Paleo vs Other Diets: An Unbiased Analysis

Last Updated: September 30, 2020

Introduction

The modern times really did give an evident thrust in the fitness and health lifestyle. With many dietary plans, we can now hardly find a diet that is compatible with ours. Truly, it’s almost impossible to keep up with these.

With the popularity of different diets circulating around the internet, it is understandable that we no longer know which are backed with nutritional research and which are a fad diet. Hence, thorough research is required from us.

When starting a diet, there are so many considerations to look into. Starting out from a detailed assessment of your bodily needs and your daily physical activities to checking your objective.

Out of the many diets that are now being considered both by science and YouTube and Instagram healthy ‘gurus’, Paleolithic Diet is one of the diets that is considered flexible and unharmful.

The Paleolithic Diet is known for its health benefits and as well as its ease. But, just like any other diet, it’s still best to know what makes this diet different from the other diets. I mean, above all, good health while still getting to enjoy eating is still our greatest priority, isn’t it?

Paleolithic Diet

Given its name, we can rightfully assume that Paleolithic Diet, or otherwise known as Paleo Diet, is a patterned eating lifestyle from the Paleolithic era. This era was known for its hunter-gatherers, hence you can expect that this diet is all about whole foods.

Since this is a diet that seems like a blast from the past, you’re expected to be typically eating fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, meats and fishes. In short, the foods that you’ll be eating are what could only be obtained by hunting and gathering before.

Oils like olive, coconut, and flaxseed are allowed as well. On the other hand, you can’t eat any man-made or prepackaged food, all grains, legumes, dairy, and salty and sugary foods. Vegetable oil and potatoes are also out of the list.

The purpose of this diet is to change the eating lifestyle of the modern age diet—which is centered on processed foods, preservatives, and farming products like dairy, grains, and legumes.

Paleo Diet believes to be a healthier option because of a theory that the rapid changes in diet that emerged in today’s time is the cause of the prevalent lifestyle diseases like obesity, diabetes, and heart diseases. But, does this diet really prevent these diseases?

Harvard Medical School suggests otherwise, though. Whole grains and legumes reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. However, these cannot be found in the paleo diet.

Does this mean subscribing to this diet is useless? Of course not! By all means, you can adapt the diet to your lifestyle—just keep in mind that your doctor’s suggestions must still be the priority.

Risks

At first glance, you’ll first see how nutrient-rich this diet could be since it promotes eating of fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, and lean protein. However, opting the different meal groups like legumes and grains isn’t really ideal.

Nutritional deficiency can be your number one concern. B vitamins will be lacking in your system because of the grains and legumes that you’ll be cutting down. Calcium deficiency is also one of the many concerns of health experts because dairy isn’t part of the to-eat list of the paleo dieters.

Worry not though, because you can actually get these certain nutrients from foods that you are allowed to eat. Organ meats can provide B vitamins and dark leafy greens and fish are good sources of calcium.

Benefits

Despite its risks and setbacks, Paleo still definitely has its merits. Since you’ll be reducing processed foods and unhealthy preservatives in your diet, this can reduce your bad intake of sugar and sodium.

This can be a good starter for eating clean since there won’t be any additives, preservatives, and harmful chemical intake. Moreover, fruits and vegetables, oils, nuts, and seeds contain good anti-inflammatory benefits.

If losing weight is your main objective, this could help you. However, this doesn’t automatically conclude that this is a diet for losing weight. You’re most likely losing weight when following paleo because of cutting down the food intake that you usually follow due to the paleo restrictions. Remember that losing weight is still partnered with regular exercise and a good and well-balanced meal.

A higher intake of protein and fats equate to improved satiety. This basically means that you will often no longer experience the feeling of hunger between meals. This can also be the contributing factor as to why this can help you with losing weight.

Pros And Cons

For those with Type 2 Diabetes can actually reap some good benefits from the Paleo Diet. There’s an evident improvement with your glycemic control when incorporating this diet into your lifestyle.

Other than the good benefits this diet poses, there is still not much conclusive evidence that supports the claims of this diet. However, according to research by the Journal of Nutrition suggested that Paleo dieters can lower the risk of death from any lifestyle disease by 23 percent.

