Which Is The Best Diet For You? Keto VS Paleo VS Atkin VS South Beach
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Keto Diet vs. Paleo Diet
Both the Keto and Paleo diet are low-carb diets, but they have been developed for different purposes. A Paleo diet is also known as the “ancestral diet” or “caveman diet” because it is based on foods similar to what might have been eaten during the Palaeolithic era.
Thus, this diet includes lean meats, fish, fruits, seeds, all of which can be obtained through hunting and gathering in the wild. The Paleo diet limits food that comes from farming such as grain and dairy products. This is because the early cavemen had limited access to these foods and hence they survived on a diet composed of much protein.
Therefore, those who practice the Paleo diet get energy from high protein and low carbohydrate intake. While the aim of Keto diet is more towards speeding up the body’s fat burning process, the aim of Paleo diet is to return to the original way of eating like the early humans. This reasoning is that the modern diet today is contributing to the prevalence of diseases such as obesity, heart problems and diabetes. By returning to the olden ways of eating, these diseases may be avoided.
Here are some differences between the 2 kinds of diets:
1. Consumption of Dairy Food
Apart from differing in purpose, there are some other differences that Keto diet and Paleo diet have. One example is that Keto diet allows and even encourages the consumption of dairy foods. For example, cream and butter are included in the Keto diet. This is because of the high content of fat. Soy foods are also included as long as they match the given ratio.
Paleo diet, however, does not allow any soy foods. It also restricts almost all dairy products because of the purpose of the diet that limits farming foods. Paleo diet also eliminates foods that are difficult for our bodies to break down which could potentially harm gut health and dairy products are one of such food. Hence, it is discouraged on a Paleo diet while fully permitted on a Keto diet.
2. Emphasis on lifestyle
Another difference between Keto and Paleo diet is that Paleo diet does not only focus on the diet plan but has emphasis on your lifestyle practice. This mean that it does not emphasize only on the eating aspect, but also incorporates short but intense exercises in daily routine. The reasoning is to support the wellness of the body and mind, leading to better health overall.
Although Keto dieters are allowed to exercise, and many enjoy the results, it is not something that is widely emphasized compared to the Paleo diet. Exercises by Paleo dieters are also encouraged to be “natural”. This means not only spending time at the gym but incorporating movement into daily life outdoors.
After all, the Palaeolithic era did not consist of indoor gym equipment. Paleo exercise programs also believe in the importance of getting rest and recovery time. This means that your workouts should not leave you constantly feeling exhausted and sore but energized and strengthened.
3. Emphasis on the intake percentage of macronutrients
Besides, the Keto diet focuses more on managing the three macronutrients, that is, fat, carbohydrates and protein. This is done through following the fixed ratios. The classical Keto diet follows a ratio of 5% carbohydrates, 15% protein and 80% fat intake.
Paleo diet on the other hand does not follow any macronutrient percentages. Instead, the diet focuses more on the food choices you make. It is more towards eliminating certain types of food like dairy and processed foods, and then consuming the necessary macronutrients from the other foods. Hence, there is no real limit to the amount of carbohydrates content you can take in a Paleo diet such as in the intake of fruit and starchy vegetables while Keto diet does restrict carbohydrate intake even in fruit and vegetables.
Similarities of Keto and Paleo Diet
Despite the differences, the Keto diet and Paleo diet do share some similarities.
1. Emphasis on whole foods
One similarity is that both types of diets emphasize on whole foods. They both discourage consuming processed foods and encourage whole foods like meat, fish and fresh vegetables. This comes with many benefits such as boosting your immune system and protecting your body from sicknesses.
Many studies found that the risk of cardiovascular diseases and diabetes have been reduced through eating healthy whole foods. Both diets also both encourage taking healthy fats like nuts, coconut oil and seeds. Healthy fats can also help to reduce the risk of heart diseases. Besides, there is also the exclusion of sugary and starchy foods in the diets. However, Paleo dieters do allow unrefined sugar such as honey and maple syrup.
