LCHF Diet vs Paleo Diet vs Ketogenic Diet!

When I first started reading about LCHF there was so much information out there, that I found myself rather confused. Is LCHF the same as Paleo? What about Paleo and Ketogenic? What on earth is Ketogenic, it sounds scary?

After months of reading up on LCHF, it seems slightly clearer to me – but sometimes I still have trouble defining the lines! However, if you are new to the world of LCHF or if you are just trying to find a diet that suite you, hopefully this post can shed some light on what can be a rather confusing topic, and point you in the right direction!

First let’s start with the easiest one.

LCHF diet vs Ketogenic Diet

As I understand it – they are two different names for exactly the same thing!!  Whether you are on a LCHF diet or a Ketogenic diet, you are eating a LOW CARBOHYDRATE, HIGH FAT diet.

I’m not sure why 2 different names have developed to talk about the same thing, but my personal opinion is the a Ketogenic diet sounds more professional and scientific compared to the acronym LCHF! Yet, at the same time I like how straight forward and approachable the name LCHF is. It does exactly what it says on the tin! There is no confusion – it is a Low Carb High Fat diet!

LCHF Diet vs Paleo Diet

There is far more confusion on this topic, primarily because there is so much overlap. So let’s start with what they both have in common:

Both LCHF and Paleo believe the following:

  • Our modern diet that is heavy in refined foods, trans fats and sugars are the root causes of the degenerative diseases that we see are rampant in today’s society. Diseases such as obesity, diabetes, cancer and heart disease.
  • They both focus on the consumption of natural unprocessed food. The type of food that our ancestors ate and the type of food our body knows how to process.
  • Both diets are lifestyle choices. They are not ‘fad’ diets or ‘lose weight quick’ diets – but rather a way of life.
  • Both diets exclude grain in all form – rice, pasta, bread, wheat, flour, quinoa etc etc.
  • Both diets exclude legumes
  • Both diets are rich in animal protein

However it is when you come down to the nitty gritty of what you can and cannot eat where you will see the main difference between LCHF and Paleo:

  • Carbohydrates and starches
    • LCHF – Obviously the name says it all. You aim to consumer very low amounts of carbohydrates. 50g a day is the absolute maximum carbs allowed (and that is being very liberal). This means all fruit are off limits and certain vegetables (especially root  vegetables) are limited.
    • Paleo – Like it’s name implies, it focuses on food that our ancestors ate before the introduction of agriculture. However there is no restriction on carbs as long as they are not starchy carbs such as potatoes, or food that a hunter/gatherer could not get a hold of.
  • Diary
    • LCHF – not only includes dairy products in their diet but embraces it! Especially products such as cream, yoghurt and cheese – just make sure they are full fat products, and stay away from anything low fat!
    • Paleo -  does not allow dairy.
  • Saturated Fat
    • LCHF – very important to the diet. As consumption of carbs are so low, saturated fat is the primary source of energy.
    • Paleo – although saturated fat is not restricted, it does not seem to be as an important ingredient in the diet as LCHF.

As I have mentioned before on my blog – I am not an LCHF expert! I am definitely not a Paleo expert and more importantly I am not a nutritional expert. The information I am providing you today, is information to help you make your own decision and help distinguish between two similar types of thinking!

Hopefully I have shed some light onto what can be a rather daunting and intimidating topic! But I am a firm believer in doing your own research and seeing what diet suites you best. Try them both if you need to. I do not believe that one is better than the other, but its important to know the difference :)

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19 thoughts on “LCHF Diet vs Paleo Diet vs Ketogenic Diet!

  1. This is such a great post because I think a lot of people have these same questions. I wanted to add that the classic ketogenic diet that doctors prescribe for seizures in not nearly as pleasant as LCHF. It rigidly adheres to a perfect ratio of 4 parts fat to 1 part protein/carbohydrate (to be more specific, each meal usually contains about 30g fat, 5g protein and just under 5g carbohydrate), but does not pay any particular attention to the quality of fats consumed. For this reason, you can understand why doctors consider this a very dangerous diet for anyone who doesn’t have seizures. Imagine if you were eating 80% of your diet from polyunsaturated vegetable oils, particularly highly oxidized (rancid) oils like canola and store-bought mayonnaise. There is never any concern on a medical ketogenic diet for using organic butter and cream, or even organic or pastured meats, even though all of the toxins of a factory-farmed animal are concentrated in the fats. You can imagine how quickly a healthy person could develop arteriosclerosis, heart disease, dementia or various cancers on this protocol. However doctors and parents take that risk on behalf of their epileptic children because they see that it is better in the short-term than not having seizures. They sadly make a choice between two evils, rather than understanding how LCHF might be a win-win solution that the whole family can enjoy together. I wish more epileptic patients could be given the information about LCHF so that they had the option to be healthy for life rather than just a short time.

