Paleo vs. Keto Diet: 6 Basic Differences You Should Know

Paleo vs. Keto Diet: 6 Basic Differences You Should Know

When comparing the paleo vs keto diet it’s important not to be searching for which is right or wrong. Instead, focus on how the differences between the paleo vs. keto diet apply to your own health and fitness goals

By Lisa Caprelli

The main purpose of a diet is to provide you with guidelines for healthy eating.  A basic diet should provide adequate quantities of protein, vitamins, trace minerals and essential fatty acids, and the total amount of calories can be regulated thereafter to maintain or lose weight. Diets like South Beach, Ornish, and Atkins depend heavily on the sources and proportions of fats and proteins.

However, there are two diets currently trending that we are often asked about: Ketogenic diet (keto diet) and the paleo diet.


What is the ketogenic diet (keto diet)?

The ketogenic diet (a.k.a the keto diet) is a low carb diet that forces the body to produce ketones in the liver to be used as energy.

What is the paleo diet?

The paleo diet is a high carb diet but doesn’t facilitate ketones production. It emphasizes on sticking on foods that were consumed during the Paleolithic era – things like fish, meats, nuts, greens, leafy greens and vegetables. During this era, humans had simple digestive systems and couldn’t digest complex fat. Other names you may hear this for this diet are Paleolithic diet, Stone Age diet, hunter-gatherer diet and caveman diet.

Read Related: Achieve Your Health and Fitness Goals in 6 Simple Steps


Differences between the paleo vs. keto diet

When comparing the paleo vs keto diet, there are some distinct differences, but there is no right or wrong diet.  Your personal preference should determine what works best for you. The following are 6 key differentiators we’ve identified and that you should be aware of when choosing between the paleo or keto diet.

1. Levels of ketones provided

A ketogenic diet focuses on raising the level of ketones in your body through altering your food choices. In the process, your body will be in a metabolic state known as nutritional ketosis. On the other hand, a paleo diet seldom pays attention to the ketone levels in your body.

2. Types of Food

The paleo diet has a strong focus on high quality and nutrient dense whole foods with no traces of toxins. While both diets include many of the same foods and have overlapping similarities and benefits, each has a different purpose. Most dairy products are also off limits on the Paleo diet because they contain lactose, which is hard for most people to digest.

3. The recommended amount of carbohydrates

A keto diet will have remarkably low carbohydrate intake. In general, the daily intake of net carbs required to enter ketosis could vary from 20 to 100 grams per day. Although the paleo diet has lower carbs compared to other diets, it still has much higher carb intake compared to a keto diet.

4. The recommended fat intake

Few diets encourage heavy intake of fat. A keto emphasizes on increased fat intake compared to the Paleo diet. For keto diets, the macronutrient ratio varies within the following ranges:

  • 60-75% of calories from fat (or even more),
  • 15-30% of calories from protein and
  • 5-10% of calories from carbs

A paleo diet also encourages intake of healthy fats but not in as high a quantity advised by the keto diet.   

5. Dairy products

A keto diet glamorizes dairy products as a great source of fats. Generally, the keto diet encourages consumption and views them to be highly nutritious and healthy. A paleo diet, on the other hand, discourages dairy products. In fact, paleo folks can go to great lengths of highlighting dietary problems that come with consumption of dairy.

6. Sugars

Although the two diets discourage high sugar intake, they differ on whether high sugar fruits such as oranges, apples, peaches, cherries, grapes, pineapples should be consumed or not. So, when comparing a paleo vs keto diet it’s important to note that a paleo diet allows consumption of these high sugar fruits. In contrast, a keto diet restricts consumptions of such fruits and instead recommends low sugar fruits such as watermelons, olives, tomatoes, and coconuts.

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Understanding the basic differences between the paleo vs. keto diet could be the first step toward settling on a diet plan, especially for women struggling with weight problems.

There is no diet that is superior to the other, it is a matter of preference and what works for you. Send us your thoughts in the comments!