Paleo vs. Keto: Which Diet Is Right For You?

If you’ve spent any time in the low carb diet space, you’ve run across both the paleo diet and the keto diet.

While paleo was the darling starting in 2012 / 2013, over the following years - the keto diet became incredibly popular. 

So who wins out in the competition between paleo + keto? Which one is better, more effective for fat loss - and most importantly - which one will work for you?

We break it all down in this paleo vs. keto showdown to end them all!

Paleo vs. Keto: What Will You Choose?

First off, there’s a reason you’re comparing the two diets - they actually share a lot of things in common! Some people even think they’re the same thing (spoiler alert: they’re not).

That said, here’s a quick rundown on the similarities and differences between the paleo and the keto diet.

Similarities Between Paleo & Keto

While they’re not exactly the same, both paleo and keto share similarities:

  • Both diets focus on high-protein foods.
  • Both diets focus on healthy fats + oils.
  • Both diets avoid carbohydrates (especially processed) although to different degrees.
  • Both don’t allow refined or processed sugars.

Differences Between Paleo & Keto

As similar as they are, there are quite a few differences between the two diets templates.

  • Keto has a much larger focus on fat content to improve ketosis.
  • Paleo is much more focused on the origin of the food products - preferring wild caught and high-quality cuts of meat when possible.
  • Keto is focused on the specifics of carbs.
  • Keto generally revolves around weight loss. Paleo tends to focus on the lifestyle sustainability aspects of the diet.
  • Keto tends to have more processed food products + less of a focus on “real food” than paleo can.
  • Keto requires much more of a focus on blood glucose levels than paleo and adherents focus on how long or often they are in “ketosis.”

Why You Might Choose Paleo

You may decide to choose paleo if you’re mostly focused on eating real food. If you’ve failed at dieting in the past, the paleo diet can be very helpful as it’s a straightforward (if overly simple) framework (if a caveman couldn’t eat it, you shouldn’t either).

With a focus on real food and satiety, it can be a sigh of relief if you’re used to macro calculations and calorie counting - which isn’t fun - no matter your experience level.

Plus, while you should limit them on paleo, paleo does allow for carb splurges every now and then :).

Why You Might Choose Keto

A keto diet might be right for you if you’re interested in specifically losing weight. The broad majority of keto users are focused on this goal - and for good reason.

Keto works.

If you’re laser focused on losing weight and finding a better body composition, you might consider keto with an intermittent fasting component to it. 

Many people also find the mental clarity that comes when they’re adapted and in ketosis to be incredibly helpful from a productivity angle.

Note: if you’re an athlete, you may find keto unusually hard when it comes to training + performance as it can be very tough unless you’re fat adapted (which takes time). Some athletes (like Zach Bitter) can excel on a keto or low carb diet, but it does take time to adjust.

Choosing Between Paleo & Keto

The best part, you don’t have to choose. With our meal planner, you get access to all diets and can change at any time.

Try a keto meal plan here.

Try a paleo meal plan here. 

Similar Diets To Paleo + Keto

  • The Banting Diet is a tiered system of eating very similar to paleo + keto that is popular in South Africa.
  • If you’re tired of all the headaches, you can always just try healthy meal plans or clean eating meal plans.
  • AIP plans focus more on improving conditions related to autoimmune responses to foods. It’s typically considered a more restrictive version of paleo.

Our Other Comparison Articles

If you want to follow along with this series, check out the following posts: 

About the Author

Joel Runyon

Joel Runyon is the founder of Ultimate Meal Plans. Joel is an ultra endurance athlete and entrepreneur. He's also the founder of Ultimate Paleo Guide and is the founder of IMPOSSIBLE ® - a lifestyle performance brand helping people push their limits in fitness and life.