Keto vs Paleo - The Difference Between Diets

Keto vs Paleo - The Difference Between Diets

Keto vs Paleo - The Difference Between Diets

Both the Keto diet and the Paleo lifestyle have become widely popular in recent years. They share a common aim of improving health through dietary changes, modifying the common modern diet for the purposes of weight loss and other health benefits.

Beyond this, however, these diets have critical differences stemming from their distinct root philosophies.

In this blog, the differences between the paleo and keto diets will be explained, from their intended purposes to the nitty-gritty of which foods are permissible in one but forbidden in the other.

A keto diet

The Keto diet

The keto (short for ketogenic) diet is designed to bring the body into a state of ketosis - where the body, lacking carbohydrates, burns stored body fat for fuel instead.


Ketosis is a naturally occurring metabolic state in certain circumstances, including pregnancy and fasting. The liver produces ketones, energy molecules that replace the typical blood sugar glucose derived from carbs.

Ketones appear to have several positive health effects, including improved mental clarity and increased energy. And by burning stored body fat, the keto diet is believed to be an effective means of losing weight without the need for a large calorie restriction.

The body requires an interval of transition to enter ketosis, which can be uncomfortable. Side effects include the "keto flu," illness-like symptoms of headaches, fatigue, etc., which can last for about a week while the body adapts.

Ketogenic diet foods

The keto diet functions by restricting carbohydrate intake to near-zero levels. The typical macro-nutrient breakdown is as follows -

  • 70% fats
  • 25% protein
  • 5% carbs

The protein intake is in-line with commonly recommended diets. What's really changing is the replacement of carb calories with fat calories. Therefore it's critical that the diet uses healthy fats, like olive oil, avocado oil, or full-fat dairy without added sugar.


Those who swear by keto diets praise their ability to induce swift weight loss and bring about increased energy. But medical evidence suggests that the body should not remain in ketosis indefinitely and that doing so can result in negative health outcomes.

For one, the carb restriction excludes several food groups that carry important nutrients. Without grains, it can be difficult to get fiber. Without starchy vegetables, certain key vitamins are left out.

Decreased bone density and cardiovascular risk factors have been associated with prolonged ketosis, exacerbated by high levels of saturated fats and low levels of vitamins and minerals. It may be advisable to take a dietary supplement since what is keto diet approved may not be giving you all the nutrients you need.

Check out our Keto Cauli Mac & Cheese:

Sous-vide cauliflower in a creamy, decadent cheese sauce made with cheddar cheese, cream, and a hint of sea salt.

Cauli Mac & Cheese

Highly processed foods

Another risk associated with keto diets is the overconsumption of animal products and processed foods generally. With no direct restrictions in the arena of processing and additives, it's possible to eat a ketogenic diet full of unhealthy ingredients.

Focusing on lean meats and avoiding processed foods can help the keto diet become more sustainable.

Healthy keto diets are possible, they just require some diligent planning and creative culinary solutions.

Paleo diet

The Paleo lifestyle

The Paleolithic diet is based on the theory that our bodies are not evolved to eat many of the modern processed foods that arose out of convenience and our ability to mass-produce them.

To be specific, orthodox Paleo lifestyle followers believe that the agricultural revolution caused us to eat foods we really shouldn't, like grains, legumes, and dairy.

Eliminating processed foods

Also known as the "caveman diet," the Paleo lifestyle is based on the foods that would be available to us before 10,000 BCE when humans ate whole, unprocessed foods that could be acquired through hunter-gatherer practices. Therefore how to start paleo lifestyle plan begins by prioritizing fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, and organic meats and seafood.

By taking out processed foods, the Paleo lifestyle naturally decreases carb intake, helping the dieter lose weight if that is their goal.

Nutritious effects

More than that, removing processed sugars and additives can have tremendous positive health effects. The Paleo lifestyle forces one to eat a large portion of fruits and vegetables, as well as grass-fed organic meats and healthy fats. This focus on whole foods can fill one's diet with nutritious meals.


The most common criticism of the Paleo lifestyle is that, by excluding grains and legumes, several important nutrients such as fiber become difficult to come by. Anthropological evidence also suggests that Paleolithic humans did eat some small amounts of these foods depending on the region. For instance, small amounts of white rice have been eaten since this period.

Check our Paleo Cilantro Lime Chicken:

A memorable entrée that will soon become a weekly staple -- tender chicken breast strips in a bright chimichurri sauce made with cilantro, lime, and garlic.

Cilantro Lime Chicken


Both Keto and Paleo lifestyles result in significant limitations on carbohydrate intake, though they approach this in different ways.

Both diets exclude processed sugars and most other processed foods.

Here is a list of foods that both diets promote and feature heavily:

  • seeds
  • nuts
  • eggs
  • unprocessed meat
  • seafood
  • healthy fats, such as olive oil, avocado oil, and nut oils
  • non-starchy vegetables
Nuts in bowls

Key differences

Keto is about eliminating carbs.

Paleo is about eliminating processed foods.

There is considerable overlap in these missions, as our processed foods tend to be carb-heavy, but plenty of difference appears in the fine print.

It's possible to eat Keto while relying on processed meats or other "keto snacks." These can be carb-less but still contain additives and sweeteners that would never fly in a Paleo lifestyle.

And Paleo, with its purist approach to the sources of food, has plenty of room for carbs, including fruits like bananas and vegetables like potatoes.

Food lists

To give you a better idea of the general shape of these diets, here are lists of common core foods for both diets

Keto diet food list

A keto diet

As you can see, there's still tons of variety within the Keto diet. Check out Kevin's Keto recipes for delicious suggestions.

Paleo lifestyle food list

  • chicken, turkey, pork, beef, game meat
  • eggs
  • seafood
  • small-to-moderate amounts of starchy vegetables, such as potatoes and root vegetables
  • vegetables, especially leafy greens, celery, asparagus, peppers, and cruciferous vegetables
  • fruit, emphasizing berries, tomatoes, citrus, and other lower sugar fruits, including avocados
  • small or moderate amounts of higher sugar fruits, such as grapes and bananas
  • nuts and nut butter
  • seeds
  • cocoa butter
  • dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa
  • coffee with no dairy cream or refined sugar
  • teas
  • healthful oils, including nut oils, olive oil, and avocado oil
  • honey, maple syrup, and coconut sugar in small amounts
a paleo meal

The Paleo lifestyle can be very dynamic and diverse, once you understand its basic rules. For more great recipes, head to Kevin's.

Two diets, infinite ways to eat

The Keto and Paleo lifestyle are both designed to help us eat better. Whether you're trying to lose weight, improve your blood sugar, or have more energy from the food you eat, there are ideas here to help us all eat better.

Always consult a medical professional before radically altering your diet, as certain conditions can make either diet dangerous to pursue. And remember, you can mix and match and create your own, unique diet based on your individual needs. Food continues to be an adventure, and Keto and Paleo are both exciting culinary ideas for our modern eating times.