These three diets have been all the hype lately… but what is the difference between them? Some have grains, some don’t… you can eat cheese on one, but not the other… you can have potatoes here, but not there. They can be confusing to follow, or decide which one will be best for what you’re trying to accomplish. No fear, we’re going to help! One thing they all have in common… cooking with natural animal fats such as tallow and lard, and other saturated fats! Praise the Lard!
Outside of fats… lets talk about their similarities across the board. They’re all low-carb approaches to nutrition. While Keto is extremely low, Whole 30 and Paleo are low-carb because they require you to eliminate sugars, grains, and most processed junk foods… all things high in carbs. Each diet will shift you, in different ways, to a much more natural and healthy way of eating like our ancestors did. With foods readily available in nature, high in protein, and unprocessed.
Let’s start with Whole 30. This is meant to basically “restart” your system by doing a healthy eating challenge for 30 days. It’s main purpose is to eliminate all processed foods, gluten, grains, dairy, legumes, alcohol, all added sugars (even natural ones), and soy. Whole 30 allows you to see how the foods you eat affect your health and body composition. There is no cheating allowed or weighing yourself during the process. After the challenge is over – you can slowly introduce these foods back into your diet to notice their affects on how you feel.
Foods that are NOT allowed are below: (Read your labels carefully!)
- All grains – flour, wheat, rice, quinoa, corn, rye, barley, oats, sprouted grains and all cereals. This includes any starch forms of the foods above.
- All added sugars of any kind – honey, maple syrup, agave, coconut sugar, Splenda, Equal, Nutrasweet, Stevia… you get the gist.
- Alcohol – none of any kind, even to use in a recipe for cooking.
- MSG or added sulfates.
- Legumes and soy- beans of any kind (black, kidney, pinto, navy, white, lima, etc.), peas, chickpeas, lentils, and peanuts. All forms of soy- soy sauce, miso, tofu, tempeh, edamame. Exceptions here would be green beans and snap peas.
- Dairy – all dairy products such as butter, cow’s milk, sheep’s milk, and goat’s milk products. No cheese, sour cream, cream cheese, etc. Exceptions are ghee or clarified butter (sans milk-fats).
- No recreating sweet treats, breads, cakes, cookies, etc… with approved ingredients.
You’re probably thinking… what CAN I eat? Steaks, chicken, pork, all seafood, potatoes and all your vegetables! Fruit is allowed as well – this is the natural way to get your sugar intake – just don’t go overboard here! You can use salt and any seasoning as long as the seasoning mix does not contain sugar. To cook your food, they recommend oils such as tallow and lard, as well as olive, avocado, and coconut oil! Whole and natural fats that are not necessarily “low-fat”.
This diet, along with Paleo, is ideal for anyone with a gluten intolerance, or those who have issues with inflammation and that sluggish/low-energy feeling. It’s also great if you have allergies to dairy, soy, and peanuts.
Whole 30 is meant as a reset to your system, and while difficult and the most restrictive of the three, it is do-able for the 30 days. It also helps identify any food allergens and pinpoints reactions to certain foods. IF you slip (on purpose or accidental) – you MUST start over. You’re also not allowed to make treats out of “approved ingredients” as it’s not in the spirit of Whole 30. Not always recommended as a life change, however most people do adapt to their own versions of this diet as a guide after completing the challenge based on what foods bother them or give them negative reactions.
Let’s talk Paleo! Paleo and Whole30 are very similar in the sense that they both focus on eating natural and whole foods that are more nourishing and give you energy. There are two main differences -one being that Paleo does let you create foods and sweet treats with approved ingredients, where Whole30 does not. So you can make pancakes with almond flour, or eat coconut flour tortillas, tortilla chips made from sprouted seeds, etc. The second main difference is Paleo allows natural forms of sugar such as honey, maple syrup and Stevia. Whole 30 does not allow any kind of added sugar. The allowed and not allowed food lists are almost identical in every other category.
Foods NOT allowed on Paleo:
- Processed Foods.
- Grains (same as Whole30 listed above).
- Legumes (same as Whole30 listed above).
- Dairy (same as Whole30 listed above), with the exception of clarified butter or ghee.
- Refined sugars.
The great thing about Paleo is the ability to have small amounts of healthy sugars, and also the ability to recreate breads, sweet treats, and pastas with almond, tapioca, and coconut flour. This helps the diet be much less intense than Whole30, and is typically easier for people to follow. If you’re transitioning from eating whatever you want to one of these diets, Paleo is the easiest and where most people find success. It’s also adaptable as a lifestyle diet, where as Whole30 is more of a 30-day diet challenge.
Keto seems to be all the rage more recently – so what’s all the hype? Its approach is much different from Whole30 and Paleo, as it forces your body into a state of neutral ketosis. This means that your body shifts from burning carbs for energy to burning your body’s fat reserves. This diet is extremely low carb and very high fat, so you are forced to burn the fat to fuel your body.
Most dieters find Keto the most difficult to maintain as it eliminates all carbohydrates, starchy vegetables like potatoes, and most fruits as well. It’s the most restrictive and can be challenging long-term. The plus side to this diet is that you are allowed to eat full fat milks, heavy creams, and cheeses!
Foods NOT allowed on Keto:
- Processed foods.
- Legumes (same as Whole30 listed above).
- All sugars (including natural).
- Most fruits.
- Starchy vegetables (potatoes, butternut squash, pumpkins, parsnips, carrots, yams, corn, etc.)
Thankfully all these diets allow tallow and lard for cooking fats. These whole fats are promoted across all three diets, and help aid in weight loss. They provide fuel and a lot of energy to these diets, especially Keto where your body is fueled by burning off fat. Thankfully there are a lot of recipes that work across all three diets – but in choosing the one that is best for you, make sure you consult with a nutritionist or doctor first, and also choose one where you know you can be successful!
Want to learn more? We recommend watching the Netflix series, The Paleo Way, which includes some excellent recipes – many of which incorporate healthy animal fats! Or you can check out The Paleo Way Blog.
Also, check out this article: Pork Fat Is Officially One of the World’s Most Nutritious Foods by Jean Jacobs @ elitereaders.com.