Introduction to Paleo and Keto Diets

by Dr. Rob

At this time, the concept of a Paleo or Keto diet is no longer foreign to most people. It wasn’t always that way, but with the spread of information in the 21st Century, and with so many people experiencing clear benefits, things are beginning to change. The most common reason for embarking on this type of diet is weight loss, but there can be many other reasons as well, including improving energy, enhancing mental sharpness and clarity, dealing with metabolic issues such as high triglycerides, insulin, and sugar, preventing Alzheimer’s Disease in high risk individuals, and a host of other rationales.

As with anything I discuss or recommend with my patients, there is no one size fits all approach, nor are these diets necessarily the only way to deal with such issues. For example, Intermittent Fasting can also be a very effective tool. Neither is it mutually exclusive. For example, a Paleo or Keto Diet fits quite well with Intermittent Fasting.

One difference however, is that intermittent fasting can be a long term, sustainable way of life for more people than a keto diet can. The reason is that most people cannot or should not be in ketosis continuously. Those who may consider a lifetime of keto are those with severe metabolic problems such as Type II Diabetes, or those with extremely high risk for Alzheimer’s (having 2 copies of the ApoE 4 gene) for example. Otherwise, it can work for days, weeks, or even months at a time, but generally needs to transition into a more balanced version of Paleo.

In that sense, my take on the difference between a Keto and a Paleo diet is that in a Keto diet, your express goal is necessarily to put your body into a vigorous state of continual ketosis, or fat burning. With a Paleo Diet, you are consciously lowering your carbs but not necessarily to the point of always being in ketosis.

For me, Paleo simply means approximating a diet that might be typical of a human prior to the agricultural revolution. One of the things that means is minimal to no grains, and very little sugar except possibly through berries or other low sugar, seasonal fruits. However, keep in mind that most farmed berries or fruits have much more sweetness than what pre-agricultural wild varieties would contain. On the other hand, the Paleo Diet includes plenty of fats, protein, and low carbohydrate vegetables.

While some people might say no dairy products on the Paleo Diet, since humans are not thought to have domesticated cattle prior to 10,000 years ago either (though that may turn out to change), I would not rule out including dairy in a Paleo diet. Since it can be hard enough to find high quality, fatty meat necessary to be successful with a diet like this, dairy can sometimes be a good replacement, especially for added fats. Organic heavy cream, ghee, and butter can be incorporated and added into dishes for the extra fat needed to get into ketosis.

Also, dairy fat generally has less of an allergic or inflammatory problem than dairy proteins. But for people who are able to tolerate dairy products without inflammation, phlegm, or digestive issues, the cheeses can be OK. Keeping all this in mind, goat or sheep cheeses are usually much less potentially inflammatory than cow cheese.

All in all, changing to a Paleo or Keto diet can be surprisingly easy and satisfying. There are some key pitfalls to avoid, and I don’t recommend doing it on your own until you have thoroughly researched it or are being followed by an experienced health care provider.

Ironically, one of the main reasons I hear of for people going off the diet is that their health care provider has scared them into thinking it is raising their cholesterol, or that the extra fat they are eating is going to cause heart disease. This is unfortunate. It is too bad that there can be a diet that actually works and is not difficult to follow, but is avoided simply because of inaccurate advice. In fact, many risk factors of heart disease or other diseases of inflammation are reduced by this type of diet.

Finally, as always, with any food you choose, find the highest quality sources. Buy local. Get to know farmers at farmer’s markets. There is nothing like a direct connection to your food. Organic not only tastes better, but is better for your health and better for the earth. If a farm is using regenerative techniques, that is even better. Grass-fed beef or lamb, or pastured chickens or pigs, from these farms have good lives, and contribute to rebuilding healthy topsoil which is the source of the Earth’s life and biodiversity. The nutrients from these animals also come from that same biodiversity of plants, grubs, and grasses, straight into your body. So getting into ketosis through these foods allows you to burn fat and release old toxins and chemicals that may be stored there, all the while replacing your reserves with pure and clean resources and a renewed version of yourself.

Posted by Dr. Rob


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