Paleo Vs Keto Vs Atkins – What’s The Difference?

So many diets, so little time but the options are still on the table with the paleo, keto and Atkins diets taking the forefront and you got to choose one. Or possibly tread carefully and skinny dip on various diets all at once. Still, the paleo, Atkins and ketogenic diets carve a fork on the road and picking the right path isn’t exactly something you would want to rush into. Take the time to get to know the diets and read on to find out their differences so you can start your health quest confidently and comfortably.

If you take a good look at all the options for dieters these days, you’re bound to be surprised and a little confused. After all, there are so many different diets out there and, every week we seem to hear about another one “guaranteed” to work.

And, during this research, it becomes pretty clear that a lot of people do battle to find something that really works for them. Now, you could see this as a lack of perseverance, or perhaps poor execution on the part of the dieters. But that cannot possibly be the case every single time.

You also have to look at the diet itself – some are ridiculous, others seem to make sense but have not been based on proven principles. Some, like the ketogenic, paleo and Atkins diet have been very successful and are grounded in sound scientific research.

Now, if you are looking at those three in particular, it is hard to tell which is most popular. Just have  a look on social media for evidence of how many people follow each of these diets.   

And, considering that each of the diets is so popular, you might be under the impression that any of them would do for you. And, it’s true, following one of these three diets should help you improve your health and start getting the results you have hoped for.

You just need to be willing to put in the work. How much work it is going to be, however, depends on the diet itself and how manageable it is for you. These three diets, though seeming similar at first glance, are actually quite different.

With any diet, there are going to some rough patches but, by checking the specifics of Paleo, Atkins and Keto, you can choose the one that will be the easiest for you.

Paleo Diet

The Paleo Diet is perhaps the easiest of the three to understand. You essentially just imagine what your Palaeolithic ancestors would have been eating and choose foods accordingly.

So, yes, that means no processed foods, no canned goods, and, gasp, no baked goods either. If it wasn’t available to a caveman back then, it shouldn’t be on your plate.

There are scientists who believe that cavemen, despite their shorter life expectancy, were a lot healthier than we are. And, if you think about it, they could very well be right.

They wouldn’t have known what trans-fats were, much less been able to include them in their diet. They had to rely on what was provided by nature so there were no cheese burgers and chips for your caveman.

Instead, they would rely on whole foods that they would have scavenged for or hunted down themselves and eaten them as close to their natural state as possible.

Ketogenic Diet

If you are a loyal reader, you will need no introduction to the ketogenicd iet. But let's do a recap in case you are new here. The ketogenic diet revolves around the concept of ketosis and restricting the intake of carbs.

Out of the three, it is the most technical but this has not prevented it from having a large following. What people like most about it is the unconventional approach of the diet. 

Unlike standard diets, fats are treated as a source of fuel, rather than something that must be restricted. Again, turning common wisdom upside down, it is the carbohydrates, both complex and otherwise that are viewed as the enemy.

This diet was originally developed as a way to treat epilepsy in children and has since been found helpful for weight loss and reversing insulin resistance and prediabetes as well.

You do, however, have to strictly monitor what you eat – you need to know how many calories a day you eat and how many carbs are in any food that you might want to chew down on.

The end goal is for your body to enter a metabolic state known as ketosis. This is where the ketone bodies in the blood are used to fuel your body in place of glucose and eliminates your dependence on glucose.

Atkins Diet

The highly technical nature of the ketogenic diet means that it isn’t for everyone. No matter how well it works for you, it is not something that you will be able to convince everyone else to try.

You can, however, allow them to start seeing the benefits of keto by starting them on the Atkins diet.

The Atkins diet is ketogenic in nature but it is not nearly as strict. Conceptualized by cardiologist and physician Robert Coleman Atkins, the diet also centers on restricting the number of carbs you can eat.

Where it differs is that you are not as restricted in terms of quantities – you are allowed to reintroduce some carbs in the early stages after ketosis has been achieved.

While you still need to keep your overall level of carbs down, this diet does allow more carbs and so is easier.

Differentiating the Three Diets

Now comes the tough part. Which one is right for me? How do I choose the right diet? What differences should I know about?

This article is designed to help you out - we will look at all three diets and get to the know how they differ, and what similarities there are between them. 


Difficulty

One of the most important things that you will need to learn when you start with a new eating plan is to read food labels properly. By doing this, you will see straight away whether or not the ingredients are allowed on your diet.

In addition, you will also be able to see the nutrient breakdown and this is essential when it comes to working out the carb content of food.

Checking the labels is about as exciting as reading a barcode, and can be just as confusing. It is extremely important though, if you really want to give the diet your best effort.

Unless you check the ingredients, you have no idea whether that peanut butter has any sugar in it, for example. (Here’s a hint – most do.) You’ll be surprised how much sugar and carbs are in the food we eat.

 And, considering how quickly you can derail your efforts when you chomp down food mindlessly, you are going to want to pay a lot of attention to the labels

The difference between the ketogenic diet and the Atkins diet is a matter of consistency. Basically, when you are following a ketogenic plan, you have to cap your daily carb intake at 50g at most in order to enter and maintain ketosis. You maintain that low carb intake throughout.

With Atkins, you have a bit more flexibility when it comes to maintenance. Once you have lost the weight you want, you can add extra carbs to your diet. You cannot go nuts on carbs but you can have more than on a ketogenic diet.

Paleo works a bit differently and is pretty much a no-brainer. Just ask yourself, “Would a caveman have had that?” and you know what to exclude. In fact, if you can’t stand the idea of reading labels, paleo could be the ticket.

