Can a Ketogenic Diet be Paleo, Too?

Aside from the low-carb emphasis of the ketogenic diet and the paleo diet, there is said to be very few similarities between the two. Until very recently, it was thought that there was no way the two diets could ever complement one another. The thought of attaining ketosis on the paleo diet is still unthinkable to many. But with the right approach to your diet, it is entirely possible for your paleo diet to be a ketogenic one, as well.

What is the Ketogenic Diet?

The ketogenic diet is a way of eating that encourages the body to burn fat, rather than carbohydrates, for the purpose of energy production. An ordinary, high or moderate-carbohydrate diet causes the dieter to sustain energy through the production of glycogen, a byproduct of sugars. Keto, on the other hand, forces the body to burn fat and produce ketones as a byproduct. When this is achieved, the body is now in a state known as ketosis.

Keto requires a high amount of healthy fats (roughly 75% of one’s diet), moderate protein (around 20%) and very low carbohydrates (5% or so). This low-carb way of living is attributed to many weight loss success stories.

What is the Paleo Diet?

The paleo diet, or the “paleolithic diet,” focuses on the consumption of proteins rather than fats as the primary means of obtaining calories. There is no rigid ratio structure to go by, but the paleo diet is still fairly restrictive in many ways that the ketogenic diet is. This diet is meant to emulate the way that early humans from the Paleolithic era ate – meaning no grains and no dairy.

Unlike the similarly low-carb keto diet, the paleo diet allows for a greater consumption of proteins and has less emphasis on the ingestion of fats.

How the Paleo Diet Can Become Keto-Friendly

If you’re already on the paleolithic diet, you’ve likely already greatly reduced your intake of carbohydrates. This is the key to success for the ketogenic diet, as well, so you’re already on your way! With a few more adjustments, you can take your paleo diet to the next level.

The biggest obstacle between paleo dieters and the desire to attain ketosis is the high requirement of fat as a part of the ketogenic diet. Without adequate, healthy fats that one’s body can burn to produce ketones, ketosis simply isn’t possible.

“But the paleo diet isn’t a high-fat diet!”

You’re right, it isn’t. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t make some small changes to increase your fat intake on a healthy basis while still following the rules of paleo. The most important addition you can make to your diet to achieve this goal is to up your intake of saturated fats.

Medium-chain triglycerides, or MCTs, are saturated fats essential for success on the ketogenic diet. Because MCTs are absorbed into the bloodstream directly as free fatty acids, they do not spike insulin levels that make entering ketosis impossible. In fact, a healthy liver is already primed and ready to turn those fats into ketones! So, what should one eat on the paleo diet to incorporate the amount of fat necessary for ketosis?

These foods can be added to your diet easily without deviating from the paleo diet:

  • Egg
  • Avocado
  • Beef tallow (for cooking)
  • Duck fat (for cooking)
  • Coconut oil (for cooking, in smoothies, or even blended into teas and coffees)

If you are capable of sticking to a paleo diet, you’ve already got the iron-clad will to succeed in ketosis. You may not even have to adjust your protein intake, depending on how much you’ve already taken to consuming each day. If you are worried that you might be consuming too much protein to succeed on the ketogenic diet, as the amino acids in proteins can be converted to glucose, modify your fat and carbohydrate intake levels first. If you still haven’t achieved ketosis after some time, then consider modifying your protein consumption.

How Will I Know if I’m in Ketosis?

The simplest way to be sure that your body is producing ketones as a byproduct of burning fat – which is known as ketosis – is to buy testing strips that can monitor the level of ketones in your urine. Test one week and then two weeks after starting your modified paleo diet. If ketones are present in your urine, then congratulations! You’ve successfully turned your paleo diet into a ketogenic diet.