What’s the Difference Between the Keto and Paleo Diets?

The Keto and Paleo Diets are extremely popular. Both generally focus on eliminating the high-carbohydrate convenience foods that have caused so many of the diseases of affluence in the last century. While there are similarities between the two diets they are very distinct from one another. If you’re wondering, “What’s the Difference Between the Keto and Paleo Diets?”, I’m here to help!

What is the Keto Diet?

The Keto Diet is a low-carb high-fat (LCHF) diet that focuses on manipulating macronutrient ratios so that the majority of calories come from fat. While many believe that the Keto Diet is a sugar-free diet this is not the case. No foods are off limit. The goal is to eat carbohydrates in very small amounts, moderate amounts of protein, with the majority of calories coming from fat.

How Does the Keto Diet Work?

The body is like a hybrid car that can run on carbs (glucose) or fat (ketones). The Keto Diet turns the body into a fat burning machine. This has all kinds of benefits from reducing inflammation to restoring the proper neuro-pharmacology of the brain. The Keto Diet allows artificial sweeteners. Low-carb keto desserts often have a fair amount of corn-based products such as erythritol, which are not permitted on the Paleo Diet. The overarching goal of the Keto Diet is to burn fat and reduce inflammation in the brain and throughout the body.

What is the Paleo Diet?

The Paleo Diet is a grain-free diet inspired by our ancestors. Most of humankind’s existence has been as hunter-gatherers. It is only in the last ten thousand years, with the advent of agriculture, that we have eaten a grain-based diet. With a focus on natural, unprocessed foods, the Paleo Diet does not include any grains or grain-like foods. Wheat, corn, rice, and other neolithic farm-based foods are not permitted. The main goal of the Paleo Diet is to heal by eating healthy grain-free, natural foods that are unprocessed. I wrote the book on the Paleo Diet, called Paleo Cooking from Elana’s Pantry in 2013, check that out for more information!

How Does the Paleo Diet Work?

The Paleo Diet works by removing modern processed foods and grains, all of which can be inflammatory. Many experience relief from aches, pains, arthritis, and digestive troubles within a month of following a strict Paleo Diet. That was the case for me when I went strictly grain-free a couple of decades ago.

What is a Keto-Paleo Diet?

I follow a Keto-Paleo Diet. This means that I eat paleo foods that are low in carbohydrates. When I eat fruit, I choose berries rather than high-carb pineapple, and I eat them with a high-fat food such as macadamia nuts or avocado. This slows down the absorption of carbohydrates and prevents a spike in my blood glucose levels which I test with this meter and these strips.

How to Follow the Keto Diet

If you are interested in learning more about the history of this diet you’ll want to check out my Keto Diet Recipes page. My recipes are Keto-Paleo since I cannot digest many of the foods allowed on the traditional Keto Diet. If you’re counting macros while following a Keto Diet I provide nutrition information for all of the recipes in my latest low-carb cookbook, Paleo Cooking from Elana’s Pantry, so you’ll definitely want to get your hands on that!

How to Follow the Paleo Diet

I was diagnosed with celiac disease in 1998 and quickly figured out that the typical high-carb, gluten-free diet would not be my ticket to health. I went on a grain-free diet shortly thereafter, eliminating all grains and grain-like foods including corn, rice, and potatoes. All of the recipes here are grain-free and paleo. If you’re following along and subscribe to my newsletter you’re on your way to a Paleo Diet. If you need more inspiration check out my Paleo Diet Recipes page!

What’s the Difference Between the Keto and Paleo Diets?

In summary, as a reader points out so concisely in a comment below, “The ketogenic diet focuses on manipulating the three macronutrients, which are fat, carbs and protein for those keeping score. The Paleo diet is more about the food choices. You eliminate dairy, grains and processed foods, but balance the macronutrients any way you want.”

Thank you so much for all you do. Your explanation was simple and to the point as are your wonderful recipes!


40 responses to “What’s the Difference Between the Keto and Paleo Diets?”

  1. Hi I have vitiligo and would like to know what is the best diet for me. Keto, Paleo, plant Based, Dairy free or all. Please help.


    • Gine, this is a fantastic question for a Functional Medicine practitioner who can do a full intake of a couple of hours for you :-)

    • Maria, thanks for your question. I too suffer from autoimmune diseases and follow a low-carb diet which has helped me :-)

  2. Thanks for the valuable information. I have been health conscious for time since I started to put on weight. This will help me maintain my weight.

  3. Thanks so much for this post!!! I’ve been eating mostly gluten, dairy and sugar free the last four years but have just (literally this past weekend) started the Keto diet to see if it helps me with migraines. Your recipes are still my favorite because they are easy to follow and taste great! Not to mention I don’t break the bank buying 50 new ingredients just for one recipe. Thanks again for all your hard work!

  4. Elana, Thank you for all that you do with your website and cookbooks. I’ve been a follower of yours for many years.
    I’ve been Paleo for about 10 years. I’ve tried the Keto diet before, but notice I have decreased output when I workout. Is this something that will adjust itself? If so, how long does it take? My body seems to do really well with decreasing carb intake, but I still want to be able to workout.

    • Brandi, thanks for your question! I’m wondering if you can add a little detail about the decreased output –are you referring to aerobic or anaerobic exercise? Also, what type of exercises are you specifically doing? How are you measuring output? Finally, what type of Keto Diet are you referring to? 1:1, 2:1, or something else all together?

  5. We’ve eaten Paleo for years, but we have food allergies. It’s difficult enough to remain on a Paleo Diet if a person has egg and flax allergies, and even more difficult to do Keto if one has dairy allergies as well. I wish someone would publish a creative dairy and egg free Keto cookbook, or an AIP Keto cookbook without dessert recipes. Seems like many Paleo and Keto cookbooks contain more dessert recipes than needed. I’ve enjoyed several of your egg and dairy free recipes, thanks.

  6. Elana-
    How many net carbs do you eat per day on Keto-Paleo? I’m really uncomfortable with the 20 grams of net carbs on plain Keto and I feel that a diet that eliminates vegetables and low-glycemic fruit is really dangerous and counter-intuitive. I need to lose fat but I just feel like not eating healthy produce is a problem.
    Thanks for your help,

    • Julie, thanks for your comment and great question! The Keto Diet is totally customizable. The number of carbs you eat would depend on your activity level, whether or not you’re trying to lose/maintain/gain weight, as well as other factors. And I agree, eliminating green vegetables while eating foods like erythritol is not something that is healthy for a person like me, but we’re all biochemical individuals :-)

    • You should not be eliminating vegetables on the keto diet, just simply making wise choices about it. I eat a ton of broccoli, asparagus, Brussel sprouts, and other things like that. But you need to be careful about some that are high (or depending on how strict you want to be with it) moderately high in carbs such as carrots, potatoes and others that grow in the ground. You need the fiber on Keto though so green veggies, leafy greens and avocados are highly encouraged. Look into Thomas Delaur, he explains the science of it all very well.

  7. Thank you for your detail explanation of both the Keto & Paleo diets.
    I found your website when I went Gluten Free, many moons ago, and have been an avid follower ever since. I recommend your recipes to family & friends, and anyone who tells me they are “going gluten-free”
    You are making a huge difference in many lives.

    • Beth, thanks for your beautiful comment and for letting me know I am making a difference in people’s lives :-)

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