What’s the difference between Paleo and Keto

Most of us have heard of ketogenic and paleo diets. Whilst they share some similarities, there are also differences in the foods they allow, their effects on the body, and key health effects.

The ketogenic (keto) diet focuses on eating a particular balance of macronutrients. The goal is to enter a state of ketosis, where the body begins to burn fat for health or weight loss.

The Paleolithic (paleo) diet focuses on eating foods that humans would have eaten in the Stone Age. The goal is to eliminate modern processed foods for health or weight loss.

Ketogenic Diet

The body typically uses carbohydrates as fuel for energy. When a person does not get enough carbs, the body will start using up fat and some protein stores. In true ketosis, the liver will take stored fat and turn it into ketones (beta-hydroxy butyrate and acetoacetate), which the body then uses for energy. Reaching this state of ketosis is the goal of the keto diet.

In general, a person on a keto diet should consume:

  • 70-80% fat
  • 20-25% protein
  • 5-10% carbohydrate

In a keto diet, carbs must come from a keto friendly vegetables, such as leafy greens, nuts, seeds, or a small group of fruits, primarily berries.

At this stage the most benefit for ketogenic diets have been seen in epilepsy, Type 2 Diabetes and some neurologic disorders. Further research is ongoing.

Paleo Diet

A paleo diet excludes highly processed foods, as well as legumes, grains, and dairy products. The paleo diet also encourages the consumption of healthful fats, such as those from wild or grass-fed animals, nut oils, butter, olive oil, and avocados. It also recommends that people eat higher amounts of animal protein.

It is completely different to a Keto diet as there is not a strict emphasis on macronutrient ratios. Whilst grains are excluded, plenty carbs can still be consumed (if not monitored) in the form of nuts, seeds, starchy veg and fruit.

Another type of Paleo diet is called Auto-Immune Paleo which also excludes nuts, seeds and nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, peppers, aubergine, etc). This diet is specifically aimed at those suffering from auto-immune disease.

Which diet is for you?

Your choice of diet is highly influenced by underlying medical conditions and genetics. There is no one size fits all approach. Whilst a ketogenic diet may be preferable in epilepsy, it may not be in some mood disorders like depression. It is highly advisable to work with a health professional when changing diet and lifestyle.