Paleo and Keto: Are They Diet-Heaven Soulmates?

The Paleo and ketogenic diet have become very popular over the last decade or so. They are frequently matched together, as well, but are they really that good together? We break both diets down and explore their benefits and drawbacks, and then go on to see if they should go their separate ways, or if they are truly meant to be.


What is the Paleo diet?


The short answer – the Paleo diet is a diet where you eat whatever cavemen ate. The longer answer – you cannot consume dairy, grains, processed foods, or anything else that would not have been available to humans during the Paleolithic era. The diet gained traction in 2002 when Loren Cordain published The Paleo Diet, saying that he wanted to advocate for a healthier lifestyle free from the chronic diseases that have arisen since processed foods.


Looking back into history, Dr. Cordain found that cavemen ate a diet high in fiber and protein, but completely lacking in processed foods and refined sugars. The only sugar would have been found in fruit and possibly honey. The following list of food is Paleo-friendly:


Grass-fed meats (poultry, pork, beef, lamb, bison, goat)



Vegetables (starchy vegetables like squash and potatoes in moderation or not at all)

Oils (coconut, olive, avocado)

Nuts/seeds (cashews, almonds, walnuts, sunflower, pumpkin)

Honey (but rarely)

Fruits (especially berries)


The foods that you are not allowed to have include:


Legumes (peanuts, all beans, peanut butter, tofu, soy, lentils, peas)

All grains (including quinoa)

Most/all dairy



There are some food items that are debatable, but we’ll include them here as options. It’s up to you whether or not you want to try to go hardcore Paleo, or if you’re okay with uncertainty:


Vinegar (white wine, red wine, balsamic, apple cider)

Grass-fed butter



Bittersweet chocolate


Green beans

Potato starch

Potato flour

Sesame seed oil

Almond milk

Whey protein

Fruit jam

Goat milk



Why Paleo?


The Paleo diet is one of the more restrictive diets out there, so why do it? There are a variety of potential health benefits, including:


More satisfaction from food thanks to the high protein and fiber

Sustainable weight loss from limited food options

Reduction in inflammation and other health problems from eating clean instead of artificial, processed junk

More nutrients from the high amount of vegetables in the diet


People who have embraced the Paleo diet have also reported on feeling more energetic, a lowered chance of heart disease and cancer, less allergies, better muscle growth, improved mental clarity, and more!


What’s the catch?


No diet is perfect, so it’s important to elaborate on the drawbacks of the Paleo diet. You should have all the information so you can decide for yourself whether a Paleo diet is healthy for you. You should also consult with your doctor before making a drastic diet decision. Here are a few of the most common complaints with the Paleo diet:


It excludes healthy nutrients and food like beans, whole-grains, and dairy

Omitting dairy makes it hard to get vitamin D and calcium, which are essential to

preventing bone issues

The argument that “cavemen were healthier because of their diet” doesn’t hold up

upon closer review by experts

It’s a difficult diet that can be miserable to sustain for a long period of time

Buying everything grass-fed, wild-caught, and organic can get expensive


What is the ketogenic diet?


This diet’s name refers to “ketosis,” which is when the body burns fat instead of carbs (glucose) for energy. It was developed in the 1920’s by a Mayo clinic diet who worked on treating epilepsy. He discovered that when he reduced the amount of carbs in a patient’s diet, their body entered ketosis, and reduced seizures by up to 50%.


Since those days, the diet’s effects have been studied for a variety of reasons, including as a treatment for diabetes and as a weight-loss diet, where it’s been shown to be very effective. It revolves around macronutrients and finding the perfect ratio between carbs, protein, and fat. For most people, that ratio breaks down 60-75% of calories from fat, 15-30% from protein, and 5-10% from carbs. There are calculators online that factor in info like your weight, BMI, and so on to give you individual ratios.


Here’s a list of what you can eat:


Any grass-fed meat

Fish/seafood (especially fatty fish like salmon)



Non-starchy veggies

Cooking oils

Grass-fed butter

Full-fat cheeses

Full-fat cottage cheese

Dark chocolate

Nut butters/nut milk

Green beans/peas

Bone broths







Why keto?


People choose the keto diet for a variety of reasons besides weight loss, though that is often the main reason. Here are other benefits that have been reported:


Lowered blood pressure as a result of fewer carbs

Lowered bad cholesterol coupled with an increase in HDL (good) cholesterol

Improved mental clarity thanks to an increase in good fats, which fuels the brain

Less painful, stiff joints as a result of eliminating grains, which can cause



Keto-dieters have also experienced healthier sleep patterns, more energy, less hunger, and less sugar cravings.


What’s the catch?


Like the Paleo diet, eating keto can be difficult because it’s so restrictive. You also have to monitor your calorie intake closely, and that can get tiresome after a while. There’s also the dreaded “keto flu,” which is essentially carb withdrawal. Most people experience flu-like symptoms such as exhaustion, headaches, and nausea after cutting out carbs and sugar. Depending on how carb-heavy your diet was before, it can take days to weeks to come out of this withdrawal stage. There are other potentially longer-term concerns with the keto diet, such as:


Lack of nutrition from not eating enough vegetables

Damage to your metabolism

Low energy and dehydration after especially hard workouts

Increased risk of kidney stones,especially for those with a disposition for them


Before going on the keto diet, it’s very important to talk to your doctor first.


