Carb Counters - Difference between paleo vs. atkins?

02-04-2011, 03:19 PM
I'm interested in going low carb and would like, at least at first to follow something a bit more specific rather than make it up off the top of my head. I'm interested in Paleo as well as Atkins. What are the differences and the similarities between these two?

02-04-2011, 05:09 PM
The similarities are that they are both high fat, moderate protein, low carbs (meats, vegetables, some fruits).

The differences are that paleo is no dairy, no grains, no processed foods, no unhealthy oils/fats. Additionally paleo encourages grass fed, no hormone, free range, etc. meats. One of the main goals of paleo is gut healing, anti-inflammatory, anti- autoimmune, etc, and it's highly effective to those ends.

I think Atkins can be extremely good, but some followers may overindulge in artificial sweeteners and/or other processed food items, but if done right, it's great.

Primal Blueprint follows the same concepts of paleo but is less strict and allows for dairy if you aren't intolerant to it and moderate treats like occasional dark chocolate/red wine.

IMHO all of these WOEs are very healthy choices as compared to the SAD. Fat does not make you fat! Fat combined with lots of carbs, especially processed carbs is deadly and super fattening.
WOE=way of eating
SAD= standard American diet

02-04-2011, 05:16 PM
Thank you, Claire. That helps clarify.

02-08-2011, 10:33 PM
They are really, really similar. You might end up following a modified version of both. In later phases of Atkins, people following that plan could eat grains such as whole wheat whereas on paleo you'd never eat grains. Induction is very similar except that Atkins followers would use butter and cream. And on Atkins in general you wouldn't be eating fruit, but paleo would include fruit. However, Robb Wolf and other paleo experts say to limit fruit if you're trying to lose a lot of weight.

So on some measures, Atkins is stricter, and in others, paleo is stricter.

Paleo says no grains, no beans, no dairy, no gluten, no soy, very little to no processed foods. But easier to say what you do eat: meat/fish, veggies, fruits, nuts, healthy oils such as olive oil or coconut oil, and eggs if you're not following the autoimmune plan.

02-08-2011, 11:33 PM
Paleo isn't always low-dairy. Some paleo diets argue that dairy products (the lower calorie, higher calcium ones) actually aren't such a bad idea, since we don't get calcium from paleo sources like animal bones, fish bones, eggshells, soft seafood (shrimp/crab) shells, and insects.

It would probably be better to eat the insects, bones, and shells (and I do eat some fish bones and shrimp tails/shells), but I'd rather include small amounts of dairy than eat insects.

Of course, you can always take a calcium supplement (which is my usual choice).

The Low-Carb Bible, by Elizabeth M. Ward does a great job of reviewing and comparing carb-conscious plans (Neanderthin is the paleo diet they review, which I don't remember if it's non-dairy or not).

02-09-2011, 11:28 AM
Neanderthin did not allow dairy. Basically you can eat what you can procure if you only had a pointed stick (his premise) out in nature and could eat it raw without cooking (which eliminates grains, legume, etc) The author did not say the food could not be cooked, but to test it's edibility, it had to qualitfy as edible when raw. This leaves some foods in a in debate, such as roots, cashews, and other plants that are poisonous or can give indigestion unless cooked. I remember all the arguments about hard shelled foods, such as coconuts or turtles, could you eat them using just a sharp stick? lol. Meats, veggies, nuts, seeds and eggs, honey and fruits when available are the basic foods.

Paleo is the concept of eating as our ancestors did before the advent of the agricultural age, but the movement spun off into orbit with all the differing theories in what our ancestors ate or did not eat and factions soon broke off from the general paleo concepts as an improvement to health into some of the most extremes in eating. It's been an interesting paleo history! Paleo also discourages foods that are modern creations through farming and genetic mutations. Corn, legumes, and the many grains that have been created in modern times. Fruits and veggies have also spun off into new creations not available to our ancestors.

I think that an important difference to know between standard low carb diets and paleo is that paleo is not necessarily low carb. It is lower carb than the standard American diet, but roots and fruits can be eaten and nuts and honey can raise the carb count too. Ancient man ate whatever he could get his hands on and filled the belly, and to imagine that only meat and fats were eaten, is a romantic idea. Insects, grubs, all internal organs of animals were also eaten. There is also the issue of when milk entered the diet and when raw was changed into cooked foods. Paleo is a natural food movement, low carb is a carb level based movement.

Atkins and other low carb diets use common modern foods as their basis and artificial man made creations are not taboo if the carb count is low. It has the greatest range of foods and fits the tastes of modern people used to artificial chemicals in their foods. Processed food is fine on low carb, as long as the carbs are suitable to the level you are seeking. Low carb encourages mimicking typical high carb foods with lower carb versions.

Paleo basis itself on natural foods, less processing and depending on how fanatical one wants to get over the purity of the food, it can get pretty challenging to eat paleo in a modern world. Personally, I cannot stress over whether my meat is hormone free or grassfed, nor can I consume honey or root veggies as it makes my BG's too high. So I eat real food when I can, eliminate the processed when I can and find my own personal balance with it. Food costs play a role, availability and my circumstances (whether I am on the road or at home) and storage of food are also a part of my food choices.

Also, I stopped defining my diet by popular movements. I never follow someone's else s definition of a proper diet. I follow what works for my body and my lifestyle. I refuse to limit myself to the point that I am stressing from the guilt of eating something "off plan". The closest I will identify my diet is that is it a ketogenic level diet. Gives me more freedom to choose.