Those who want to change their diet and improve their physical health have surely heard about the ongoing paleo vs keto debate. Both eating plans promise to give you strong results, but how do you really know which one is right for you? This article will cover the basics to both diets and compare them, so you can choose for yourself which side of the debate you’re on.
What Is a Paleo Diet?
This meal plan refers to eating foods that our ancestors would have eaten in the Paleolithic era; an era from 2.5 million to 10 thousand years ago. As such, the diet includes lots of veggies, nuts, and seeds, as well as fruits, fish, and lean meats.
These are the things that our ancestors could have hunted or gathered, and they still remain one of the healthiest things you can eat today.
With the invention of farming, foods like dairy, grains, and legumes entered our diet as well. These are the things you should limit when following the Paleo meal plan.
What Is the Purpose of Paleo?
Paleo is based on the discordance hypothesis, a hypothesis that says that humans aren’t genetically fit to handle the modern diet. Instead, we should adapt to the way early humans ate, before farming became so widespread.
People on the paleo side of the keto vs paleo debate say that this is the way to go because farming drastically and quickly changed the human diet. Because of that, the body didn’t actually have time to adapt to the new foods.
Furthermore, their belief is that being genetically mismatched to the modern diet is one of the biggest factors for the prevalence of obesity in today’s society.
Those who choose to follow the paleo diet aren’t in it just for the philosophy, though. People often go for this approach when they want to maintain their current weight, lose some weight, or want a better way of planning their meals.
What Can You Expect?
As we have already mentioned, paleo involves limiting certain food groups such as legumes, grains, and dairy. To give you a little bit more info, we’ve created this simple table:
|What To Eat
|What To Avoid
A typical day for a person on a paleo diet would look something like this:
- Breakfast: cantaloupe and broiled salmon
- Lunch: Salad (mix of veggies with added walnuts and only lemon juice for dressing) and broiled lean pork
- Dinner: Lean beef, steam broccoli, mixed veggie salad
The difference between paleo and keto when it comes to snacks is that paleo snacks consist of pieces of fruit or veggies. Some examples include carrot or celery sticks, and oranges.
When it comes to the salads you have for your lunch and dinner, keep in mind that you can mix any kinds of vegetables you like. Don’t be afraid to add things like almonds and walnuts, but also avocados.
Desserts should consist of only fruit, with strawberries being a delicious and healthy choice.
Are There Any Concerns?
It’s always good to know potential risks and concerns when starting a new diet. With paleo, your biggest concern might be your budget. Since you aren’t allowed to eat dairy, grain, and legumes, you might have to spend more money on obtaining quality ingredients listed above. In today’s world, the things you can’t eat with this diet are significantly more affordable for most people.
Healthwise, you should pay attention to protein, calcium, and fiber, and other nutrients, as they are rarely found in the foods you can eat. Introducing supplements to your diet might be a good idea.
Keto vs Paleo— What Do Scientists Say?
The underlying philosophy of the Paleo diet has been taken into question by numerous scientists and researchers. Trials conducted about this meal plan concluded that although it can be beneficial for your health, the farming hypothesis doesn’t hold much ground.
Firstly, the transition to farming wasn’t the only thing that affected human evolution. Dietary variations have been present before that, as people didn’t have the same foods available in different geographical locations. These differences also shaped the course of evolution for our nutritional needs.
Secondly, evolutionary changes didn’t begin with the introduction of farming. They continued right after the Paleolithic era, and some of those changes included more genes responsible for the ability to break down dietary scratches.
Finally, a lot of archeological research has found that humans actually ate wild grain as far as 30 thousand years ago, which is, as we well know, way before the introduction of farming.
However, if you’re in it for health reasons and not philosophical ones, you can still benefit from going paleo. People with this diet have reported better appetite management, more blood pressure control, more weight loss, lower triglycerides, and an improved tolerance to glucose.
What Is a Keto Diet?
The other side of the paleo diet vs keto has a lot of well-known celebrities and media platforms talking about how amazing a ketogenic diet can be for you. However, we should focus on what the science says, not what celebrities are endorsing.
So, the basics of the keto diet are that it restricts carbohydrates while adding more high-fat foods to your plate. In general, sixty to eighty percent of your daily calories should come from fat.
A normal diet consists of around fifty percent carbohydrates that turn into glucose in your body. This is a sort of fuel for your body, and we get a lot of energy from it. However, when you introduce more fat and fewer carbohydrates to your body, you actually switch the kind of fuel you use for energy. Instead of glucose, your body will burn fatty acids in a process called ketosis.
