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Nicole Moore Master Nutrition APD4 min read

Keto, paleo, intermittent fasting – what's the deal?

There are so many different low carb eating styles out there these days, it's exhausting just trying to keep up.

From paleo and keto to intermittent fasting, it seems like everyone has something to say about how you should be eating.

To help, I'm going to take you through the difference between a keto diet, a paleo diet, as well as intermittent fasting.

The keto diet

The ketogenic diet is a very low carb, high fat diet that shares many similarities with the Atkins and low carb diets.

It involves reducing carbohydrate intake to around 20-25 grams per day, and replacing it with healthy fat such as butter, cream, lard and coconut oil. It also requires you consume small serves of quality protein.

When you break down the macros for a keto diet, you're typically looking at 60-70% of our calories from healthy fat, 20-25% from protein and 5-10% from carbohydrate.

This reduction in carbs puts your body into a metabolic state called ketosis. When this happens, your body becomes incredibly efficient at burning fat for energy. It also turns fat into ketones in the liver, which can supply energy for the brain and body.

Who might benefit from a keto diet?

This type of diet can help you lose weight without hunger and improve your overall health.

Keto diets may even have benefits against diabetes, cancer, epilepsy and Alzheimer's disease.

They've also been found to benefit migraine sufferers, and improve blood sugar control in type 2 diabetes.

The paleo diet

A paleo diet typically includes lean meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds; foods that in the past could be obtained by hunting and gathering. A paleo diet limits foods that became common when farming emerged about 10,000 years ago. These foods include dairy products, legumes and grains.

Foods to avoid when eating paleo are those high in sugar, such as corn syrup, as well as all grains, legumes, vegetables oils, margarines, processed foods and artificial sweeteners.

Meat, chicken, fish, seafood, eggs, all vegetables, and fruit such as avocados, berries and dates, nuts and seeds, coconut oil and olive oil are permitted on the paleo diet.

The paleo diet allows you a higher carbohydrate intake than keto, and focuses on eliminating and avoiding all highly processed and sugary foods and inflammatory vegetable oils.

Who might benefit from a paleo diet?

A paleo diet may provide some benefits when compared to diets that allow whole grains, legumes and low fat dairy products. These paleo benefits may include more weight loss, improved glucose tolerance, better blood pressure control, lower triglycerides and better appetite management.

However, research shows a wider variety of possible health benefits on keto for conditions including heart disease and metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, epilepsy, PCOS, Alzheimer’s disease and certain types of cancer.

Intermittent fasting

Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that cycles between periods of fasting (e.g. not eating) and periods of eating.

Intermittent fasting requires you to try and eat during a shorter window in your day. Most people in the western world have a very short 'fasting window' (the period between eating meals). This is measured from the very last thing you eat in the evening (be it dinner or a late night snack) to the first thing you eat in the morning, often a 10-12 hours fasting window.

Common intermittent fasting methods typically involve aiming for a fasting window of at least 16 hours.

So, this would mean if you finished eating at 7:00 pm, you would fast over breakfast and start eating at 11:00 am. And you would aim to do this intermittently, for example every other day.

For most of your fasting window you would typically be asleep. When you are awake and you are still fasting you can consume water, black tea or black coffee with a sweetener, but no added milk to your coffee!

You're also allowed to add small amounts of fat in the beginning such as a little bit of cream in your coffee or a small teaspoon of MCT oil. It can help control hunger early on, becuase fat helps us feel full.

Who might benefit for intermittent fasting?

Intermittent fasting is beneficial for people trying to reverse chronic diseases such as obesity and type 2 diabetes. Studies have shown that itnermittent fasting can significantly lower insulin levels, assist with weight loss, improve insulin sensitivity and lower blood sugar levels.

Intermittent fasting has been shown to improve numerous different risk factors, including high blood pressure, total and LDL cholesterol, blood triglycerides and inflammatory markers.

There is also evidence emerging about long-term benefits with Alzheimer’s disease and cancer as it can help regenerate new healthy cells.

The bottom line

Each of these styles of eating offer their own benefits, as well as some restrictions. But the main thing to remember is to listen to your body and assess your individual needs.

At Defeat Diabetes, we'll always advocate for a healthy fat, high protein and low carbohydrate diet, with proven success of putting type 2 diabetes and other chronic disease into remission.

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