2. These diets are great for weight loss
Another similarity faced is that both Keto and Paleo diets are popular for weight loss. Many people are attracted to these diets for this reason. Both the diets advocate the cutting down of carbohydrate intake which makes it effective for losing weight. This is due to the high calorie content of carbohydrates. Both diets also have their contributing factors to helping weight loss.
The Paleo diet encourages eating foods that are rich in protein. Protein is an important nutrient for weight loss because it can increase metabolism and control hormones that regulate weight.
Keto diet on the other hand is helpful for hunger suppression which can also contribute greatly to meeting your weight goals. This is because when the body is in a state of ketosis, hunger is reduced, causing the appetite to be controlled.
This lowers the chance of giving in to the craving for snacks that can lead to overeating. Hunger pangs are also avoided which allows some people to take up intermittent fasting that further helps in weight loss.
Benefits of Paleo Diet
Paleo diet comes with its own benefits. Let’s dive right into it.
1. Lowering your calorie intake
Being a low-carb diet, most people follow the diet to lose weight and end up getting the results that they are looking for. By lowering carbohydrate intakes, your calorie intake naturally goes down which helps to lose weight.
Sources of carbohydrates like bread, pasta and rice are eliminated from the Paleo diet. The Paleo diet also strictly discourages processed foods which are full of calories. Instead, clean food like lean protein, fresh vegetables and fresh fruits are encouraged. These are full of nutrients and lower in calories.
2. Helps in weight loss
Since added sugar can also add to your weight, Paleo diet helps weight loss by eliminating added sugar. Instead, natural sweetness can be found in fresh fruits. Although fruits and vegetables have natural sugars, they come with benefits to balance out the diet such as fibre, water content and vitamins.
Weight loss can be maximized on a Paleo diet through eating more vegetables and fruits which help you stay full for longer, getting plenty of sleep which helps to keep your fat-burning hormones regular and by keeping an active lifestyle.
3. Aids you in sustaining the weight you have loss
Paleo diet does not stop at helping you lose weight, but it also helps to sustain the weight that you have lost. The problem with many diets is that dieters gain back all the weight they have lost once they have finished the diet. Paleo diet on the other hand is more of a lifestyle.
As mentioned, Paleo diet has the aim of returning to the way early humans ate. This means that serious dieters will follow this way of eating and be able to sustain the weight that they loss. Most people can also sustain their weight loss by keeping an active lifestyle. Improvement in metabolic processes and gut health will follow thereafter along with better sleep and stress management.
4. Getting better sleep
Better sleep is experienced by Paleo dieters because going Paleo helps to treat not just the body but the mind and soul as well. This can happen through the exercises that Paleo dieters are encouraged to incorporate daily. This is so that the wellness of the body is taken care of in a holistic way.
Paleo-friendly foods like steak may also help to improve sleep because of the high iron content. Iron is helpful to reduce restless leg syndrome (RLS) which tends to wake people up due to leg movement during sleep. It is a significant cause of poor sleep due to iron deficiency.
Fatty fish may also be helpful for good sleep because of its omega-3 content. According to research, a higher tissue content of omega-3 is associated with better sleep efficiency. Getting improved sleep will also indirectly help to improve your mood and attitude daily. This can translate into a more positive outlook generally in daily activities. This helps you to feel both healthier and happier as a person.
5. Reduce bloating and gas
One other benefit is that Paleo diet can reduce bloating and gas. This is because the diet is rich in fruit and vegetables, providing a lot of fibre. With adequate amounts of water and some sodium, this can help to decrease bloating. Taking melons like honeydew and watermelon also helps to dispel more water which reduces bloating because water retention is typically the cause of a bloated belly.
Leafy vegetables like spinach and arugula are also good to prevent water retention as they help the liver detox the body from any chemicals. Water-heavy vegetables also help with any digestive problems that could be the reason of bloating.
6. Helps avoid inflammation
Paleo diet also helps to avoid inflammation. Inflammation can cause increased sensitivity in the immune system which triggers responses like allergies. This can be avoided because Paleo diet avoids inflammatory foods like grains, processed sugars and dairy. Instead, the diet advocates whole food involving unprocessed ingredients and a lot of protein and healthy fats.
