Keto Vs. Paleo - What’s The Difference?

With so many different diet programs around it can be confusing and feel overwhelming. You’re not sure where to begin or which plan to work from.

Do you want to choose a healthier way of eating but are not sure where to start? Are you considering Keto but wondering how it’s different from other popular diets like Paleo? Their eating plans sound similar, so how are they different and what impact do those contrasts have on your health?

Enter KetoKeto - we take a look at Keto versus Paleo. What are they, how are they similar and in what ways do they differ? Importantly, how do they each affect your health?

We have all the answers to your questions right here.

Recap: What Is The Keto Diet?

Keto is short for the Ketogenic diet. So-called because of how it shifts your metabolic state from burning glucose from carbs for energy, to burning fat and producing ketones for energy. By eating mostly fat and hardly any carbohydrates your body cannot fuel itself with carbs and instead switches to burning fat as its main source of fuel.

The goal of the Keto diet is to eat set proportions of macronutrients fat, protein and carbohydrates. Aiming for 80% fat, 15-20% protein and less than 5% carbohydrates. This is very different to most popular diets today, which are mostly made up of carbs and focus on reduced fat.

Contrary to common belief, fat is not the enemy of good health. We’ve highlighted this in previous posts such as, ‘Is Fat Bad? HFSS Legislation, Keto and The Perception Of Fat’. In fact, good fats are crucial for many processes in your body from energy regulation, protection of vital organs, metabolism and storage of essential nutrients₁.

The result of Keto? You burn fat and lose weight quickly. Reduced carbohydrates also help to regulate blood sugars.

What Is The Paleo Diet?

What about Paleo? Paleo focuses on whole foods with little to no processed ingredients. Paleo is quite often referred to as ‘the caveman diet’ as it’s based on the diet thought to have been eaten by palaeolithic hunter-gatherers.

The Paleo diet focuses on eating only natural foods that do not require much production or processing techniques. Grains, legumes, processed sugar and most sources of dairy are removed.

It’s thought the Paleo diet promotes optimal health by giving the body whole foods that it’s well equipped to digest, without potentially harmful additives that might cause illness or disease.

There’s also a lifestyle element to Paleo, with many advocates also focusing on wellness practices, exercise, and the Paleo way of eating.

How Are The Keto and Paleo Diets Similar?

Paleo and Keto share many similarities:

No Grains

Both Keto and Paleo say no to grains, but for different reasons. Keto removes grains to reduce carb intake and keep the body in the metabolic state of ketosis. Whereas Paleo eliminates grains because they were not part of the paleolithic diet, plus the antinutrients they contain are believed to cause digestive issues.

Less Legumes

Paleo removes all legumes from its permitted food list, and Keto eliminates most legumes, for the same reasons that grains are not allowed. Those legumes that are given the ok on Keto are accepted due to their low-carb content.

No Added Sugar

Neither Paleo nor Keto approve of added sugar. Paleo is a little more flexible on this point; allowing natural types of sugar such as unrefined honey or maple syrup since they’re not highly processed. On the other hand, Keto doesn’t permit any form of added sugar as it’s high in carbs and would quickly kick you out of ketosis.

Yes To Healthy Fats

Both Keto and Paleo love healthy fats. Keto is based on consuming high quantities of healthy fats. It’s important to note the types of fats allowed on these diets. Both encourage eating unrefined monounsaturated fats such as nuts, seeds, coconut oil, olives, avocados and fish. But to steer clear of unhealthy trans fats such as those found in most highly-processed foods.

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How Do The Keto and Paleo Diets Differ?

We’ve got the lowdown on what Keto and Paleo share in common. It’s clear both styles of eating are advocating health and wellness. But the key to understanding these two diets and their impact on your health is to know how they differ from one another.

Carb Content

The main difference between Keto and Paleo is the number of carbs allowed. Keto restricts carbohydrates to a small amount making up less than 5% of your daily calories.

Paleo doesn’t restrict carb allowance but does regulate the type of carbs you eat. All carbs eaten on Paleo must be from whole food sources such as fruits and vegetables. Keto though does not allow any carbs, removing most fruits and starchy vegetables altogether.

Macro Minding

Likewise, because Keto focuses on the number of macronutrients as the main component of the diet, it’s important that macros are minded and tracked.

Whereas the paleo diet doesn’t restrict the number of macronutrients you eat, but the source of your macronutrients. All foods must be considered to be typical of the palaeolithic era; unprocessed and unrefined.


The other key difference between the two types of diets is whether dairy is or isn’t included. On Keto, dairy is allowed and encouraged as long as it’s low to no sugar and high in fat. Paleo restricts most dairy items as it’s processed and not familiar to the palaeolithic age.

What Has Keto Got That Paleo Hasn’t?

The main reason you’ll be trying to decide between Keto or Paleo is their impact on your health. Do you want to know what difference Keto will make that Paleo cannot?

Keto almost completely removes carbs from your diet and the effect on your health is substantial. Since the Paleo diet allows however many carbs you like, as long as they’re unprocessed, your body does not shift its metabolic state or experience the benefits from fewer carbs.

Here are the 5 key differences Keto will make to your health that Paleo will not be able to compete with:

Burn Fat & Lose Weight Fast

Keto switches your metabolism, and in doing so you burn fat. Burning fat will see you lose weight quickly. If you’re wanting a diet that helps you to lose weight, particularly stubborn weight, Keto can make a big difference. For more on what weight you can expect to lose on Keto, take a look at our post, ‘Keto Weight Loss Timeline: What To Expect’.

Reduce Your Appetite & Cravings

With so much fat in a Keto eating plan, you’ll find yourself feeling fuller for longer. No more mid-morning cravings or late-afternoon hunger pangs. Your meals will be satiating and satisfying. Helping you to feel more energised, focused and helps with that weight loss.

Regulate Your Blood Sugar

Next to no carbs in your system helps to regulate your blood sugar levels. When you fuel your body with carbs, your blood gets surges and dips of glucose because it’s converted and used very quickly. Do you struggle with brain fog or faint spells? It could be due to dysregulated blood sugars. Eating fewer carbs and more fats can get rid of the issue.

Reduce Tiredness

Similarly, if your body is powered with glucose, you’ll find yourself energised after eating but then just as quickly experience a crash in stamina. Do you find yourself longing for midday naps? Do you constantly battle with fatigue? It could be helped with a low-carb high-fat Keto diet. Fat takes longer to digest so you’ll be energised for longer.

Improve Good Cholesterol

Another great health benefit of Keto is improved ‘good’ cholesterol₂. There is ‘good’ and ‘bad’ cholesterol and a healthy high-fat diet such as Keto has been found to help protect the body against bad cholesterol. If you’d like to read more on cholesterol and Keto, check out ‘Can The Keto Diet Help Lower Cholesterol?’

Which Is Better?

Which diet is better for you really depends on your personal preferences and health goals. Paleo has more flexibility with food sources such as carbs - you can eat as many as you like as long as they’re from whole food origins. But with that comes the issues associated with high-carb diets.

While Paleo advocates healthy natural foods which are great for your health, it does not take into account your metabolism and blood sugars. The difference is you may not see as many benefits such as weight loss, improved energy and better cholesterol.

If you’re serious about changing your lifestyle to meet your health targets; weight loss, greater stamina, regulated blood sugars, better cholesterol - Keto has the edge.


  1. National Institute of General Medicinal Sciences, ‘What Do Fats Do In The Body?’


  1. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietitics, ‘Comparison of Effects of Long-Term Low-Fat vs High-Fat Diets on Blood Lipid Levels in Overweight or Obese Patients: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis’

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