I wish that my 90s teenage self could see the diet trends of today. SHE WOULD DIE. My diets back then (you know, when I didn’t NEED a diet but thought I did) were fat free. Like: totally. Today’s low-carb (often high fat diets) would have seemed like insanity. But even now it can seem crazy because there are so many low-carb-ish diets. So what’s the difference between Keto, Paleo, and Whole30?
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What’s the Difference Between Keto, Paleo, and Whole30?
There are a ton of other kinds of diets that are in this sort of realm, but I keep hearing about these three lately. Everyone I know seems to be trying ONE of them. In my mind, they were all sort of jumbled up. So let’s clear up the confusion between keto, paleo, and Whole30!
Keto or the Ketogenic Diet
This has become a big one for our family as my husband has recently became involved with Pruvit, a company selling ketones. (More on that later.) I have several friends posting UNREAL photos online of how they’ve changed since trying keto.
What’s the basic premise?
Ketosis is the process wherein your body is using fat for energy, not carbohydrates. This means that your body will start fueling itself by burning up your fat storage. YES!
More than just a low-carb diet, it is a HIGH FAT diet. This is really different than some of the other things I’ve tried (like South Beach or when I tried Nutrisystem a few years back) because often even those mostly-low-carb diets encourage low fat and are high in lean proteins like chicken breasts.
Your body produces ketones when blood sugar is in short supply. Excess proteins can even be converted to blood sugar, which is why lean proteins are limited and higher or full-fat proteins recommended.
Ketosis has more benefits than just weight loss. (Though that is a huge one and people who successfully attempt a keto diet often lose weight quickly and easily.) Many people report higher brain function and overall a better overall sense of well-being in ketosis. Click How It Works on this page from my husband’s Pruvit site gives a quick overview.
Ketosis is hard to maintain. Lots of people I know on keto use strips to test that they are still in ketosis. And as I told Rob, it’s frustrating to me that you could wreck your body’s ketosis by eating too many carbs. Where some diets have a cheat day or tell you that you can bounce back quickly, if you choose to have a piece of cake while out at dinner, it may take a few days to get back on track.
There is also what’s known as the keto flu, which is how your body feels the first few days you’re detoxing from sugar. This should really tell us something about sugar, right? (Shhh, sugar. Don’t listen. I still love you.)
You may feel not-so-great for the first three days or so, which explains me crying in Walmart on day two of my first time trying the Atkins diet. After trying keto, I can say that there is a pretty awesome natural high feeling if you can push past the “keto flu.”
My Personal Takeaway
I love this idea. I can eat my cheese! And when I tried this, I really felt AMAZING. (As I said, after like three days where I felt not bad, but meh.) I’ve got some great keto recipes coming up on the blog (start with this low-carb pancakes one!!) and really started to see weight loss when I started taking ketos from Pruvit, EVEN when I wasn’t staying strict to a keto diet.
- Ruled – This site has a great starter guide with recipes and more to get you going on ketosis!
- Healthful Pursuit – I love this YouTube channel, with videos showing things like a full day of high-fat eating and what difference this has made over time.
- Pruvit – This is the site where Rob is a promotoer. They have great resources and you can check out their products. I personally LOVE the raspberry lemonade and maui punch!
I’ve also seen a ton of friends trying this with great success…at least for 30 days. So what’s it all about?
What’s the basic premise?
I didn’t realize that the Whole 30 was developed by one person, kind of like the Atkins diet. The goal of the diet is that you eliminate the most inflammatory foods from your diet for a full 30 days: sugar, grains, dairy, and legumes. As a result, the Whole 30 site and its many believers say that is will help get rid of cravings, reset your body’s gut health, and move your toward long-term change.
I love the idea of getting rid of all things processed and getting down to SIMPLE ingredients. In a world full of things that you can’t pronounce or identify, this sounds great! I also think that the elimination of cravings and dependency on sugars and processed foods is fantastic.
For me, you’ve lost me at dairy. I really don’t think I ever WILL give up things like cheese and milk-products. The end. You lost me at cheese, Whole 30. You are also supposed to reset to day 1 if you slip up at ALL. I haven’t tried this, so I don’t have a personal response to it!
Whole 30 – You should really go to the source, right? You can find the basics and specifics about the program here.
Tips for Surviving the Whole 30 – I love this post from my friend Kelli that helps make it accessible.
Paleo or Primal
People jokingly refer to this as the caveman diet, but it’s not so far off. The idea started in 1975 but really took off when Loren Cordain wrote The Paleo Diet book. The argument is that this diet is how you were DESIGNED to eat on a genetic level. Paleo is about lean proteins, healthy fats, fruits, and veggies. It eliminates grains, legumes, and dairy, similar to Whole 30.
In fact, this diet is so close to Whole 30 that I had to find this blog post to tell me the differences. The differences are small. With paleo, you must cut out refined sugar, but can have things like raw honey. It also recommends GRASS-FED meats (because these are similar to what our ancestors ate), and allows to recreate some of your favorite processed foods (while Whole30 advises against that).
It’s hard to argue with the idea of eating how our ancestors ate. Right? At the same time, we aren’t living in our ancestor’s world. A lot of these diets are more expensive and I can say for sure that if our family had to only eat grass-fed meats, we couldn’t afford meat. Period.
As I just mentioned, grass-fed meats are simply not an option on our budget for our sized family. If we want to eat meat, that is. All these diets can be expensive, really. But this requirement kind of puts things over the top.
I also feel like all species adapt over time and there wasn’t ONE culture in the paleo era. This largely depends on where people lived. So giving a sweeping “this is the diet everyone ate and you need to stick to it” statement seems like a generalization. Maybe I just like to be contrary?
Precision Nutrition – This post is massive and insane and really great for an overall view.
So…Should You Low Carb? And If So, Which?
See how these are all similar, but also different in some slight, but specific ways?
The end question though, is which low-carb diet you should try. IF ANY. Maybe we should go back to eating what I did in high school…which was essentially Diet Dr. Pepper and pretzels. (How am I alive???)
I have seen the greatest results when I’ve tried low-carb diets. Though in the last few years (before I was pregnant with Piper) NOTHING worked. And even this year when I essentially ate nothing for like 10 days after dental surgery (more on that later), I lost NO weight. Yikes. I actually had my thyroid checked. Nothing.
What kick-started my weight loss was trying Pruvit, the ketones that Rob promotes. While I was recovering from surgery, he had just started taking them and had an energy like I’ve NEVER seen in all our years of marriage.
I’m a skeptic and will post later if I see long-term results. But losing ten pounds in a few weeks after changing nothing…THAT says something.
I have a few keto recipes coming, but you can start with this one for two-ingredient keto pancakes, which my whole family LOVES. I struggle not to eat the full batch by myself. I’ve also got a killer kale salad with avocado. Seriously.
Orrrrr…if you’re rebelling against this and want to try some of my favorite TOTALLY NOT LOW CARB recipes, you can see my favorite ever chocolate chip pumpkin cake or these fish tacos, which you could totally do without the whole tortilla part.
Are you a fan of any of these diets? Have your own favorite style of eating? Share in the comments!