Vegetables are also a key component of an anti-inflammatory diet and Paleo diet largely advocates vegetables. This diet is good for athletes because tough workouts can commonly cause inflammation. By taking paleo-friendly foods like coconut oil, protein and vegetables, the risk of inflammation can be reduced.
7. Having better skin
Building on the previous point, redness, dryness, blemishes or itches in the skin is usually due to something happening in the body like an inflammatory response. The Paleo diet can help to avoid this and improve your skin condition.
The author of Eat Drink Paleo mentions that one of the first things you tend to note when meeting someone who follows the Paleo diet is how clear and smooth their skin is. The Paleo helps by focusing on foods with high nutrient content with a lot of antioxidant rich fruits and vegetables.
Other paleo-friendly foods include avocados, coconut and olive oil which help to support health skin, hair and nails. Avoiding wheat and gluten can also contribute to clear skin. There have also been success stories of people who used to have skin conditions like eczema who no longer suffer from it or are able to manage it better after following the Paleo diet.
8. Helps in detoxifying the body
Furthermore, the Paleo diet helps in detoxification of the body. This is because food additives and preservatives are excluded in this diet. Instead, dieters are encouraged to eat as clean as possible.
The increase in consumption of fruits and vegetables that are rich in antioxidants helps to reduce exposure of the body to toxins. This keeps the immune system boosted which keeps us healthy and strong.
9. Promotes a healthy heart
Besides, the Paleo diet promotes heart health. This is because it is rich in healthy fats. The consumption of healthy fat is encouraged through eating poultry, seafood, butter and coconuts in the Paleo diet. Fatty fish like sardines and salmon are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
According to studies, the omega-3 found in fatty fish can lower the risk of developing heart diseases. This is because they reduce inflammation throughout the body which could potentially damage blood vessels, leading to heart diseases like strokes and heart attacks. On a side note, healthy fats have also been proven to protect the brain effectively from potential inflammation.
It is recommended by The Heart Foundation for adults to take 250 to 500mg of omega-3 per day to reduce the risk of heart diseases. “Good” cholesterol HDL levels in the body can also be increased through consuming healthy fats which further helps maintain heart health. This is because HDL transports the excess cholesterol in our blood to the liver. There, it is removed from the body so that it will not clog up our arteries and prevent blood flow which causes heart problems.
Keto Diet vs. Atkins Diet
Atkins diet is also a low-carb diet. It was created by and named after Dr. Robert Coleman Atkins who was an American cardiologist and physician. Unlike Keto diet, Atkins diet has four phases, called Atkins 20. The main goal for Atkins 20 is weight loss.
Phases of Atkins Diet
The first phase known as “Induction” is the most restricting phase. During this phase, carbohydrate intake has to come from nuts, vegetables, cheese and seeds. Carbohydrate intake is also strictly limited to 20 – 25 grams a day. You will be required to stay in this phase until you are 15 pounds from your goal weight.
The second phase increases the carbohydrate intake to 25 – 50 grams a day. This phase is called the “Balancing” phase. Foods like berries, melons, tomato juice and yoghurt are allowed in this phase. This phase lasts until you are 10 pounds from your goal weight. You can transition to the third phase if you are a vegetarian or if you want to slow down the rate of your weight loss.
In phase three, known as “Pre-maintenance”, carbohydrate intake increases to 50 – 80 grams a day. Foods you can add on are starchy vegetables, whole grains and additional fruits. This phase is to prepare you for a new healthy lifestyle.
The last phase allows you to consume 80 -100 grams of carbohydrates. This phase is known as “Lifetime Maintenance” because it transitions you into a permanent way of eating. Thus, this phase will be ongoing for as long as you follow the Atkins diet. Instead of following a low-carb diet, you will be following a low-carb lifestyle.
The Atkin 40
There is a newer and simpler version of the Atkins diet known as Atkin 40. It focusses on portion control and eating 40 grams of carbohydrates daily. It is designed for people with less than 40 pounds to lose off.
You are allowed to add 10 grams of carbohydrates each week once you are 10 pounds away from your weight goal. This diet is effective if you only need to lose a little weight. This diet is not divided into phases.
