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

People often pit paleo vs. keto when selecting eating plans. To choose, it's important to understand how these diets differ.


It can be tricky to evaluate paleo vs. keto. These eating plans are two of the most popular choices right now, and both share similarities. However, they also differ in notable ways, and it’s essential to understand these differences if you want to choose the diet that matches your needs.  

Table of Contents
Which one is healthier?
Next Steps

If you’re trying to decide on a healthy eating plan, it may be a good idea to look at things from a paleo vs. keto perspective. 

Both diets can do wonders for your health and fitness, and they’re riding a wave of popularity because of the results they’ve provided. 

When looking at the paleo diet vs. keto, there are many similarities. For this reason, people sometimes have difficulty distinguishing between the two. But both diets differ in crucial ways. By understanding the difference between keto and paleo, you’ll have the insight you need to decide which eating plan is the right choice for you. 

Is paleo similar to keto?

paleo vs keto foods

There are important similarities when looking at the paleo diet vs. keto. Here are some of the ways in which these eating plans are alike:

1. Keto and paleo diets exclude grains and legumes

Both the keto and paleo diets exclude grains and legumes. But these eating plans exclude these foods for different reasons. 

The paleo eating plan is also known as the paleolithic diet or the caveman diet. These monikers indicate that this eating plan takes inspiration from the diet of our paleolithic or caveman ancestors. These hunter-gatherers didn’t have access to grains and legumes; these food sources came along at a later stage of human evolution. For this reason, the paleo diet discourages the consumption of grains such as wheat and oats and legumes such as black beans and kidney beans. 

With the keto diet, food consumption creates nutritional ketosis. When this happens, the body burns fat more efficiently, supporting healthy weight loss. With ketosis, it’s essential to minimize carbohydrate intake; a low-carb diet is critical, and grains and legumes are typically high in carbs. That’s why a ketogenic diet excludes grains and legumes. 

2. Paleo and keto diets both exclude highly processed sugar

eating sugar and carbs on paleo vs keto

When looking at the paleo diet vs. keto, one similarity is that they both exclude the consumption of highly processed sugar. White sugar, brown sugar and corn syrup are examples of highly processed sugar. If you want to exclude these sugars from your diet, you’ll need to check the ingredient list before purchasing certain types of foods.

Here are examples of foods that often have highly processed added sugar:

  • Candy 
  • Cakes
  • Pies 
  • Dairy desserts
  • Sugar-sweetened soft drinks
  • Doughnuts
  • Pastries
  • Frosted corn flakes
  • Barbecue sauce
  • Ketchup 
  • Spaghetti sauce
  • Sports drinks
  • Canned baked beans

3. Keto and paleo diets encourage the consumption of healthy fat

Certain fatty acids support good health, and keto dieters and paleo dieters both consume fats than foster wellness. Here are some examples of healthy fats included in keto and paleo diets:

  • Fatty fish such as salmon
  • Avocado
  • Nuts such as almonds, cashews and pecans
  • Seeds such as hemp seeds and sunflower seeds
  • Olive oil
  • Avocado oil

Paleo vs. keto: Key differences

keto vs paleo roadsigns

Are you curious about the difference between keto and paleo? Here are some areas in which these eating plans differ:


Certain types of dairy are acceptable on a keto diet. For example, cheese and butter are allowed; milk isn’t because it contains sugar and carbs via its lactose. 

A paleo eating plan is different; it typically excludes all dairy foods. Some paleo dieters consume grass-fed butter. Is grass-fed butter a paleo food? That point is debated within the paleo community. 

Sugar-free sweeteners

Sugar-free – or artificial – sweeteners are allowed on a keto eating plan. These include sweeteners such as stevia and sucralose.

However, with the paleo diet, sugar-free sweeteners are a no-no. Why? The paleo diet aims to recreate the eating plan of our ancestors. An artificial sweetener is the product of modern technology, so it doesn’t fit within the paleo philosophy. 

Natural sweeteners

Natural sweetener maple syrup

We’ve mentioned that keto and paleo diets both exclude highly processed sugars. But what about natural sweeteners? Each diet plan differs in how this food choice is treated. 

A paleo diet makes room for natural sweeteners. These include maple syrup, honey, date sugar and coconut sugar.

