We’ve all heard of low carb diets like Atkins, but in the past year Keto and Paleo have been having a moment. While both diets focus on reducing carbs and focusing on whole foods, they differ in key ways.
Also known as a low carb high fat diet. This diet is based on the body’s chemistry and tries to induce a state of ketosis. It’s known for being high in good fats – so think lots of avocados, olive oil, and fish.
Here’s how it works:
When your body eats something high in carbs you produce both glucose and insulin. Since the glucose becomes your primary source of energy, your fat gets stored.
On a low carb diet like keto, you stop producing glucose and start breaking down the fat in your liver. This breakdown produces what are called Ketones, which then become your primary source of energy.
Now there are drawbacks to the Keto diet. Inducing a state of Ketosis can produce what is called the “Keto Flu”. For the first 3-5 days, you body needs to adjust to a new style of eating. This can cause exhaustion and a “flu like state”.
However don’t fret, after this flu period people often report higher levels of energy, weight loss, and increased performance.
What to eat
It’s critical to count your macros on keto. Your intake should be around 70% fat, 25% protein, 5% carbohydrates.
- Sugar – honey, agave, maple syrup
- Grains – rice, wheat, corn
- Fruit – apples, bananas, oranges
- Meats – fish, beef, poultry
- High Fat Dairy – hard cheeses, butter
- Leafy Greens and “above ground” Veggies – cauliflower, spinach, kale
- Nuts and Seeds – walnuts, peanuts, sunflowers
- Avocado and Berries – raspberries, blackberries
- Sweeteners – stevia, monk fruit
- Other fats – coconut oil, olive oil
Benefits of Keto
- Weight loss
- Mental Focus
- Increased energy
- Controlled Blood Sugar
The paleo diet has gained popularity in recent years. It’s also known as the caveman diet and is based on the philosophy that our bodies evolved years before we started farming. It focuses on whole foods and cutting out grains. It’s more restrictive than Keto and is stressed as a lifestyle rather than diet.
How it works
Paleo focuses on cutting out grains that inflame our body. Most grains contain Gluten and Lectin.
- Gluten can cause a number of unpleasant medical conditions such as dermatitis, acid reflux, reproductive problems, and joint pain. New awareness around gluten has caused an influx of gluten-free products to enter the market. Paleo doesn’t recommend eating these products, since they are highly processed.
- Lectins are a natural toxin that grains developed to defend against consumption. They can cause GI tract damage and IBS.
This diet eliminates these toxins as well as other processed foods to bring our bodies back to their natural states.
What to Eat
This diet doesn’t have specific guidelines on what macros to eat. It focuses more on listening intuitively to your body. Calorie counting isn’t encouraged.
- Grains – Wheat, rice, pasta
- Legumes – Peanuts, beans, lentils
- Dairy – cheese, milk, yogurt
- Refined Sugar
- Tubers – Potatoes and Yams
- Refined Vegetable Oils
- Processed Foods
- Grass-fed Meat
- Fish and Seafood
- Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
- Nuts and Seeds (excluding peanuts)
- Healthy oils – coconut, avocado, olive, and walnut
- Higher levels of iron
- Weight loss
- Improved Satiety
Both diets have benefits and drawbacks. It’s even possible to do both at the same time. Thinking about what your diet goals are (whether it’s overall wellness or a focus on weight loss) can help you choose which one is right for you.