    • Thanks so much for adding this detailed information in regards to the use of ketosis and seizures. I have very minimal knowledge on this area, but I find it really interesting that such a stringent low carb high fat diet is applied to children who suffer from seizures, maybe it is another indicator that humans are not meant to consume so much carbs. But I agree with you, it is a pity that they are not putting an emphasis on the type of healthy fat and quality of protein that is consumed! I am going to investigate further :)

  2. This article really cleared up a lot of stuff that you hear out there, highly appreciate you writing it. A lot of LCHF, Paleo, and even Ketogenic diet was first introduced to me in Classic Body Now, a great health book. You should read my review on it, too.

    • Hi – thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment, always makes me happy :) I am also glad that it cleared up some information, I tried to keep it as simple as possible and not delve into the differences any deeper. I will head on over now to your Classic Body Now review :)

  3. Hiya. I have started this diet this week, this post has been really helpful and is doesn’t seem to be so big here in the UK. Can I ask you about the 50g of carbs? Does that mean you limit the amount ‘above ground’ vegetables to 50g per day?

    • Hey Tracey – thanks for stopping by! To eat 50g of carbs a day is definitely on the high side – and I don’t think if you are only eating above ground vegetables that you can reach 50g!

      However there is no hard and fast rule on this, but depending on what you want to get out of this diet and especially if you are starting out, I would aim in the beginning to eat less than 20g.

      Having said, I have never measured how many grams of carbs I’m eating. And I think if you are starting out, I would recommend to just cut out all pasta, bread, wheat, rice etc and just pile on those vegetables! Make it easy for yourself and you will see results!

      If you haven’t already done so, you should check out Diet Doctor: http://www.dietdoctor.com/ this is a fantastic website to get all your informaiton from, especially if you are new to the world of LCHF!

  4. Hi! I’ve just started this diet/lifestyle and am enjoying it. I don’t need to lose any weight (well perhaps a few pounds). I am cutting carbs in order to enjoy better health. It seems that fat is not the enemy and that for a healthy heart it is sugar that needs to be avoided. I have to constantly remind myself not to fear the fat. I also like the way you pointed out that Fat is what gives you energy on this diet. My husband is constantly tired on LCHF (he works out a lot) I must remind him that fat will give him energy so to make sure he is getting enough.

    I also think dietdoctor.com is a great resource.

    • Hi Enid, Thanks for stopping by. I am really glad to hear that you are enjoying LCHF, it really takes some time to get used to this way of living but once you do you can really see the rewards!

      My brother’s girlfriend works out a lot as well (she wants to be a personal trainer), and when she first started LCHF, she also realised that she had to up the fat intake in order not to get sluggish. Now she has found her balance and has no problem! Its important not to fear that fat! :)

  5. Let me begin by saying that I am not an expert in either the LCHF or ketogenic diet; I am researching Paleo-style diets in preparation for a lifestyle change.

    That said, the keto diet is similar to the LCHF diet, but differs in several ways. The keto diet was developed as a treatment for epilepsy, particularly in children. It is a formal diet and is supervised by a physician, generally starting with a period of hospitalization. The basic idea is to force the body into ketosis (starvation mode) and the diet involves an initial period of fasting. In general, the diet appears to involve eating fat in a 4:1 ratio to proteins & carbs (4 units of fat per unit of protein & carbs combined).

    At this point I decided that the diet was not for me and I did no further research.

  6. I have tonic clonic epilepsy since the age of 30. Not long ago I heard about the ketogenic diet and learned more here than anywhere before. I also have Crohn’s disease and heard of patients with great success using the Paleo diet. I am not in balance right now with my diseases, diets, meds or side-effects.When I googled these diets together I didn’t really expect such explanations.

