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The Differences & Similarities Between Paleo, Keto and Carnivore Diets

Many people ask about the differences among these dietary approaches. But there is actually more similarity to Paleo, Keto, and Carnivore than there are differences. Let’s discuss each one. 

Paleo

The word Paleo is short for paleolithic or old stone age. This time period before recorded history and before the agricultural revolution was all hunter-gatherer. We hunted for food and gathered food. Foods we would hunt are just what you would expect, meat and seafood. Foods we would gather included vegetables, eggs, fruit, tubers(potatoes), nuts and seeds. 

Not on the list of Paleo foods include: Grain such as wheat, rice, barley, rye, and corn; soy and other beans; dairy products (we did not chase animals and try to milk them); and sugar (aside from rare raw honey). 

In short, this is our evolutionary diet. It should not be debated. Lions and tigers know what to eat. So do all animals in nature. They don’t need a book or authority to tell them differently. All societies in the history of the world were meat and/or seafood eaters. All animals eat other animals or they eat insects. Human veganism is an experiment..one that will usually end badly. 

Alert- All Paleo foods are organic and humanely pasture-raised. 

Paleo can be higher carbohydrate by consuming more starchy vegetables, fruits and potatoes or lower carbohydrate by limiting these foods. Very low carbohydrate will likely bring you into ketosis. 

Keto

The keto craze is in full swing right now in certain health circles. There are good reasons why. 

Keto is short for ketosis or ketones. Ketones are an alternate fuel source from glucose. Ketones are made by the liver from fat. This fat may come from food or from fat cells. Ketones produce a ton of energy. 

Ketosis is a condition where your body is burning primarily ketones for fuel and ketones can be measured in high levels in your urine. Ketosis is linked to satiety and dramatic weight loss. Brain benefits are also noted including mental clarity and focus. Researchers have also found ketosis is great for people with seizure disorders. 

Going keto and getting into ketosis is actually pretty simple. Just stop eating carbohydrates and consume large amounts of fat. Typical foods include meat, seafood, eggs, nuts, seeds, coconut, avocado and olives. High fat dairy is also recommended, although not Paleo. Other fats that are not Paleo, but keto, include plant based oils such as soybean, sunflower, etc. Veggies are limited and there is no sugar, grains, potatoes etc. on the keto plan. 

If you go keto, we suggest sticking to Paleo foods. 

Carnivore

People all over are fascinated with going Carnivore. This diet is VERY easy although foods are limited. Carnivore is certainly Paleo AND certainly will bring you into ketosis when you strictly eat meat, seafood, and eggs. 

We have run the Carnivore Challenge very successfully the last and the results are extraordinary. Participants lose weight, feel great, and get rid of inflammation in just 7 days. 

Just to reiterate, carnivore includes any kind of meat from any animal. But it must be ethically raised, eating the foods they would have enjoyed naturally. Seafood is perfectly carnivore and loaded with brain-boosting omega-3 fats. We prefer wild salmon, sardines, anchovies and shellfish like shrimp, crab, oysters etc. 

Bone broths are perfect on Carnivore. Other hacks include salmon/smelt roe (eggs) and heavy on the pork products like bacon and pork belly. Pork is typically high fat and very satiating and will quickly get you into ketosis. 

Best Plan

I think our ancestors would have cycled between all 3 diets. Certainly they were always Paleo. But during long, cold winters, Carnivore and ketosis were very likely as plants were not available. Spring, summer and fall was a time to load up on veggies, pulling the person off carnivore and likely out of ketosis. 

You too could do it seasonally or take a different (easier) approach. One week a month, go Carnivore. The rest of the month should be Paleo. During that week of carnivore, you will likely go into ketosis. 

Stay where you feel the best. If you feel better on carnivore, stick with it. Eskimos do it for a lifetime and some MD’s have been strict carnivore for years. Other people feel best on a Keto plan. I personally love being Paleo, noticing the results in myself and my patients. 

For more information on our next 7-Day Carnivore Challenge, click here

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