Is Keto Better Than Paleo?

Keto vs Paleo
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In a recent blog we explored the differences between Whole30 and Paleo.  In this article we will examine the Keto vs Paleo diets.

Definition of Ketogenic Diet

Originally created to help children with epilepsy to control and lessen their symptoms, Keto appears to be the latest buzzword in diets.  So, what is Keto? According to the Australian “healthdirect” website (  the ketogenic diet is defined as:

“A ketogenic (or ‘keto’) diet is an extremely-low carbohydrate diet that is sometimes used as a medical treatment for certain groups of people. The ketogenic diet is sometimes confused with a general ‘low-carb’ diet or promoted as a weight loss technique for healthy people. But it is not recommended for the general population.”

On a ketogenic diet the body is forced to use stored fat as its main source of fuel.  The body breaks down fat into ketones in a process known as ketosis.  This is achieved by eating a large proportion of fat, a moderate amount of protein and a very small amount of carbohydrates per day.

Although it is promoted as a weight loss diet for healthy people, and has been shown to be fast and effective in the short term, it is not known whether staying on a ketogenic diet is safe over a longer period of time. There is evidence which shows that the Keto diet may be beneficial for some people with certain medical conditions.


Paleo and Keto diets share a number of basic principles. Both diets eliminate all grains, refined sugar, legumes, processed foods, and refined oils, and instead focus on eating high-quality meats, eggs, some vegetables, nuts, and healthy oils and fats. They both encourage you to find ways to recreate your comfort-food classics using approved ingredients.

Both Keto and Paleo diets exclude:

  • Gluten (bread etc)
  • Processed foods
  • Legumes
  • Grains
  • Refined sugar
Keto vs Paleo
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What’s the difference between Keto vs Paleo? 

The focus of Keto is on controlling the fat, carb and protein ratios to get the body into ketosis and keep it there.  Paleo is more about balancing these macronutrients however you want through wider food choices. Because there are more options including a wider range of fruits and vegetables, the Paleo lifestyle is generally much easier to follow.

In the Paleo way of eating, more of your daily calories come from protein and carbohydrates when compared to Keto.  The Keto diet uses fat in your diet as well as body fat as the way that the body develops ketosis, burning fat to reduce weight.  Up to 60 – 80% of your daily calories can be derived from consumed fat in a Keto diet, with the rest coming mostly from protein (20 – 30%) and negligible amounts from carbohydrates (5 – 10%).  Typically, the Paleo diet provides around 40% of total calories from fat, 30% from protein and 30% from carbohydrates.

Paleo excludes dairy foods while Keto includes generous servings of full-fat dairy.

According to “healthdirect”, a ketogenic diet may also be:

  • high in unhealthy saturated fats
  • low in fibre, which can affect heart health, some chronic diseases and bowel problems, increasing the risk of bowel cancer
  • missing important vitamins such as thiamine (vitamin B1), folate, vitamins A, E and B6, calcium, magnesium, iron and potassium

What are the side effects of a ketogenic diet?

Please be aware that some of the possible negative effects of a Keto diet include:

  • fatigue
  • constipation
  • headache
  • bad breath
  • feeling sick
  • dizziness
  • dehydration
  • bowel problems
  • high cholesterol
  • kidney problems
  • osteoporosis due to lack of calcium
  • rapid weight gain when normal diet resumes

Anyone starting a ketogenic diet should do so under clinical supervision, along with an accredited practising dietitian.

Do you want a strict diet OR a lifestyle change?

While some people do completely adopt a Keto diet for medical reasons such as type 2 diabetes and epilepsy, it is generally much more difficult to stick to over the long term.

Paleo seems to be easier for people to maintain for a longer time because of the wider variety of approved foods and modifications allowed in the eating program.  The Paleo diet is typically viewed as a whole lifestyle ethos, rather than a dieting regime.

Which program is better?

Both eating programs provide the capability to lose weight in the short-term.  While Keto may achieve faster weight loss initially, Paleo generally is more sustainable in the long term. 

The Keto Reset Diet by Mark Sisson is an excellent book to further explore Keto.