Two of the most talked about diets over the past 10 years are the Keto and Paleo diets, but what are they? how do they work? how are they similar and more importantly which one is good for me? If you're asking yourself any of these questions then sit down, grab your favourite healthy snack and read on to find out the difference between Paleo and Keto diets.
What Is A Keto Diet?
Originating in the 1920s to cure for epilepsy in kids, the Keto diet can run on two fuels. These are sugar from carbohydrates from foods we eat like potatoes, bread, pizza and many more.
The second source of energy for the body is fat. So, a Keto diet is a diet where you limit or get rid of the amount of carbohydrates that you consume, to allow your body to start utilising fats as a fuel source.
This goes back in the 1920s when it was found that the mitochondria in our body's cell can use fat as fuel.
So, now a keto diet is a low carb diet and is extremely low in carbs that the body switches to using fat as fuel. For example when you eat foods like meat, butter, avocado, eggs, etc
How Does A Keto Diet Work
A keto diet basically turns your body into a fat-burning machine, instead of burning sugar all the times, our bodies burn fat.
When the body is low or out of sugar, fat is converted in the liver into molecules known as Ketones. Ketones are used to fuel the body and most especially the brain.
When the body starts producing Ketones then we say you're in ketosis. When you fast or even starve, the stored sugar quickly runs out and the body starts producing ketones. Therefore, you do not have to be on a keto diet to get into ketosis. You could fast for a day or two and your body will start burning fat for fuel.
Some people fast to achieve ketosis. However, you cannot fast forever, therefore the best way to get your body into ketosis is by being on a keto diet- which you can do for life.
So What are the Main Benefits of a Keto Diet?
Loss of Weight
Controlled blood sugar levels
Heighten cognitive function
Lower insulin levels
Improvements in endurance
What Do I Eat on a Keto Diet?
Generally, your Keto diet should have about 70% Fat, 20% protein, 5% veggies, and 5% carbs. I will share with you my top recommendations from each food group.
- Asparagus (Super low carb but very high in prebiotic fiber)
- bok choy
- Red Meat
- Whole eggs with Omega-3
- Nuts and seeds
- Unprocessed cheese
- Coconut oil
With fruits it's important to know that your body can only process a small amount of fruits at a given time, therefore have to go very easy on fruits whiles on a keto diet. You also want to stay low-glycemic. So, the best fruit I recommend are berries, any fruit from raspberries, strawberries and the others should do just fine.
So mixing any of these foods above to prepare some breakfast, lunch or supper for yourself, should do the trick.
The best way to do this is to keep your fat elevated in the morning, low during the midday, and keep your fat a bit more elevated at night. If you have a problem preparing a healthy Keto diet for lunch, I have an article on some on the go snacks for keto.
What is a Paleo Diet?
Paleo diet is a diet plan based on the way out ancestors ate. This isn't a diet plan that came up recently, this diet plan dates back to roughly 10,000 years ago.
This diet recently became popular when doctors, anthropologist, and researchers tried to figure out what our ancestors ate.
Since our ancestors didn't have diseases such as obesity, Type 2 diabetes, Neuro-degeneration, heart diseases and autoimmunity that we see today, scientist and researchers wanted to find out what our ancestors ate making them immune to this diseases. And this leads to the Paleo diet.
So basically a Paleo diet is a replication of what our ancestors ate.
What Are The Benefits Of The Paleo Diet
High in protein
Regulates body sugar
Corrects nutrients deficiency
What To Eat On A Paleo Diet
Unlike Keto with a Paleo diet, you do not need to measure your macros. All you need to do is to eat high quality natural foods instead of processed foods, till your stomach feels full, and when you're full you stop eating.
The rule of thumb for a Paleo diet is; if it walks, swims, flies or it's green- it is good to eat.
Some of these foods include;
One thing you want to eat on a Paleo diet is a nice healthy quality protein. Proteins especially animal proteins are essential on a Paleo diet. Some of these include eggs, fish especially fatty fish, high-quality beef, and poultry.
Healthy Fats and Oils
This doesn't include your vegetable oils such as sunflower oil, or canola oil. These two types of oils or other vegetable oils are polyunsaturated fatty acids. What this means is that they are unstable and this is because they are high in Omega-6 and also they are rancid; they oxidize very quickly. So, I recommend you stay away from those.
You want to stick with the saturated fats which come from animal sources or the monounsaturated fatty acids which include olive oil, nuts especially macadamia nuts, hazelnuts and walnuts, avocados. and fats high in omega-3.
When preparing a Paleo diet you should know that you shouldn't cook with the oil. You should drizzle the oil over the food or at the end, once the food is already cooked.
Starchy and Non-Starchy Vegetable
All green vegetables are great to eat. Some of these include kale, asparagus, peppers, broccoli, spinach and many more. All of these are very good as you can eat as much as you can because Paleo is a vegetable rich diet and these vegetables have close to no calories.
You can also have starchy vegetables when on a Paleo diet. Keto tells you to avoid the starchy vegetables but with a Paleo diet, you can eat as much as you want. Some of these include squash, pumpkins, zucchini and many more.
All these are a fair game with a Paleo diet and In general, go for the most colorful vegetables because they are very high in antioxidants and bioflavonoids.
