Paleo and Keto, two low-carb Diets, Which is Better?

Paleo and Keto, two low-carb diets, which is better

In the diet and nutrition history, the year of 2018 marks “high-fat fads, meat-only meals, and Bible-inspired eating.” (Health Magazine). At the center of the fads are two very popular diets: the Ketogenic diet and the “cavemen diet” (i.e. the Paleo diet). For many people, the question is: what is the difference? which plan is better? Is it possible to do both?

What Is the Paleo Diet?

The Paleo diet is essentially a way of eating that ditches modern processed foods in favor of natural, nutrient-dense foods that were eaten by our hunter-gatherer ancestors. Paleo emphasizes items that were once obtained by hunting and limits foods that became mainstream when farming took off approximately 10,000 years ago, such as dairy products, grains, sugar, and hydrogenated oils. The term Paleo started in 1975 when Walter Voegtlin wrote about the benefits of eating like our paleolithic ancestors in his book The Stone Age Diet. Dr. Cordain made the diet famous when he wrote The Paleo Diet in 2002. The Paleo diet continues to be one of the most popular diet plans year after year.

What foods are included in the Paleo diet?

  • Grass-fed beef and other meats like lamb
  • Seafood
  • Poultry, eggs
  • Fresh fruits, nuts and seeds
  • All types of fresh vegetables, starchy or non-starchy.
  • Unrefined oils, such as olive, coconut, flaxseed, avocado oil
  • Natural sweeteners, including raw honey, maple syrup

What foods/food groups should be avoided in a Paleo diet?

  • All cereal grains (even whole grains) and products made with grain flours
  • Legumes, beans and peanuts
  • Dairy
  • Refined sugar, refined vegetable oils, processed/junk food, sugar-sweetened beverages

While Paleo is low-carb, it is not as low as the Keto diet because Paleo still includes fruit, starchy vegetables like potatoes and beets, natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup.

What types of benefits does the Paleo diet offer?

The Paleo diet has been associated with a number of health benefits, including:

  • Reduced cardiovascular disease risk factors.
  • Better blood sugar management, reduced insulin resistance and protection against metabolic syndrome.
  • Reduced inflammation, all cause mortality and autoimmune disease symptoms.
  • Help with weight loss because it cuts out many empty calories from the diet and it is high in protein and fat which increase satiety.
  • Improved weight circumference and blood pressure.
  • Lower risk for nutrient deficiencies, since the diet emphasizes nutrient-rich foods including quality meats, nuts, fruits and vegetables.

What Is the Keto Diet?

The Keto diet (ketogenic diet) is a very high-fat, very low-carb diet that puts the body into the metabolic state called nutritional ketosis. While in ketosis, your body creates compounds called ketones and burns fat (rather than glucose) for energy. You might hear the term Keto diet in recent years but actually some doctors started to use it since 1920s.

In order to get into ketosis and stay there, you need to strictly and drastically reduce your carb intake, emphasizing healthy fats, some protein, and low-carb veggies. The idea is that you can achieve ketosis, a shift from using carbohydrates as fuel to using fats, by consuming specific percentages of macronutrients like: 70% of daily calories from fats, 20% from proteins, and 10% from carbs.

What benefits does the ketogenic diet offer?

These include:

  • Help with weight/fat loss, often in a relatively short period of time.
  • Protection against common diseases, including obesity, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s or dementia.
  • Increased energy and mental clarity
  • Reduced inflammation
  • Enhanced protection of the brain against degeneration and cognitive decline.
  • Reduced hunger and cravings

What foods are included in the Keto diet?

  • Grass-fed beef and other meats, like lamb
  • Seafood
  • Poultry, eggs
  • Full-fat, low-carb dairy products like cheeses, butter, cream
  • All non-starchy vegetables, nuts and seeds (up to 1/4 cup per day)
  • Unrefined oils, such as olive, coconut, flaxseed, avocado oil

What are foods/food groups to be avoided while following the Keto diet?

  • All types of sugar
  • All cereal grains (even whole grains) and products made with grain flours
  • Fruits (maybe a little bit)
  • Legumes , beans and peanuts
  • Sweetened, low-fat dairy (like most yogurts and all ice cream)
  • Processed/junk foods
  • Sugar-sweetened beverages
  • Starchy vegetables, like all potatoes, corn, etc.

The similarities: Paleo vs Keto

Generally speaking, both paleo and keto stress low-carb, low-sugar diets that tend to be nutrient-dense. And since both eliminate the majority of sources of “empty calories” in the typical Western diet, they can lead to weight loss, better blood sugar management and other benefits.

Is it possible to do Paleo and Keto simultaneously? Yes, it is possible, because you eat mostly Paleo-approved foods (like meat, fish, vegetables, quality oils, nuts and seeds) on the Keto diet anyway.

To combine Paleo and Keto, you essentially need to:

  • Keep carbohydrate intake to 20–30 net grams per day.
  • Avoid all types of added sugar, grains, dairy products, legumes/beans, fruits and nearly all processed foods.
  • Get 70% + daily calories from fat, monitoring your protein intake and keeping it “moderate.”

The Differences: Paleo vs. Keto

The major differences are:

  • The Keto diet is higher in fat, while the Paleo is higher in protein.
  • The Paleo diet eliminates added sugar, grains, beans/legumes, and dairy; The Keto diet eliminates basically all sources of sugar (both natural and added sugar), fruits, grains, legumes, starchy vegetables and conventional dairy products that are low-fat and sweetened.
  • The Keto diet is very specific about the amount of carbs that should be consumed each day (about 20–30 grams of net carbs daily), since this is important for getting into nutritional ketosis. On the Paleo diet, the goal is not to get into ketosis but simply to eat a healthy, balanced diet.
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Nutrition Notes

Is Keto better than Paleo for weight loss?

It’s possible.. The keto diet seems to be more effective in terms of promoting fat and weight loss, since ketosis causes fat to be used for energy. On the other side, the Paleo diet can also lead to weight loss since it cuts out processed foods and empty calories while increasing intake of both protein and fat that are satiating.

What about Paleo vs Keto for inflammation?

Both diets have anti-inflammatory effects. The Paleo diet is popular among people with autoimmune conditions because it eliminates many common allergens, such as dairy and gluten. Ketones, which are produced during ketosis, also have anti-inflammatory effects. This is why the Keto diet has been associated with protection against chronic diseases like Alzheimer’s, diabetes and even cancer.

Which is better for athletes and bodybuilders?

Both diets can work to help enhance athletic performance, to promote growth of lean muscle mass, or at least prevent muscle loss, and to accelerate fat loss. It’s a common misconception that you can’t build muscle on Keto. With some resistance-training, it’s definitely possible to stay muscular, lean and fit while on either the Paleo or Keto diet.

Athletes may prefer the Paleo diet because it’s a bit higher in carbs that can fuel workouts and help with muscle recovery. However, once someone is Keto-adapted, they tend to experience increased endurance and power output.

Which diet works better overall?

The answer is : it is up to you! The bottom line is: both are healthy diets that have lots of benefits, including weight loss, metabolic health, immunity and more.
There is no clear “winner” in terms of Keto vs Paleo, although you’re likely to experience faster weight loss results from being in ketosis. However, in the long term, the Paleo diet is a sustainable way to eat, especially after ending the Keto diet or if you find Keto to be too difficult or restrictive.

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