What You Need to Know About Keto Versus Paleo Diets


Oftentimes, you hear about how our ancestors did not have to deal with obesity and the chronic diseases that we see today.

For this reason, the keto and paleo diets gained massive popularity. These diets follow our ancestral way of eating, when we used to consume foods high in fat and protein, but low in carbohydrates.

In this article, we will focus on the benefits of the keto diet versus the paleo diet, then summarize the key similarities and differences between the two diets.

The benefits of the paleo diet

Weight loss

Like most low-carb, high-fat diets, the paleo diet results in a considerable amount of weight loss, depending on your starting weight, gender, and physical activity.

This effect is the result of two major mechanisms:

Hunger suppression

By consuming large amounts of fats and protein, your intestines and pancreas will secrete hunger-suppressing hormones, such as ghrelin and leptin. As a result, the onset of satiety is faster, and total caloric intake gets inadvertently reduced.

Contrast this to carbohydrates, which have a high glycemic index and stimulate the hunger center in the brain.

Improved metabolism

High levels of simple sugars can mess up your metabolism over time. Consequently, this leads to a reliance on utilizing glucose as a primary energy source, and if you try to reduce the high-carb intake, you will initially face an obstacle:

A reduction in the BMR halts your weight loss.

Related: Calories, Macros, BMR, and TDEE – Your Complete Guideline

This makes sense because, according to your primitive brain and liver, the sudden drop in carb intake means you got trapped in a cave with no food and a bear blocking the entrance.

So, the reduction of BMR is similar to the power saver mode on your phone, which has the main goal of keeping your mobile turned on for the longest time possible.

In this analogy, you are the phone, and the power-saving mode is the reduction in BMR.

Boosted energy

Eating whole foods will provide your body with all the necessary nutrients, vitamins, and minerals to function at an optimal level.

This effect is often boosted by the regular exercise routine that’s adopted by individuals following the paleo diet.

Provides your body with healthy fats

Most of the foods we consume are rich in saturated fatty acids and trans fats; both of these lipids are incredibly damaging to your body if consumed chronically, especially to the cardiovascular system.

The paleo diet excludes all the foods coming from industrial processing and promotes the consumption of whole foods such as fish, eggs, fruits, and vegetables.

Other benefits of the paleo diet include:

  • Reduced inflammation
  • Better control of diabetes
  • Improved heart disease
  • Reduced muscle and joint pain

What is the ketogenic diet?

The ketogenic diet is one of the hottest weight-loss methods used today; it focuses on consuming meals low in carbohydrates and rich in fat.

Ketogenic diet supporters claim that it can help you lose weight, reduce your risk of many chronic diseases, and improve your overall health.

While it might seem paradoxical that a diet rich in fat can offer all these benefits, clinical trials support it!

In this article, we will briefly discuss the major concepts behind the ketogenic diet, and how it can help improve your health.

How does the ketogenic diet work?

When being on the keto diet, carbohydrate intake is reduced to 5-10% of your daily caloric intake. In fact, some people advocate that carb intake should be even lower!

As a result of low carbohydrate intake, your body will start converting free fatty acids into ketone bodies, which will be used as a primary source of energy instead of glucose.

This state is described as “ketosis”, and it involves activating the metabolic pathways in the liver that are responsible for “burning” fat.

What is keto flu?

The keto flu is a syndrome that numerous people experience during the first few days of following the ketogenic diet.

It was named this way because of the similar symptoms it shares with the regular flu. These symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms (e.g., stomach pain, constipation, diarrhea)
  • Myalgias (muscular pain)
  • Arthralgias (articular pain)
  • Dizziness
  • Distractibility
  • Sugar cravings

These symptoms are usually temporary and only last for about a week; however, it is a major reason that many individuals quit the ketogenic diet.

The exact mechanism of the keto flu has not been fully deciphered; nevertheless, it is believed to be the result of the abrupt transition from a high-carb diet to the keto diet. In other words, the body did not have sufficient time to adapt to the new diet, so it basically acts as if you were starving!

The ketogenic diet Vs. The paleo diet

Ketogenic DietPaleo Diet
Carbohydrate IntakeLow (typically less than 50 grams per day)Moderate to low (focus on non-starchy vegetables and fruits)
Fat IntakeHigh (70-80% of calories come from fat)Moderate to high (includes healthy fats such as nuts, seeds, and avocados)
Protein IntakeModerate (20-25% of calories come from protein)High (includes animal protein such as meat, poultry, and fish)
DairyAllowed (including high-fat dairy, such as butter and cream)Not allowed
GrainsNot allowedNot allowed
LegumesNot allowedNot allowed
Processed FoodsNot allowedNot allowed
SweetenersAllowed (non-nutritive sweeteners such as stevia and erythritol)Not allowed

Both diets focus on whole, unprocessed foods and exclude grains, legumes, and processed foods. However, the ketogenic diet is much lower in carbohydrates and higher in fat compared to the paleo diet. The paleo diet allows for moderate to low carbohydrate intake and includes healthy fats, such as nuts, seeds, and avocados.

The ketogenic diet allows for high-fat dairy, while the paleo diet does not allow any dairy. Moreover, the paleo diet focuses on high protein intake from animal sources, whereas the ketogenic diet has a more moderate protein intake.

In terms of sweeteners, the ketogenic diet allows for non-nutritive sweeteners, such as stevia and erythritol, while the paleo diet does not allow any sweeteners.

Takeaway message

Both the ketogenic and paleo diets focus on whole, unprocessed foods and exclude grains, legumes, and processed foods. The key differences reside in their macronutrient ratios and allowed foods.

We hope that this article managed to highlight the major differences between the keto diet and the paleo diet.

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