There are a lot of similarities between Paleo, Keto, and low-carb high fat (LCHF) diets. This is particularly true when you compare them to the modern “standard American diet” (SAD).1 After all, studies show that 35 percent of the average American’s diet comes from nonessential or extra calories consisting of both added sugars and saturated fats.2
However, despite their many similarities, all low carbohydrate diets are not created equal, and there are a few key differences between these three diets, some of which are highlighted below.
The Paleo Diet
The Paleo Diet primarily focuses on bringing the diet back to one that mimics the diet of Paleolithic humans.3,4 Along with this, it brings a complete lifestyle change that includes being more active and consuming whole foods. Processed foods are prohibited entirely on this diet.
Food to Eat:
- Meat Protein
- Nuts and seeds
- Fish and Seafood
Foods to Avoid:
- Processed Foods
The Keto Diet
The Keto diet is primarily a low carbohydrate diet that encourages high-fat consumption.4 While implementing this diet, you will be encouraged to reduce your carbohydrate intake to the minimum and will primarily be replacing it with fat intake.
The goal of the diet is to put your body into a state of ketosis, a metabolic state where the body learns to rely on fat as its primary energy source rather than carbohydrates. Thus, the body becomes very efficient at burning fat while in this state, which can help boost overall metabolism.
With that being said, because it is rather restrictive, it can be difficult to follow it over a long period of time. Also, individuals who suffer from conditions like kidney disease need to be very careful implementing this type of diet due to the encouraged high fat intake.
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Foods to Eat:
- Meat protein
Foods to Avoid:
- Sugary foods and beverages
- Low-Fat foods
- Sugar-Free Foods
- Beans and Legumes
The LCHF Diet
The LCHF Diet, also known as the low-carb, high-fat diet, is another low carbohydrate diet that closely relates to the Keto diet in particular. This specific diet encourages individuals to consume foods that are low in carbohydrates and high in fat.
Additionally, it encourages individuals to consume whole foods and discourages from eating processed foods. Along with this, grains and starchy foods are discouraged on this diet. However, you are not necessarily limited to a specific carbohydrate intake as it can be effectively personalized to meet individual needs.
LCHF vs. Keto
This particular diet is similar in its design to the Keto diet. Because it’s adaptable and doesn’t require you to enter a state of ketosis, you’re not going to have to reduce carbohydrate intake to only 5 percent of your total caloric intake for LCHF, making it significantly less restrictive.
Because of this, LCHF tends to be a more sustainable lifestyle change rather than a short-term designed diet designed for faster changes. Additionally, it operates under the important theory that everyone has a different body composition and therefore has different needs for optimal daily function.
Similarities Between the Diets
Avoid Processed Foods
Each of these diets can be effective in promoting weight loss. Because each diet encourages whole food consumption and avoidance of proceeded foods, you’re going to be able to achieve weight loss with each one naturally. In addition, simply avoiding processed foods can make you much healthier overall. This is why each of these diets is recommended for individuals who are looking to lose weight successfully and long-term.5
While the Paleo Diet might not necessarily be classified as a high-fat diet, each of these diets does encourage more fat intake than the standard American diet. Furthermore, each diet emphasizes the importance of consuming healthy fats.
Most notably, high-fat diets have been shown to be beneficial for lowering triglycerides levels and boosting concentrations of HDL (good) cholesterol.6 Along with this, it has also shown to be effective at lowering the risk of heart disease compared to high carbohydrate diets.7,8,9 This is primarily a result of each diet promoting the consumption of healthy fats and prohibiting unhealthy fat and processed food consumption, both of which are linked to increased inflammation in the body.10
Differences Between the Diets
While you’re going to need to significantly limit carbohydrate consumption on the Keto diet in order to put your body in a state of ketosis, the Paleo and LCHF diets are not as restrictive when it comes to carbohydrate consumption.
With the Paleo Diet, you are encouraged to eat fewer carbohydrates because of its restriction on processed foods. However, it is not necessarily a low carbohydrate diet by design. After all, you are encouraged to consume fruits and vegetables in abundance as they are both staples of the diet. The key here is to limit carbohydrate intake as far as processed foods are concerned. On the other hand, the LCHF diet encourages you to limit the number of carbohydrates based on the way you feel versus a strict limit to achieve a metabolic state of ketosis.
The Keto diet is largely a diet designed to end at some point whereas the Paleo and LCHF are designed to be more complete lifestyle changes. While the Paleo Diet is certainly restrictive in its own right, you lose more complete categories of food with the Keto diet. With the Keto diet, you are prohibited from consuming starchy vegetables, grains, legumes, high sugar fruit, and sugars. In contrast, with the Paleo Diet, you’re prohibited from consuming dairy, grains, legumes, and sugars. Thus, you are still able to consume high sugar fruit in your daily diet.
As mentioned above, one of the significant difference is the way the body is intended to function on each diet. With the Keto diet, you are completely changing your metabolic state to allow for it to be fueled off of ketones instead of glucose.11
With the Paleo and LCHF, you are sustaining a metabolic state where your brain is fueled by carbohydrates. Because of this, you need to continue to consume carbohydrates for proper and optimal brain and bodily function. This is not a requirement of the Keto diet, however, where your body converts to running off of fat as fuel.
Overall, each of the diets highlighted above has proven to have its own health benefits. Ultimately, the best diet comes down to what is going to be sustainable and effective for your lifestyle.
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