Paleo, Ketogenic or Slow Carb Diet: Which One Is Right For You?

Paleo, Ketogenic or Slow Carb Diet: Which One Is Right For You?

Kickstarting a new diet can be challenging, choosing the correct diet plan can be even more demanding! These days there is an overwhelming choice of diet plans.

For some time the fitness community has gravitated towards the Slow Carb Diet, Paleo Diet and Ketogenic Diet. For those who are looking to improve their lives and lose weight, which one is the best? While all three diets incorporate many of the same foods and even have overlapping likenesses and benefits, each diet has its own function. In this article, well explore the differences between these three plans and to decide which one is best for you!


The Slow Carb Diet

The Slow Carb diet is defined by 5 rules:

  • Avoid all “white” carbohydrates – i.e. anything made from grains, all corn products, rice, quinoa, white potatoes and bread. Specifically avoid grains, sugars and starches. This does not include any white vegetables or legumes (cannellini beans or cauliflower). This does however, apply to all dairy.

  • Stick to eating the same few meals – this makes it easier to plan. The notion behind this is that anything that is planned tends to be more successful. It also means that we spend less time thinking about what we can eat, sidestepping the very reason that many people fail at diets.

  • Do not drink calories – in a bid to keep all calories nutritious the slow carb diet prohibits any calories from beverages, so no milk, juice, sodas etc. The exception to this rule is one glass of red wine daily.  

  • No fruit – with the exception of tomatoes and avocados in moderation the Slow Carb Diet limits all intake of fruit. Fruits tend to have quite a high GI and are considered simple carbohydrates. These are easily digested and raise your blood sugar levels rapidly.

  • Take a day off every week – commonly known as a cheat day. Eat whatever you want on your cheat day!

The goal of the Slow Carb Diet is to promote rapid fat burn by avoiding any foods that encourage fat storage. It is a way of eating that reduces any harmful carbs, such as sugars and grains, in support of meats, vegetables and legumes. All carbohydrates consumed come from healthy, slow digesting sources. Its methods are specifically designed to make compliance as simple as possible.

The objective is to instigate weight loss by sticking to a diet of low GI foods, which keeps insulin levels low and can promote weight loss. It encourages protein in the morning (to keep hunger at bay), sticking to similar meals, and advocates a cheat day once a week, where anything can be eaten.

The Slow Carb Diet is a great option for people who wish to lose weight, eat cleaner and feel healthier, but either don’t have the time or the desire to study diet and nutrition and would rather follow a simple, rule-based diet plan. The Slow Carb diet has a clear and simple set of rules that are extremely easy to follow, and produce effective results without having to make any major changes.

Conversely, the Slow Carb Diet may be less successful amongst higher level athletes, or people with nutritional requirements, or health issues. It is a comprehensive, generalized diet plan that’s the main goal is to help people to lose weight quickly, easily and sustainably.


The Keto Diet

The Keto (or Ketogenic) Diet is a diet based primarily on eating fat. If you observe a Keto Diet plan you will consume approximately 70-90 percent of your calories from fat. You will then divide the remaining percentage of your calories between carbohydrates and proteins.

This diet is very low carbohydrate, and became famous for the many cures and health benefits it can provide. Fat loss on a Keto Diet occurs as your body is forced to burn fat for fuel. By reducing carbohydrate consumption, your body no longer has access to its favored energy source, glucose. Without glucose, your body is forced to burn fat for energy which in turn produces ketones. When your ketone levels are sufficiently high, your body is in a state of “ketosis”.

The carbohydrate tolerance level required for ketosis fluctuates between individuals. However, the majority find that it is necessary to reduce carbohydrate consumption to below 50 grams in order to maintain this metabolic state.

The Keto Diet is pursued mainly by those hoping for dramatic weight loss or those looking to improve certain medical conditions, such as type 2 diabetes. For those curious, it must be noted that this diet does come with some side effects. Many people encounter extreme fatigue and mood swings when they start the eating plan. Health experts have also expressed concern over the high levels of saturated fat.


The Paleo Diet

The Paleo Diet is often referred to as the hunter or gatherer diet, as its model is very closely related to the kind of food that a hunter would gather during the Palaeolithic era. The Paleo Diet concentrates on foods that our hunter-gatherer predecessors may have eaten. The Paleo Diet essentially is an ancestral diet based on the foods believed to have been eaten by earlier humans. This consists predominantly of meat, fish, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, and excludes dairy, grains, and sugary or processed foods.