Differences between Keto Diet and Atkins Diet
1. Superior in weight loss
Because of the difference of phasing, Keto diet can be more superior in weight loss than Atkins diet. Both diets lead to weight loss, but most research notes that Keto diet is more effective. This is because the amount of carbohydrates that you are allowed to consume increases in the later phases of the Atkins diet.
In a Keto diet, you are required to continue the same amount of restricted carbohydrates for the long term, which gives a greater chance of weight loss.
2. Quantity of fat and carbohydrates consumed
Keto diet and Atkins diet also differ in that the Keto diet is mainly high in fat while Atkins is mainly low in carbohydrates. The Atkins diet focuses on restricting carbohydrates more than anything else. Although the Atkins diet has higher fat than a typical diet, the fat intake is not as much as a Keto diet.
Similarities of Keto and Atkin Diet
Keto diet and Atkin diet do share some similarities.
1. Similar induction phases
One similarity is that the induction phase of Atkins diet is similar to the Keto diet. The carbohydrate intake in the induction phase is extremely low. That is, only about 5-10% ratio of your daily calories. Similar to Keto diet, this is to enable the body to enter ketosis for effective and fast weight loss.
2. Focus on clean eating
Another similarity is that both diets focus on clean eating. They encourage unprocessed foods to have higher value of nutrients to avoid nutrient deficiencies which can easily happen on restrictive diets.
Furthermore, there is no sugar and honey in both diets. Instead, sugar substitutes like stevia are used because they do not contain calories, nor do they affect blood sugar levels.
My take on Keto vs Atkins Diet
There is no answer to “Keto or Atkins?” but both diets have their own benefits and disadvantages. Some people may find the classical keto diet difficult to stick to, and Atkins diet more sustainable to follow. Others may find that Akins does not help them to lose enough weight compared to Keto. Ultimately, your goal of dieting will determine the type of diet that suits you best.
Benefits of Atkins Diet
1. Experience weight loss
One reason why people choose the Atkins diet is to experience weight lost benefits on a low carb diet that is not too restrictive. This is because although the Induction phase is strict on low carbs, Atkins diet transitions into the Lifetime Maintenance phase which allows 80-100g of carbs a day.
Hence, some people like the fact that hearty foods like burgers and steaks can still be enjoyed. This diet says that you can lose 15 pounds in the first two weeks of the first phase. Some people may not, but they go on to lose weight in the other phases instead.
2. Allows intake of more carbs
Besides, since Atkins diet allows more carb intake during the fourth stage onwards, dieters may find this an easier option than a strict low carb diet. It is a more sustainable diet plan in the long run.
If you are someone who loves your carbohydrates but want to attempt a low carb diet, Atkins may be the one for you. This way, you will not struggle as much to give in to your cravings for carbs.
3. Help improve skin condition
Alongside other low carb diets, Atkins diet can help to improve skin condition. A published review in Skin Pharmacology and Physiology suggested that low carb diets can have positive effects on acne treatment. High levels of insulin can stimulate sebum and androgen production which contributes to breakouts of acne.
Following Atkins diet can reduce insulin spikes since there is less glucose in the blood. This can improve acne in those who are susceptible to breakouts.
4. Help with Epilepsy
Atkins diet also comes with many health benefits. In the span of 10 years from 2004 to 2014, more than thirty studies support the use of the modified Atkins diet to help in epilepsy treatment.
Symptoms of epilepsy and other seizure related disorders in adults and children were eased with this diet. This brought relief to many parents with children who were not responding well to the seizure control medications.
5. Alleviate high blood pressure
Furthermore, high blood pressure or hypertension can be under control with the Atkins diet. One reason is because losing weight is an important step to lower blood pressure and the Atkins diet is effective in helping you lose weight.
Even by losing 10 pounds, there will be a positive effect on lowering your blood pressure level. With a reduce in blood pressure, this reduces the risk of having heart problems like stroke or heart attacks as well.
6. It helps maintain brain health
Maintaining brain health is another benefit in the Atkins diet. This diet lowers the risk of cognitive impairment. This is because high calorie diets are associated with an increased risk of cognitive impairment, such as negative consequences on memory ability and moods.
