Keto vs. Paleo: What is the difference and which is more effective for weight loss?
Keto or paleo diet for weight loss? If you have doubts about which of these two diets is a better choice for weight loss we will try to help you to decide.
In this article, you can learn more about the differences between the keto and paleo diets and how effective is each of these two diets for weight loss according to studies.
Before that, if you are not familiar with the two diets here is a brief explanation of what are these diets and what are they based on!
What is the Keto Diet?
The keto diet is a high-fat, moderate protein, and low-carbohydrate diet. The dietary macronutrients are divided into approximately 50%-60% fat, 30%-35% protein, and 5%-10% carbohydrates. So in a 2000 calorie diet per day carbohydrates amount up to 20-50 grams per day.
The body typically uses carbohydrates as fuel for energy. When carbohydrate intake is extremely low and glucose is not available for energy the body enters a metabolic state called ketosis. Ketosis is the metabolic state in which your body uses calories from fat instead of using carbs to create energy.
The keto diet aims to induce ketosis through the calculated adjustment of dietary macronutrients: protein, fat, and carbs. Once you reach ketosis most cells will use the ketones created by ketosis for energy until you start eating carbs again.
This diet encourages and excludes specific foods. If you decide to follow the keto diet you can’t get your carbohydrates from legumes and grains.
Your carbs must come from keto-friendly vegetables such as leafy greens, or a small group of fruits primarily berries. Also, followers must eat fat at each meal.
In a daily 2000 calorie diet that might look like 165 grams of fat, 40 grams of carbs, and 75 grams of protein. Be aware that the exact ratio depends on your particular needs.
What is the Paleo Diet?
The paleo diet is an eating plan that involves eating whole foods that people could theoretically hunt or gather. This diet is also known as the hunter-gatherer diet, stone-age diet, or caveman diet.
One of the theories behind the paleo diet is that modern food systems, modern agriculture, production, and processing techniques are damaging to human health.
Proponents of the paleo diet believe that the human body has not evolved to process legumes, dairy, and grains. They believe that eating these foods could increase the risk of certain health conditions.
The paleo diet focuses on eating whole foods, fruits, and non-starchy vegetables, plus plenty of meat, fish, seafood, nuts, and seeds. Anything that requires intensive farming is not allowed, so that means cutting out beans and legumes, rice and other grains, as well as dairy.
The main differences between keto and paleo diets
The key difference between the keto and the paleo diets is that the keto diet is about limiting carbohydrates and the paleo diet is about eliminating specific food groups.
The paleo diet allows more fruits and some natural sweeteners, while the keto diet excludes high sugar foods including most fruits.
Here are the main differences between these two diets:
Starchy vegetables are not allowed on the keto diet because they may interrupt ketosis and cause a person to consume more than their allowed total of carbohydrates.
On the paleo diet, these nutritious vegetables are allowed in moderation and a person can eat foods such as carrots, sweet potatoes, beets in moderation.
Fruits contain natural sugars and some of them contain higher levels of carbohydrates and sugar than others. The paleo diet allows and encourages eating all fruits. On the other hand, the keto diet is more strict with fruit.
To keep the body in a state of ketosis a person should only eat lower sugar fruits and in small amounts. Berries are the recommended keto-friendly fruit, such as raspberry, strawberry, blackberry.
The strict paleo diet excludes all dairy products. However, on the paleo diet, you can drink unsweetened nut milk, coconut milk, and similar alternatives.
The keto diet allows some dairy products especially those that are high in fat and protein. The keto diet does not include dairy products that contain sugar such as ice cream, chocolate milk, or sugar-sweetened coffee creamer.
As a result of modern food processing techniques, the paleo diet excludes processed meats such as bacon, salami, ham and allows only natural and grass-fed meat. The keto diet allows any meat that doesn’t contain added sugar or carbohydrates.
Which diet is better for weight loss: Keto or Paleo?
Now when we know the basics of these two diets and what are their differences we can look for their weight loss efficiency. So keto or paleo for weight loss?
Despite the fact that there is limited research available for how effective these diets are for sustained, long-term weight loss, some short-term research is promising.
Paleo for weight loss
A small study of 70 obese postmenopausal women following a paleo diet or a low-fat, high-fiber diet for 24 months, showed that women on the paleo diet lost 2.5 times more weight after 6 months and 2 times more weight after 12 months.
By the 24 months mark, both groups had regained some weight but the paleo group had still lost 1.6 times more weight overall.
