Keto Diet vs. Paleo Diet – Which is Right For You?
So, you’re interested in starting up a new diet plan, one aimed to not only help you lose weight but also to gain more energy and perhaps even control your blood sugar better? Chances are you are searching for the best options available. Two of the most popular and trendiest as I’m sure you have heard of are the Ketogenic or (Keto) and the Paleo diet also known as the Caveman diet. Many people are aware of these diets but actually get confused between the two as they do tend to share similarities so it can be hard to differentiate between them.
This is a quick and simple guide which discusses the differences between the two popular diet plans so you can see which one suits you and your lifestyle best. As always talk to your doctor before starting any new diet plan first.
The Paleo Diet – Also Known as the Caveman or Stone Age Diet
Known commonly as The Caveman Diet, Paleo comes from the Paleolithic period of history and the Paleo diet eating plan is often known as the “Hunter Gatherer Diet.” It takes its name from the fact that all the food contained in this diet were either able to be hunted or gathered.
Meats and Seafood come under the hunted category meanwhile nuts, vegetables and fruits for example are categorized under gathered.
Basically, this diet stems from the fact that early humans who had no access to or knowledge of the science of breeding or caring for farm animals and agriculture, had a diet that you either hunted or gathered for yourself.
The Paleo Diet applies this slant and line of thinking to modern-day foods reducing and eliminating processed and man-made foods. This does not mean you are expected to hunt and gather for yourself! Except using modern methods:)
Just only that the nutrition choices we make are as natural and unaltered as possible.
The base foundation of the Paleo eating plan is that humans are genetically suited to eat the foods that our ancestors consumed. Therefore, before the introduction of agriculture, nutrition and food was so much different than that of today so in short, the Paleo diet imitates the foods that every single human on earth consumed and had available at that particular time.
Not only is the Paleo eating plan full of quality, natural, high nutritional value foods such as fruits and vegetables along with seafood and lean meats but it is perhaps known better for the foods, drinks and ingredients that are not consumed by those on the Paleo Diet.
As the agriculture revolution provided us with foods our early ancestors never had such as dairy products, salt, sugar and even grains, they are not allowed to be consumed.
Not only do some of these ingredients and food stuffs cause digestive problems but these products have been shown through endless research that they can lead to an increase in weight and a higher chance of developing health problems such as diabetes.
Because of its high protein content the Paleo nutritional lifestyle has a large and steadily growing athlete following.
Thanks to the basic foods in the Paleo diet such as chicken, fish, lean meats, nuts, fruits and vegetables it is an athlete’s dream providing energy, muscle development and fiber along with the reduction of all weight gaining and physique robbing junk food and unhelpful ingredients.
Most vegetables are great for the Paleo lifestyle however root vegetables will give you the biggest bang for your buck health wise.
One of the most basic reasons why the Paleo diet lifestyle is healthy for you is simply because you practically reduce all additives and artificial preservatives, many of which have been proven to be harmful to your health.
So that’s the basic premise of the Paleo diet – yet you may still be questioning why you would make the significant switch to the Paleo Diet vs. the Keto diet which we will examine further below.
There are many health benefits associated with this diet and not the least of them is potential relief for allergy sufferers thanks to the fact that the Paleo is naturally allergen free. (except for nuts and shellfish)
Two of the biggest causes of common allergies, gluten and casein, are commonly found in manufactured foods. Because the overwhelming majority of foods available on the Paleo diet do not contain either gluten or casein, allergy sufferers can rejoice!
But don’t forget about the weight loss potential for those on the Paleo. Apart from the protein aspect which is great for weight loss alone, the Paleo diet is naturally low in carbohydrates and has a low caloric count.
It is also naturally high in fiber which is a crucial factor when it comes to over eating and weight loss. The low carbohydrates combined with the high amounts of natural fiber while on this diet ensures that the risk of coronary heart disease, diabetes and other weight related illnesses and ailments is decreased.
Last but not least, this diet has none of the other big risks when it comes to heart disease and cancer like additives, sugar, salt, saturated fats and of course the big one getting a heap of exposure in recent years, hydrogenated oils or trans fats as they are commonly known.
At first glance, the Paleo Diet lifestyle can seem like a hard choice to make with limited food options however if you look closer and explore a little deeper, those fears will be addressed and upon making some small worthy sacrifices you will be bettering your chance of actually living a healthier and happier, disease free life!
And just remember that as close as you can get to this lifestyle choice, the benefits will start to appear.
The Keto Diet
The keto diet may seem a bit more complicated compared to the Paleo diet. Being that for it to be effective you need to get your body into a ketogenic state.
This means you must eat a high fat diet and low protein with NO carbs or hardly any.
The ratio should be around 80% fat and 20% protein. This will the guideline for the first 2 days.
Once in a ketogenic state you will have to increase protein intake and lower fat, your ratio will be around 65% fat, 30% protein and 5% carbs.
Protein is increased to spare muscle tissue. When your body intakes carbohydrates it causes an insulin spike which means the pancreas releases insulin ( helps store glycogen, amino acids and excess calories as fat ) so common sense tells us that if we eliminate carbs then the insulin will not store excess calories as fat.
And that is the science behind the Keto diet – in a basic nutshell.
Now since your body has no carbs as a energy source your body must find a new source.
Fat. This works out perfectly if you want to lose body fat. Your body will break down your body fat and use it as energy instead of carbs. This state is called ketosis. This is the state you want your body to be in, which makes perfect sense if you want to lose body fat while maintaining muscle.
Now, how to go about this.