What Is the Purpose of Keto?
The goal with this diet plan is to make your body go into ketosis. Aside from lowering carbohydrates, you’ll also need to monitor your protein intake as it can turn into glucose and slow the process of going into ketosis.
When it comes to paleo vs keto for weight loss, a lot of average people and athletes choose this option. On top of losing weight, they choose it as it can help them more quickly gain muscles. If you suffer from type 2 diabetes, you can also benefit from this meal plan as it can help you lose excess fat more quickly.
What Can You Expect?
It’s easy to say that you should limit your carbohydrates and protein intake while increasing fat, but what does that actually mean? To simplify things, we’ve created another table that you can use as a loose guideline:
|What to Eat
|What to Avoid
One effect of going into ketosis is experiencing dry mouth and more thirst. Sodas and other sugary drinks aren’t allowed, but you can’t go wrong with water. Sparkling water is also allowed if you want a little bit more zest to your drink.
One of the main differences between keto and paleo is that you don’t have to completely go off caffeine when doing keto. Unsweetened coffee is allowed, and so is tea. When it comes to alcohol, limit your intake significantly. Those who don’t want to give up the occasional drink should go for vodka and tequila, as these are low-carb options that can be mixed with soda water for a delicious treat.
Are There Any Concerns?
While all of this sounds great in theory, changing the way your body uses energy can be hard and can come with some potential side effects. However, these side effects mostly occur at the beginning, when your body is just starting to enter ketosis.
Some side effects include constipation, vomiting, and diarrhea. People have also reported increased appetites, nausea, issues with sleep, decreased performance when it comes to exercise, and general poor mental and physical energy.
There is something you can do to ease the transition and help your body enter ketosis more easily: try a low-carb diet for a few weeks first. Going cold turkey will be drastic and sudden for your body, so why not ease into it?
Are There Any Supplements?
To help you stay healthy and minimize any side effects that can occur from a lack of nutrients, you can use these supplements:
- Whey– it’s a good and easy way to increase protein intake
- Creatine– it helps improve performance and is great for athletes on a keto diet
- Minerals– salt and other minerals can help maintain the mineral balance when you shift to this diet
- MCT oil– it helps you increase ketone levels and energy
- Caffeine– aside from energy, caffeine can improve fat loss and performance
Paleo vs Keto—Which Should You Choose?
Now that you know all the basics of these two diets, you can start making your decision. To help you get there, consider your overall health and what your end goal with choosing a diet is. These two factors are the most important ones to consider:
While neither of these diets carry extreme side effects when it comes to health, paleo may be suitable for more people. This is simply because it’s less restrictive than keto, which an average person can appreciate more.
Not only does the higher level of food make it easier to get most of the nutrients you need, but it also makes the diet easier to maintain over time.
On the other hand, keto can be a blessing for people with certain health conditions and athletes who want to significantly improve their performance. A lot of discipline is needed for this diet, though, as carbohydrates are usually foods we all love to indulge in. For this reason, it might be harder to maintain over a long period of time. In fact, some people report having to start the ketosis process all over again more than once simply because the diet was too hard to follow.
Keto Vs Paleo Diet Ideology
Since paleo is based on an ideology, we cannot ignore this factor when it comes to choosing the right diet. While you don’t have to agree with the reasons if you like what the diet offers, be prepared that the paleo community values their philosophy.
This is evident not just in the choice of foods, but also in the recommended lifestyle changes that come with a new diet. A different style of physical exercise is “required” for truly following the paleo lifestyle, for example. Instead of going to the gym or doing more intense exercise, paleo encourages you to try yoga and meditation.
On the other hand, keto doesn’t have a philosophy that you have to follow. The focus is on macronutrients, and how much of what you can put into your body. Furthermore, it can be rather hard and expensive to always choose good sources of fat with this diet. While you are encouraged to choose healthy fats, it’s not an obligatory requirement per say.
With keto, you won’t have to make any other lifestyle changes to truly follow the regimen, though. How you exercise and deal with stress is completely up to you, as long as you don’t use carbohydrates as stress relief. Of course, weight lifting and more intense exercise is still encouraged to prevent any muscle loss and boost performance.
As you can see, the matter of paleo vs keto isn’t as simple as it may seem in the beginning. In the end, all you can do is research both meal plans thoroughly and make an informed decision. However, if you can’t make up your mind, don’t be afraid of trying both of these diets for a few months and seeing which one makes you feel better.