Another study published in the Journal of Internal Medicine showed that the paleo diet is effective at reducing belly fat. In this study, 10 healthy women followed a paleo diet for five weeks.
On average they experienced an 8-cm ( 3-inch) reduction in waist circumference, which is an indicator of belly fat, and around a 10-pound (4.6 kg) weight loss overall.
Some researchers believe people lose weight on the paleo diet not because this diet has special metabolic effects, but because people end up eating fewer calories on paleo.
There are many other studies that confirm the paleo diet can help you to lose weight and that is more effective than traditional low-fat diets. Unfortunately, most research is new and there are very few published studies on its long-term effects.
Keto for weight loss
The keto diet is all about calculating your macronutrients ratio. There is not one “standard” keto diet with a specific ratio of carbs, protein, and fat.
This diet typically reduces total carbohydrate intake to less than 50 grams a day. This is less than the amount found in a medium plain bagel and can be as low as 30 grams a day.
You can consume more or less fat and protein, but the carbs must stay under 10% to enter the ketone zone on this eating plan. It is shown that the main benefit of the keto diet is “metabolic”. Fewer carbs, lower blood sugar, contained insulin, more fat burned, more weight loss.
Furthermore, the state of ketosis also affects hormones relevant to weight loss. According to a study from 2015, a keto diet has been shown to lower circulating levels of your hunger hormone – ghrelin. Less ghrelin, fewer cravings.
Here are some studies that support the weight loss effect of the keto diet:
A study from 2004 with an objective to determine the effect of a 24-week ketogenic diet in obese patients, showed that keto dieting significantly reduced the body weight and body mass index of patients.
Also, this study showed that following the keto diet for a relatively long period of time did not produce any significant side effects in the patients.
A randomized controlled trial compared the effect of a very low carbohydrate diet with and a calorie-restricted low-fat diet on body weight in healthy women. The results showed that a very low carbohydrate diet caused more weight loss over six months than a calorie-restricted low-fat diet.
Many other studies show that the keto diet is a proven weight loss diet.
Will keto or paleo help you to lose more weight?
From all presented above and supported by studies, we saw that both diets are effective for weight loss.
Despite the fact, the paleo diet emphasizes plenty of foods that are good for weight loss, you will still need to eat fewer calories to drop a few pounds. So if you are binging on fruits and nuts, you could actually gain weight on the paleo diet.
While there is evidence that the paleo diet can help you lose weight, there is far more evidence supporting the keto diet. While ketosis isn’t a magic recipe for weight loss, people successfully lose weight on keto because they tend to eat less.
So if we compare the keto and paleo diet and their effectiveness on weight loss, we can come to the conclusion that the keto diet is more effective for weight loss than the paleo diet.
A ketogenic diet can help you burn fat, increase the feeling of fulness, reduce calorie intake compared to other weight-loss diets.
You must know that some experts note that, while the keto diet may lead to weight loss in the short term the loss is unlikely to continue. It can also be hard to follow the diet for the long term.
Is keto or paleo the better diet?
Both diets are good and have the potential to be healthy. The paleo diet is easier to follow because it doesn’t involve counting any macronutrients and offers more flexibility with food choices.
A keto diet is maybe more effective for weight loss but could cause people to obsess over their carb intake. This diet is extremely high in fat and the long-term effects of this diet are not fully understood.
Both diets have pros and cons. But the real question is how long someone can continue with either diet?
With most weight-loss diets results are seen quickly in the short term but it’s questionable how long individuals can keep following the diet and keep seeing results.
The good thing about both diets is that they encourage you to consume more whole foods, fruits, vegetables, fish, seafood, and lean meat.
The less healthy aspects include the elimination of large food groups like grains and legumes, which are high-fiber plant-based foods with very important health benefits.
Like every restrictive diet, these two are also challenging to maintain.
Keto vs. paleo diet for weight loss – Final thoughts
Studies have shown that both diets, keto, and paleo are effective for short-term weight loss. More studies are needed to determine the long-term effects and their effectiveness for weight loss.
From all the above keto diet is more effective for weight loss. The paleo diet is easier to follow. On the paleo diet, you just need to cut off some food groups, and the keto diet is all about counting macronutrients.
Before you decide which diet to follow you need to know why are you going on a diet. Is it for weight loss or something else? Ask yourself can you keep up with the diet? Is it compatible with your lifestyle?
And remember, always consult with your doctor or dietitian before making changes in your diet. They will help you to determine which diet is best for you based on your goals!