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Keto Diet vs. Paleo Diet - Understanding the Difference

Last updated: February-9,2021

Keto Diet vs. Paleo Diet - Understanding the Difference

In a world that is more health-focused than ever before, diet regimens are on the rise. A growing number of people are following some sort of a diet protocol, and of the many dozens of diets there for the taking, the keto and paleo diets stand out as front runners.

Both, the keto and the paleo diets, have gone mainstream with the help of social media and word of mouth proponents. The key attraction being beneficial “lifestyle changes”. The benefits are declared to go beyond weight loss to optimizing mental and physical prowess. Dieters are taught to have a realistic and sustainable approach to food - supporting integrative health while imposing certain food restrictions.

Popularity of the Keto and Paleo Diets

The popularity of the keto diet trend has grown exponentially in recent years. In 2018, the global keto market was valued at $9.70 billion. Projections value the keto market as having a CAGR of 5.5% and reaching $15.64 billion by 2027. Furthermore, Google Trends indicates that there was an 850% increase in search volume between January of 2016 and January of 2020. This suggests that brands ready to cater to keto consumers can make products fit for the rapidly growing category of keto and keto-inspired food and beverage products.[i]

Likewise, paleo diets are also very popular. The International Food Information Council Foundation’s 13th annual Food and Health Survey found 36% of Americans said they followed a specific eating pattern or diet within the past year, with 7% following a paleo diet.[ii]

Of course, the question is: what does the science show? In this article, we explain what the keto and paleo diets are, the health benefits of each as supported by clinical research and the nutritional deficiencies that could arise from prolonged dieting.

Thinking of adding supplements to your product line that are targeted to the specific needs of these two diet tribes? Here are the facts, as shown by science, to help you decide.

What is a Keto Diet?

The ketogenic or keto diet emphasizes high-fat foods and severely restricts carbohydrates. In fact, about 60% to 80% of calories should come from fat and carbohydrate intake should be less than 50 grams a day. A typical American diet consists of 50% or more carbohydrates which convert to glucose in the body. Your cells burn that glucose as fuel. But when you switch to a very high-fat, low-carb diet, your body shifts away from glucose and instead uses fatty acids and ketone bodies for energy. This process is called ketosis, which is the basis for the diet's name.

Answering the question, “Is a keto diet healthy?”, is somewhat difficult to do. According to a study in the journal, Atherosclerosis,[iii] the ketogenic diet causes a rapid and sensible weight loss along with favorable biomarker changes, such as a reduction in serum hemoglobin A1c (a marker for long-term glucose control) in patients with diabetes mellitus type 2. However, it also causes a substantial rise in low density lipoprotein cholesterol levels and many physicians are therefore hesitant to endorse it.

What are the Health Benefits of a Keto Diet?

In terms of benefits of a keto diet, research has suggested that low carbohydrate, high-fat diets are associated with significantly greater weight loss compared with low-fat diets in head-to-head randomized control trials.[iv] More research is confirming that very low carbohydrate diets can effectively reverse the metabolic abnormalities of patients with diabetes mellitus type 2. Compared with low fat diets, carbohydrate restriction produces significantly greater reduction in hemoglobin A1c, and can result in weight loss in patients with diabetes mellitus type 2.[v]

Keto Diet Foods

There are many nutritious foods that can easily fit into the ketogenic way of eating. Following is a list of some keto diet foods worth considering:

  • Seafood – Fish and shellfish are very keto-friendly foods.
  • Low-carb vegetables – Non-starchy vegetables (e.g. lettuce, kale, broccoli and cauliflower, zucchini, etc.) are low in calories and carbs, but high in many nutrients.
  • Cheese – Cheese is both nutritious and delicious: low in carbs and high in fat.
  • Avocados – Incredibly healthy, avocados are also extremely yummy.
  • Meat and poultry – These are considered staple foods on a ketogenic diet.
  • Eggs – One of the healthiest and most versatile foods on the planet.
  • Coconut oil – This oil has unique properties that make it well suited for a ketogenic diet.
  • Plain Greek yogurt and cottage cheese – These are healthy, high-protein foods.
  • Olive oil – This oil provides impressive benefits for your heart.
  • Nuts and seeds – These are healthy, high-fat and low-carb foods.
  • Berries – Though most fruits are too high in carbs to include on a ketogenic diet, berries are an exception since they are low in carbs and high in fiber.
  • Butter and cream – These are good fats to include on a ketogenic diet.
  • Shirataki noodles – These noodles made from a viscous fiber called glucomannan, are a fantastic addition to a ketogenic diet, and can be purchased online.
  • Olives provide the same health benefits as olive oil, only in solid form.
  • Coffee and tea are incredibly healthy, carb-free drinks.
  • Dark chocolate and cocoa are delicious sources of antioxidants.