You will need to intake AT LEAST a gram of protein per pounds of LEAN MASS. This will help in the recovery and repair of muscle tissue after workouts and such. Remember the ratio? 65% fat and 30% protein.
Well if you weight 150 pounds of lean mass that means 150g of protein a day. X4 ( amount of calories per gram of protein ) that is 600 calories.
The rest of your calories should come from fat. If your caloric maintenance is 3000 you must eat around 500 less which would mean that if you need 2500 calories a day, around 1900 calories must come from fats!
You must eat fats to fuel your body which in return will also burn off body fat! That is the rule of this diet, you must eat fats! The advantage to eating dietary fats and the keto diet is that you will not feel hungry.
Fat digestion is slow which works to your advantage and helps you feel ‘full’. This is one of the reasons why this diet is so popular and celebrities and regular folks flock to it so eagerly.
*Note – Some body builders and fitness professionals who partake in a keto diet plan during the week intake a liquid carbohydrate along with a whey shake post workout over the weekends. This helps create an insulin spike and helps get the nutrients their body desperately needs for muscle repair and growth and refill glycogen stores.
This is beneficial for them because it refuels their body for the upcoming week as well as restores the body’s nutrient needs.
Once Sunday starts its back to the no carb high fat moderate protein diet. Keeping your body in ketosis and burning fat as energy is the perfect solution to keep them lean and mean all year long.
However if you’re not that heavy into exercise this is not necessary.
Another advantage to ketosis is once you get into the state of ketosis and burn off the fat your body will be depleted of carbs.
How do you know if you’re in Ketosis?
- Dry mouth and increased thirst. Unless you drink enough and get enough electrolytes, like salt, you may feel a dry mouth. Try a cup of bouillon or two daily, plus as much water as you need. You may also feel a metallic taste in your mouth.
- Increased urination. A ketone body, acetoacetate, may end up in the urine. This makes it possible to test for ketosis using urine strips. It also – at least when starting out – can result in having to go to the bathroom more often. This may be the main cause of the increased thirst (above).
- Keto breath. This is due to a ketone body called acetone escaping via our breath.
It can make a person’s breath smell “fruity”, or similar to nail polish remover. This smell can sometimes also be felt from sweat, when working out. It’s often temporary.
So besides weight loss what else is good about keto? Well many people talk about their improved mental clarity on when on the diet. Another benefit is having an increase in energy. Yet another is a decreased appetite.
One thing some people experience on the ketogenic diet is something called “keto flu.” Not everyone experiences this, but for this that do it can be tough.
You may feel lethargic and you may have a headache. It won’t last very long. When you feel this way make sure you get plenty of water and rest to get through it.
How to Avoid the Keto Flu!
Now Let’s Compare!
Keto Diet vs. Paleo Diet
First, let’s talk carb sources as this is where the two diets vastly differ…
With the paleo diet plan, your carb sources are going to be any fresh fruit, along with sweet potatoes. Together, you can quickly achieve 100 grams or more of carbohydrates between these two foods.
With the keto diet, on the other hand, your only carb source is low carb vegetables, and even these are somewhat restricted.
Take a look at the food list at the bottom of the post for acceptable foods.
So one of the most significant differences between the ketogenic diet and the paleo diet plan is the ketogenic diet is deficient in carbohydrates while the paleo is not. You can make the paleo diet very low carb if you want, but it is not by default.
With Paleo there is some more flexibility in food choices.
Calorie Counting. Next, we come to calorie counting. This is also a place where the two diets differ considerably.
With the keto diet, you will be calorie and macro counting quite heavily. You need to hit specific targets…
30% total protein intake,
5% carbohydrate intake and
65% dietary fat intake.
If you do not reach these targets, you are not going to move into the “state of ketosis,” which is the entire point of this diet plan.
With the paleo diet, there are no strict rules around this. While you can count calories if you want, you do not have to. Obviously, your fat loss results will likely be better if you do monitor calories to some degree since calories do dictate whether you gain or lose body fat, but it is not essential.
Exercise Fuel Availability. Which brings us to our next point – exercise fuel availability. To be able to exercise with intensity, you need carbohydrates in your diet plan.
You cannot get fuel availability if you are not eating carbohydrate-rich foods – that means the keto diet is not going to support intense exercise sessions. (Unless you supplement them with whey carb shakes or do carb cycling).
For this reason, the keto diet is popular with people who want to lose weight without exercising but not as popular with people who incorporate exercising heavily.
Exercise is an integral part of staying healthy, so it is strongly recommended you exercise and do not follow a diet that totally limits exercise.
However with that being said as mentioned above, there are fitness enthusiasts who incorporate the keto diet during the week and cycle in carbs on the weekends to refuel their muscles.
Once again this is called doing the Keto carb cycling. This is when you include carbs in the diet at certain points.
The targeted ketogenic diet has you eating carbohydrates just before starting your workout session while the cyclic ketogenic diet calls for you to eat a larger dose of carbs over the weekend, which are designed to sustain you through the rest of the week.
If you follow either of these, you can choose any carbohydrates you wish; it does not necessarily have to be just sweet potatoes or fruit. It can be shakes, pizza, low carb high fat recipes that you love!
There you have some critical differences between these two approaches…
The ketogenic diet is one focusing more on tracking macros and is intended to assist with fat loss while the paleo diet focuses more on idealistic food choices and health and hopes weight loss comes as a result.
So whether you’re an avid gym rat, do an occasional work out or despise exercising all together – whichever plan you choose you are guaranteed to lose weight on either the Keto or the Paleo plan – and with the popularity of them you will definitely have no shortage of recipes to choose from that are sure to please the whole family!
The only thing you have to do is get started!!
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