Keto vs Paleo – The Two Diets Explained and Compared

By HumanWindow
Updated on 29 May 2019

You’ve no doubt already heard all about the Keto and Paleo diets – and maybe you’ve even tried them.

They are two of the most popular types of diets around and many people choose to give them a go for possible health benefits and results.

But how do the Keto and Paleo Diets compare? They can seem quite similar at times, so it’s important to know the differences between them so that you can choose which one is right for you.

In this article, we’re going to take a close look at both the Keto and Paleo diets to see exactly how they compare to one another so you can make an informed choice.

We’re going to break this article into the following sections:

• What is the Keto Diet?
• What is the Paleo Diet?
• Keto vs Paleo
• Keto and Paleo Differences
• Keto and Paleo Similarities
• Keto vs Paleo for Weight Loss
• Anything Else to Consider?
• Wrapping Things Up – Final Thoughts

So, now that we’ve got the introductions out of the way, let’s dive in and take a closer look at both the Keto and Paleo diets in a little bit more detail.

What is the Keto Diet?

Keto diet foods

Some common Keto diet-friendly foods (Photo: Adobe Stock)

The Keto (short for Ketogenic) is a very low carb and high fat diet. It involves dramatically reducing your carbohydrate intake and replacing them with fat.

It’s become incredibly popular in recent years, and many people also choose to pair it with modes of eating such as intermittent fasting.

The idea behind the Keto diet is that the reduced carbohydrate intake puts your body into a state known as ‘ketosis’, which is basically when it works on burning fat because it doesn’t have enough glucose for energy.

The theory is that over time, your body will become better at burning fat, and over time this could help people looking to lose weight.

The basic fundamentals of the Keto diet involve shifting the focus off Carbohydrates and increasing fat intake, with Protein around 20%-30% of the diet.

Here is an example macronutrient breakdown for the Keto diet:

• Fat: 60%–80%
• Protein: 20%–30%
• Carbohydrates: 5%–10%

As trying the Keto diet can be a pretty drastic lifestyle change for many people, it’s recommended that you speak to a certified medical professional before thinking about trying it.

So, to summarize, the Keto diet is a very low-carb, high fat and moderate protein diet.

It has been formulated to help induce your body’s natural fat burning abilities (the metabolic breakdown of fat). Two of the main reasons why the Keto diet has become so popular in recent years is because it could help with weight loss and to improve blood sugar regulation.

What is the Paleo Diet?

Paleo diet foods

Some common Paleo diet-friendly foods (Photo: Adobe Stock)

The Paleo Diet is sometimes referred to as the ‘caveman diet’. Why? Because it’s supposed to mirror the kinds of foods that early humans used to eat.

The main principle behind the diet is that eating the foods that were available to early humans can help to promote overall health. This benefits are said to include improving things such improving digestion and overall health.

With that in mind, one of the main theories of the Paleo diet is that modern food processing and production systems are damaging to human health.

The Paleo diet eliminates foods such as grains, legumes, processed sugar and most sources of dairy.

This means that you won’t be able to eat grains-based such as rice, cereal and bread.

The thinking behind this is that because these types of food were introduced to the human diet much later in history, the human digestive system is not best-equipped to break down these foods.

Instead, the main foods permitted in the Paleo Diet include things like meat and fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables. Selected oils such as Coconut Oil, Olive Oil and and Butter are also permitted.

To summarize, the Paleo diet is a type of ‘ancestral’ diet which eliminates grains, processed sugar and most sources of dairy. It has been put together to emulate the kinds of diets that early humans are thought to have eaten.

The thinking is that by mimicking the diet that early humans ate, you are eating the types of foods that are best for the the human digestive system.

Keto vs Paleo

So, now that we have introduced the basics about the Keto and Paleo diets, it’s time to see how they compare to one another.

The Keto diet is typically higher in fat than the Paleo diet, and the Paleo diet is usually higher in carbs than the Keto diet.

The Paleo diet usually eliminates all dairy, whereas dairy products are allowed in the Keto diet.

Sticking to a diet with fresh fruits and vegetables is important to your overall health

These fruits and vegetables would be considered to be Paleo diet friendly (Photo: Adobe Stock)

It’s also important to realize that the Paleo diet allows starchy vegetables such as potatoes. The Keto diet does not allow things like potatoes because they are high in carbohydrates.

Generally speaking, the Paleo diet is thought to be more sustainable on the long term. That’s because it doesn’t eliminate carbohydrates altogether and allows a wider range of unprocessed whole foods.

The Keto diet may be used more commonly followed by people looking for quicker results or health benefits.