In the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, a study showed that there is a higher risk of mild cognitive impairment or dementia in those who have high carbohydrate content in their diets. By having lower carbohydrate levels, calorie levels are also reduced in the Atkins diet which can reduce the risk of this problem. A study in the Journal of Physiology also found that consuming omega-3 fatty acids can protect the brain and help to sustain memory ability with aging. Atkins diet promotes omega-3 rich foods like fish and flaxseeds.
7. Modified Atkins Diet
Another variation of the Atkins diet came about, known as the Modified Atkins Diet. This was introduced around the early 2000s. It has been showed to be similar to the classic keto diet in its results. Some people who followed the classic keto diet for a long time started to slowly stop measuring their food intakes.
However, they realized that their ketone levels remained high despite being less restrictive in their food content. It was found that their seizures also stayed under control. This brought life to the Modified Atkins Diet.
Today, this diet is well known for treating difficult cases of seizures. Although it cannot guarantee a 100% success rate, it has been proven time and time again that it can help many individuals reduce the occurrence of seizures. Studies on children who have followed the Modified Atkins Diet over a period of time revealed that around 50% of them experienced over 50% reduction in seizures.
The similarity of this diet to the classical keto diet is that it is high in fat and low in carbohydrate intake. The difference is that the modified Atkins diet is less restrictive. Unlimited amount of protein and fats are allowed as compared to the restricted ratio in a classical keto diet. Food also will not need to be weighed and accurate to the gram.
The Modified Atkins Diet is beneficial for patients who find it difficult to tolerate the restrictiveness of classical keto diet, those who have a history with classical keto diet but could not maintain it or even children with big appetites.
Keto Diet vs. South Beach Diet
The South Beach diet is yet another low-carb diet. However, it is credited with producing weight loss while promoting heart health as well. It was developed by Dr. Arthur Agatston, an American cardiologist. The original design was to help patients who had heart problems. While the patients were on this diet, it was found that they began to lose weight in the long term. Hence, South Beach diet gained its popularity.
This diet focusses on dropping bad carbohydrates and fats and adding good carbohydrates and fats. It shares similarities to the Atkins diet, but South Beach diet is rich in low-glycemic-index carbohydrates. Low- glycemic foods lower the rise in blood sugar. It is also rich in lean protein and unsaturated fats.
3 Phases in South Beach Diet
The South Beach diet is made up of 3 phases.
The first phase restricts starch, fruit juice, whole grains, sugary food and alcohol. This phase lasts for 14 days and most people lose about 8 – 13 pounds in this phase.
The second phase allows the introduction of good carbohydrates such as fruit, brown rice and whole-grain foods. This phase lasts until you achieve your goal weight. People lose 1 – 2 pounds on average during this phase. Once your goal weight has been attained, you will proceed to the third phase.
The third and last phase is a maintenance phase. At this phase, no foods are off limits, but you need to maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle generally. This means that regular exercise is greatly encouraged. If you go back to unhealthy eating, however, and start putting on weight, it is recommendable to return back to the first phase for about two weeks before returning to the third phase.
Similarities between Keto Diet and South Beach diet
1. Reduced intake of carbohydrate and sugar
One similarity between Keto diet and South Beach diet is that Phase 1 of the South Beach Diet is very much like the Keto diet. The intake of carbohydrates and added sugar are restricted at this phase.
This allows the body to go through ketosis which is why people lose weight the most in Phase 1. This is the metabolic process whereby the body burns fat in the form of ketones instead of burning glucose that comes from carbohydrates.
Another similarity of the both diets is that they share similar health benefits such as increasing high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels in the body, commonly known as good cholesterol. This aids in lowering the risk of heart disease which was the initial purpose of the South Beach diet. Both diets also help reduce the risk and control type 2 diabetes.
This is given that you maintain a low carbohydrate intake at phase 3. This is because lower intake of carbohydrates helps to control the blood sugar levels which is associated with diabetes.