What is a Paleo Diet?

A paleo diet is a way of eating based on foods similar to what might have been eaten during the Paleolithic era, which dates from approximately 2.5 million to 10,000 years ago. A paleo diet typically includes lean meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds—foods that in the past could be obtained by hunting and gathering. A paleo diet limits foods that became common when farming emerged about 10,000 years ago. These foods include dairy products, legumes and grains.[vi]

To answer the question, “Is a paleo diet healthy?”, let’s consider a study published by the journal, Obesity Reviews.[vii] The study notes that hunter-gatherer populations have been found to be remarkable for their excellent metabolic and cardiovascular health and thus are often used as models in public health. Furthermore, in examining a specific hunter-gatherer population in northern Tanzania, the study also indicates that metabolic and cardiovascular disease were rare, obesity prevalence was very low (<5%), and mean body fat percentage was modest (women: 24-28%, men: 9-18%). This suggests that, if done right, a paleo diet can be healthy.

What are the Benefits of a Paleo Diet?

In terms of benefits of a paleo diet, research comparing the paleo versus Mediterranean-like diet in patients with heart disease and impaired glucose metabolism, showed that both groups lost approximately the same amount of weight. However, the paleo group showed a significantly decreased waist circumference and improved glucose sensitivity.[viii] Other research compared the paleo diet to a diabetic-like-diet (of patients with type 2 diabetes). Compared with patients on the diabetic-like diet, patients on the paleo diet showed improved HbA1c, diastolic blood pressure, lipid profile, and weight and waist circumference.[ix]

Paleo Diet Foods

As with the keto diet, there are many food choices for the paleo diet; some of which are the same as the keto diet:

  • Meat: Beef, lamb, chicken, turkey, pork and others.
  • Fish and seafood: Salmon, trout, haddock, shrimp, shellfish, etc. Choose wild-caught if you can.
  • Eggs: Choose free-range, pastured or omega-3 enriched eggs.
  • Vegetables: Broccoli, kale, peppers, onions, carrots, tomatoes, etc.
  • Fruits: Apples, bananas, oranges, pears, avocados, strawberries, blueberries and more.
  • Tubers: Potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, turnips, etc.
  • Nuts and seeds: Almonds, macadamia nuts, walnuts, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and more.
  • Healthy fats and oils: Extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil and others.
  • Salt and spices: Sea salt, garlic, turmeric, rosemary, etc.

Difference Between Paleo and Keto Diet

There are similarities and differences between the paleo and keto diet:

Difference Between Keto and Paleo - Infographic


  • Both eliminate refined concentrated sugars
  • Both eliminate foods derived from grains
  • Both include fats and oils
  • Both include generous amounts of meat, seafood, eggs and nuts


  • The paleo diet allows the use of almost any vegetable, while the keto diet allows only non-starchy vegetables
  • The paleo diet allows almost any fruit, while the keto diet restricts fruit intake largely to berries
  • The paleo diet allows a considerably higher intake of carbohydrates than the keto diet

Keto Diet Supplements and Paleo Diet Supplements - Food for Thought for Supplement Business Owners

Growing Keto Diet Trends

According to Google Trends, search volume for the word “keto” has been rising significantly from January 2016 with trends peaking in January 2019 and January 2020. Google “keto” and you’ll find a mind-boggling 18,90,00,000 search results at any given time! It is one of the most googled diet-related searches in the world. The internet is abuzz with keto recipes and social media chatter

The keto craze has also taken Hollywood by the storm with stars like Halle Berry and Kim Kardashian raving about its benefits. The trendy diet has led Vitamin Shoppe to create an annual day to mark its benefits, beginning on the first Sunday of 2020.[x]

Market research from Fior Markets, a futuristic market intelligence company, shows that the global keto diet market is expected to grow from USD 10.3 billion in 2018 to USD 17.8 billion in 2026. The supplements segment of the keto diet market recorded the highest share in 2018 and continues to show promising growth.[xi]

What are the Best Supplements for a Keto Diet?

