Keto diet vs. paleo diet: Which is better?

Keto Diet vs. Paleo Diet: Which is Better?

When it comes to choosing a diet plan, it can be overwhelming to navigate the sea of options available. Two popular diets that have gained traction in recent years are the ketogenic (keto) diet and the paleolithic (paleo) diet. Both diets have their own set of benefits and drawbacks, but which one is better for you? In this article, we’ll explore the key differences between the keto and paleo diets, their potential health benefits, and how to decide which one is right for you.

What is the Keto Diet?

The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet that aims to shift your body’s primary fuel source from glucose (sugar) to ketones, which are produced when your body breaks down fat for energy. This metabolic state, known as ketosis, can lead to weight loss, improved mental clarity, and increased energy levels.

A typical keto diet consists of the following macronutrient ratios:

– 70-80% fat
– 20-25% protein
– 5-10% carbohydrates

Some common foods included in the keto diet are:

– Fatty meats (e.g., beef, pork, chicken)
– Fish and seafood
– Eggs
– Dairy products (e.g., cheese, butter, cream)
– Nuts and seeds
– Low-carb vegetables (e.g., leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower)
– Healthy fats (e.g., avocado, olive oil, coconut oil)

What is the Paleo Diet?

The paleo diet, also known as the caveman or stone-age diet, is based on the idea of eating only foods that were available to our hunter-gatherer ancestors. The diet focuses on whole, unprocessed foods and eliminates grains, legumes, dairy, refined sugars, and processed oils.

A typical paleo diet consists of the following food groups:

– Lean meats (e.g., grass-fed beef, wild game, poultry)
– Fish and seafood
– Eggs
– Fruits and vegetables
– Nuts and seeds
– Healthy fats (e.g., avocado, olive oil, coconut oil)

Key Differences Between Keto and Paleo Diets

While both the keto and paleo diets emphasize whole foods and healthy fats, there are some key differences between the two:

1. Carbohydrate Intake: The keto diet is much lower in carbohydrates than the paleo diet. While both diets eliminate grains and refined sugars, the paleo diet allows for more natural sources of carbohydrates, such as fruits and starchy vegetables.

2. Dairy: Dairy products are allowed on the keto diet, as long as they are high in fat and low in carbohydrates. On the other hand, the paleo diet eliminates all dairy products, as they were not consumed by our ancestors.

3. Legumes: Legumes, such as beans and lentils, are not allowed on the paleo diet due to their potential to cause inflammation and digestive issues. However, they are allowed on the keto diet in moderation, as long as they fit within the daily carbohydrate limit.

4. Macronutrient Ratios: The keto diet has specific macronutrient ratios that must be followed to achieve ketosis, while the paleo diet does not have strict macronutrient guidelines.

Health Benefits of Keto and Paleo Diets

Both the keto and paleo diets have been associated with various health benefits, including:

1. Weight Loss: Both diets can lead to weight loss, as they encourage the consumption of whole, nutrient-dense foods and eliminate processed, high-calorie options. The keto diet, in particular, has been shown to be effective for weight loss due to its ability to suppress appetite and increase fat burning [1].

2. Improved Blood Sugar Control: By eliminating refined carbohydrates and sugars, both diets can help improve blood sugar control and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes [2].

3. Reduced Inflammation: The paleo diet’s focus on anti-inflammatory foods and elimination of potential inflammatory triggers, such as grains and legumes, may help reduce chronic inflammation and improve overall health [3].

4. Heart Health: Both diets promote the consumption of healthy fats, which can help improve cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease [4].

Which Diet is Right for You?

When deciding between the keto and paleo diets, it’s essential to consider your individual needs, preferences, and health goals. Here are some factors to consider:

1. Weight Loss Goals: If your primary goal is weight loss, the keto diet may be more effective due to its ability to suppress appetite and increase fat burning.

2. Food Preferences: If you enjoy dairy products and can tolerate them well, the keto diet may be a better fit. If you prefer a diet that focuses on whole, unprocessed foods without strict macronutrient ratios, the paleo diet may be more suitable.

3. Health Concerns: If you have a history of heart disease, diabetes, or inflammation, either diet may be beneficial. However, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional before making any significant dietary changes.

4. Sustainability: Consider which diet you can realistically maintain long-term. Both diets require a certain level of commitment and may be challenging to adhere to for some individuals.

In conclusion, both the keto and paleo diets offer potential health benefits, and the best choice depends on your individual needs and preferences. It’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional before making any significant dietary changes and to remember that a balanced, nutrient-dense diet is the foundation for optimal health.


[1] Bueno, N. B., de Melo, I. S. V., de Oliveira, S. L., & da Rocha Ataide, T. (2013). Very-low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet v. low-fat diet for long-term weight loss: a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. British Journal of Nutrition, 110(7), 1178-1187. Link

[2] Masharani, U., Sherchan, P., Schloetter, M., Stratford, S., Xiao, A., Sebastian, A., … & Frassetto, L. (2015). Metabolic and physiologic effects from consuming a hunter-gatherer (Paleolithic)-type diet in type 2 diabetes. European journal of clinical nutrition, 69(8), 944-948. Link

[3] Whalen, K. A., McCullough, M. L., Flanders, W. D., Hartman, T. J., Judd, S., & Bostick, R. M. (2017). Paleolithic and Mediterranean diet pattern scores and risk of incident, sporadic colorectal adenomas. American journal of epidemiology, 186(11), 1279-1289. Link

[4] Forsythe, C. E., Phinney, S. D., Fernandez, M. L., Quann, E. E., Wood, R. J., Bibus, D. M., … & Volek, J. S. (2008). Comparison of low fat and low carbohydrate diets on circulating fatty acid composition and markers of inflammation. Lipids, 43(1), 65-77. Link

Amanda Dawn

HI! I'm Amanda. A trained chef, nutritionist, and writer who is passionate about helping people live a healthy lifestyle. I lost 75 lbs in my journey and I love to help others enjoy great, wholesome food!

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