Atkins diet is one of the most famous diet plans, or it has been, for years. Most people are already familiar with the basic principle of this diet: cutting down the carbohydrate intake completely, sends the body into process called ‘ketosis’ where instead of burning carbohydrates, body starts to burn fat deposits.
This means that when you are on Atkins diet, almost 100 percent of what you eat is meat or fat, even though carbohydrates are slowly introduced in later stages of this diet. Needless to say, even at a first glance, this does not sound as a very healthy option or as a dietary option you can adopt as a lifestyle. This is one of the main reasons why more and more people are turning to Paleo diet, another very popular dietary choice.
Paleo diet, introduced by anthropologic research by Professor Loren Cordain, is based on a very simple principle: our bodies are designed to best function when eating natural food. And in Paleo diet terms, natural food used in paleo recipes refers basically only to foods that were accessible in the Paleolithic or the Stone Age.
Lose a few pounds or return to nature
It’s easy to spot why people often compare Paleo and Atkins diet – cavemen mainly thrived on meat of animals they hunted. Yet, the principle on which Paleo diet is based makes it more of a lifestyle choice, than just a weight loss plan. This is probably the most important difference between Paleo and Atkins diet.
Other important differences between Paleo and Atkins diet are:
Sources of protein and fat
The rules of Atkins diet are very clear in one point: you should maximize your protein and fat intake. There are no specific guidelines in which kinds of meat or fat to eat. And this is the main issue Paleo diet addresses. Our bodies need naturally, grass-feed, antibiotic and hormone free meat. Hydrogenized vegetable oils contain unhealthy omega 6 fatty acids, among other, even cancerogenic, substances. So, Paleo diet focuses primarily on eating healthy and minimizing risks caused by unhealthy food, rather than simply choosing to eat meat because of the low carbohydrate content.
Grains and dairy products
The core of Paleo diet theory is that once people started to cultivate and modify grains, or bodies previously developed only to consume meat and naturally found fruits and vegetables, reacted vith series of serious health conditions such as diabetes, gluten intolerance or lactose intolerance. So, if you follow Paleo diet, your diet has to be free of all grain and dairy products. This is not the case with Atkins diet. At its latest revision, there are even grain-containing snacks with Atkins brand which is most likely against even the original Atkins diet rules.
Clearly, people in Paleolithic didn’t have any sources of sugar, except occasional honey. Not to mention all corn-derivate found even in foods like ketchup. Even more, when you take into account all the additives, preservatives and substances whose names we even can’t pronounce, it comes much easier to understand why it makes sense to at least try to turn to natural and organic way of choosing and preparing the food such as Paleo diet recommends.
Difference between Paleo and Atkins diet here is very important: even though it’s recommended that you don’t eat processed meat while on Atkins diet, they are still allowed. This may shed you few pounds, but all the sodium from processed meat can’t do much good for your heart and health in general. Paleo diet has very strict and simple rule here – don’t eat anything with ‘unpronounceable’ ingredients, artificial sweeteners and other industrialized food products (foods to avoid on paleo).
Lifestyle choice aimed at improving overall health vs. weight loss
The process of losing excessive weight when you lower carbohydrate intake will happen naturally, however, all of us who have tried to lose weight know all about yo-yo effect. Once you finish the diet, the weight just comes back. This happens with Atkins diet as much as with any other diet. And this is where Paleo diet has main advantage. Paleo diet aims to lead you to complete lifestyle change, so weight loss might be just a natural side effect of healthier lifestyle.
Most of us are becoming aware how industrialized food production is having a negative effect on our health. It is this abundance of food that has led to obesity problems, but the difference between Paleo and Atkins diet, in summary, is that Paleo diet is focused on changing the way we think about the food we eat as well as rationally thinking about all the consequences our food choices have directly on our wellbeing.