Why would you combine the two diets?


The Paleo and keto diet are frequently talked about together. When you’re on the Paleo diet, it’s fairly simple to start manipulating your body to enter ketosis. The main reason to combine the two diets is to speed up the weight loss process. Lots of people go on the Paleo diet for this reason, and then adding on the ketosis part can help their weight loss progress more effectively. People also want to eat a cleaner, whole-food diet like Paleo, but also want it to be low-carb, which on its own, Paleo is not. That’s where the keto diet would come in.


Someone might also combine the diets to help treat serious illnesses, like nerve damage in their intestines, autoimmune diseases, and so on. If you have a condition that medication has not been able to deal with, ask your doctor if these diets might be helpful.


How do you combine Paleo and keto?

When it comes to combining the Paleo and keto diets, there is a lot of overlap. When you look closely at the macronutrients involved in both diets, they are comparable. People who are on a Paleo diet can adjust their eating so their bodies enter ketosis. What you basically have to do is look at the list of foods you’re eating on the Paleo diet, and increase the amount of fat while reducing the amount of carbs. Here’s how a Paleo/keto diet would break down:



A keto diet is low carb while a Paleo diet is not by nature. You would have to limit

the amount of carb-heavier foods like root vegetables and fruits (other than

berries). Both Paleo and keto diets do not allow whole-grains, so that wouldn’t





Protein sources are essentially the same in the Paleo and keto diet, though the keto diet would require you to slightly reduce the amount, which is high for the Paleo.




This is where the diets diverge the most, so it’s important to figure out where they

overlap. The keto diet requires lots of fats like cooking oils and dairy, so in order to get enough and stay Paleo, you would have to eat a lot of fatty fish, nuts, seeds,

avocados, and olive oil. If you’re committed to using both diets, it would probably

be a good idea to include grass-fed butter.


The food list


The food list for a Paleo/keto diet is going to look almost identical to the Paleo list, with grass-fed butter added for the high-fat demands of the keto diet:


Any grass-fed meats (poultry, pork, beef, lamb, bison, goat)



Non-starchy veggies

Oils (coconut, olive, avocado)

Nuts/seeds (cashews, almonds, walnuts, sunflower, pumpkin)

Honey (but rarely)

Berries only

Cooking oils

Grass-fed butter

Dark chocolate

Bone broths

Vinegar (white wine, apple cider, balsamic)







Paleo Skillet Pork Chop w/ Oven-Roasted Asparagus

Serves: 1

Time: About 15 minutes


This simple, satisfying meal is perfect for busy weeknights. It hits all the marks for both Paleo with a juicy pork chop and tender roasted asparagus.The pork chop could take a bit longer to cook than the recipe states if it’s especially thick-cut, so keep your meat thermometer close by to make sure it gets to the right temperature.




1 medium-sized pork chop

1 large bunch of fresh asparagus

2 tablespoons olive oil

Pink Himalayan salt to taste

Black pepper to taste




  1. Preheat your oven to 425-degrees.
  2. While the oven heats up, put 1 tablespoon of oil in a cast-iron, heavy-bottomed skillet and melt on high.
  3. Season the pork well with salt and pepper. Add chop to the skillet and let it sit for 5 minutes.
  4. In the meantime, toss asparagus in a bowl with the remaining olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  5. Lay on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for 12-15 minutes.
  6. After the pork chop has cooked on one side for 5 minutes, flip, and turn down the heat to medium-high.
  7. Cook pork until your meat thermometer reads 145-degrees.
  8. Let the pork rest for a few minutes before serving with the asparagus.


Nutritional information:

Total calories: 566

Carbs: 8.4

Protein: 35.2

Fat: 43.7

Fiber: 11



Keto Chicken + Broccoli Zucchini Boats

Serves: 4

Time: 35 minutes

Easy to throw together and packed with protein and fat, these zucchini boats are deliciously cheesy and creamy. You hollow out half of a large zucchini, add some melted butter, roast it, and then fill it with a mixture of shredded chicken, broccoli, and sour cream. The cheese goes on top.




2 big zucchinis

1 cup broccoli florets

6-ounces cooked, shredded chicken

2 tablespoons grass-fed butter

1 tablespoon sour cream

3-ounces shredded cheddar cheese

1 green onion

Salt and pepper to taste




  1. Preheat your oven to 400-degrees.
  2. Prep the zucchini by cutting them in half and scooping out most of the insides, leaving a 1-cm thick “shell.”
  3. Melt the butter and pour into the zucchini boats, so each boat gets 1 tablespoon.
  4. Season well with salt and pepper.
  5. Bake in oven for 20 minutes.
  6. In the meanwhile, mix shredded chicken, broccoli, and sour cream.
  7. Season.
  8. Fill zucchini boats with mixture and sprinkle on cheese.
  9. Bake for another 10-15 minutes, until the cheese is melted.
  10. Serve with chopped green onion.


Nutritional information (1 zucchini boat w/ filling):

Total calories: 476

Carbs: 5

Protein: 30

Fat: 34

Fiber: 3




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