Some of the main differences between the Keto Diet and the Paleo Diet
Nowadays out in the nutrition and diet health spaces there or countless diets being claiming to be the best for weight loss, physical strength, healthy living, etc. It’s easy to get lost with so many different options out there, but thankfully some of the well-known ones have some science backing them, making the choice just a little bit easier. Among some of the most popular and well known are the Keto and Paleo diets. Now, what are the specific differences and similarities between the two, and why would someone pick one over the other? This is what I’ll go into detail from here on out.
The Keto Diet, or rather the ketogenic diet, involves a low intake of carbohydrates, moderate intake of proteins, and higher healthy fat intake. There have been studies that show results for individuals that have gone through this diet benefiting with better health outcomes, physical performance, and of course weight loss. It is a good diet for losing weight without going through hunger pangs, and it is known for being beneficial for those who suffer from type 2 diabetes, as well as some other conditions.
The low intake of carbs places the body into a special metabolic state known as ketosis (hence the name), where fat is instead is used for energy, both fat from the body as well as that taken in from the diet.
Now the Paleo diet is more known for planning your eating habits in accordance with those known to have been similar to people who lived during the Paleolithic era (a time range from 2.5 million years to 10,000 years ago). Rather than a specific metabolic process like the formerly discussed diet, the Paleo seeks to replicate that of early humans, prior to the emergence of farming. It usually focuses on including fish, vegetables, fruit, lean meats, nuts, seeds, etc. that were available through hunter and gatherer methods. As such, foods that became obtainable after farming and animal husbandry grew prominent, items based off of dairy products, grains, legumes, etc. are the focus of restriction in this diet.
The purpose of the diet is based on the supposed hypothesis that our bodies evolved for many millennia to process this diet, and the sudden mismatch that occurred after we left this diet is what has contributed to the widespread existence of obesity, diabetes, and several other health conditions that occur due to food choice. While this diet is not based on a specific science like the Keto, it is still very popular and has many sworn supporters. The focus on more natural foods also helps individuals who go through this diet reach excellent health and physical outcomes.
While these diets involve avoiding heavily processed foods that are heavy in carbohydrates, sweeteners, oils, and other items present in such foods. Both legumes (including peanuts, soybeans, beans, etc.) and grains are foods that are avoided in these diets. For Paleo, this is specifically because they are known to possess antinutrients (examples like lectins, tannins, phytates) that cause interference in the digestive tracts of humans, inhibiting our ability to take in minerals and nutrients, especially when eaten in large quantities according to some research. However, other research shows that there are benefits to eating foods with these compounds, so it is not exactly known just yet. For Keto, these items are avoided due to their higher content of carbohydrates.
Both eliminate added sugars, although paleo is lighter on the restriction as it allows honey and maple syrup, which are items that were found in hunter-gatherer diets due to their existence in nature.
They are also both promoting eating foods with healthy fats, those heavy with poly- and monounsaturated fats. At the same time, they both discourage foods with processed fats (i.e. trans fats). Although Keto’s focus is specifically high on healthy fats, foods focused on in Paleo naturally have healthy fats as well.
Lastly, among the reasons why these are such popular diets, is, of course, their effectiveness. Short-term research that is currently available shows that these diets have promise in promoting weight loss, although long-term research is limited for both. Additionally, there is some research that seems to indicate that following these diets may have beneficial health outcomes, although there is a lack of research that shows clear cause and effect connections between such things.
Now, one of the biggest differences between the two diets is the basic ideas that are behind them. Keto has a clear focus on the Ketogenic process and focuses on exact nutrition that efficiently connects with this metabolic process. Paleo instead has an ideological focus that attempts to further connect to the days of hunter-gatherers. Specifically, it attempts to tie in physical exercise, mindfulness, and methods of lowering stress in everyday life. This is due to the belief that these are lifestyles that emulate the lives of those who lived in those historic times. Aside from that, you can eat as much as you want from the available list of foods that are allowed, there aren’t specifically strict regimens in this regard to follow, as opposed to keto which is more portion focused.
Keto also has some allowance of dairy and soy foods, those that are high in fat/proteins but do not have processed sugars. Paleo excludes all dairy products entirely.
Due to the avoidance of carbs, Keto is very strict when it comes to allowable fruits and specifically focuses on those low in sugars. This is not present in Paleo, although it does encourage moderation when it comes to high sugar fruits. This is similar to veggies, where Keto avoids starchy, carb-heavy vegetables while Paleo has some allowance with moderation.
As mentioned before, they are both extremely strict with carbs and sugars, although Paleo has some allowance for natural foods that have them present like honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar, and similar foods.
Paleo avoids processed meats (things like bacon, sausages, ham, etc.), while Keto has some allowance here for those that do not have carbs. However, it is discouraged for people to eat these even if following the Keto diet, due to research suggesting harmful health outcomes for those who regularly eat these foods.
Which should you choose?
While both of these diets have some similarities, they also have some clear differences which bar some foods to be eaten depending on which diet you choose to follow. Additionally, if the ideology of a diet is important for you, Paleo may be more attractive from that standpoint. Based on available research, both diets offer excellent health benefits and may be good options for someone looking to begin a healthier lifestyle. Our recommendation is to educate yourself on both options, get a full understanding of what they entail when it comes to what foods you can eat, and choose based on which you believe you believe you can realistically follow for a long time.