedding those extra pounds.
Long term, the paleo diet is probably a better choice. It emphasizes a healthy lifestyle rather than weight loss, and because it’s less restrictive, it’s easier to stick to. It doesn’t require counting macros or calculating meals, and your body isn’t “thrown off” by a slip-up every once in a while.
When debating on paleo vs. keto, rest assured that both are healthy. They’ll both help you to lose weight, lower inflammation, and reduce risk factors of heart disease. That said, the keto diet is more restrictive and may be suited for people trying to lose weight, but is usually not a long-term solution. The paleo diet, on the other hand, is a healthy lifestyle choice that many people are able to follow through with the long term.