Is the Keto Diet Similar to Paleo (or Atkins) Diets?

It’s safe to say that just about everyone pursuing weight loss goals or a healthier way of eating has heard of the Keto Diet, the Paleo Diet and the Atkins Diet. All three of them have gained popularity in the last 30 years or so and make no mistake, they are effective methods for losing weight, as well as providing a multitude of other health benefits in their own way.

The Keto and Paleo diets are commonly grouped together as they do share a great deal of qualities, however they are vastly different. From the core concept right down to the “allowed foods”, they are very different from one another. Let’s take a closer look at both the similarities and differences of both the Keto diet and Paleo diet.

Core Concept – Keto vs Paleo

Ketogenic Diet – Those enjoying a Keto lifestyle are continually counting macronutrients, specifically the incredibly low carbohydrate intake necessary to get into and remain in a state of nutritional ketosis.

When carbohydrates are limited the body naturally reverts to the next energy source in line: ketones. Stored fat releases fatty acids which are then converted into ketones in the liver. Basically, the body is a fat burning machine.

Paleo Diet – People here aren’t interested in counting macros and the seemingly daunting task of logging each and every meal to stay within a certain boundary.

The term Paleo is derived from the Paleolithic Era, the Stone Age, some 2.5 million years ago, when cavemen roamed the land hunting and gathering food. This dietary plan is all about getting back to the basics and avoiding manmade food products.

Keto vs Paleo vs Atkins

What to Eat

Ketogenic Diet – The biggest restriction with this way of eating is carbs, which should be no more than 5-10% of daily intake. Not all carbs are equal. Keto-followers are encouraged to stay within their daily allowance by eating natural carbs, such as in vegetables, and steer clear of box meals, highly processed foods, and virtually anything “white” such as potatoes, rice and breads. Grains are a no-no.

The biggest percentage of daily dietary intake should come from healthy fats found in animal protein, full fat dairy and avocados. Speaking of animal protein, keto dieters should choose organic and grass-fed meat products if possible.

Lunch meat and hot dogs are a thing of the past. Hello chicken, turkey, beef, fish and eggs. Leafy greens become a staple and starchy vegetables don’t even make it to the table.

A helpful hint: If the vegetable grows above ground, in most cases it’s a keeper.

Also, though it may be hard to believe, most fruits are incredibly high in carbohydrates. Fruits should be consumed in moderation and berries are the best choice. Nuts are in the same boat; a little goes a long way on the carb count.

And finally, as far as sweeteners go, the ketogenic diet does not advocate refined sugars or artificial sweeteners. Liquid Stevia can be used, but sparingly.

Paleo Diet – Paleo people keep it simple. That’s the key to this lifestyle in a nutshell. The categories of forbidden foods are: grains, legumes, dairy and refined sugar. The list might be short, but what does that really leave the Paleo dieter to eat? Protein. And like the ketogenic folks, choosing organic, grass-fed animal protein is always best.

The focus in Paleo is more on the food quality and digestive health than counting carbs. Nutrient-rich, high-quality foods free from chemicals and toxins are the way to go. Don’t stress about the carbs in a sweet potato or a banana. Enjoy it! Remember, the idea isn’t carb-counting; eat those vegetables, starchy ones too! A moderate amount of fruits and nuts are welcome here in Paleo-land.

Opposite those on the keto diet, dairy is on the bad foods list. Studies have shown dairy to be a direct link to digestive issues and other inflammatory conditions like arthritis and joint pain.

Another big difference is the use of Paleo-approved sweeteners. Honey, coconut sugar and dried fruits are allowed.

Atkins vs Keto

The Atkins diet is not the same as the ketogenic diet. Atkins is simply a hard limit on carbohydrate intake without concerns of food quality. This means junk food and poor fat choices are abundant.

Weight loss still occurs even with diet soft drinks and loads of bacon. The body still burns fat as it is in ketosis. But the body is also being deprived of essential minerals and nutrients found in nutritious foods.

The Verdict

Yes, the Keto diet and Paleo diet are both similar and very different. It is entirely a matter of personal goals and lifestyle as to which is the better option for any individual.

One could even combine the two or do a periodic switch. As with any diet, adding in exercise, getting plenty of good quality rest and minimizing stress are extremely beneficial for overall health and wellness.


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