Colette's Blog

A Comparison of the Atkins Diet and the Paleo Diet

December 1, 2014

If you’ve read anything about diets lately, you have most likely heard of the Paleo Diet, which is based on eating whole foods from food groups our hunter-gatherer ancestors would have eaten during the Paleolithic Era, the time period from about 2.6 million years ago to the beginning of the agricultural revolution, about 10,000 years ago. These foods include fresh meats, fish, seafood, fresh fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts and healthy oils. You eliminate dairy products, cereal grains, legumes, refined sugars and processed foods on the Paleo Diet.

As you can see, there are some similarities to the Atkins Diet, in that whole foods, healthy fats, protein, veggies and fruit dominate the two eating plans. If you were wondering why someone would choose Paleo over Atkins or vice versa, here is a quick comparison:

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.

Ultimately, both diets have numerous benefits, and the choice is yours, although Atkins may be easier to start with since you don’t have to eliminate as many foods, and it’s more convenient and less expensive. 

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