Paleo vs Keto: OMG, Which Diet Should I Do?!

It seems everyone is on some sort of new diet craze these days. I want to talk about the two diets that probably get the most attention, and how they compare. Paleo vs Keto.

The truth is there’s no ‘one-size-fits-all‘ meal plan. One diet may work for one person, and may not for another. There are so many factors involved in how our bodies respond to certain foods and nutrients. It also depends on your personal fitness goals. For example, going for muscle mass requires a different type of meal plan than getting lean and conditioned.

With that said, I’ll breakdown both Paleo and Keto style diets, and give you the pros and cons of each. This way you’ll hopefully be able to make a more educated decision on which plan to try.

Paleo Diet Overview

I’ve always heard the Paleo diet called ‘The Caveman Diet.’ In other words, if a caveman didn’t eat it, neither should you. You’re basically eliminating processed foods and foods with any additives or preservatives. The Paleo diet is more so what your early ancestors lived on.

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The Paleo diet appears to support a healthy balance of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. In recent years, carbs have been labeled as bad. The Paleo concept combats this by differentiating good vs bad carbs.

Paleo has you eliminating processed foods and foods with any additives or preservatives. And with the balance of macro-nutrients, you should be getting all of the necessary vitamins and nutrients your body needs through natural food sources on this meal plan. It also has you ditching foods with refined or artificial sugars. The only sugar that you will get is from natural sources, such as the list of vegetables and specific fruits you’re allowed to eat on Paleo. The goal here is to lessen the glycemic load on your body, thus not spiking your blood sugar.

Foods such as grains, legumes, and peanuts are not part of the Paleo meal plan either. The reasons revolve around inflammation and phytic acid (thought there’s controversy on the impact of these foods). There are other arguments on how whole grains effect insulin sensitivity.

Many believe that much of the diseases and ailments we experience today are caused by processed foods. The Paleo diet is said bring us back to a healthier status by merging towards the natural foods that our bodies can process and use for energy, brain functions, tissue growth and repair, etc.

Sample Paleo Meal 1

  • Chicken breast
  • Sweet potato
  • Green beans

Sample Paleo Meal 2

  • Roast beef tips
  • Red potatoes
  • Carrots

Paleo Pros and Cons

Paleo Diet Pros: The benefits of the Paleo diet revolves around balanced macro-nutrients and having pure, unadulterated food sources. You’re eliminating the junk food and added ingredients that your body simply cannot process effectively (in some cases, at all). In theory, your body and mind should be operating on all cylinders on a Paleo meal plan. Overall, it appears to be a healthy and well-balanced meal plan.

Paleo Diet Cons: Eating only what our ancestors ate may not be the answer. Conditions and environment were obviously different then than now, so it’s not necessarily an apples to apples comparison (hey, apples are on the Paleo plan!). There are other philosophies built around the Paleo diet such as stating our ancestors did not eat grains or cereals. However, some recent studies suggest grains and cereals were eaten prior to the Paleolithic times. Considering the arguments, Paleo is said by some to be exaggerated.

Keto Diet Overview

The goal of the Keto (or Ketogenic) diet is to promote ketosis in the body. This is done with high fat intake, moderate protein, and extremely low carbohydrates. Limiting carbs allows your body to turn fat cells into ketones, which are said to be a high octane source of energy.

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Since carbs are are cut to a minimal daily amount in the Keto diet, insulin spikes are minimized (as there’s nothing to be converted to glucose). Through this, blood sugar is controlled and remains stable.

The macro-nutrient formula for reaching Ketosis is:

  • Fat: 60%
  • Protein: 35%
  • Carbs: 5%

One of the most liked effects of the Ketogenic diet is it’s easier to consume less calories. This produces an ideal environment for weight loss. Fats and proteins tend to make you feel full, faster.

There’s research that shows the Keto diet can actually weaken cancer cells. Part of this is sugar has been noted to be a primary source that fuels cancer cells. This is in conjunction with intermittent fasting (I’ll talk about that in a future blog).

