Paleo vs Keto: Which Diet Is Right For You?

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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 the years that followed.

Here’s how it looked according to Google Trends.


Odds are – if you’ve heard of one, you’ve heard of both. 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.
  • Adherents usually enjoy meat (and bacon) to a wide extent.

Differences Between Paleo & Keto

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

The Keto Diet is

  • Keto diet is very focused on entering the state of “ketosis”
  • much more focused on eating fat content for energy.
  • Specifically focused on limiting carbs to <100g/day (at least).
  • Usually used for weight loss more than perfromance.
  • Is less concerned about processed foods and more concerned with the macronutrient breakdown of each food.
  • Has a much higher focused on blood glucose levels & can be ‘measured’ more precisely.

The Paleo Diet on the other hand

  • Has a strong focus on “paleolithic eating” or eating like a caveman.
  • High preference for eating wild-caught or grass-fed food.
  • In general, focused on food quality
  • Carbohydrate limitations are usually a byproduct of the diet, rather than a primary focus.
  • Focused on the sustainability of the lifestyle and food sourcing of the diet.

    Why You Might Choose the Paleo Diet

    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. Practitioners often find paleo to be more sustainable as their isn’t a micro-managing aspect to it (so it can be a good fit if you’ve have previous issues with eating disorders).

    Plus, while you should limit them on paleo, paleo does allow for carb splurges every now and then – which again – help with the sustainability.

    Why You Might Choose the Keto Diet

    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. By focusing on your carbohydrate you can precisely target ketosis and can manage a weight loss plan much faster by knowing your macros explicitly rather than focusing just on statiety (especially if you’ve never done a focused weight loss plan before). While intuitively eating can work – if you’ve never done it before, it’s likely that your intuition is not properly calibrated and the macros may actually help you. Your gut can lie to you – the macros won’t.

    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

    Depending on what you’d like to do – Ultimate Meal Plans can help! 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.

    Similar Diets To Paleo + Keto

    If you’re not quite sure what’s a good fit for you – you can check out these other meal plans and diets that are also similar to both the paleo & keto diet.

    • 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.

    Other Comparison Articles Similar to Paleo vs Keto

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

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    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, MoveWell and is the founder of IMPOSSIBLE ® - a lifestyle performance brand helping people push their limits in fitness and life.

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