Two diets you’ll often hear being mentioned in the same context are the Keto and Paleo. These diets really do have a lot in common, but their differences are also worth noting.
Knowing about the pros and cons of each can help you decide which diet will work best for you. Here, we discuss the major differences and similarities, advantages and disadvantages, and the different benefits of Paleo vs Keto.
The Paleolithic diet (Paleo) and the Ketogenic diet (Keto) exclude many of the same foods and rely on similar food groups like meat, nuts, seeds, vegetables, and oils. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Here is a comprehensive side-by-side comparison of the two.
Also called the caveman diet, Paleo is based on foods that are similar to what humans ate during the Paleolithic, a historic period dating back 2.5 million to 12,000 years ago. Paleolithic humans were largely hunter-gatherers, and the Paleo diet is meant to be a hunter-gatherer type of diet that includes the following food:
Paleo is based on the evolutionary discordance hypothesis, which claims our genes and our modern diet are mismatched leading to health problems like cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancer, autoimmune disorders, and even cavities. According to this hypothesis, our genes did not have the time to adjust to agricultural feeding practices that emerged only 10.000 years ago.
The Keto diet is defined as a very-low-carb and high-fat diet. On Keto, you eat only 20-50g of carbohydrates, adequate protein, and lots of fat (65-80% of your calories). This macronutrient ratio puts the body in ketosis, a metabolic state where much of your energy comes from substrates called ketones.
Normally, most of your body’s energy comes from carbohydrates. The main benefit of this is better metabolic health and even fat loss providing you also reduce calorie intake on Keto. And as far as Keto diet food goes, the diet mainly consists of the following:
But generally speaking, Paleo that aims to align diet with genetics, Keto aims to hack the body’s natural mechanisms to optimize functioning.
Both diets help people maintain a healthy weight and optimal health. To help you make the right pick, here is how these diets compare.
Paleo definitely tops Keto in terms of convenience and practicality. The Paleo diet does not require careful calculations of macronutrient intake, ketosis monitoring, and calorie counting. Keto, on the other hand, is very strict about how many of each macro you are taking in. This requires lots of planning and effort. Paleo is also closer to what you’re already eating, so getting used to it will be much easier than with Keto.
People struggling with excess weight will often go for programs like Lean Belly Breakthrough or Weight Watchers. And while these may work, Keto and Paleo may be better for long-term weight management. Keto increases fat oxidation, metabolic flexibility, and suppresses appetite. Paleo supports normal blood glucose and encourages protein intake, both of which are important for long-term weight management.
Both diets can be costly depending on how you plan them. Paleo focuses on grass-fed, organic, and pasture-raised food, which tend to be pricey. Keto relies on high-quality fats like avocados, olive oil, and butter. It also often includes supplements like MCT oil, which always strain the budget. So, where the budget is concerned, it’s a tie.
Paleo and Keto both exclude refined sugar, grains, potatoes, and highly processed food. This makes them healthier than diets based on junk food. Both diets can also help reduce chronic disease risk. However, their benefits differ. Paleo helps you eat more naturally, while Keto helps you become more metabolically flexible. Keto may have the upper hand when it comes to neurological and cognitive functioning.
Every diet comes with risks and side effects. Every diet also requires solutions for managing both. Here are the risks and side effects to expect on Keto and Paleo.
Keto may cause flu-like symptoms like headache, brain god, muscle cramps, and nausea. These result from electrolyte imbalances causes by the diet’s diuretic effect. Staying well-hydrated and taking up to 4g of sodium daily prevents this.
Poorly planned Keto and Paleo can both cause constipation due to inadequate fiber, iodine, and carb intake. Fiber is needed for normal bowel functioning and iodine and carbs for thyroid health.
Keto and Paleo need to include balanced and varied meals to prevent nutrient deficiencies. Both diets exclude major food groups; so replacing these foods with other nutrient sources is necessary.
You should choose Keto or Paleo based on what you are trying to achieve. With that said, consider the following:
The Keto diet is difficult to stick to. It can also be unpalatable for many due to its extraordinarily high fat intake. Paleo is generally tastier and easier to follow.
Keto hacks the body to become a fat burner by inducing ketosis. Paleo also helps with weight loss, but not as drastically as Keto.
Paleo puts special emphasis on food quality and eating in a way that suits your biology. This can prove to be helpful for disease prevention.
Keto is powerful as therapy for a wide range of conditions. Speak to your doctor about the possibility of managing things like diabetes, epilepsy, and cardiovascular disease with Keto.
Paleo allows for adequate carb intake, which makes it practical for fueling your workouts. Keto needs more adjustment to make it work with anaerobic activities.
Ketones are known to be neuroprotective. They help with epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, brain injury, and even brain cancer. Ketones may also boost your mental functioning even if you don’t have a diagnosed brain/neurological problem.