The Ketogenic diet has been used for almost a century to prevent and treat certain diseases and ailments. A few of these are epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease. Keto diets have also been used for patients who have suffered from strokes and brain trauma. It’s important to note that overall calorie restriction is typically adhered to.

Sample Keto Meal 1

  • Avocados
  • Steak (preferably from grass-fed source)
  • Broccoli

Sample Keto Meal 2

  • Fish (salmon) cooked with Olive Oil
  • Raw cashews
  • Spinach

Keto Pros and Cons

Ketogenic Diet Pros: The Keto diet has a lot going for it. Keeping blood sugar low is huge, especially coming from the typical western diet where so many diseases and ailments are directly related to high sugar intake. And there seems to be a hefty amount of research on Keto diets for preventing certain cancers and treating disease. Keto is also one of the fastest ways to lose fat.

Ketogenic Diet Cons: Like any type of diet, Keto may not work for everyone. It’s also said that if you’re very active you may not be able to rely solely on fats for energy, thus the need for carbs comes in. Especially endurance athletes. A Ketogenic meal plan may not be beneficial for one who wants to gain muscle either, such as bodybuilders. Though some maintain muscle and strength on Keto, it’s not typical.

* On either diet, this is a powerful metabolism booster that will you help you progress with burning fat and putting on lean muscle. 

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Paleo vs Keto: My Personal Take

I don’t know that I can responsibly provide a true Paleo vs. Keto argument. They’re both healthy concepts and far more pros than cons. So what are my final thoughts?

Why not cycle your diet with Paleo and Keto? I would say try Keto for a couple of weeks to see how your body responds. If you’re getting good results, keep going. But if you feel you hit a plateau in progress, switch to Paleo. Or do Paleo first and then Keto.

I’m actually a big fan of cycling your diet. but I prefer to cycle in shorter intervals. I may do a Keto style meal plan for a day or two and then switch over to Paleo by adding healthy carbs.

My usual diet strategy may look something like this:

  • Monday: Keto (less than 20 grams of carbs)
  • Tuesday: Keto (less than 50 grams of carbs)
  • Wednesday: Paleo
  • Thursday: Keto (less than 50 grams of carbs)
  • Friday: Paleo
  • Saturday: Lenient Paleo
  • Sunday: Lenient Paleo (last meal of the day will be no carbs)

Many say that both Keto and Paleo are lifestyle changes. I’m personally not an extremist and believe in balance. I find that if I don’t restrict myself all the time, I’m more apt and motivated to eat strict and clean on the days I’m scheduled to. Because I know I have some ‘lenient Paleo’ days coming up. I don’t stuff my face with junk those days, but I will indulge in some comfort foods here and there. At the end of the day, you really have to assess your goals and where you are in your journey.

Of course there are some foods that have no business being in your diet regimen. But hey, I’ll freely admit that I like my pizza once a week and I’ll also enjoy a couple of craft beers on the weekends. I know…that goes against both Paleo and Keto!

Train (and eat) with Passion,

Jason


References:

‘Everything You Need to Know About the Paleo Diet” – K. Aleisha Fetters – http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20786451,00.html

‘The Paleo Problem: Examining the Pros and Cons of the Paleo Diet’ – Brian St. Pierre – http://www.precisionnutrition.com/paleo-diet

‘What is the Ketogenic Diet?’ – TheKetogenicDiet.org – http://www.theketogenicdiet.org/what-is-the-ketogenic-diet/

‘How the Ketogenic Diet Weakens Cancer Cells’ – Dr. David Jockers – https://thetruthaboutcancer.com/ketogenic-diet-weakens-cancer-cells/

‘Neuroprotective and Disease-Modifying Effects of the Ketogenic Diet’ – Maciej Gasior, Michael A. Rogawski, Adam L. Hartman – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2367001/

‘Pros & Cons of a Ketogenic Diet – Many Benefits Including Fat Loss & Better Health!’ Poliquin Group – http://main.poliquingroup.com/ArticlesMultimedia/Articles/Article/1474/Pros_Cons_of_A_Ketogenic_DietMany_Benefits_Includi.aspx

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