When you search for Paleo vs keto in Google, you get over 41,000,000 hits! That should be enough to tell you how many people want to know the real story behind the Paleo diet vs keto diet for weight loss and overall health. A lot!
So, here are the highlights (and low lights) of each, so you can judge for yourself. Plus, you can find so many great new paleo recipes to love.
What is the Paleo diet?
The Paleo diet is based on foods that might have been eaten during the Paleolithic era. This means lean meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts which could have been hunted or gathered.
Food that is ‘farmed’ like beans and grains, or that comes from domesticated animals, such as dairy products, are not eaten when you’re Paleo. Processed food is also a hard no.
This approach to eating is thought to combat modern-day health problems such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease because it’s a simpler way of eating that’s more in tune with our genetics and anatomy. But does it work?
Will you lose weight on the Paleo diet?
Randomised, controlled trials have shown that in the short term, the Paleo diet produces excellent weight loss results.
In fact, it has greater weight loss and reduced weight circumference than diets based on national nutritional guidelines (in other words, the old-school food pyramid). But often this rapid weight loss was limited to the first six months or less.
After that, what data there is shows that the weight loss plateaued in comparison.
What does this mean? It means that you will lose weight on a Paleo diet, but maybe only for six months or so, and then you could find yourself stuck.
But how healthy is the Paleo diet?
Studies have shown that the Paleo diet can lead to decreased blood pressure, increased insulin sensitivity and improved cholesterol. But again, these studies were all less than six months in duration.
There just isn’t the long-term data available to see if these health benefits continue on in the long term.
Also, as with all diets that exclude entire categories of foods, you need to be careful to get all the essential nutrients into your diet or you could find deficiencies such as calcium, vitamin D or B vitamins.
What is the keto diet?
Well, I’m all about the keto diet over here, and I’ve written a lot of detail about what is the keto diet and getting started on a low carb diet! But just for ease, I’ll summarise again.
The keto diet is also focused on eating what people have evolved to eat for millions of years.
Essentially, the ketogenic (or keto) diet is very low in carbohydrates and higher in healthy fats and by limiting carbs the body is forced to use fat for energy (ketosis).
Will you lose weight on the keto diet?
Maybe! I am the perfect example of success, having lost 30 kilos by changing to the keto diet. In fact, I’ve never felt better or healthier. But what does the science say?
Research shows good evidence that people on the keto diet lose weight faster than on traditional low-fat or Mediterranean diets. In fact, in the first two years, it is a recipe for really rapid weight loss.
But how healthy is the keto diet?
In addition to losing weight, the keto diet improves blood pressure, blood glucose regulation, triglycerides and HDL cholesterol levels. It also shows promising results in neurological disorders such as epilepsy, dementia, ALS, traumatic brain injury, acne cancers and metabolic disorders.
Early studies also show that it could be helpful in fighting type 2 diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular disease.
Of course, like any diet, you need to be careful not to take it too far for you or your body. In cases where that’s happened, the keto diet has been associated with complications like dehydration, electrolyte disturbances and hypoglycemia.
Paleo vs Keto – The Winner Is…
For fast weight loss, both the paleo diet and the keto diet are great. But studies show longer-term results are better with keto.
Also, when it comes to weight loss, the popular vote is clearly with the keto diet, as it ranked 3rd for Best Weight Loss Diets (while the Paleo diet tied for 23rd).
When it comes to overall health, both diets also have benefits that go beyond weight loss.
However, the keto diet may have a bit more. Longer-term studies need to be done, but it’s pretty safe to say that both the research and our own experience is firmly behind the keto diet!
Listen to Your Body
Of course, a healthy lifestyle is all about balance and finding what is right for your body. You may start out on keto, and then transition to paleo, or vice versa.
My best advice is to keep a diary of what you eat, how you feel and the results that you’re getting. This will help you determine the best diet for your body and your lifestyle.
And of course, seek medical advice when you need it!