Fruits except for berries are not good on Keto but are permitted on a Paleo diet. You should stay away from high-glycemic fruits even on a Paleo diet. However, fruits such as green apples, berries, and grapes are highly recommended.
Apart from all the foods mentioned above it's best to stay away from dairy, beans and legumes, grains, processed carbs, and refined sugar, these should be a no-no when following a Paleo diet.
Keto vs Paleo Diet- What Do They Have in Common?
Apart from the fact that these two diets are continually compared against each other when deciding which ones the best, there are some similarities between these diets. Some of these similarities include:
1. Studies were done by the Journal of Internal Medicine, the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition and the New England Journal of Medicine all found out that both Keto and Paleo diet lowers triglycerides levels, lowers blood sugar levels, blood pressure and lowers the levels of insulin.
2. Also, whether you're on a Ketogenic diet or a Paleo diet, you are required to eat a lot of whole unprocessed foods. This includes meat, fish, eggs, nuts, and seeds, avocado and coconut oils, healthy fats and spices.
All these foods are recommended in both the Ketogenic and the Paleo diets.
They both are also big on animal protein. Animal proteins such as fish, shellfish, wild animals, free-range chicken, and grass-fed beef are good for both diets.
However, too much protein on a Keto diet will cause gluconeogenesis, which could kick you out from ketosis.
3. Another similarity is that you should stay away from grains when following the Keto and Paleo diets as this includes flour and is mostly processed. You should exclude this from your Keto diet because it is a high-carb food and you should exclude this from your Paleo diet because it is processed food.
Also, beans and legumes such as peanuts, and peas are omitted from both diets. Both diets also exclude milled and refined foods. And one last food out of the equation for both diets is sugar ofcourse.
Difference Between Paleo and Keto Diets
One major difference between these two is that for a Ketogenic diet you have to know and measure your macros for each meal this is because you want your fat content to be higher. Your food must compose of 70% fat, 20% protein, 5% carbs, and 5% vegetables. However on the Paleo diet, you do not have to measure your macros, all you have to do is to eat high-quality natural foods.
Whilst Keto is utilizing fat as the source of energy, Paleo uses carbohydrates as its main source of energy.
It doesn't matter the amount of carbs you use on a Paleo diet. It still uses glucose to fuel your muscles and mind.
For Paleo, you do not consume dairy. This is because dairy disrupts the health of your gut by killing enzymes like glutathione. Also, there is a fair level of processing that goes into dairy production.
On the other hand, for a Keto diet, there is a much more considerable consumption of dairy. However, I recommend you do not consume too much dairy even on a Keto diet.
Also it's highly recommended you stay away from all artificial sweeteners as they are processed. For a Paleo diet, you're living just as our ancestors lived thousands of years ago, and at that time there were no artificial sweeteners. Yet, when you're on a Ketogenic diet, you may use artificial sweeteners such as Stevia, and Splenda.
I do like Stevia, even though it is natural, it is processed to some extent, making it a no-no when you're on a Paleo diet.
Fruits And Vegetables
On a Paleo diet, you have the option of choosing from many fruit choices. However, on a Ketogenic diet the only fruit I and most people recommend are berries. These include raspberries, strawberries, blackberries and so on. The reason why berries are recommended is that berries are very high in antioxidants. So, there is a lot of nutrient density to them, and yet very low carb.
Also, Paleo allows for starchy vegetables such as sweet potatoes, squash, and many money. However, when it comes to Keto, you have to keep it down low again. This is because you do not want your total carb intake exceeding 5 percent.
Keto vs Paleo Diet- Final Verdict
Before I give my final verdict on what diet plan I like and recommend, let us take a look at who each diet plan is for which highlights the difference between Paleo and Keto diets.
1. If you're looking to lose weight rapidly, then you should go in for the Keto diet instead of a paleo diet. This is because, in a Paleo diet, you tend to use more carbohydrate, therefore your body cannot burn fat rapidly. Even though you may lose weight on a paleo diet, it wouldn't be as fast as you would on a Keto diet. However, you must do both in the right and sustainable way.
2. If you're looking to fight cravings and get off the sugar habit, then Keto is the diet for you. This is because, on Keto, your body starts to utilize acetoacetate and beta-hydroxybutyrate which are Ketone bodies responsible for controlling your sugar cravings and lowering your insulin response.
3. If you're someone who wants a healthy flexible diet, then Paleo might be for you. This is because this diet allows you to get a wider spectrum of nutrients than Keto- which is more restricted.
What Do I recommend?
Well, keto is what I generally recommend to everyone who wants to live the ultimate lifestyle. This is because
Our brains only utilize Ketones or glucose as its source of energy and if you're on a Ketogenic diet you're able to produce Ketones. Ketones are way more efficient and burn cleaner than glucose. This implies that when your brains use Ketones whiles you're on a Ketogenic diet, it is protected from cognitive decline, giving you a sharp memory and mental clarity. Also, if you're engaged in any high-intensity activity, your body uses Ketone bodies much better than carbs.
Also, as mentioned above keto helps you lose fat much more faster than Paleo.
Finally the main problem with Paleo is that the carbs that you consume, are either the wrong type of carbs which means they might contain fructose, or you're in the grey area of being so low in carbs that you're not getting the full benefit. Whereas with Keto, you're eliminating the carbs and shifting your body's metabolism to a different energy source which is fat.