One of the chief advantages of following the Paleo Diet is the wealth of health benefits gained without imposing constraints on an individual’s daily food structure, there are no stringent nutrient ratios or complications. Eating Paleo means making simple choices and eliminating any negative components from your diet. A Paleo plan involves eating large amounts of protein, in combination with simple plant varieties, wild berries and fresh vegetables. A Paleo Diet encourages a natural way of eating. This way of eating rejects any refined carbohydrates, and any manmade foods, under the assumption that most of our modern-day diseases have been caused by the over consumption of processed and unnatural foods.


Paleo, Keto, Slow Carb: How Are They Similar?

These three diets are often grouped together because they’re similar in these ways:

  • No grains or processed carbohydrates
  • No refined sugar
  • Encourage eating plenty of non-starchy vegetables and leafy greens

But the Paleo, Slow Carb and Keto diets have more differences than they do similarities.


Paleo, Slow Carb, Keto: Key Differences

While all three diets are all considered to be low carb diets and can all be used effectively to accomplish a certain result, the Keto Diet is more thorough and specific, while the Paleo and Slow Carb Diets are more long-term, lifestyle choices.

The Paleo diet curbs the intake of fruits and starchy vegetables, the Ketogenic Diet concentrates on maintaining your healthy fats at a level that keeps your body in a constant state of ketosis, the Slow Carb diet is a relatively simple and effective diet plan geared for weight loss through controlled insulin secretion. The Paleo and Keto diets require a bit more dedication and study, whereas the Slow Carb has been designed in an extremely simplistic manner to make it easy for everyone.


Carbohydrate Limitations

  • The Slow Carb diet restricts grains, refined sugar and all fruits. It does include starchy vegetables and legumes (legumes and beans) and has no restrictions on quantities.
  • Paleo diet does not include grains, legumes or any refined sugars, but there are no real limitations to the amount of carbohydrates you can consume from fruit and starchy vegetables.
  • The Keto diet keeps a very tight control on carbohydrate consumption. Keto’s goal is on keeping insulin levels very low and ketone levels very high.

Dairy Products

  • The Slow Carb diet limits all dairy.
  • Paleo diet removes all dairy products due to the fact that lactose intolerances are very common.
  • Keto doesn’t restrict dairy, in fact for keto dairy is a great way to increase your fat intake.

High Fat

  • Slow Carb Diet does not have any specific guidelines about fat consumption.
  • The Ketogenic Diet is by definition high fat, in fact between 70-90 percent of calories consumed on the Keto Diet come from fat.
  • Paleo Diet does not necessarily have to be high in fat, Paleo, in its purest form, is high-fat. Nonetheless, as the paleo community grows and evolves so does the list of acceptable food changes.

Macronutrient Counting

  • Slow Carb does emphasize counting macronutrients, the main goal of the Slow Carb Diet is to remove certain food groups from your diet.
  • You do not have to abide by macronutrient measurements in order to follow the Paleo Diet.
  • To follow the Keto Diet, you must follow a specific macronutrient calculation, otherwise, you cannot maintain a state of ketosis.


So, when it comes to Paleo vs Slow Carb vs Keto — which diet is right for you?

There is no single way of eating that fits everyone. The best choice is always to go for a diet plan that you will be able to stick to for extended periods of time. You may also want to take into account your medical history when selecting which foods to include or eliminate from your diet. All diet plans can consist of nutritious, healthy selections, but are also fairly restrictive. Many people struggle to maintain a diet due to frustration or boredom. When they find that they can’t fight against cravings, or even find foods that are “allowed” on the diet. The Slow Carb Diet makes life a little easier for dieters in this sense. It is less restrictive than other diet plans and really was designed with the bored dieter in mind.

The Keto Diet is probably the most restrictive of all three, however, it can also lead to the most dramatic results regarding weight and fat loss. The Paleo and Slow Carb diets are less restrictive but can definitely produce weight loss results. It is possible to adopt a combination of Keto and Paleo diets, by following all the Keto macronutrient proportions while also removing all manmade carbohydrate sources.

If you are intrigued by any of these diets, it is best to go to your primary care provider or even speak with a sports nutritionist first. If your family has a history of heart disease, for example, your doctor may advise that you avoid the Ketogenic Diet. A sports nutritionist may encourage you to include more grains in your diet if you are an endurance athlete. Any of these diet plans can, of course, be adapted to meet your personal needs.

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Stephanie Contomichalos
Stephanie Contomichalos - Author

Stephanie Contomichalos is a sports enthusiast. She is an avid crossfitter, wakeboarder and has recently qualified as a Level 1 CrossFit coach. She is also an advocate for women’s sport and for using sport as a tool for development. She is currently living in Athens, Greece. To connect with Stephanie, follow her on Twitter (@ssconto) or on Instagram.

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