You might want to rethink your transition to the Paleo Diet if you’re a vegetarian. This is pretty difficult for vegetarians because it excludes beans, which is a good source of nutrients.

This diet allows a high protein content. This is essential for the development of your muscles, skin, bone, and more. This also contributes to good and healthy body composition.

Though there are good meal plans and alternatives out there, Paleo may not work for some who are working under a tight budget. Paleo could be really pricey because of the foods that you’re not allowed to eat.

The hustle and bustle lifestyle may not be the best contender for this diet. This is because you’re avoiding packaged foods, hence, you can’t eat on-the-go foods, even if you’re famished—unless you’re willing to loosen up a bit?

This diet doesn’t have much-founded research on long-term health effects. However, this can certainly help lose or maintain your weight. Always take note that a piece of advice from your licensed medical practitioner is still a must!

Other Diets

Below is a list of some other diets that are also popular, and how they stack up against the Paleo diet.

Keto (Ketogenic) Diet vs Paleo (Paleolithic) Diet

Ketogenic Diet, or otherwise known as the Keto Diet, is famous for the alteration in your normal bodily process. The name of this diet was coined from ketosis, a metabolic process your body undergoes due to this diet.

This diet is quite complex and difficult to follow due to the serious food restriction it requires. Moreover, this also calls for consistency because your metabolic process highly depends on this.

Individuals who are into serious eating of fats might be punching your fists in the air! Keto is centered on eating more fat and fewer carbs. Generally, you eat 70-80% fat, 20-25% protein, and 5-10% carbs on a Keto Diet.

Patients experiencing seizures due to epilepsy or any disease can also find benefits from this diet. In fact, this diet was constructed to reduce seizures back when medication for it wasn’t well-established yet.

Comparison Between the Keto and Paleo Diets

Essentially, Keto and Paleo are special and different in their own ways. With different general objectives, it is quite challenging to create a direct comparison between the two.

Keto is centered in allowing ketogenesis to work in your body for its metabolic processes, while Paleo is focused on eating like our hunter-gatherer ancestors. However, these two are always compared because they’re well-known and are always seen as weight loss diets.

Just to reiterate, Keto and Paleo aren’t exactly diets for weight loss. The restriction these diets require could be the factor as to why you are losing weight. However, these diets are good for either maintaining weight or for eating clean.

To start, they are similar for encouraging dieters to eat many nutritious whole foods, while simultaneously excluding highly processed foods. At the same time, they’re also excluding similar food groups on your plate.

Whole grains and legumes are excluded from your diet. Moreover, legumes like beans and peanuts are as well as not part of the diet. However, Paleo allows cashews and walnuts as alternatives for peanuts.

When focusing on the differences, processed meat like bacon and ham are not included in the to-eat list of the Paleo dieters. On the other hand, Keto dieters allow these processed meats.

When it comes to fats and processed meat, Keto is much more lenient. They allow any meat as long as they do not contain any added sugar or carbs. Paleo, on the other hand, only allows meats that are natural and grass-fed.

Sweeteners and sugar like raw honey, maple syrup, date sugar, and coconut sugar are allowed on a Paleo’s plate. These are natural, hence, it is definitely okay to incorporate these.

Artificial sweeteners, like stevia and sucralose, are a big red flag for Paleo dieters, but it is the opposite for the followers of the Keto Diet. However, these sweeteners must not contain any sugar.

For beginners, you might already know that you don’t have to worry about saying goodbye to your fruits when incorporating the Paleo Diet in your lifestyle. However, if you’re thinking about fruits in a Keto dieter’s perspective, then your fruit choice will be very, very limited.

Which is Better? Paleo or Keto?

If I were to dictate which is better among the two, then it would be very subjective because each has its own merits. Hence, we have to look at the general objective of each and it is yours to decide if it works for you.

Essentially, Keto is more rigid than Paleo because it restricts more food groups. You can’t blame Keto though since you really need a ton of fats and fewer carbs per day to achieve the metabolic process of Keto.

A labor-intensive diet can be an exhausting diet to follow in the long run. For Paleo, you won’t have to worry about maintaining any bodily process, hence it is more flexible. Additionally, a lot of people see Paleo as more of a lifestyle than a diet, thus easier to stick to in the long run.

