Paleo vs Keto: Which Is The Right Diet For You?

The Paleo and Keto diets are just two of the many popular diets that people follow today. Both have the common goal of achieving weight loss and an overall healthier body. We compare Paleo vs Keto to find out the key differences and similarities between these two diets and see which of them is the right and healthier option for you.

The Paleo Diet

bowl filled with salad veggies and beef
Photo by Pexels from Pixabay

The Paleo diet, also known as the caveman diet, focuses on foods that our ancestors consumed during the Paleolithic era. This diet puts emphasis on whole foods that are rich in fiber and high in protein like vegetables, fruits, and meat.

It is believed that if you align your eating style to that of the early humans, it helps to support your body’s natural biological function. This, in turn, improves your digestion and health. The philosophy of the Paleo diet strongly focuses on the environmental impact of food choices, lifestyle practices, and total body wellness.

The typical Paleo diet includes the following foods:

  • Vegetables 
  • Fruits
  • Meat and Fish
  • Eggs
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Minimally processed sweeteners (raw honey, coconut sugar, maple syrup, raw stevia)
  • Selected fats and oils (olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, lard, tallow, butter)

It eliminates the following foods:

  • Grains
  • Most sources of dairy
  • Legumes
  • Processed sugar

Because this diet avoids modern food systems such as processing techniques that damage human health, Paleo may improve cholesterol levels and provide benefits for metabolic syndrome.

The Keto Diet

vine tomatoes and himalayan salt against a black background and a plate of sliced avocado and a boiled egg cut in half
Photo by zuzyusa from Pixabay

The Ketogenic or Keto diet puts your body into a state of ketosis by adjusting the dietary macronutrients such as carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Instead of using carbs to create the energy needed, ketosis is the metabolic state which uses calories from fat to carry out the body’s normal functions.

When the body enters the ketosis state, fat travels to the liver, which is converted into chemicals called ketones. The ketones enter the bloodstream and are converted into energy. Unlike a standard diet, the Keto diet uses fat as its primary energy source and with moderate protein amounts instead of carbohydrates. According to Keto experts, the macronutrient breakdown of your caloric intake would look something like this: Fat (60-80%), Protein (20-30%) and Carbohydrates (5-10%).

The following foods are recommended for the keto diet:

  • Fatty meats like bacon
  • Lean meats
  • Eggs
  • Avocados
  • Nuts and seeds

While it eliminates the following:

  • Carbohydrates like grains
  • Starchy Vegetables
  • Fruits

This diet has recently been gaining popularity because of its potential to help you lose weight and improve blood sugar control.

Paleo vs Keto: What do they have in common?

When we look at Paleo vs Keto, they are very distinct diets, but they also have many characteristics in common. Even with those similarities, each diet has some limitations on what is allowed and what isn’t. Here are some things these two diets share in common with each other:

Focus on whole foods

cooked chicken and vegetables in gravy and garnished with rosemary and cilantro
Photo by Michael Shivili from Pixabay

Both diets emphasize and rely on whole food sources of nutrients. These are foods that went through a minimal amount of processing until it reaches your plate. Whole foods include unprocessed meat for protein, fresh vegetables, fish, seafood, and nuts. It also strongly encourages the elimination of ultra-processed foods such as fats, oils, sweeteners, chips, crackers, or packaged snacks.

Focus on healthy fats

olive oil being pour into a small glass bowl with olive decorations, an extractor and whisk around it
Photo by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

Both Paleo and keto diets encourage the intake of healthy and unrefined fats to achieve optimal health. Selected refined oils like olive and avocado oils, as well as nuts, seeds and fish are known to benefit heart health. This is because they have poly- and monounsaturated fat content. Both diets recommend moderate to liberal amounts of these foods.

On the other hand, Paleo and Keto diets also discourage the use of heavily processed fats like trans fats. When consumed regularly, this can be detrimental to one’s health. While Keto emphasizes on fat as the diet’s foundation, Paleo uses it as well to support overall health.

