Paleo Vs. Keto: Similarities, Differences, and Benefits
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Paleo Vs. Keto: Similarities, Differences, and Benefits

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Paleo Vs. Keto: Similarities, Differences, and Benefits

Posted 2 years ago

Brian Stanton

Brian Stanton


SaVanna Shoemaker, MS, RDN, LD

SaVanna Shoemaker, MS, RDN, LD

Expert Approved

Twenty years ago, Paleo and Keto weren’t a big deal. Today, you can’t pass a magazine rack without seeing them advertised. 

Why have Paleo and Keto become so popular? Because they’re ways of eating that help folks improve their health.

If you take a big-time sugar-eater and put them on Keto or Paleo, they’ll likely lose fat and feel better. That’s a desirable outcome. 

Today you’ll learn the similarities, differences, and benefits of Paleo vs. Keto. Then you can choose which is best suited for you. 

What Is The Paleo Diet?

The central principle of the Paleo diet is simple: Eat as your ancestors ate. 

This doesn’t mean eating like your great uncle Wilfred ate. (Unless he ate like a caveman with proper table manners). Rather, it means mimicking the diets of early homo sapiens. 

On Paleo, you eat the foods humans evolved to eat. This means meat, fish, offal, eggs, healthy fats, nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables are on the menu. 

What’s off the menu? Grains, legumes, refined sugar, anything packaged, vegetable oils, processed meats, and (sometimes) dairy

Since Paleo forbids grains, legumes, and sugar, it’s often naturally low in carbs. But because Paleo sanctions starchy foods like potatoes, yams, and turnips, it’s not, like Keto, low-carb by design. 

What Is The Keto Diet?

The Keto diet is low-carb by design. To eat Keto, you consume fewer than 10 percent of calories from carbohydrates, 15 to 35 percent from protein, and 55 to 75 percent from fat. 

Why keep carbs low? Because keeping carbs low helps keep blood sugar and insulin levels low, which in turn signals your liver to start burning fat and making ketones.[*

Restricting carbs is like throwing a metabolic switch. Instead of burning mostly sugar (glucose) for energy, you switch over to burning fat. As you might imagine (and as a growing literature suggests), this metabolic shift is useful for fat loss.[*][*][*]

The Keto menu is like the Paleo menu, but with fewer carbs. It includes meat, fish, offal, eggs, healthy fats, nuts, seeds, (sometimes) dairy, and low-carb vegetables.

You avoid most of the same stuff (grains, legumes, sugar, packaged foods, etc.) as Paleo, but also a couple more things: most fruit and starchy plants. The majority of fruits and root vegetables have too many carbs to keep you in ketosis—aka, fat-burning mode.  

Paleo vs. Keto: Similarities

Paleo and Keto are more similar than different. Let’s see how. 

#1: Focus on whole foods

A clean Keto diet is just a Paleo diet without most fruit and starchy veg. Both are diets a prehistoric knuckle-dragger might have enjoyed. 

When you eat whole foods (as opposed to processed foods), you infuse your body with a spectrum of beneficial nutrients. These vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids are most valuable when consumed together in food form—a concept called “food synergy.”[*

#2: Low-carb alignment

Keto is always low-carb, but Paleo is usually low-carb too. 

The ancestral diet was often a Keto diet. If you time-traveled to 30,000 BC, you’d find a human population cycling in and out of ketosis. They occasionally had high-carb foods like honey or fruit, but often low-carb fare sustained them.

#3: No added sugar

You probably already know that too much sugar is bad for you. High sugar diets have been linked to heart disease, diabetes, cognitive decline, and many other chronic conditions.[*][*][*

Both Keto and Paleo frown upon refined sugar. This is probably why people on both diets may see health benefits such as weight loss, better energy, and improvements in cardiometabolic risk factors.[*][*][*][*

Paleo Diet vs. Keto Diet: Differences

When contrasting Paleo and Keto, you see a couple of key differences: 

#1: Different carb rules

The number one rule of Keto is to limit carbs, usually to under 10% of calories. That’s how you flip the metabolic switch towards fat burning. 

On Paleo, however, there’s no dogma against carbs. If you wanted, you could eat a high-carb ancestral diet composed chiefly of yams, parsnips, and other tubers.

#2: Dairy 

Dairy on Keto is generally condoned, but dairy on Paleo is controversial. Many Paleo pundits argue that, because our ancestors didn’t eat dairy we shouldn’t either. 

But our ancestors also didn’t have access to modern medicine. Should we throw that out too?

The smarter method is to approach dairy on an individual basis. If you can tolerate whole-fat dairy—and like the taste—go forth and reap the beneficial nutrients like calcium, CLA, and vitamin A. 

But if lactose, casein, or other milk components give you issues, go dairy-free. Your comfort is worth it.  

Combining Paleo and Keto (And Paleo Keto Recipes)

Paleo and Keto are similar diets. Because of this, they’re easily combined. 

Simply start with a whole foods Paleo template, then subtract higher-carb fruits and starchy tubers. Presto, you have a Paleo-Keto diet. 

This way of eating can also be described as a clean Keto diet. Clean Keto is just a real food low-carb diet that shuns processed foods and vegetable oils. 

Here are some inviting Paleo-Keto recipes to get you started:

And if you’re craving a Paleo-Keto dessert, try these Keto Almond and Coconut Macaroons or this Keto Chocolate Drizzled Avocado Treat. Don’t expect leftovers. 

How To Choose Which Diet Is Best

There’s a lot to like about both Paleo and Keto. Both diets encourage whole foods that we evolved to eat, and both disallow refined sugar. 

And the less added sugar a person consumes, the healthier they tend to be.

How do you find out which diet is best for you? The old-fashioned way: by trying them out. 

Give up sugar, grains, legumes, and processed foods for a month and see how you feel. That’s the gist of Paleo. 

And if you want to sample the benefits of ketosis, take the additional step of keeping carbs low. After you run this experiment, you’ll be well-positioned to decide what works best. 

Comments 15

  • UpbeatCauliflower344321

    UpbeatCauliflower344321 a year ago

    I have more energy with Ketogenic Diet .

    • OutstandingAvocado708905

      OutstandingAvocado708905 2 years ago

      Need to digest this & maybe reread.

      • SpectacularRadish139997

        SpectacularRadish139997 2 years ago

        Great! Thanks!

        • BlithesomeArugula418843

          BlithesomeArugula418843 2 years ago

          Thanks! Excellent info!

          • FantasticKetone919659

            FantasticKetone919659 2 years ago

            Thank you for the information

            • OutstandingCauliflower855351

              OutstandingCauliflower855351 2 years ago

              Thanks for the info!

              • IneffableAvocado632796

                IneffableAvocado632796 2 years ago

                Thank you this is helpful.

                • FabulousMacadamia880203

                  FabulousMacadamia880203 2 years ago

                  Extremely helpful, thanks 😊

                  • BlithesomeAvocado762862

                    BlithesomeAvocado762862 2 years ago

                    Thanks for the info

                    • BlithesomeKale452576

                      BlithesomeKale452576 2 years ago

                      I finally understood, tithe difference, thanks 😊

                      • Cognos89Carol

                        Cognos89Carol 2 years ago

                        Explained a lot is similarities!

                        • Strive2Bhealthy

                          Strive2Bhealthy 2 years ago

                          Excellent information! Thanks


                   2 years ago

                            Helpful - thank you

                            • Nanoolove

                              Nanoolove 2 years ago


                              • StupendousKale627460

                                StupendousKale627460 2 years ago

                                Very helpful! Thanks!