Paleo vs Keto – What’s the Difference?

Keto and paleo diets are two very commonly searched terms and ones we are consistently questioned about. There are some very strong opinions about both out there and so we at FFF wanted to give our take on these hot topics!

Let’s start by going back to basics – what are they both and what do they entail?

What is the keto diet?

A ketogenic (keto) diet is a diet with a very high-fat content, moderate protein and very low carbohydrate content. 

There are variations on how the diet might be implemented, but on a typical keto diet, about 75% of calories come from fat and only about 10-20% from protein and 5-10% from carbohydrate.

Our bodies mainly use carbohydrates and fat for energy. When the diet is low in carbohydrates (or when you are starving/fasting or doing intense exercise) our bodies will produce ketones from fat. Some tissues like our nervous tissue and red blood cells can normally only use carbohydrates as energy. Ketones, unlike fatty acids, can cross the blood-brain barrier and therefore provide the brain with energy. 

If the concentration of ketones reaches a certain point, we say the body is in a state of ketosis.

We have given a more extensive round-up of the keto diet here.

Is the keto diet something we at FFF would recommend?

To put it frankly, no. There are very few instances where the ketogenic diet has been suggested to be beneficial, aside from in children with epilepsy.

Any diet that cuts out a whole food group or macronutrient is not something we would recommend. It is extremely restrictive and unsustainable. 

Further, it is not something we would suggest following without the supervision of a medical professional as there are a number of risks associated with it, including low blood sugar levels, vitamin and mineral deficiencies and issues related to gut health. 

What is the paleo diet?

Pay-lee-oh? Pah-ley-oh? You may have seen the word down one of the aisles in Wholefoods or as a hashtag on Instagram, but what does it actually mean and where did it come from? It may seem to some as though this is a new craze that has just burst onto the foodie scene, but it is actually a diet/lifestyle choice that has been around for years.

The paleo (pronounced pay-lee-oh) diet originated back to the palaeolithic era and is also known as the hunter-gatherer or caveman diet. It is a diet derived from the diet of those existing in the palaeolithic era.

As such, those following a paleo can ‘only’ eat foods that could have been naturally sourced or hunted at this time. The Paleo diet brings things right back to basics.

This means that Paleo-lovers can eat:

  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Fruit and vegetables
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Herbs and spices
  • Any healthy fats and oils.

And subsequently, they should avoid:

  • Processed foods
  • Sugar
  • Soft drinks
  • Grains
  • Most dairy products
  • Legumes
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Vegetable oils, margarine and trans fats.
  • Soy

Is the paleo diet something we at FFF would recommend?

It can be useful for those who are particularly fussy eaters or have certain intolerances or IBS, as, by default, it excludes dairy and legumes – two big triggers/intolerances.

However, for many it is unnecessarily restrictive, and is no more healthy than the balanced plan, for example, nor does it speed up any fat loss goals.

Are there any similarities between the paleo and keto diets?

  • They can both be considered restrictive in some way as they include the removal/ avoidance of a number of items – this certainly is not the right path for many people.
  • Both involve the removal of processed foods and refined sugar.
  • They both have a focus on whole food ingredients and healthy fats.
  • They can both be considered low carb diets to a certain extent. As a result, they are common choices for those looking to drop body fat.

What are the differences between the paleo and keto diets?

Whilst there are some similarities, there are also a number of differences, including:

  • The paleo diet is about eliminating specific food groups (foods that weren’t around in hunter-gatherer days), while the keto diet is about hugely limiting carbohydrates.
  • There is more of a focus on a set macronutrient split on the keto diet, whereas the paleo diet comes more down to diet quality. 
  • More calories will typically come from fat on the keto diet, whereas it is likely to be protein on the paleo diet.

What would we at FFF advocate for long-term health?

For long term health, it comes down to balance, moderation and what works for you. 

We typically advocate consuming a balanced diet consisting of sufficient protein for your individual needs, plenty of colourful fruits and veggies and then prioritise low GI carbohydrates where possible. That’s not to say there is certainly a time and a place for other forms of carbs – there is room for everything in moderation!

We would typically suggest aiming to avoid making largely radical changes to your diet on the basis that it worked for your friend, family member or colleague. This is because they may not work for you and that’s totally fine – you shouldn’t feel pressured to eat in a certain way. We are all unique and our dietary approaches should be too!

Following a dietary approach that is personalised to your individual needs, overall goal and also one which enables you to get enjoyment and happiness from the food you eat is the way to go in our view!

If you are unsure as to the best way forward with your current diet, book a call with one of our all-knowing nutritionists to discuss your goal further.

Have all the information you need but just don’t want to cook? Give our General Health Plan a go with £50 off your 5-day trial with code BLOG50 – Start your trial here.

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Published by Georgia Chilton

In her teenage years, a love of food and rowing led Georgia into this field as she wanted to know how to optimise performance through nutrition. With a BSc in Nutrition and an MSc in Sports and Exercise Nutrition, she has the skill set to help you track towards your goals and maximise your potential.

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