Eliminates grains and legumes

different types of legumes
Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Both diets strongly discourage the consumption of grains and legumes due to different reasons. The Keto diet eliminates grains and legumes because they contain a significant amount of carbohydrates. There is a risk of throwing your body out of the state of ketosis.

The Paleo diet eliminates them as they were not likely part of early human diets and they contain anti-nutrients. These anti-nutrients are compounds like lectins and phytates that can be found in some plant-based foods. When eaten in large quantities, they interfere with your body’s ability to absorb minerals and nutrients and may cause digestive distress.

Eliminates added sugar

a bottle of maple syrup and a wooden spoon
Photo by piviso from Pixabay

In general, the Paleo and Keto diets avoid heavily processed foods that contain white or brown sugar, corn syrup, or agave nectar. That is why the intake of added sugars is strongly discouraged.

Sometimes, though, the Paleo diet still allows some unrefined sources of sugar like honey and maple syrup. However, the Keto diet does not permit any added sugar sources at all (refined or unrefined) because of its high carb content.

Can be effective for weight loss

a woman's belly and the waist of her jeans stretched out to show her weight loss
Photo by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

Both Paleo and Keto diets are popular for the reason that they promote weight loss. Although there is limited research regarding the effectiveness and sustainability of these diets for long-term weight loss, short-term research proves to be promising.

For the Keto diet, this weight loss effect could be possible for several reasons. One of them is that a high intake of fat leads to a decrease in appetite and fewer overall calories consumed. The process of ketosis can also lead to more efficient elimination of the body’s fat stores.

Paleo vs Keto: What makes them different?

Paleo Keto
Restricts almost all dairy and soy products, except grass-fed butter which is the only permitted dairy product. Permits and encourages high-fat dairy in the form of butter, heavy cream, and unsweetened full-fat yogurt.
Focuses on natural and grass-fed meat and excludes processed meats like ham, bacon, and salami. Allows any type of meat that does not contain added sugar or carbohydrates that could interfere with the body’s ketosis.
Focuses on natural and grass-fed meat and excludes processed meats like ham, bacon, and salami. Allows any type of meat that does not contain added sugar or carbohydrates that could interfere with the body’s ketosis.
Encourages many nutritious vegetables in moderation such as carrots, beets, and sweet potatoes. Lower carb vegetables should be prioritized. Excludes vegetables with a high starch or carbohydrate content as they could interrupt ketosis.

Paleo vs Keto: Which diet is for you?

side by side comparison of the different foods for the paleo and keto diets
Photos by Yulia Furman and Yulia from Adobe Stock

Depending on how and what they are used for, both Paleo and Keto diets can be healthy options for your diet. The decision of Paleo vs Keto as a suitable diet choice also comes down to your own individual body. Everyone’s body reacts differently to a given diet so only you know what your body can and can’t take.

The Keto diet may not be suitable for everyone and can be beneficial as a treatment method for some people with health conditions. This restrictive diet may be more difficult to maintain because it needs strict compliance to achieve the state of ketosis. Getting the adequate nutrients your body needs can prove to be challenging due to the limited options in the Keto diet.

On the other hand, the Paleo diet can be a better and healthier choice for most people. It gives more flexibility in terms of food options which allows a wide variety of nutrients for your body’s needs. This diet also encourages a balanced and moderate approach to health and wellness.

Whichever diet plan you choose to follow, it is important to research and plan carefully. Find out which diet fits in best with your food preference, dietary requirements and lifestyle. Both Paleo and Keto diets have the potential to impact positively and improve your body’s overall health so they’re definitely worth adopting into your fitness regime!

Mr Maxim
Mr Maxim is your go-to guy for all things men's lifestyle. If you need help getting your mojo together, Mr Maxim has all the tips you need to survive as a modern man in the 21st century.


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