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. Thank you for clarifying the difference between keto and paleo.. The high fat keto diet led to a lot more muscle cramping. Do you know why high fat causes cramps?

    • Beulah, thanks for your comment. As far as I know the Keto Diet does not cause much cramping; if it does it would likely be due to dehydration or under-consumption of salt, potassium, and/or trace minerals. A more likely cause of cramping in many people is magnesium deficiency. Is cramping something you have experienced before you went on a high-fat keto diet?

  2. Elana, hoping you and the many knowledgeable readers here could weigh in. I feel like I should give the Keto diet a fair shake for the sake of healthy weight loss (I have maybe 5 pounds to deal with), body shape, focus and back pain, but one thing that I’m uneasy with is dealing with the “Keto flu”. Is this something that everyone has to go through when adapting to a Keto lifestyle? I solo parent our 4 kids, homeschool, and work part time, and I’m afraid the adjustment period will be really severe.

    • Sarah, thanks for your great question! When I transitioned to a Keto Diet in 2014 I did not experience the keto flu. To avoid that I drank a lot more water than usual and at times added a bit of salt to it. I also kept up with potassium and trace minerals and had no problem. I hope you’ll stop back by and keep me posted on how you do :-)

  3. Dear Elana, I have discovered that I am allergic to eggs, even organic free range chicken eggs. I cough for about a week after eating one egg or eating 2 Tbs of paleo mayo. Can you point to recipes without eggs? I’m desiring something baked and eggs seem a prerequisite. I relish the information and recipes that you post. I’ve been on the Paleo diet for 13 months and I’ve seen many positive changes: loss of inflammation and pain in my hands, return of lung capacity. I have to work on eating many meals a day to keep my weight on, and as you mention, avocado, nuts, and now seeds are a mainstay, as well as my one daily yam. Thank you.

  4. I am on the Keto Diet and we also can not have modern processed foods and grains or fruit except berries. We also can not have any breads, pastas or rice.

  5. Elana — thank you so much for all you do — I changed my eating patterns nearly 30 years ago — following low-carb at that time but have utilized both Paleo and Keto (currently) in my plan for the last few years and pretty much intermingle the two.

    I have followed you for years and have made many of your recipes with great success.

    Your explanation was simple and to the point as are your wonderful recipes!

    Kate Young

  6. Hi Elana,
    Do you know when your new book Will be available on Amazon France ? I already have all your other books and just love them. I went on keto diet because of a prediabetic syndrome and things have dramatically improved for me ! Thanks for your answer.

  7. I read that you use a glucose meter and test strips. Do you also have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes? Our elder son has had T1D for 32 years. I have written a children’s book about him and our cat, so anything or any one who make a connection to diabetes always catches my attention.

    • Sheila, thanks for your comment! Thankfully I do not have diabetes. I use the glucose meter to make sure that I’m in a state of controlled hypoglycemia which correlates fairly well to a ketotic state for me :-)

    • Jean, thanks for your comment! Yes, exactly, I state this in the third paragraph, second sentence: “The Keto Diet turns the body into a fat burning machine.” :-)

  8. We changed our diet when my husband was diagnosed with a rare brain cancer that the US has no cure for. We work with a healer, although some aspects of keto are best for this, the ingredients in artificial sweeteners are not something my husband can have.

    The hard part is that is he is like a rebellious teenager, he used to eat sweets every day, so if I don’t substitute he will obtain and eat things he shouldn’t which is counter productive.

    It’s extremely hard to make meals that everyone will eat, including our children.

    Your site has made this a little easier for me, thank you for your hard work.

    • Kim, thanks for your wonderful comment, it sounds like you have your hands full! I’m so happy to hear that my recipes have made things a little easier for you in this challenging situation :-)

  9. 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.

Have Something to Add?

Your comment will need to be approved before it will appear on the site.

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