Research[xii] has indicated that individuals on a ketogenic diet had intakes of magnesium, calcium, iron, phosphorus, and potassium that were less than the recommended values, but serum levels always remained within the reference range. However, the level of calcium decreased significantly. Likewise, the intakes of water-soluble vitamins C and B-complex were also too low. Consequently, supplementation strategies with calcium and a multivitamin that provide good amounts of vitamins C and B-complex are recommended.

Because the keto diet includes a moderate intake of proteins, keto-friendly workout supplements such as protein supplements or BCAA supplements may be needed to sustain energy and boost athletic performance. Super greens powders may offer a convenient way for keto dieters to get their vegetable intake. Keto-friendly electrolyte supplements are often used to help prevent unpleasant symptoms associated with ketosis. Fiber supplements and some digestive enzymes are also are a popular choice with people on this diet plan.[xiii]

While these are excellent supplements for those on a keto diet, brand owners may also consider exogenous keto supplements that help achieve ketosis more quickly and maintain it. These usually consist of ketone salts and should be taken under a doctor’s advice.

Growing Paleo Diet Trends

According to Google Trends, the search volume for the word “paleo” began to rise in January 2010 and peaked in January 2014. Like the keto diet, paleo diets have been flooding social media feeds.[xiv]

A report from SPINS, a market research firmed based in Schaumburg, Ill., puts the proliferation of paleo-diet friendly products as one of the top trends that hit 2019. From 2016 to 2019, paleo-positioned products grew by 45.3% reaching a market value of USD 536.7 million. The Paleo Food Industry expects this market to grow at 5.3% between 2013 and 2023.[xv]

What are the Best Supplements for a Paleo Diet?

Research has demonstrated that the paleolithic diet may provide insufficient amounts of vitamin D [xvi], [xvii] and calcium [xviii], [xix], [xx]. In addition, the paleolithic diet provides considerably higher amounts of protein than the standard American diet.[xxi] Consequently, those on a paleo diet may wish to supplement with vitamin D and calcium. They may also wish to supplement with enzymes that will support the digestion of higher protein levels. Along with those nutrients, supplement business owners may want to consider paleo-friendly omega-3, pre- and probiotic supplements, and Magnesium.[xxii]

Formulating Supplements for Keto and Paleo Diets

As a brand owner, you may wish to formulate supplements for keto and paleo diets. Great idea! However, you want to make sure that you develop such supplements with the assistance of a qualified contract manufacturer who can provide guidance and help assure that the are high-quality and designed to cater to individuals that follow these diets. NutraScience Labs has extensive experience in the formulation of such products and can help assure that your keto and paleo supplements are of the highest quality.

How Can You Manufacture a High Quality Keto- or Paleo-Friendly Dietary Supplement?

With grocery stores packed with foods touting keto- or paleo-friendly attributes, supplement business owners would do well to piggyback on these trends to help these diet tribes overcome nutritional deficiencies.

To see how you can offer high-quality nutritional supplements that meets the specific needs of your target audience, contact us at NutraScience Labs. For more information, call 855-492-7388 to speak with one of our knowledgeable representatives or send us your request for a free manufacturing price quote.


[i] Csssity J. The Keto Market: New Statistics on Market Size, Value and Keto Product Growth. Kerry Digest. January 27, 2020. Retrieved April 27, 2020 from https://www.kerry.com/insights/kerrydigest/2020/keto-market

[ii]Gleski J. IFIC survey: 36% of Americans follow a specific diet. Food Business News. May 16, 2018. Retrieved April 27, 2020 from https://www.foodbusinessnews.net/articles/11838-ific-survey-36-of-americans-follow-a-specific-diet

[iii] O'Neill B, Raggi P. The ketogenic diet: Pros and cons. Atherosclerosis. 2020 Jan;292:119-126.

[iv] Sackner-Bernstein, J., Kanter, D., and Kaul, S. Dietary intervention for overweight and obese adults: comparison of low-carbohydrate and low-fat diets. A Meta-Analysis. PLoS One. 2015 Oct 20;10(10):e0139817.