Differences between Keto diet and South Beach diet
1. Difference in the intake of number of carbs
One difference is that South Beach diet allows up to 40 grams of net carbs per day in Phase 1 and 50 grams of net carbs in Phase 2. This does not necessarily guarantee the state of ketosis all the time. The thing is, the South Beach diet aims to apply the principles of the ketogenic diet, but it was not purposefully founded to enable people to achieve or maintain the state of ketosis.
However, due to the nature of the overall low-carb diet, some people do enter ketosis and many still lose weight. Keto diet on the other hand is stricter, allowing 20 grams of net carbs each day. This is to reach the goal of ketosis which leads to effective weight loss.
2. Difference in structure
Another difference between the two diets is the difference in structure. The South Beach Diet allows the intake of whole grains and fruits from Phase 2 onwards and even allows access to all types of food from Phase 3. This allows a good balance of nutrients for a lifetime of healthy eating. Keto diet on the other hand remains a strict ratio of macronutrients throughout the whole course of the diet, that is, low-carb, high-fat and moderate protein.
Both diets are beneficial in their own way. South Beach diet offers a wider range of food choices for those who are unable to give up your favourite foods, while Keto diet comes with other benefits like increased energy levels and lower hunger levels. Hence, you will just need to make a choice on which diet fits your needs and preferred lifestyle the best!
Benefits of South Beach Diet
1. Its easy to follow
One of the reasons why people choose the South Beach diet is because it is simple to follow. There are only three phases in the diet and the third phase basically allows free choices of food as long as it is taken in moderation. There is not much measuring to do in the diet either. You will just need to choose foods from certain lists and eat within those choices during the first two phases of the diet. Hence, it is a diet that can easily be sustained.
2. Easily lose weight
Besides, many people achieve their weight loss goals through the South Beach diet. This diet allows you to burn fat and transform your metabolism with a variety of wholesome food choices. Healthy foods are encouraged from lean protein to fruit and vegetables. Dieters usually experience a significant amount of weight loss in the first two weeks of the South Beach diet because of the strictness of phase 1.
This phase helps to reduce or stop your cravings for high carbohydrate intakes. This will allow you to sustain a lesser carbohydrate intake even after phase 3 where you are allowed free choices of food.
3. It allows a good amount of fibre intake
South Beach diet also allows a good amount of fibre intake. This is also a contributing factor to weight loss since fibre helps to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Soluble fibre is a natural appetite suppressant, which helps to reduce your cravings for snacks. This reduces your calorie intake and helps in achieving weight loss. Studies also show that a higher intake of soluble fibre can help in losing belly fat and prevention of gaining belly fat. This is because soluble fibre reacts with water in the body to slow down how fast our stomach releases digested food into the gut.
Soluble fibre is found in foods like flaxseed, oatmeal, oranges and apricot. Fibre is also an important element in helping our digestive tract run smoothly which prevents constipation.
4. Helps lower blood pressure
Furthermore, low carbohydrate diets also come with health benefits and South Beach diet is no exception. The South Beach diet can help with lowering blood pressure levels. Research shows that weight loss can lower blood pressure almost as much as by taking a single blood pressure medication.
Hence, when weight loss is experienced in the South Beach diet, blood pressure in our bodies are lowered as well. In an interview with CNN, Dr. John Bisognano, Professor of medicine at University of Rochester Medical Center suggested the South Beach diet for people trying to lose weight and lower blood pressure. This is due to the good balance of carbohydrates with protein and fat. He also noted that it will be an easier diet to stick to for months.
South Beach diet also increases our high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels, commonly referred to as “good cholesterol”. HDL is helpful in reducing the risk of heart diseases. They help to protect and repair the inner walls of our blood vessels. If not protected, we are at risk of heart attacks or strokes. HDL helps to transport excess cholesterol in the blood to the liver where it will be broken down and disposed from the body. This reduces the risks of these heart diseases which is due to blood flow blocked by cholesterol in the arteries.
About The Author
Losing weight has always been a hard thing for me. I would stick to a strict diet, eating as little as I possibly could to only lose a few pounds. Sadly, after a sweet buffet dinner, I would gain all the “lost” weight back. Keto Diet allows me to consistently lose and maintain my weight while enjoying the most fattening food I can possibly imagine. Let me show you how.