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Keto vs Paleo?



Today I am going to discuss the differences between two popular diets, the Keto and the Paleo diets, both promoted for health and weight loss.


The Paleo diet is a high-protein, high-fiber eating plan that relies on whole foods that our hunter-gatherer ancestors would have eaten and eliminates highly processed foods, as well as legumes, grains, and dairy products -foods that became common when farming emerged. It encourages incorporating moderate exercise such as brisk walking as well as yoga and meditation.


The Keto diet, is a low-carb high-protein diet that restricts carbohydrates to trigger ketosis so the body can burn fat for energy instead of glucose. Exercise is not needed with this diet.

Both keto and paleo diets exclude many unhealthful foods, including processed foods, such as chips, crackers, and packaged snacks and foods that contain white or brown sugar, corn syrup, or agave nectar. Both diets also exclude some foods that most would consider healthy: whole grains, including rice, wheat, quinoa, pasta, bread, and oats; legumes, including beans, peanuts, peas, soy, and lentils.


Let’s looks at their differences more in detail.


Though for different reasons, both diets strongly discourage eating grains and legumes. Keto because of their carbohydrate content, and Paleo because they were not likely part of early human diets. The Keto diet restricts all rich sources of carbohydrates, including starchy vegetables, most fruits, grains, sweeteners and most legumes. Paleo is not a low carb diet, and while it has some specific carb restrictions, it allows carbs from fruits, vegetables, and unrefined sweeteners.


Both diets strongly discourage the intake of added sugars because they are processed foods. Keto is very strict due to their high carb content, but Paleo allows unrefined sugar sources like honey and maple syrup.


Both diets emphasize the intake of healthy fats. Fat is the cornerstone of the Keto diet. Paleo while not necessarily a high-fat diet, uses this recommendation to support overall health.


Keto encourages eating high-fat dairy foods and some soy, provided that they fit within the recommended macronutrient range while Paleo doesn’t allow dairy or soy, with the exception of some butter.


Keto’s main focus is the macronutrient distribution; any other lifestyle changes are the up to the individual. The Paleo diet places no limits on macronutrients and also encourages exercise and mindfulness.


Do you need to pay attention to calories with these diets? Does a Keto or a Paleo diet work because it automatically restricts calories, or because it provides some special metabolic adaptation?


Keto can make you feel more satisfied with less food, while also increasing the calories you burn per day -mainly because of its high protein content. However, if you do end up eating more calories than your body needs, they’ll still get stored as fat, even if you’re in ketosis. So, at the end, calories in count. The Paleo diet is considered a clean-eating diet because you do not eat junk food or a lot of simple carbohydrates. Paleo is all about feeling satisfied with healthier fats, more vegetables and less starchy and sugary carbs. Although there is no calorie counting, as with any method of weight loss, the Paleo diet seeks to reduce calorie intake.


Both diets have a scientific foundation, as we discussed. Regarding their health impact, Paleo appears to be healthier than Keto. A wider range of healthy options are available in the Paleo diet compared to Keto. In terms of how easy they are to follow: both impose restrictions on certain foods. Paleo offers more flexibility on food choices so Keto seems more difficult to maintain because of the strict compliance needed to achieve ketosis.

Below is their ranking according to the US News and World Report produced by a panel of experts who reviewed 35 diets.



As you can observe none of these 2 diets scored very high. The weight loss effect is superior with the Keto diet, especially if you are looking for fast weight loss. If you decide to go Keto, take into consideration that it has been ranked as the worse diet for healthy eating, so I wouldn’t recommend it for long term.


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Andres Digenio MD, PhD

andres.digenio@gmail.com

 

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