The idea is to eat whole food in as natural a state as possible. This means no canned goods, or highly processed foods and more fresh fruit and vegetables. You should also try to source organic meat and seafood.

On a Paleo diet, the carb and fat count are not all that important, because by eating natural foods, you are more likely to eat the right quantity of food anyway. This makes the Paleo diet the easiest in terms of getting used to.

You do need to take into consideration that every diet has its own set of side effects – you are not going to be able to avoid that. Your body is going to have to adjust and it is possible that the adjustment period will be tough.

And, with any diet, you are going to have to find a way to deal with cravings. With Paleo, this could be something as simple as French fries. With Atkins or Keto, it could be something like fruit.

Effectiveness

With any diet, there are two things that you need to know right off the bat. First of all, the results that you can expect will vary, depending on what your past eating habits were. So, you cannot compare your results to someone else’s.

Second of all, you might not get it right on the first try and you need to give it a little time before deciding the diet is not working for you.

It’s a good idea to spend the first week getting acquainted with the diet and to start setting up good habits. Then commit to stick to it for the next 4 to 6 weeks. Take notes about how things are going, where you are having problems and what is working for you. That way, you can refer to the record as needed.

But, truth be told, it is just about impossible to go wrong with any of the three diets that we are talking about here, as long as you are committed and you are using the most up-to-date resources.

There is a lot of information out there on ketogenics and the basic principles haven’t really changed that much. Early adopters of the Atkins diet, however, believed that it was better to distance themselves from the ketogenic methods.

That has now been proven false and up to date Atkins information shows that ketogenic methods are more effective, so the plan has evolved.

Now, you might be wondering why you should even consider the Atkins diet if Keto works better anyway. Atkins is good if you find that you are missing carbs. You do need to realize that to offset those extra carbs, you will need to exercise as well.

The Paleo diet is more something that is tried-and-tested in that it worked for our ancestors centuries ago. They had no choice but to eat foods naturally found in nature.

Paleo is perhaps the simplest in that it doesn’t require you to count carbs or fat, etc. What should be remembered though, is that this approach can be a bit hit and miss when it comes to weight loss. You are bound to lose weight, but you won’t lose it at the same rate you would on Keto.

You need to work out what your goals are. Do you want to lose as much weight as possible in a short a time as possible? Then Keto is the right answer for you. It is harder to stick to than the other two diets but it does produce the best results if you persevere.

Popularity

Knowing how popular each dieting method is could also help you decide which one to stick to. Popularity not only gives you some sense on which diet actually works best for the majority but it can also be helpful when it comes to the social support you need.

The more popular the diet, the more likely you are to find a support group in your area or on social media. Perhaps you simply want to try something that has worked for many others.

Maybe you want to try something that worked for your favorite celebrity. Did you know that former UFC women’s champion Ronda Rousey incorporated shades of the paleo style to her diet?

Try entering “Paleo diet” into Google and you get over 17 million results. There is a lot of information out there – personal experiences, recipes, tips and tricks. People who have gone through what you are going through and who can help you through it.

There is no need for you to ever get bored with your meal plan again, no matter which option you choose. You can find all the information you need and more about any of the diets we have discussed here.

End Goal

The main reason that people try those fancy diets that require a lot of sacrifice is that they want to have their dream figure. Whether it is to get rid of excess weight, define that six-pack, tone that body or just to feel healthier, most of us are willing to go to great lengths. 

You can go onto social media and check out the before and after pictures of people following those fancy diet plans. 

What is important to remember is that weight loss is not the only goal here. You want to be able to maintain that weight loss over time. Those fad diets may help you lose weight but, as soon as you go back to eating normally, it piles back on.

By the same token, ketogenics might be the best way to lose the most weight but it might not be the best option for you. You might not be into counting every calorie and looking up the carb count of every morsel you put in your mouth. 

If that is the case for you, it is far better to chose the Paleo diet, with its added flexibility. You will benefit not only by losing weight but you'll feel a lot healthier as well because you are preparing your own meals. It's better to prepare your own meal because you're sure that what you prepare is healthy.

Three-way Comparison

If you are still confused on what diet to pick, use this three-way comparison table as a guide.

Ketogenic Diet

Atkins Diet

Paleo Diet

Goal

Weight loss

Weight loss

Better health

Low-carb / Low-fat strictness

High

Medium

Low

Flu-like side-effects?

Likely

Likely

Likely

Popularity

Medium

Low

High

Main benefits

Effective fat loss

Easier way to ketosis

More food choices

Main downsides

Strict carb monitoring

Not always effective

Not focused on weight loss

Conclusion

One of the biggest gains you will make with any of these eating plans is that you are cutting back on the harmful additives and trans-fats found in processed foods and also ridding yourself of your sugar addiction.

It is going to be hard – you are bound to have keto flu and/ or strong cravings in the beginning. That’s just your body’s way of resisting change. Once it gets used to the new way of doing things, you’ll feel healthier and more energetic.

I am not going to lie, keto flu is never fun but there are ways to minimize it. We’ve got a whole article on the subject if you want to read more about it.

One way to minimize the effects could be to start with the Paleo diet, move to the Atkins diet and then switch up to the Keto diet when you’re more used to low carbs. That way you can get the best of all three. 

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2 Comments on "Paleo Vs Keto Vs Atkins – What’s The Difference?"

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Ellen
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Jeremy, Love your website you have some really great info here to help with deciding the difference between Keto, Atkins and Paleo!

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