Keto vs Paleo: Which diet is right for you, and why?
There are a few fundamental things to think about when thinking about a diet, and some of those are listed below:
Is it sustainable?
Can I make it habitual?
Is there too much restriction?
Is it healthy?
Diets are complicated for many of us, that’s why the options seem endless, as not everyone is the same and their goals are all so varied. There’s no magic all-in-one solution for a healthy diet. Some want to lose weight, while others may develop food intolerances and have to adapt, and some simply want to cut out some refined foods out of their diet, just as a few examples.
The two diets I’m going to compare in this article are the Paleo and Keto diets. I’m going to explain the thinking behind each one, why they work for some and some good guidelines to follow if you want to go for either of these options for your dieting needs.
A quick disclaimer, before getting started on any diet, do your research and consult a qualified dietician where possible. Scientific research is key, as there are a multitude of good studies out there, make use of them. And a dietician will be able to guide you in a personalised direction, put good guidelines in place for you and help you on your journey to a healthier diet.
Also, weight loss and a “healthier diet” are normally discussed in the same area and are often confused for being the same thing, which when embarking on a diet can be misleading. However, weight loss is merely achieved by creating a caloric deficit (outputting more energy than you’re bringing in) and a “healthier diet” normally means you are consuming foods that are better for you, thus you will probably lose weight. This is because whole sourced foods, or natural foods, keep you more satiated for longer, will contain more nutrients and vitamins, will have better splits between macronutrients and, on the whole, are more likely to be organic in nature.
Now all of the admin is out of the way, let’s get stuck in:
The ketogenic diet, or keto diet, is a low carb diet, meaning you take on less carbohydrate. This means that our macronutrient balance needs to be adjusted, so that we take on more fat and/or protein to balance out having less carbohydrate. Ketogenic diets can be great for weight loss, or weight maintenance in a shorter time frame. With less carbohydrates being ingested, the body expels excess water, as 1g of glycogen needs 3g of water to store it, thus contributing to weight loss.
With keto you’re mostly looking at eating meat, dairy and low carb veg. Keto is designed to promote a body process called Ketosis (again, do your research here) which is where the body adapts to burn fat as opposed to carbohydrate for energy as it normally would.
As a sustainable diet following any weight loss, Keto is a bit harder to manage, as without micronutrient-rich carbohydrates you may feel a distinct lack on energy and, if you’re an endurance trainer (runner, cyclist, cardio enthusiast, etc), you will definitely feel the effects of that. Carbohydrates contain a lot of micronutrients and provide fibre (fruit and veg) so cutting down too much on this can be detrimental to health, if not managed correctly.
The Paleo, or Paleolithic diet, is a diet that allows us to eat only what our Paleolithic ancestors would have hunted for or gathered, mostly perceived to be lean meats, fruit, veg, nuts and seeds. This diet runs contrary to Keto, in that the foods consumed tend to be more natural and easier on the digestive systems. If you have a dairy intolerance or are vegetarian, a paleo diet would be easier to follow than Keto.
A Paleo diet allows for more fruit and veg, so more carbohydrate, thus balancing out the macronutrient ratios slightly more. The Paleo diet would also potentially be easier to adapt to in the beginning phase and better to sustain in the long run. It would be more of a slow burner for weight loss as well, but definitely achievable, as long as you are in a caloric deficit.
In summary, the best diet is the one that allows that works for you and your lifestyle. Too much restriction, or full-scale change, will be tedious and difficult. Not only that but adherence to said diet, is much less likely. I would personally go for the Paleo diet over Keto, but the most important thing is a healthy, balanced diet you can stick to over time, and keep your diet more varied. If you want to lose weight, a caloric deficit is essential. And a caloric surplus is essential for building muscle. So whichever diet you choose, keep on pushing yourself and hitting those nutritional goals. Tag us on social media with your recipes, diet suggestions and dieting progress!