Now that more people have heard of Paleo, I've notice it is often assumed to be a different name for the Atkins Diet. “Oh, so you’re doing Atkins…”. Well actually, no. I follow a Paleo Diet, which is completely different to Atkins.
The main difference between Paleo and Atkins is that Atkins IS low-carb. In the induction phase (the initial two weeks), less than 20g of carbs a day are consumed, rising to about 20g – 60g a day in the Ongoing Weight Loss Stage. This is designed to keep the body in a state of Ketosis, which seems to be very beneficial to achieving weight-loss. Whilst a great number of people do eat a low-carb Paleo diet (keeping carbs under 50g a day seems popular); Paleo is not a low-carb diet tweet this quote Indeed, a lot of people, particularly Paleo athletes and crossfitters, eat a far higher carb ratio (though obviously these carbohydrates come from foods like sweet potatoes and fruit – rather than refined carbs).
2. Counting, Counting, Couting…
As carbs rule on Atkins, counting is essential. An Atkins diet requires measuring, weighing and recording of the carbohydrate content of everything that’s eaten. Paleo is just about eating real food and avoiding grains, legumes and dairy – so no weighing, counting, measuring and journaling is required. So. Much. Easier.
3. Grass-Fed, Organic?
A Paleo diet is all about food quality. Meat in particular, is ideally grass-fed and organic. Processed, grain-fed, intensively farmed meat is to be avoided. On Atkins however, the source of the food isn't of such importance (though they do seem to be paying more attention to quality).
A simple “is it Paleo” test can be resolved like this: if it’s in a packet, it probably Paleo tweet this quote . If it’s in a packet, it could well be Atkins. Atkins have a whole rage of processed convenience foods, that meet the Atkins low-carb rule; but would fail miserably to be classed as Paleo foods, with their long list of ingredients.
5. Allowable Foods
Whilst a Paleo diet omits grains, legumes and (sometimes) dairy, on an Atkins diet, these are all permissible – providing they are low in Calories. You can consume sweeteners, diet soda, seed oils, soy, Atkins chocolate bars, Atkins crisps – and lots of other very un-Paleo foods on Atkins.
I also think the purpose of the plans is very different. Atkins followers tend to be following the plan for weight-loss – once they get to their goal weight, they generally stop eating an Atkins Diet. Paleo however, attracts followers for many reasons. Weight loss is definitely a driver, but many people come to Paleo to improve their athletic performance too. Health is a key motivation for many looking to reverse/ improve health issues such as diabetes, allergies and auto-immune conditions.
7. For Life, Or Just For a Bikini?
Generally, Atkins seems to be followed until weight-loss goals are achieved. Paleo is more of a lifestyle; a way of eating and living that is easy to follow forever.
8. Not Just Eating
It’s also important to bear in mind that as well as nutrition, fitness, strength, stress-reduction, balance, sleep and sunshine are amongst the lifestyle factors that Paleo addresses. Atkins appears to be primarily focused on diet, rather than lifestyle factors.
It is possible to be Paleo-Atkins; but many people are also Paleo-not-Atkins.
Have people told you “oh, Paleo – that’s like Atkins”, when you tell them how you eat? Have you ever tried Atkins? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences on Atkins and Atkins V Paleo in the comments below!