If you’re planning to turn to Keto, then you might want to download food monitoring applications because you’ll really need it when doing this diet. With this fact, you can probably infer that it’s quite challenging sticking with the diet.

If you’re diligent enough, though, Keto can be for you. Above all its hardships, Keto really does wonders.

With side effects, Keto flu is pretty common when transitioning to the Keto diet because of the extremely low level of carbs in your diet. Paleo has bad side effects too, considering that you’ll be lacking in calcium and other vitamins.

In short, both have equally unpleasant side effects. However, some rather undergo side effects from Paleo Diet, than sacrificing their gut health due to the lack of fiber from the Keto.

If losing weight is your goal, Keto is known for the great after-effects. However, some have said that this is only short-lived because you will eventually come off ketosis.

To decide which is better, it is up to you. However, with the general comparison, it could be decided that Paleo is better in terms of easiness, side-effects, and flexibility.

Low-Carb Diet vs Paleo Diet

As the name says, a low-carb diet is the limitation of carbohydrates like grains, starchy foods, and whatnot. This gives emphasis on whole foods that are high in protein and fat. Generally, this is widely used for losing weight and many doctors approve of this.

This comes in variation. Some people opt to follow general low-carb meal plans. While some personalize their own meal plans. This is a flexible diet since you’re only focusing on cutting down your carbohydrate intake.

It is known that the common sources of carbs are from grains, milk, nuts, fruits and vegetables, and more. Some can choose not to exclude vegetables and fruits in their diet, while some limit but do not exclude all these carb sources.

The general objective of a low-carb diet is that it lowers your insulin levels, which compels your body to burn the stored fat for energy. This process leads to weight loss, hence, most people find this diet more ideal. This diet, in short, skips the whole fanciness sham, rather, it just focuses on a diet that is centered more on whole foods and much cleaner.

Comparison Between the Low-Carb and Paleo Diets

Low-Carb and Paleo Diet are quite intertwined together in terms of definition and objectives. Low-carb diet is generally cutting down your carbohydrates and there are no formal expressions of what to eat and what not to eat.

Generally, you can say that a Low-Carb Diet has become a common outcome of following the Paleo Diet. In a simpler sense, since the Low-Carb Diet is just basically cutting down your carbs, you are following a Low-Carb Diet if you’re a Paleo Dieter.

Paleo Diet doesn’t necessarily mean maintaining a Low-Carb Diet. But the essence of it and its general elimination of different food groups under the category of carbs, you’re making Low-Carb Diet as a common outcome of this diet.

In short, Low-Carb Diet could be a general term for all diets that are focusing on cutting down carbs, and one of these is the Paleo Diet.

Which is Better? Paleo or Low-Carb?

Coming to the conclusion that Paleo Diet is a diet that could be said that’s under the Low-Carb Diet, we can say that regardless of which diet you’re on, if you’re cutting down your carbs, then you’re conforming to the definition of the Low-Carb diet.

The Low-Carb Diet is pretty generic and simple. If broken down into definition, you’re just basically saying that there’s a reduction in the carbohydrate intake.

Committing to the Paleolithic Diet is just a little bit more intense and has its own restrictions. On the other hand, the Low-Carb Diet focuses rather on reductions.

There should be no pressure in following the Paleo though because you can still customize your diet according to your bodily needs and lifestyle. This is unlike any other diets that really require strict compliance with the restrictions for a successful metabolic process.

The flexibility of the Low-Carb Diet is just easier to comply with rather than Paleo’s. After all, the Low-Carb diet is just a formalized term for eating more whole foods, than the less healthy ones.

Intermittent Fasting vs Paleo Diet

Intermittent Fasting (IF) is pretty different from all existing diets. IF doesn’t necessarily specifically express which to eat and which to avoid, rather, it is an eating pattern or schedule.

IF focuses on the time and the scheduling of your meals to let you get the most out of them. Rather than focusing on the what, IF focuses on the when.

IF has different variations and this could vary from the time duration of your next meal, not eating breakfast and dinner, to reserving a day or two in a week for a 24-hour fast. Regardless, it stresses on time.