    • Hi Norma, thank you for stopping by and I am glad that I was able to give you some useful information. Although I do not suffer from any illness myself, I have seen the frustrations of my brother who is diabetic when he was not in balance and dealing with contradictory medical advise. He is doing so much better now on the LCHF diet, and he is the reason to why I got interested in it. If you do decide to do the Paleo or LCHF diet, I would be really interested to hear how it goes for you. Whether you feel an improvement or not. Keep me posted :)

      • I have definitely decided to go paleo/LCHF – (That’s for my crohns and epilepsy). I have an idea of what I shouldn’t eat but I haven’t figured out what I should and can eat for a healthy diet. Does anyone know a good book on LCHF diets? I have heard that a genuine Ketogenic diet may need to be moniterd by a nutritionist

  7. I feel like Keto is misunderstand in this conversation and your article. First yes, it is a diet used to control epilepsy and has been around for quite a while. Second, it is in principle a high fat low carb diet. However it differs greatly in also controlling the amount of protein to inhibit gluconeogenesis, the process of your body synthesizing glucose from protein. High fat/Moderate protein/Low carb is the principle. The whole point of this is enter the state of Ketosis (absolutely not Ketoacidosis) a state in which your body uses fat for energy by using the ketones generated.

    The first comment is correct in saying the “classical ketogenic diet” **might** be unhealthy. However there is nothing stopping you from doing Keto as a vegan, paleo or completely unhealthy as the person suggested. Personally I try to use grassfed meat/eggs and cook with coconut/olive/ghee whenever possible in my Keto diet. (I definitely use dairy). Further more, HFLC would not necessarily put the body into Ketosis which is what the epileptic treatment requires to reduce the seizures.

    There is a whole community out there using Ketosis as a way of life. Even athletes a group you would think need glucose. If you do more research I suggest reading “The Art and Science of Low Carboydrate Living” by Stephen Phinney and Jeff Volek. It *is* about Ketosis but also about HFLC. my personal path by the way was Paleo to HFLC to Keto.

    • Hi Mikael – thank you so much for providing such detailed information on Ketogenic diet – this will prove highly beneficial for future readers. As I mentioned in the article, I am not an expert, but just a lay person trying to make sense of various diets that I came across when I first started LCHF. Thanks for the link I will go and have a look at it!

  8. Hi, I’m 3 weeks on the lchf lifestyle and I feel nausias a lot. I understand that my metabolism have to get use to the new lifestyle. Lchf=ketogenic diet, and as I understand, it is the ketones in the blood that cause the nausia……, what’s the meaning of “ketones in the blood”?

    • Hi Happi Hippi. Often people feel light headed and nauseous when they first start LCHF as their body is not used to running on a low carb diet so this is normal, but you should soon feel the benefits. Although 3 weeks seems to me a long time not to feel well! Unfortunately I do not know what ‘ketones in the blood’ means, as this is something I have never looked into. I hope you start feeling better soon and if not, maybe consult with your physician?

  9. Have just found your blog and will be following you with interest. I’ve been (mostly ) LCHF for more than 10 years now. I would just like to add to your article that all ketogenic diets are low carb, but not all low carb are ketogenic. You have to go very low carb to enter ketosis,( or be entirely starved.) You can eat 1000′s of calories (Sam Feltham and Peter Attia ate around 5000 per day) and still be in ketosis, if the majority of the cals come from fat. Some low carb diets may not be low enough for someone to enter into ketosis, and everyone’s CCL (critical carb level as Dr Atkins called it) is different. The CCL determines what amount of carbs you, the individual, can eat whilst maintaining your weight, or starting to gain again. Below that, you may go into ketosis, or not!! I think the general benchmark is over 50g carbs a day and it won’t be ketogenic. Also I never heard that a ketogenic diet was bad for you.

    Re paleo – I think LCHF’s as per Dr Atkins don’t really worry about processed foods, like their health bars or shakes, sauages and cold meats etc whereas Paleo followers don’t like anything processed/manufactured. LCHF don’t really mind substituting other ingredients to get low carb versions – ie I have low carb toritllas and pitta bread, and sweeteners. Paleo will allow dairy ( as per Mark’s Daily Apple) but only if you know you can tolerate it obviously. And it is low carb, but would allow more carb variety, ie wild rice, oats. But it’s up to the individual to recognise their own body’s needs. Experiment, and also choose foods that you enjoy and fits into your lifestyle. I try to be Paleo/LCHF but those tortillas are damn good so I don’t beat myself up about eating them once a fortnight!! Google Sam and Peter, and also Prof Grant Schofield and Dr John Briffa. Loads of info out there, some more scientific than others. Keep up the good work ps (I’m making low carb pancakes for my daughter tonight, and I’m having low carb dumplings with my stew tonight – you’d better believe it!!)

  10. Pingback: Easy To Make Pumpkin Muffins | My Chips And Crackers

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