Paleo vs. “Low Carb”

By Paleo
In Paleo 101
Jul 2nd, 2012

In recent years there have been a slew of low carb diets to hit the market. Perhaps one of the most popular of these fad diets is the Atkin’s diet. There are similarities between the paleo diet and other low carb options, but they are not as similar as many people may believe. The differences between these two diets are what sets the paleo diet apart, as not just a diet, but also a lifestyle. The paleo diet, in comparison to Atkin’s and other low carb fads is it is something that is sustainable over a lifetime, and will help you not only lose weight, but also have positive benefits on all aspects of your health in the long-term. Low carb diets tend to focus only on weight loss, and very little on nutritional value or health. Below is a brief exploration of just a few of the key differences between paleo and other low carb diets.

One large difference between Atkin’s and paleo is that Atkin’s and other low carb diets do not differentiate between the types of meat you should eat. The quality of meat you consume is important to overall health, and while the paleo diet encourages the consumption of lean, high quality meat and protein, the Atkin’s and other paleo diets don’t discourage eating large amounts of processed meats such as bacon.  There is no differentiation on Atkin’s between grass-fed meat and other types of meat, either.

Another huge difference between low carb fat diets and the paleo diet is that low carb diets prohibit natural carbs in the form of fruits and vegetables, whereas the paleo diet encourages the consumption of a great deal of fruits and vegetables. The vitamins and nutrients found in fruits and vegetables are essential for healthy functioning of the body, and without them you’re severely restricting your nutrition, which can be very detrimental for your health.

The third major division between low carb diets and the paleo diet is the inclusion of dairy. Dairy is strictly eliminated on the paleo diet, whereas low carb diets include dairy, as long as the dairy is carbohydrate-free. For example, a greasy cheeseburger would be a food selection a low-carb dieter might make, but for a follower of a paleo diet, the quality of the meat used to make the burger would be considered, and the cheese would be eliminated, even though it wouldn’t be high in carbs. Many people experience lactose intolerance issues and the health problems that occur as a result of consumption of dairy, because, based on the paleo philosophy, our human bodies are not genetically adapted to consume dairy products.

Low carb diets also differ from the paleo lifestyle because they do not directly prohibit processed foods. There are a number of low carb packaged and processed snack foods and meals available, and while these foods might work for weight loss, they are in fact detrimental for our health, and filled with preservatives and chemicals.

While a low carb diet might help you drop the pounds quickly, it is not realistic as a sustainable lifestyle choice, nor or is it ideal for health and wellness. The paleo diet, rather than focusing solely on weight loss, takes a holistic, lifestyle approach to food that will have benefits in all areas of your life.

5 Responses to “Paleo vs. “Low Carb””

  1. Kara says:

    Actually, Atkins does state in his book that one should not eat large quantities of bacon or processed lunch meats. There are nitrates in processed meats that may be harmful if consumed in excess.

  2. Heather L. says:

    I do Atkins, and you CAN eat TONS of veggies and FRUITS and LEAN protein. Read the book, maybe learn a little more than ASSUMING things about other eating plans. And stop calling it a fad. I heard paleo is also called a fad. Geez, it’s just an eating plan. Plain and simple. No fads! It’s not phen phen!

  3. Pam says:

    Your information regarding low carb, specifically Atkins, is incorrect. Atkins does differentiate between the types of meat used and states to specifically limit bacon due to nitrates/nitrites. As to vegetable consumption, during induction when the carb intake is low, you are encouraged to consume vegetables.
    To say that Atkins is a ‘recent fad’ is also incorrect. The Atkins diet first come onto the scene in 1972 and has been going strong ever since.
    You may want to do some research on low carb before trying to discredit low carb.

  4. Henry says:

    The Paleo Diet is different in its approach than the “average” low carb diet. Like others it is higher in protein, but it is premised firstly on a historical basis.

    I know a lot of people do well with very low-carb, but many others clearly don’t, and I don’t believe it’s necessary for everyone.

    Carb cycling requires one to adopt a cyclic ketogenic diet. That’s a big term but it simply means that you will be on a low carbohydrate diet for a few days and then shock your body with periods of intermediate or high carbohydrate meals.

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