Keto vs Paleo Diet
Nowadays, reading a health magazine or stepping into the gym without hearing about popular miracle diets seems impossible. Many people follow these diets either to lose weight or to maintain their health. But how effective are these diets?
Currently, the paleo diet and ketogenic diet are some of the most popular and discussed on social media. You likely know someone who’s tried going paleo or switched to keto. They have probably lost some weight or maybe have complained about missing bread. You may be tempted to give either of these diets a try. But if you’re interested in changing your diet, you should know what you’re getting into and how these two differ. Here, we take a peek at the science behind these two diets, the cons of each, and who should consider and who should avoid them.
The Paleo diet is also known as the caveman diet has created a lot of hype in the world of nutrition and fitness. This diet is based on the belief that eating foods that were available in the paleolithic era will promote optimal health.
One of the basic theories behind the paleo diet is that modern food processing and production is harmful to human health. The theory suggests that our bodies have not evolved to handle modern-day foods, including processed foods therefore mimicking the dietary styles of the people of the stone age will better support your body’s natural biological functions. Moreover, digestion and overall health will also be improved.
Therefore, the paleo diet emphasizes on whole foods and eliminates food products made via modern processing and farming methods such as grains, legumes, processed sugars, and dairy products. Research on this diet is limited, but small studies have shown various health benefits of switching to paleo. This diet claims to reduce inflammation, increase energy, stabilize blood sugar, lower cholesterol, aids weight loss, and reduces the risk of chronic diseases.
The main foods allowed in the paleo diet are:
- Nuts and seeds
- Meat and fish
- Vegetables (excluding corn)
- Specific fats and oils such as avocado oil, coconut oil, extra-virgin olive oil
Supporters of the paleo diet claim that it’s more than just a diet as it focuses strongly on lifestyle practices, the environmental impact of food choices, and the overall well-being of the body.
Over the years, the keto diet has gained popularity due to its potential to help in weight loss and in controlling blood sugar levels. Most cells in our body use glucose derived from carbohydrates as a source of energy. However, the body can only store a limited amount of glucose that lasts only a couple of days therefore if we restrict the intake of carbohydrates, the body creates a metabolic state known as ketosis, in which the body uses fats instead of carbs to produce the energy needed for its normal functioning. This process is known as ketogenesis.
The macronutrient breakdown in the keto diet looks like this:
- Fats: 70-90%
- Proteins: 20-25%
- Less than 5% carbs
This diet was originally created to prevent seizures in epileptic patients but some people believe it to be potentially beneficial in losing weight and reducing the risk of diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. Research also shows the therapeutic effects of the keto diet for people with cancer, psychiatric disorders, Alzheimer’s, and autism. The reason this diet proves effective for many people is that it targets several underlying causes of weight gain including elevated insulin, hormonal imbalances, and elevated blood sugar levels.
Cons Of Paleo And Keto Diet
Like most diets, there are some things that you should consider before switching to a new diet. Here are a few things you need to know before changing your diet.
Restricting certain food groups from your diet might improve some health markers and help in weight loss but in the long-term, it can result in nutrient deficiencies and increase the risk of long-term health consequences.
- As the Palio diet restricts the consumption of dairy products, deficiency of calcium and vitamin D can occur which ultimately leads to Osteoporosis and bone fractures.
- Restriction of grains and legumes (excellent source of minerals, fibers, and plant-based proteins), increases the risk of micronutrient deficiencies.
- Supporters of the Paleo diet claim that it is good for gut health but the latest studies show otherwise. Those who adopt the Paleo diet have different gut microbiota and higher levels of trimethylamine N oxide, a compound that increases the risk of cardiovascular disease.
- People who adopt the Paleo diet often overeat meat, specifically red meat which can increase the risk of chronic diseases as excess protein intake from animal sources increases the IGF-I levels which ultimately increases the risk of cancer, diabetes, and overall mortality.
- It is effective in losing weight in short term but in the long run, it can lead to weight gain.
The Keto diet has proved to be a helpful tool in treating epilepsy and various studies have shown anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, and cancer-fighting benefits as well. But as a General weight loss diet, it has invited some controversies. Some doctors and dietitians do not approve of it because of its unsustainable nature, unpleasant side effects, and health risks.
Here are a few things you should know before switching to the keto diet.
- Some people complain of feeling sick when they start ketosis. They usually report vomiting, gastrointestinal distress, fatigue, and lethargy. That happens because your body switches from sugar to fat as a source of energy and this transition makes your body feel tired for a few days.
- Some people might experience diarrhea because the gallbladder feels overwhelmed as it produces more bile than usual to break down fat.
- If not done right, it can trigger ketoacidosis in Diabetic patients.
- As the diet is very restrictive, it is difficult to follow in the long term therefore people regain weight when they switch back to carbs. These back-and-forth weight fluctuations can lead to the development of eating disorders.
- It can decrease metabolism rate and lead to loss of muscle mass. This means when the person regains weight, instead of lean mass that person is likely to regain fat. This creates lasting effects on the resting metabolic rate and long-term weight.
Which diet should you consider, paleo or keto?
Now that we know what paleo and keto diets are, Let’s find out which diet is better for you because no diet is right for everyone.
The paleo diet provides a number of benefits as it restricts processed foods and promotes the consumption of whole foods, which are great for health. If you are looking to lose weight, reduce fats and cholesterol in your blood, improve blood sugar control and insulin sensitivity, and your mental and physical health is good, a paleo diet is a right choice for you. Moreover, if you’re someone who struggles with food intolerances such as gluten intolerance, lactose intolerance, or FODMAP intolerance, switching to a paleo diet might be a good idea.
The Keto diet is a therapeutic diet created for individuals with certain medical conditions, it’s not for everyone. The Keto diet is the standard of care for the prevention of seizures in epileptic patients. People who have Alzheimer’s disease, autism, and brain cancers should also consider switching to the keto diet. People who want to lose weight can also switch to the keto diet.
Which diet should you avoid?
If you’re someone who suffers from eating disorders, a paleo diet may not be the right option for you. People who are at risk of nutrient deficiencies such as calcium, and vitamin D should consult their dietician before switching to the paleo diet. If you have any medical condition you should consult your doctor before changing your diet.
If you struggle with eating disorders, certain metabolic issues, pancreatic disease, thyroid problems, gallbladder disease, or your gallbladder has been removed, keto diet is not the right option for you. The keto diet can put diabetic patients at risk of ketoacidosis therefore it’s important to consult your doctor before switching to the keto diet. Moreover, this diet is not meant for kids unless they are overweight or have diabetes or epilepsy.
No matter what diet you are considering for yourself it is important to consult with your doctor and dietitian before switching to a new diet.
Even though both diets offer a number of potential benefits, there is no evidence of potential effects in the long term. Small-scale studies have been conducted to test the reliability of both diets, but the available data is still not enough.
In various studies, the paleo diet has been compared with other diets such as the Mediterranean diet and the diabetic diet, but the results did not show any significant improvements in blood glucose or insulin levels compared to people following other diets. This raises the question if the paleo diet is any better than other diets.
The Keto diet shows therapeutic effects in managing certain medical conditions but its use as a weight-loss tool strikes some controversies as there is no evidence of it being effective in the long term.
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