Our culture is constantly inundated with diet fads and trends. And whenever a new one comes along, it seems as though everyone swears by it and it’ll be around forever… at least until the next one comes along to replace it. One common trend many of these diets have in common is reducing the amount of carbohydrates you eat. First there was the South Beach diet, then the Atkins diet, then the gluten free craze, and now the keto and paleo diets seem to be vying for the newest top spot.
If what you’ve heard about keto and paleo has you wondering what the difference is, you’re not alone, but there are some distinct differences between the two. “Keto” and “Paleo” are short for “Ketogenic” and “Paleolithic” respectively. A ketogenic diet is one which is designed to put your body in a metabolic state called ketosis where your body is burning fat instead of sugar. A paleolithic diet on the other hand is one which is designed to emulate that of pre-historic humans – referring to the archaeological time-frame known as the Paleolithic Period.
The reason so many people have a hard time understanding the difference between the two is because there are a lot of similarities, such as:
Emphasis on healthy fats (nuts, seeds, animal fats, coconut oil)
Encourage eating quality animal protein (grass-fed, organic)
No refined sugar
Encourage eating plenty of non-starchy vegetables and leafy greens
Where the differences come in is primarily the focus of the two different diets. With Paleo, the intent is to ensure you’re focusing on high quality, minimally processed foods in order to eliminate the additives and less-easily digested items commonly found in modern food. The restrictions of paleo are on specific types of foods, without worrying about tracking your intake. Keto on the other hand focuses on increasing fat and decreasing carbs so that your net carbohydrates will force your body into the ketosis metabolic state. No foods are technically off the table so long as your net carbohydrates remain in a certain range, and it encourages fat increase in a way that paleo does not.
Both diets require long-term commitment to gain the desired results, so before embarking on either, make sure you’re willing to commit to the changes as yo-yoing back and forth on your weight is far more detrimental to your health than carrying a few extra pounds. And as always, make sure to talk to your doctor about large changes to your diet before doing them so they can help guide you to what’s going to be healthiest for your specific body needs, and avoid inadvertently eliminating essential vitamins and nutrients.