Paleo and Atkins: How the Diets Stack Up With One Another

Millions of people around the world have lost weight on the Atkins Diet. With a controlled carb intake, dieters burn fat and achieve successful weight loss. While initially holding off on higher-carb foods, Atkins dieters eat more protein, olive oil, avocadoes and other delicious fats that give food flavor—while also enjoying leafy greens and other vegetables. The Paleo Diet is a diet based on what our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate. Within the Paleo Diet, the dieter should avoid dairy, refiner sugars, processed foods, legumes or cereal grains. Similar to the Paleo Diet, Atkins requires dieters to omit food high in sugary carbohydrates and other foods low in nutrients.

Both diets are similar in the fact that the both promote whole foods, healthy fats, veggies, fruits and protein. Both diets have numerous benefits and ultimately, the choice is up to the dieter. Below is a brief comparison of foods that are and are not allowed on each diet.

Paleo Diet

Recommended foods:

  • Fresh meats (preferably grass-produced or free-ranging beef, pork, lamb, poultry and game meat)
  • Fish and seafood
  • Fresh fruits (preferably locally sourced)
  • Fresh vegetables (preferably locally sourced) • Healthful oils (olive, coconut, avocado, macadamia, walnut and flaxseed)

Foods that are not allowed:

  • Dairy products
  • Cereal grains • Legumes (beans, peas, soybeans, lentils and peanuts, to name a few)
  • Refined sugars
  • Processed foods
  • Potatoes
  • Salt
  • Refined oils (soy, cottonseed, corn, sunflower, safflower and sesame)

Paleo Diet:

  • Grass-fed or free-ranging meats and locally sourced fish, seafood, vegetables and fruits are healthier.
  • Grass-fed or free-ranging meats and locally sourced fish, seafood, vegetables and fruits are also more expensive and harder to find.
  • One-size-fits all approach and does not allow an individual to discover their personal carbohydrate tolerance and uncover potential food sensitivities.

Atkins Diet

Recommended foods:

  • Fresh meats (beef, pork, lamb, poultry and game meat)
  • Fish and seafood
  • Fresh vegetables
  • Healthy fats (butter, canola oil, coconut oil, flaxseed oil, grapeseed oil, mayonnaise, olive oil, high-oleic safflower oil, sesame oil)
  • Most cheeses
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Whole milk, cheese, Greek yogurt, ricotta or cottage cheese
  • Approved Atkins low-carb bars, shakes and frozen meals
  • Berries in early Phases and other types of fresh fruits (in later Phases)
  • Starchy vegetables (in later Phases)
  • Whole grains (in later Phases)

Foods that are not allowed:

  • Sugars
  • Processed foods with refined sugar and/or partially hydrogenated oils (cookies, crackers, chips, etc.)
  • Breaded fried foods

Atkins Diet:

  • Easier entry point into a low-carb lifestyle, while still emphasizing whole foods; healthy fats, optimal protein intake, vegetables, and fruit
  • More convenient—Atkins bars, shakes and frozen meals are allowed
  • Less expensive than Paleo
  • As you learn your personal carb tolerance, you can incorporate certain carbs back into your eating plan while still maintaining your weight loss.
  • By introducing foods one at a time (in 5 net carbohydrate increments) you are given the opportunity to discover food intolerances as well as your own personal carbohydrate balance.
  • Unlike Paleo, you aren't asked to totally eliminate cereal grains, legumes, potatoes and dairy.

When comparing the two diets, the Atkins diet is easier and convenient because you eliminate less food. The Atkins Diet could also be a better "starter-diet" for first-time dieters. The Atkins Diet provides an easy entry into a low-carb lifestyle, while still promoting healthy fats, vegetables and fruit. It is also less expensive than Paleo and you can have approved Atkins bars, shakes and frozen meals. Atkins dieters also are given the freedom to learn their personal carb tolerance and slowly can incorporate certain carbs back into their diets.