Every day, millions of people try different diets to help them lose and manage weight. Atkins, keto, and paleo diets are perhaps the most used as they are effective. These three diets are somewhat similar as they all advocate for low carb intake. However, they also have differences, and understanding what each one has to offer can help you determine which diet is the most effective and suitable for you.
What are the main characteristics of these diets, and what are their differences? The Atkins diet follows a high protein and fat with a low carb eating plan. The purpose of this diet is to help you lose weight, boost your energy, and improve the body’s response to specific health conditions, like metabolic syndrome and high blood pressure.
Similarly, the ketogenic diet advises lowering your carbohydrate intake while increasing fat and protein intake. A keto diet can also help you lose weight, improve your health, and combat diseases like diabetes, epilepsy, and Alzheimer’s.
Paleo diet advocates for the same diet the early man survived on. This mainly consists of vegetables, fish, meat, and fruits. Paleo diet can help with weight management and fighting diabetes and heart disease.
Below is a detailed review of each of these diets’ advice, their underlying philosophies, and the best one for you.
What Is The Atkins Diet?
Also known as the steak and eggs diet, the Atkins diet was developed and popularized by Dr. Robert Atkins, a cardiologist searching for effective weight loss diets plans. The Atkins diet is paraphs one of the original low-carb eating plans.
In the early 2000s, this diet was highly popularized as it was believed you could eat the most indulgent foods without gaining weight. That is, if these foods did not include any carbs. That is why it was nicknamed the steak and eggs diet. Today, the diet has dramatically evolved. It does, however, follow the original blueprint of cutting down on carbs and increasing your fat and protein intake.
The notion behind reducing carbohydrate consumption is that it helps the body switch from using glucose to stored fat as the primary energy source. Initially, this diet advises a daily intake of about 20 grams of carbohydrates. For context, the USDA recommends a carb intake of about 300 grams in every 2000 calorie diet. However, after getting past the initial stage, you can gradually increase carbs and fiber to a certain extent.
Some foods recommended in the Atkins diet include;
- fresh meats
- nuts and seeds
- dairy products
- healthy fats like butter, olive oil, mayonnaise, and sesame oil
In the later stages, you’re also allowed to consume;
- whole grains
- starchy vegetables
- fresh fruits
On the flip side, sugars, dry bread, and processed foods containing refined sugars and partially hydrogenated oils are not permitted.
What Are The Pros And Cons of The Atkins Diet?
The Benefits Of The Atkins Diet
- You don’t feel hungry.
- You’ll feel satiated as the Atkins diet advocates for fats and proteins, which are filling foods.
- You’ll lose weight relatively quickly.
- The diet is sustainable and gradually adds carbs back to your diet.
- It’s convenient as it includes common foods like snack bars and frozen meals.
- There’s evidence the diet can improve blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
The Disadvantages Of The Atkins Diet
- Most of the initial weight loss is water weight, which you could quickly regain once you start eating carbs.
- You can consume too much protein, which may hinder ketosis and lead to liver problems.
- Reducing your carbohydrate intake leaves you moody, lethargic, and cranky.
- The diet can lead to bad breath from being in a state of ketosis.
- Some of the foods and snacks recommended may contain various processed ingredients and artificial sweeteners.
- This diet can leave your body with meager amounts of fiber.
The Atkins diet comes highly recommended for first-time dieters as it is convenient and easy. This diet also incorporates healthy fats, fruits, and vegetables, and you get to eliminate less food from your usual diet. Since the diet is not limiting, it can also appeal to people with various medical conditions.
However, you should consult your doctor or a nutritionist if you have any health concerns.
What Is A Ketogenic Diet?
Initially, the ketogenic diet was developed to help epileptic patients. However, the diet saw such great success that dietary experts and the masses widely adopted it. The ketogenic (keto) diet aims to get your body into a state of ketosis.
This is when the body burns stored fat instead of glucose. To achieve this state, the keto diet follows a diet plan similar to the Atkins diet; high fat (60-70%), moderate proteins (20-30%), and low carbs (5-10%).
The diet’s name is derived from the ketones it produces. Ketones are a more efficient source of fuel and energy than glucose, and they burn more effectively to provide energy to the brain and body. Ketones are the natural byproduct of the liver digesting fat.
To get into a state of ketosis, you should drastically reduce the body’s glucose supply while increasing fat consumption which will be used as the alternate fuel source. A gram of carbs is equivalent to 4 calories, and maintaining a 5% carbs intake translates to about 25 grams of carbohydrates daily for a 2000 daily calorie consumption.
While on a keto diet, you’re encouraged to eat foods like;
- full-fat dairy products
- oils like avocado oil, coconut oil, olive oil
- leafy vegetables
- nuts, and seeds
You may also have a limited helping of non-starchy vegetables and berries.
While on this diet, you have to abstain from;
- starchy vegetables
- processed foods
- most fruits
- sugars of any kind
What Are The Benefits And Drawbacks Of The Keto Diet?
