Paleo vs. Keto: Which Is Better For Weight Loss?

Paleo vs. Keto: Which Is Better For Weight Loss?

It is hard to pass through a grocery store checkout aisle without seeing numerous magazines riddled with two simple words: weight loss. In fact, hardly a day goes by that we are not being bombarded by new miracle pills or diet fads on the TV or internet; claiming to finally resolve all those burning weight loss questions.

But it is not without reason. Weight loss is a popular topic of discussion and the question, “how to lose weight,” ranks among the top search engine queries. Data collected from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey reports that obesity among adults is 42.4 percent; nearing half the U.S. adult population.

So, it is clear that weight loss interest is not merely a trend; for many, it is a hopeful reality for their health. Even so, not all weight loss methods and diets are created equal. There are, however, two popular diets that have proven that they have staying power that goes beyond a trend. 

Paleolithic and Ketogenic Diets

The Paleolithic (paleo) and ketogenic (keto) diets remain in the spotlight within the health and wellness world. Many thought that they would fizzle out once their popularity had run its course; but they’re still here. In fact, they’ve actually been around for quite a long time.

These two diets remain because for many they have proven to work, not only as a means to lose weight, but as a weight management lifestyle.

Paleo and keto actually share many common features and dietary guidelines that overlap. But the question remains: Which is better for weight loss? Who gets to wear the crown?

The Paleo Diet

A new look at an old way of life

It has been called the caveman diet and Stone Age diet — eat like a caveman to shed the pounds. But have no fear, no animal pelts or cave painting skills required. At the end of the day, the paleo diet is a modern interpretation of the diet used by humans of the Paleolithic age — about 10,000ish years ago according to anthropologists.

The rationale behind this has to do with the belief that the human body is not well suited for modern food processing and manufacturing methods; this makes processed foods a no-no. Furthermore, proponents believe that the highly processed, highly refined, and antibiotic containing foods of today contribute to chronic diseases. 

The Stone Age Menu

In terms of macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein, and fat) the main focus of the Paleo diet is high-protein and low-carb. The major dietary emphasis is meat, fruits, and vegetables. 

Common Foods in the Paleo Diet 

Since mammoth meat is hard to come by these days, grass-fed beef, farm-raised antibiotic-free poultry, and wild caught fish are among the main protein staples. 

Here are some typical Paleo foods:

  • Fruits and veggies: Bananas, blueberries, strawberries, broccoli, kale, peppers, 
  • Grass-fed lean meats: Beef, poultry, pork, and lamb
  • Seafood: Wild-caught fish such as salmon, shrimp and shellfish
  • Nuts and seed: Almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds
  • Eggs: Free-range, unprocessed

Foods that are typically avoided on the Paleo diet include: Grains, legumes, most dairy, starchy vegetables, refined sugars, hydrogenated oils, and any other highly-processed foods. 

Paleo Macronutrient Ratios

45% protein; 35% carbs; 20% fat

Paleo Diet Benefits

It’s clear, the menu and guidelines for Paleo does make for a clean diet; avoiding potentially harmful additives, preservatives, and other highly processed foods is beneficial to overall health. Also, diets that highlight good plant-based nutrients come with their own benefits, such as antioxidants and other anti-inflammatory properties. 

In terms of data, one study on Paleolithic nutrition showed a reduction in waist circumference, triglyceride levels, blood pressure, and fasting blood sugar levels.

The Keto Diet 

Keto, Older Than You Think!

The ketogenic diet has often been compared to the Atkins diet, but the truth is, the dietary rationale behind Keto has been around a lot longer. It was originally developed in the 1920s and was used as a dietary way to treat epilepsy. As time went on, it became more popular as a way to lose weight.

Keto is the predominant low carbohydrate diet — promoting a high ratio consumption of healthy fats and a moderate ratio of protein. The main point of the Keto diet is to drive the body into a state of ketosis; with the hopes of burning fat.

The “Keto” in Ketogenic

Ketosis refers to a metabolic state in which your body is forced to burn fat as fuel rather than using carbohydrates. When your body is restricted from carbohydrates and not producing enough glucose for energy, it must have an alternative; this alternative fuel source is known as ketones. 

Ketones are fatty acids released from the liver that aid in metabolism. This process of ketosis also happens during times of fasting. A Keto diet aims to take advantage of this fat-for-energy process.

The Keto Menu

The Keto diet is low-carb, high-fat, and moderate protein. Common foods include:

  • High fat meats: Fatty cuts of steak, organ meats, pork belly, ground beef, salmon, tuna, chicken with skin
  • Eggs and dairy: Free-range eggs, cheese, butters and creams, Greek yogurt
  • Low-carb vegetables: Cauliflower, broccoli, spinach, kale
  • Tart fruits and nuts: Blackberries, raspberries, coconut, almonds, peanuts, and walnuts

Foods that are typically avoided include: Breads, pasta, rice, starchy vegetables, high sugar fruits, sugary drinks, and other high carbohydrate foods. 

Keto Macronutrient Ratios 

70% fats; 5% carbohydrates; 25% protein.

Keto Diet Benefits

Nutritional ketosis has shown to be an effective way to help manage weight. Furthermore, a Keto diet boasts many benefits to aid in the reversal of some metabolic syndromes: Lowering blood sugar levels, lowering blood pressure, reducing triglycerides, and increasing HDL cholesterol levels. 

Which is Better for Weight Loss?

The Paleo and Keto diets follow many of the same dietary guidelines and share many of the same benefits. Both emphasize carbohydrate restriction (though Keto much more so), both highlight whole foods as macronutrient sources, and both eliminate added sugars and refined carbohydrates altogether. 

But what about actual weight loss? Who takes the low-carb cake? 

In terms of weight loss, therapeutic benefits, and larger volume of research the advantage must go to the Keto diet. 

The Keto diet helps promotes weight loss in three primary ways: 

  • Improved satiation: Diets that promote higher ratios of protein and fats are known to improve satiety, reduce hunger, and keep you feeling full.
  • Avoids added sugars: Sugar found naturally is not a bad thing. Refined and added sugars on the other hand have been linked to weight gain and other chronic diseases. 
  • Ketosis: As noted, the ketosis process requires carbohydrate depletion to help turn ketones (fatty acids) into energy. In terms of macronutrients, Keto’s carbohydrate ratio (5%) is well below Paleo (35%).

The Bottom Line

Both Paleo and Keto can help promote weight loss due to their carb-restricted dietary guidelines. Each focuses on changes in macronutrient consumption while eliminating added sugars and steering clear of refined food products.

However, Keto deserves the slight advantage over its Stone Age companion in terms of weight loss. Those living that Keto life and looking for a clean plant-based protein powder option to help balance their protein-to-fat ratio may enjoy the benefits of Orgain’s Keto Plant Protein™ Organic Keto-genic Protein Powder. With that, go get your Keto on!



Products - Data Briefs - Number 360 - February 2020 | CDC

Paleolithic nutrition for metabolic syndrome: systematic review and meta-analysis | PubMed

Nutritional Ketosis for Weight Management and Reversal of Metabolic Syndrome | NCBI

Beyond weight loss: a review of the therapeutic uses of very-low-carbohydrate (ketogenic) diets | NCBI

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