However, all sugars – natural or otherwise – are forbidden with a keto diet. This rule exists because sugars contain carbs that could take you out of nutritional ketosis. 


The keto diet discourages most fruits. This rule is observed because most fruits are high in carbs that could prevent ketosis. However, some fruits – such as berries – are lower in net carbs. These low-carb fruits are allowed in moderate quantities. 

Paleo dieters don’t face the same restrictions. They are free to include all types of fruits in their eating plan.

Starchy vegetables

starchy bowl of yam puree

Vegetables provide excellent nutrition, but some are high in carbs. The veggies with the most carbs are starchy vegetables like potatoes, corn and peas. These vegetables are not the best choice if you’re looking to reduce carb intake. And since it’s vital to minimize carbohydrate intake on a ketogenic diet, starchy vegetables are verboten if you’re following a keto eating plan. 

Things are less restrictive for paleo dieters. The paleolithic eating plan allows starchy vegetables like sweet potato and beets in moderation. 

Processed meat

When looking at paleo vs. keto eating plans, there is a difference concerning processed meat. Processed meat – such as luncheon meat and sausage – is okay on a keto diet as long as it doesn’t contain added sugar that could halt ketosis. 

However, the paleo diet emphasizes whole foods similar to those consumed by our caveman ancestors. With this in mind, processed meat is discouraged on a paleo eating plan. Instead, paleo dieters are encouraged to consume unprocessed meat like cage-free chicken and grass-fed beef. 


Some soy is allowed on a keto eating plan. Soy foods like tofu and tempeh are fine for keto dieters. 

The paleo diet takes a different perspective on soy foods. This eating plan disallows all soy-based food products. 

Do you lose weight faster on paleo or keto?

can you lose weight faster with keto vs paleo?

Both the paleo and keto diets are effective for weight loss, but there is some evidence to suggest that keto may be slightly more effective in the short term. Ultimately, the best diet for weight loss is the one that you can stick to long-term. Here are some things to consider when choosing the right one for you:

Pros of the paleo diet:

  • It’s a healthy and sustainable diet that can help you lose weight and improve your health.
  • It’s a flexible diet that allows for a variety of foods.
  • It’s abundant in essential nutrients that can fulfill your daily nutritional requirements.

Cons of the paleo diet:

  • It can be expensive to buy paleo-friendly foods.
  • It can be difficult to find paleo-friendly restaurants.
  • It can be challenging to stick to the paleo diet if you’re used to eating processed foods.

Pros of the keto diet:

  • It’s a very effective way to lose weight.
  • It can help you improve your blood sugar control.
  • It can help you reduce your risk of heart disease.
  • It can help you improve your mental clarity.

Cons of the keto diet:

  • It can be difficult to stick to the keto diet in the long term.
  • It can cause side effects such as fatigue, constipation, and headaches.
  • It’s not suitable for everyone, such as pregnant women, breastfeeding women, and people with certain medical conditions.

So, which diet is better for weight loss?

The paleo and keto diets are both effective for weight loss, but there is no clear winner. The best diet for you will depend on your individual needs and preferences. If you’re not sure which diet is right for you, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor or one of our registered dietitians. They can help you create a diet plan that is tailored to your individual needs and goals.

Paleo vs. keto: Which is healthier?

woman eating a paleo friendly salad

Paleo and keto eating plans can both provide notable health benefits. Research shows that keto and paleo diets can help you lose weight. Keto and paleo foods can also lower your blood sugar to healthier levels. 

However, the paleo diet has an advantage when looking at things from a long-term perspective. It allows a broader range of foods than a keto eating plan, so it has the potential to be more nutritious. 

Also, for a diet to work, compliance is essential. Since it’s less restrictive than keto, it may be easier for people to stick with a paleo diet over the long haul. 

Still, your mileage may vary. So, if you’re trying to decide between keto and paleo, it may be helpful to take each one for a test drive to see how it impacts your health and well-being. 

Next steps

Are you a keto or paleo dieter looking for a convenient way to access the food you need?

If you want healthy keto or paleo meals delivered to your front door, subscribe to Fresh N Lean. We make our chef-prepared meals with wholesome, organic ingredients, and we ship to your home or office.