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The Ketogenic (Keto) Diet Versus The Paleo Diet
Going Back in Time
So I'm going to go back into my own personal timeline and then take a short walk down humanities timeline.
I started figuring out my personal health issues because of my mad desire to help my kids out. Figuring out their problems helped me figure out my own. I now know that I have a MTHFR mutation and Pyrrole Disorder and this over time has caused a lot grief in my own health. Don't get me wrong – I'm actually pretty ‘healthy' in general terms but I've had a lifelong battle with my weight.
I started gaining weight right before I hit puberty and have pretty much battled it ever since. Thing was everywhere I went for help the answer was always the same. ‘Eat less,' thing is overeating has never been my issue. To make a really, really long story short. I was eating healthy by conventional wisdom but those healthy foods were making me fat and sick.
I had discovered along the road that I had some food intolerances, a lot of things gave me hives and others just made me feel sick when I ate them. It wasn't until after I had my daughter and went on a health shake that I finally, FINALLY figured out what my real issue was.
What is this magic mixture?
See, I went on the shake diet and I lost a ton of weight, my skin cleared up and I felt AMAZING. Now most people would probably say ‘tell me what this magical shake is' – thing is, it wasn't the shake that was answer – it was the fact that in the process I had eliminated all grains from my diet.
I had stopped eating bread, had stopped eating the oatmeal for breakfast, the rice, the pasta, all those ‘complex carbohydrates' that are marketed to us as healthy. I was eating a lot more healthy fats and lean proteins. That was the key – not the shake (though I still like to have that shake from time to time!).
First Came Paleo
So, when I figured all of this out I decided I'd try the Paleo diet, it was the new trend and it made sense based on my recent discovery.
A paleo diet is all about reviving our ancestors’ diets back in the day by eating fresh, healthy, wholesome foods that have not been contaminated with additives and preservatives. This trending diet, which actually started in 1970 by gastroenterologist Walter L. Voegtlin, includes vegetables, fruits, nuts, roots, and meats. It excludes processed foods, dairy products, grains, sugar and salt, legumes, processed oils, alcohol and coffee.
It is mainly about promoting a healthy lifestyle. It quickly improves the metabolic effects of the body as well as body composition. People feel lighter and actually start to lose weight with this diet because it makes people feel full quicker so they tend to consume less food.
Benefits of a Paleo diet:
- Reduces allergies
- Burns off stored fat because metabolism increases
- Stabilizes blood sugar
- Cleans impurities from skin and teeth
- Improves sleep patterns
- Helps you better absorb nutrients from food since it’s all natural
Daily calories are divided as follows:
- 55% should come from seafood and lean meat – each taking an equal half
- 15% come from fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds each
- There is no dairy, no salt or sugar, and no grains
One of the risks of a paleo diet is that it could lead to an insufficient vitamin D & calcium intake and a risk of toxins from a high fish consumption. That wasn't really an issue for me since fish is one of the things I'm allergic to!
I actually love the Paleo diet and we eat a lot of Paleo dishes in our house – especially for the kids because their systems aren't as damaged as mine. The ‘diet' I've settled on for the children is primarily a grain free plan. They've inherited the need to avoid grains for their health and do well on a hybrid Paleo/Grain Free type diet.
While they do well on it, for me personally, I had to dig a little deeper.
How Low Carb Can You Go?
In a ketogenic, aka low carb, diet, you’re basically lowering your carb intake drastically, and increasing your fat intake while eating adequate amounts of protein.
The goal behind this is to reach a metabolic state known as ketosis where the body relies on fat as its energy source, instead of glucose, which comes directly from carbohydrates.
If glucose is readily available, the body will use that first because it’s easier and quicker to metabolize. However, glucose weighs the body down and when there is some left over, it quickly turns to fat, something we all dread.
When you’re on a keto diet, you’re ultimately diminishing the amount of glucose in your body to the bare minimum and teaching your body how to rely on ketones – what the body burns for fuel during ketosis.
Ketones are types of fatty acids, which are created as a direct result of the liver breaking down protein to be converted into glucose. Ketones are a major source of energy for all major organs, especially the brain that is why people on the keto diet feel more focused and alert.
Benefits of a keto diet:
- Reduces body fat while maintaining muscle mass
- Lowers blood LDL (low-density lipoprotein; the “bad” cholesterol), blood pressure and glucose
- Increases levels of HDL (high-density lipoprotein which protects the heart against diseases; the “good” cholesterol)
- Reduces insulin levels
- Improves symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and reduces seizures in epileptic children
As with any new diet, your body will experience a few uncomfortable side effects which will be over usually within several days. This initial stage of a keto diet is often referred to as “keto flu” because of its flu-like symptoms, which may include digestive discomfort, a lethargic-feeling, sleep issues, and mild nausea.
You can check out some more benefits of the low-carb/keto approach in this article from Nutrition Advance.
Never Simple – My Hybrid Diet
Eating a primarily keto diet is what works best for me. That said, due to gut damage from years of eating things I shouldn't have and being overdosed on antibiotics as a kid – I have to shake things up a bit for Keto to work for me. I can't eat as much dairy as a traditional Keto diet would call for and I actually lose more weight and feel better with a slightly higher carbohydrate intake than traditional Keto wisdom advocates for.
Basically I follow a Keto/Paleo hybrid and with the rest of the family I focus on being grain free.
Differences between keto and paleo:
Paleo diets are not mainly low-carb. Paleo focuses on eating foods with fat and protein but doesn’t necessarily avoid potatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes, and other foods high in carbohydrates. Keto diets are mainly low-carb, eliminating all starches and sugars, including fruit. Most of the carbs on a keto diet come from non-starchy vegetables.
Paleo diets are not high in fat. While the paleo diet in its purest form may have been into foods high in fat, today’s ever-evolving paleo community alters its needs according to the times. Keto diets are high in healthy fats; in fact, it is the primary element of low carb as it supports ketosis, or the metabolic process of burning fat for energy versus dietary carbs.
Paleo diet fans don’t eat dairy products in abundance, if at all. Keto diet fans think dairy is a great way to add fat to their diets.
If you’re considering starting a paleo ketogenic diet concurrently, you will definitely start seeing positive results within the first 2-3 weeks.
Everything from the inside out will start feeling healthier, you will also see your weight dropping without losing any of your muscle mass.
Remember that consistency is the key. So make sure to give your body time to adjust to this new routine and metabolic state. Once you get the hang of it, it will definitely become easier.
Don't pigeon hole yourself into one diet plan – try out different things and see what works best for your body!! Nothing is one size fits all and having MTHFR and Pyrrole Disorder makes things even more interesting. Be flexible, see what works for you and your family and build your own personal plan.
Check with your physician and/or nutrition expert before starting just to make sure you’re on the right track to becoming fitter, stronger, and healthier.