The Keto diet is probably better for those who have been recommended to follow it by a certified medical professional. That’s because to follow it in a healthy way, you’ll need to count your calories and macronutrient intake.

On the other hand the Paleo Diet doesn’t usually include a strict macronutrient breakdown to follow. Instead, it’s about sticking to the whole foods that are thought to have been consumed by early human hunter-gatherers.

Keto and Paleo Similarities

Quite clearly, there are some similarities between the two of them. For example, both of them tend to be geared towards being more of a low-carb diet.

The main things that these two diets have in common is that they prioritize whole, unprocessed foods, which is likely to be beneficial to your overall health. This is a good thing, we always recommend consuming as many whole and unprocessed foods as possible to support overall health and wellbeing.

Both of the diets encourage their followers to avoid ultra-processed foods and replacing them with whole, unprocessed foods such as meats, nuts, seeds and fresh vegetables.

Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and Seeds are permitted in both Keto and Paleo diets (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Keto and Paleo also strongly discourage eating grains and legumes. The Keto diet discourages grains because they are usually high in carbohydrates, while the Paleo diet avoids them because they are are considered to be a ‘modern’ addition to the human diet.

Both diets also place an emphasis on healthy fats. Let’s face it: fat has a bad rep, but it’s not all bad for you. For example, avocados are rich in monounsaturated fat, and they would an acceptable part of both a Keto and Paleo diet.

Other sources of healthy fats which can be found in both diets are nuts, seeds and oily fish. Some oils such as Olive Oil are also acceptable in both diets.

Keto and Paleo Differences

So, now that we’ve looked at some of the similarities between these two popular diets, it’s time to point out some of the major differences between them.

One thing to bear in mind is the fact that the Keto diet focuses more on macronutrient breakdown rather than the specific foods being eating.

As we mentioned above, if you’re following the Keto diet, you’ll have to keep track of your macronutrients to ensure that you fall within the recommended guidelines.

On the other hand, the Paleo diet is more about an ideology and overall lifestyle. Instead of counting calories and macros, you focus on picking the qualifying foods that best suit you.

So, the Keto diet requires you to stay within certain limits of protein, fat and carbohydrate, while the Paleo diet does not place any limits on macronutrients.

The Paleo diet also sometimes incorporates other activities, such as HIIT training (short periods of intense exercise) and more.

As we mentioned above, the Paleo diet also allows for whole-food carbohydrates such as potatoes, while the Keto diet does not because of its restrictions on carb intake.

Bearing that in mind, you could actually end up consuming quite a high-carb diet while following a Paleo plan, which would be the polar opposite to the Keto diet.

Another difference is that the Keto diet allows dairy foods such as milk and cheese, whereas the Paleo diet does not, usually with the exception of butter.

So, now that we’ve taken a look at some of the main differences between Keto and Paleo, let’s look at how these diets could help with weight loss.

Keto vs Paleo for Weight Loss

You probably already know this, but one of the main reasons why the Keto and Paleo diets are so popular is because they are claimed to promote weight loss.

Weight Loss

Keto and Paleo diets are claimed to promote weight loss (Photo: Adobe Stock)

The theory with the Keto diet is that by encouraging your body to burn fat for energy on a more regular basis, it may help to promote weight loss.

The avoidance of processed sugars in both diets could also be a beneficial factor in helping with weight control.

However, despite the claims, there is only limited scientific research to suggest that these diets will actually promote weight loss.

You probably already know this, but a health regime in which you burn more calories than you’re consuming is the main self-treatment for achieving fat loss.

Anything Else to Consider?

If you’re thinking of trying the Keto or Paleo diets, then you should speak to a certified medical professional beforehand.

Both of these diets may require you to drastically change the kinds of food you are eating, and it is always best to seek professional advice before embarking on any major lifestyle change.

We recommend making across-the-board lifestyle changes for long-term health, rather than going from diet to diet for small periods of time.

It’s also important to realise that Keto and Paleo may simply not be suited to you. It’s always worth reading up and doing your research before embarking on a lifestyle change.

Wrapping Things Up – Final Thoughts

So, here we are at the end of our Keto vs Paleo comparison guide.

We’ve walked you through the basics of both of these diets, including how Keto places an emphasis on restricting carbohydrate intake, while Paleo is more about consuming whole foods that were available to early humans.

We’ve also discussed the main differences and similarities between Paleo and Keto, including how both of these diets do place an emphasis on avoiding processed foods and instead choosing whole-food options.

We hope that this guide has helped you to decide whether Paleo or Keto is right for you.

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