Keto Diet vs Paleo for Weight Loss

You've probably heard of Keto and Paleo, two popular diets these days. 

On paper, they look pretty similar. Both are healthy alternatives to the modern, unhealthy Standard American Diet (SAD). 

Keto and paleo are both reduced carb diets. The main difference between them is the amount of carbs they allow. Paleo is low carb, but keto is zero (or near zero) carb.

Both diets can help you lose weight. But depending on your goals and your environment, one might be better than the other.

The difference is like running a sprint vs running a marathon. Keto may help you lose weight faster, but it can be harder to stick to. Paleo, on the other hand, is easier to stick to, but might not cause you to lose weight as fast.

History of Keto

The Keto diet is a modern invention. It was first used to treat epilepsy patients in the 1920s, and is still used for that today.

The term “Keto” comes from the scientific term “Ketosis”, a state in which the body burns fat instead of carbs. Ketosis naturally occurs when you fast for a long time or literally starve yourself. Eventually, the body runs out of carbs to burn, and switches to burning fat.

But instead of actually starving yourself, you can reach Ketosis by simply eating no or very, very few carbs. Instead of carbs, you are supposed to eat lots of fat and protein in the Keto diet. If your body is in Ketosis, it will burn through the fat that you eat instead of making you fat.

Sugar, bread, rice, pasta, candy, and even sugary fruit are out in a pure Keto diet. Tuna, chicken, beef, and milk are all in.

How does keto help you lose weight?

On a strict keto diet, you can’t eat any carbs. Normally, your body needs carbs in order to make energy to function. When it runs out of carbs, it switches to ketosis.

Your body naturally enters ketosis during starvation or severe fasting. The difference with keto is that you can still eat loads of fat and protein.

Since ketosis is a fat burning state, it can help you burn fat. However, this does depend on the amount of fat that you consume on the diet. Normally, keto requires that you consume much more fat than usual. But if you eat too much, you could theoretically gain weight on keto.

Also, much of the weight initially lost when switching to keto is just water weight. Carbohydrates in your bloodstream help keep water in your body. When you run out of carbs, your body starts to flush more water out.

History of Paleo

The Paleo diet, contrary to popular belief, is also a modern invention. It was first described by the nutritionist Walter Voegtlin in his 1975 book, The Stone Age Diet

The term “Paleo” comes from the word “Paleolithic”, meaning Stone Age. The Paleo diet is supposed to be the diet of our Stone Age, caveman ancestors.

Obviously, cave people did not eat ice cream, chicken McNuggets, Snicker’s bars, or hamburgers. But what did they eat?

According to Voegtlin, and people who adopt the Paleo diet, our ancient ancestors ate a lot of protein, fruit, and vegetables, but not a whole lot of grains and dairy, and definitely no processed foods.

The official Paleo diet, then, is pretty similar to the Keto diet. Both are high-fat, high-protein, low-carb diets.

However, the Paleo diet is not really what our ancient ancestors ate. It turns out they did not have one single diet. Our ancestors enjoyed many different kinds of diets, depending on their environment. Some of them even ate lots of dairy and grains. So the Paleo diet is really a modern invention.

How does paleo help you lose weight?

The Paleo diet is low in carbs, and absolutely bans processed foods.

While the myth behind paleo is somewhat fictitious, paleo can still help you to lose weight.

The main reason why paleo helps with weight loss is because it removes processed foods from your life. Processed junk foods are typically high in carbs and sugar, and low in nutrition. By removing them, you remove a significant source of calories. Initially, your diet becomes more nutritious, allowing you to digest what food you do eat better.

Keto vs. Paleo: The Key Difference

If you could sum up the difference between Keto and Paleo in one word, it would be “glucose”.

Our bodies need glucose, a kind of sugar, to function properly. Normally, we get glucose from carbs and sugary food.

Keto strictly limits glucose to make Ketosis happen.

Paleo does not ban glucose. It only bans modern, industrial sources of glucose, like donuts and ice cream. Honey, fruit, and other natural sources of sugar are still allowed.


Both keto and paleo can help you lose weight. But depending on your situation, one might be better than the other.

In either case, the key to success lies in your ability to maintain the diet for the long term. You should choose whichever diet will help you to do that.

For many people, the paleo diet is easier to maintain long term. This is because it allows some carbs, and a lot of foods that people ordinarily eat. Keto requires a much larger lifestyle shift, and needs you to be more precise with what you eat.

But if you already have a fairly low carb, processed food free diet, then paleo might not do much for you. In that case, keto might help because it can turn on ketosis, the fat burning state.

A lot of foods are both keto and paleo. In fact, anything keto friendly should also be paleo friendly. That includes our keto pizza crusts, which contain as little as 3 grams of carbohydrates, and no added sugar or preservatives.