[v] O'Neill B, Raggi P. The ketogenic diet: Pros and cons. Atherosclerosis. 2020 Jan;292:119-126.

[vi] May Clinic Staff. Paleo diet: What is it and why is it so popular? Healthy Lifestyle: Nutrition and healthy eating. Aug. 08, 2017. Retrieved March 19, 2020 from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/paleo-diet/art-20111182.

[vii] Pontzer H, Wood BM, Raichlen DA. Hunter-gatherers as models in public health. Obes Rev. 2018 Dec;19 Suppl 1:24-35.

[viii] Lindeberg S, Jonsson T, Granfeldt Y, et al. A Palaeolithic diet improves glucose tolerance more than a Mediterranean-like diet in individuals with ischaemic heart disease. Diabetologia 2007;50:1795–807.

[ix] Jönsson T, Granfeldt Y, Ahren B, et al. Beneficial effects of a Paleolithic diet on cardiovascular risk factors in type 2 diabetes: A randomized cross-over pilot study. Cardiovasc Diabetol 2009;8:35.

[x] https://edition.cnn.com/2020/01/05/health/keto-diet-day-wellness/index.html

[xi] https://www.fiormarkets.com/report/keto-diet-market-by-product-type-supplements-beverages-385981.html

[xii] Kenig S, Petelin A, Poklar Vatovec T, Mohorko N, Jenko-Pražnikar Z. Assessment of micronutrients in a 12-wk ketogenic diet in obese adults. Nutrition. 2019 Nov - Dec;67-68:110522.

[xiii] https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/best-keto-supplements#section1

[xiv] https://storage.googleapis.com/external-datashare/SPINS%20-%20State%20of%20the%20Natural%20Industry%202019.pdf

[xv] https://www.marketwatch.com/press-release/paleo-food-market-global-industry-analysis-and-upcomming-opportunities-explored-to-reach-cagr-of-510-till-2023-2019-06-12

[xvi] Jew S, AbuMweis SS, Jones PJ. Evolution of the human diet: linking our ancestral diet to modern functional foods as a means of chronic disease prevention. J Med Food. 2009 Oct;12(5):925-34.

[xvii] Washington SJ. Investigating the paleolithic diet. Logan College of Chiropractic. December 2008: 25 pgs. Retrieved January 3, 2013 from www.logan.edu/mm/files/LRC/Senior-Research/2008-Dec-53.pdf.

[xviii] Jew S, AbuMweis SS, Jones PJ. Evolution of the human diet: linking our ancestral diet to modern functional foods as a means of chronic disease prevention. J Med Food. 2009 Oct;12(5):925-34.

[xix] Jönsson T, Granfeldt Y, Ahrén B, Branell UC, Pålsson G, Hansson A, Söderström M, Lindeberg S. Beneficial effects of a Paleolithic diet on cardiovascular risk factors in type 2 diabetes: a randomized cross-over pilot study. Cardiovasc Diabetol. 2009 Jul 16;8:35.

[xx] Osterdahl M, Kocturk T, Koochek A, Wändell PE. Effects of a short-term intervention with a paleolithic diet in healthy volunteers. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2008 May;62(5):682-5.

[xxi] Washington SJ. Investigating the paleolithic diet. Logan College of Chiropractic. December 2008: 25 pgs. Retrieved January 3, 2013 from www.logan.edu/mm/files/LRC/Senior-Research/2008-Dec-53.pdf.

[xxii] Cordain L, Eaton SB, Miller JB, Mann N, Hill K. The paradoxical nature of hunter-gatherer diets: meat-based, yet non-atherogenic. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2002 Mar;56 Suppl 1:S42-52.

May 19th, 2020

About the Author:

Gene Bruno

Gene Bruno, MS, MHS, RH(AHG) - Mr. Bruno possesses over 43 years of dietary supplement industry experience. With a Master's degree in nutrition and a second Master's degree in herbal medicine, he has a proven track record of formulating innovative, evidence-based dietary supplements. Mr. Bruno currently serves as both the Senior Director of Product Innovation at Twinlab Corporation and Professor of Nutraceutical Science at Huntington University of Health Sciences.