The Benefits Of The Keto Diet
- You’ll feel satiated as fats and proteins are filling foods.
- You’ll lose weight in a short period.
- You can eat dairy and cheese products.
- The diet helps lower your blood sugar levels.
- This diet is liver-friendly as your protein intake is managed.
- You’ll improve your cholesterol by lowering harmful triglycerides intake.
- The keto diet has been proven to decrease seizures in epileptic children.
- Improve acne.
- Improve the health of women with the polycystic ovarian syndrome.
The Disadvantages Of The Keto Diet
- You’re not allowed to eat fruits.
- This diet may lead to constipation from the lowered fiber intake.
- Your blood pressure might drop too low if it was in the normal range as you started the diet.
- You may experience keto flu as your body adjusts to a new energy source; this could render you grumpy and foggy for up to two weeks.
- You might have to get ketone urine testing strips to ensure you’re in a state of ketosis.
- The keto diet may lead to dehydration.
- If you’re on diabetes or hypertension medication, you’ll need constant monitoring from your doctor before, during, and after the diet.
The ketogenic diet has proved beneficial for patients with type 2 diabetes, and following it can reverse some of the condition’s effects. This diet can also be used to reset your metabolism, especially if you have a history of certain diseases or insulin resistance.
Unlike the Atkins diet, the keto diet manages your protein intake, which is healthier and liver-friendly. Before starting the keto diet, discuss the implications, effects, and results with your doctor or nutritionist.
If you’re looking to kick start your keto diet I highly recommend the 28-day keto challenge meal plan or get yourself a custom keto meal plan. Also, check out my review of the 28-day keto challenge.
What Is A Paleo Diet?
The paleo diet is based on the eating and dietary habits of the early man and is commonly referred to as the hunter-gatherer or caveman diet. Modern diets are full of refined sugar and processed foods linked to numerous lifestyle diseases and recent health disorders like diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular conditions, and Alzheimer’s disease.
By eating more like the ancient man, this diet suggests you manage and reduce the risk of suffering from modern lifestyle diseases. While the paleo diet is often compared to the keto diet, there are several glaring differences between paleo and keto diets.
Unlike the Atkins diet and keto diet, this diet is more forgiving when it comes to carbohydrates. Ideally, you can set your carb intake threshold, depending on your weight and dietary goals. For instance, if you have an active lifestyle or exercise a lot, you may take up to 150 grams of carbohydrates daily.
The paleo diet also encourages the consumption of certain vegetables and fruits that would ordinarily not be permitted on the Atkins and keto diets. Essentially, if the foods are natural and are what the early man and ancestors ate, they are okay for consumption.
Foods permitted under this diet include;
- fresh meat
- fish and seafood
- locally sourced fresh fruits and vegetables
- sweet potatoes
- healthy oils from olives, avocados, coconuts
- flaxseed, walnuts, and macadamias
When on the paleo diet, some of the foods disallowed include;
- milk and dairy products
- refined sugar
- processed foods
- refined oil
What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of the Paleo Diet?
The Benefits Of The Paleo Diet
- This diet focuses on wholesome dieting and allows foods from most groups, i.e., proteins, vegetables, fruits, and healthy fats.
- Paleo diet recommends low glycemic diets, which lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels and reduce the level of visceral fats.
- This diet can help you lose fat.
- You don’t have to count your carbs or caloric intake.
- You don’t have to give up natural sweet foods like maple syrup and honey.
- This diet promotes gut health and is ideal for people with digestion problems.
- Eliminating dairy and wheat products can significantly boost your gut health and digestion processes.
- The caveman diet consists of healthy and nutritious fiber portions.
The Disadvantages Of The Paleo Diet
- This diet is limiting and hard to implement.
- You have to prepare every meal as you can’t order or eat out.
- Most restaurant foods have an element discouraged by the paleo diet.
- The caveman diet is relatively expensive as it advocates for free-range poultry, grass-fed meats, and organic produce.
- If you cut dairy products from your diet, you have to find other sources of calcium.
- Weight loss may be slow and might not happen in some cases.
Admittedly, the hunter-gatherer diet may not help you shed a lot of weight. In some cases, people on this diet report not noticing any weight loss. However, the diet does help you lose fat and gain muscle mass, which is why you may not see a change on the weighing scale.
The paleo diet is a great way to keep fit as this diet also reduces your glycemic fat intake, which results in losing abdominal fat. In the end, you will feel and look different while on this diet.
So, what is the difference between Atkins, keto, and paleo diets? Hopefully, this information has shed more light on the similarities and differences in each of these diets. You can now choose the proper diet based on your lifestyle and weight goals. Finally, it’s always advised to seek professional help if you have health concerns or a history of certain conditions. A professional will help you curate the perfect diet to help you achieve your dieting, health, and weight goals.
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Gail Pickens-Barger, from Yoga with Gail