This “diet” follows a concept that when your body has entered the fasted state after not eating for hours, it will be easier for your body to burn fat because of the low insulin level. Is this difficult? Yes, but it is definitely not impossible.

Comparison Between Intermittent Fasting and Paleo Diet

According to Dr. Michael Eades, as stated in jamesclear.com, diets, in general, are more difficult to execute than contemplating it. As compared to IF, it is easier to execute, though it is quite difficult to comprehend at first.

When you’re going on a diet (in general), you tend to look at what foods you can’t eat. This is extremely difficult for those who are living with other people at home who don’t subscribe to this diet or when eating out.

IF, on the other hand, is easier to execute because you’re only focusing on the time you’re going to offset. However, this could be difficult for those who have demanding lifestyles that require food and a continuous amount of energy supply.

Paleo Diet may sound easy because you’re only following a caveman’s eating lifestyle, but the emergence of this generation changed our eating habits and lifestyle. Applying this diet to your hustle and bustle lifestyle might be challenging, most especially when packaged foods are out of the allowed list.

According to a study conducted by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Paleo Diet had the lowest adherence as compared to intermittent fasting. It also showed the lowest weight loss results

Which is Better?

The best diet will always be the one that perfectly works for you and that has a green signal from your trusted doctor. By perfectly works, I mean that you can work around its benefits and risks. Moreover, you should also see yourself doing this in the long run.

There is no doubt that the Paleo Diet can really help you lose or maintain your weight. However, if you will be stopping this diet, there are chances that there will be a significant change with your weight. Thus, consistency and your drive to commit to the diet is a must.

If ease in adherence is your main priority, then IF is better in this area. According to the study conducted by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 54% of the participants of the study were able to maintain intermittent fasting after a whole year.

When it comes to food intake, it is no doubt that IF is much easier because it doesn’t really restrict you with what you eat. This, rather, encourages you to eat the carbs and the fats that you need to meet all of your nutritional needs.

Paleo Diet, on the other hand, encourages you to restrict some of the food groups in your plate like legumes and dairy. This can be quite tricky, most especially that these food groups have the nutrients that your body needs.

Generally, Intermittent Fasting is better because it is easy. However, if you believe that you can work best within the boundaries of the Paleo Diet, then this could be the better option for you.

Conclusion

Let us not forget that diet means a way of life and it is never about restrictions. Hence, our perspective should be focused on how this diet will contribute to a healthier body and lifestyle, rather than what you should not be putting on your plate.

Paleo proponents look at the benefits of the said diet from the way of life of our ancestors. However, this correlation could be inconclusive since you can’t brush off the fact that the lifestyle before was extremely different than now.

All diets are equally effective when it comes to losing or maintaining weight. However, the most important aspect always lies in how it works for you and your long term commitment to it.

If you’re after more information on these diets, check out my other reviews on keto vs other diets. If you’re after more information on how paleo stacks up with keto I did a more comprehensive analysis here. I’ve also done a post on the best keto cookbooks as well as the best paleo cookbooks, check them out if you have a chance and you’re on one of these diets. If you’re after something more generic, then check out the reviews I’ve done on the most popular fitness cookbooks which includes steps on portion control.

If Paleo Diet is what you think will best give you the serotonin when eating food, while giving you a healthier and improved lifestyle, then this could probably be your best pick. With the information given, the ball is now in your court!

Sources:
https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/paleo-diet/art-20111182
https://www.health.harvard.edu/diet-and-weight-loss/the-paleo-diet-back-to-the-stone-age
https://www.everydayhealth.com/paleo-diet/diet/celebrities-who-have-tried-paleo-diet/
https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/paleo-diet/art-20111182
https://www.news-medical.net/health/Paleo-Diet-Pros-and-Cons.aspx
https://share.upmc.com/2016/04/pros-cons-paleo-diet/
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/326287#similarities
https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/ketogenic-diet-is-the-ultimate-low-carb-diet-good-for-you-2017072712089
https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/in-depth/low-carb-diet/art-20045831
https://www.self.com/story/low-carb-paleo-keto
https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/advance-article-abstract/doi/10.1093/ajcn/nqz330/5687899?redirectedFrom=fulltext

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