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Paleo vs. Keto — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman — Published on September 25, 2023
Paleo emphasizes eating like ancient humans with unprocessed foods, while Keto focuses on low-carb, high-fat intake to induce ketosis.
Paleo vs. Keto — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Paleo and Keto


Key Differences

aleo and Keto are two dietary approaches that have gained popularity in recent years. The Paleo diet, often termed the caveman diet, emphasizes consuming foods that were presumably available to our Paleolithic ancestors. Keto, or ketogenic diet, is centered on achieving a metabolic state called ketosis by significantly reducing carbohydrate intake.
The Paleo diet's main focus is on whole foods like lean meats, fish, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. This diet avoids grains, dairy, and other processed foods. Keto, meanwhile, places emphasis on fats, moderate protein, and minimal carbs, with the aim of burning fat for energy.
Both Paleo and Keto diets can lead to weight loss, but their mechanisms differ. Paleo focuses on natural, unprocessed foods that may result in calorie reduction due to their nutrient-dense nature. Keto, by limiting carbs, shifts the body's primary energy source from glucose to fats.
While some foods overlap in Paleo and Keto diets, such as meats and certain vegetables, the inclusion and exclusion criteria for each differ. For instance, some high-carb fruits and vegetables accepted in Paleo are restricted in Keto to maintain ketosis.
The goals behind adopting either Paleo or Keto can vary. Paleo enthusiasts often aim for overall health and natural eating habits. In contrast, Keto followers typically seek weight loss, improved brain function, or enhanced energy levels.

Comparison Chart

Primary Focus

Eat like ancient humans
Achieve ketosis

Macronutrient Emphasis

Balanced; natural, whole foods
High fats, moderate protein, low carbs

Restricted Foods

Grains, dairy, processed foods
High-carb fruits, grains, sugars


Overall health, natural eating
Weight loss, brain function, energy boost


Based on presumed Paleolithic human diet
Designed to induce a metabolic state

Compare with Definitions


A regimen emphasizing lean meats, fish, veggies, fruits, nuts, and seeds.
On her Paleo diet, Janet rediscovered the joys of fresh vegetables.


A regimen designed to shift metabolism from glucose to fat burning.
Since starting Keto, Jenna noticed she felt less hungry between meals.


A diet based on foods presumed consumed by Paleolithic humans.
Sarah adopted the Paleo diet to eat more natural foods.


A diet promoting ketosis through low carbohydrate intake.
Mike's Keto diet made him more energetic than ever.


A nutritional plan avoiding grains, dairy, and processed items.
The Paleo lifestyle resonated with Mark's aim to eat unprocessed.


A nutritional plan emphasizing fats as the primary energy source.
Keto recipes often include ingredients like avocado and coconut oil.


An ancestral nutrition framework focusing on unprocessed foods.
The Paleo approach helped Lisa identify her intolerance to processed sugars.


A dietary approach that limits carbs to induce a metabolic state.
Achieving ketosis on the Keto diet helped Ron shed pounds quickly.


A dietary approach inspired by the eating habits of ancient humans.
Following Paleo guidelines, Jake eliminated dairy from his meals.


A high-fat, moderate-protein, low-carb nutrition strategy.
Keto-friendly snacks often center around nuts, cheese, and meats.


(informal) paleodiet


(organic chemistry) The carbonyl group of a ketone.


(informal) ketogenic
A keto diet

Common Curiosities

What is ketosis in the context of the Keto diet?

Ketosis is a metabolic state where the body burns fat for energy instead of carbs.

What is the primary focus of the Paleo diet?

Paleo emphasizes natural, whole foods consumed by ancient humans.

How does the Keto diet help in weight loss?

Keto induces ketosis, where the body burns fat for energy due to low carbs.

Are dairy products allowed in Paleo?

Typically, Paleo excludes dairy products.

Is fruit consumption limited in Keto?

Yes, especially high-carb fruits are limited on Keto.

Is Keto just about cutting carbs?

While reducing carbs is essential, the Keto diet emphasizes increasing healthy fat intake to promote ketosis.

Do all Paleo dieters eat meat?

While many do, it's possible to be vegetarian or even vegan and still follow a Paleo approach, although it's more challenging.

What is the Keto diet?

The Keto diet is a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet that aims to get your body into a state of ketosis, where it burns fat for fuel instead of carbs.

Do both Paleo and Keto diets restrict sugar?

Yes, both diets recommend limiting refined sugars.

What does Paleo refer to?

Paleo, short for Paleolithic, refers to a diet that mimics the eating habits of our ancient ancestors, focusing on whole foods and avoiding processed ones.

Why is the Paleo diet also called the "caveman diet"?

Because it's based on the presumed eating habits of ancient humans or "cavemen" from the Paleolithic era.

How do you know if you're in ketosis on the Keto diet?

Common signs include increased thirst, frequent urination, and a distinct breath odor. Some people also use ketone test strips.

Is the Paleo diet gluten-free?

Yes, since it excludes grains, which are the primary sources of gluten.

Is it possible to combine Paleo and Keto diets?

Yes, many foods are compliant with both diets, so it's possible to follow a low-carb Paleo approach.

Can you eat fruits on the Keto diet?

In moderation. Some fruits have high sugar and carb content, so they're limited on Keto.

Are there any risks associated with the Keto diet?

Some individuals might experience the "keto flu," nutrient deficiencies, or increased cholesterol. It's essential to consult with a healthcare provider.

How does the Paleo diet differ from the Keto diet?

Paleo focuses on mimicking ancient diets with natural foods, while Keto prioritizes macronutrient distribution to promote ketosis.

Is ketosis the same as ketoacidosis?

No. While ketosis is a metabolic state from burning fat, ketoacidosis is a dangerous condition where the blood becomes too acidic, often linked to diabetes.

Can you eat legumes on the Paleo diet?

Most strict Paleo guidelines recommend avoiding legumes, but some variations are more lenient.

Which diet is more restrictive, Paleo or Keto?

It varies by perspective. While Keto restricts carbs, Paleo eliminates specific food groups like dairy and grains. Personal preferences and goals can determine which feels more restrictive.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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