Atkins Diet Vs Paleo Diet – What Is The Difference?

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If you are looking for a diet, you have probably noticed the variety of options available.

Moreover, it is not that easy to get your head around all of them.

And then it is even harder to understand which one will suit your needs the best.

In Atkins diet vs Paleo Diet, we will discuss the main principles of the Atkins diet and what are the core differences between these two diets.

The Atkins diet has been around for some time. It has a lot in common with the Keto diet. The Atkins diet has also some similarities with the Paleo diet, especially when it comes to certain types of food eliminated from the diets.

However, unlike the Paleo diet, the Atkins diet targets weight loss as its main priority.

Let’s put Atkins Diet vs Paleo Diet and see how they are different and which one will suit the best for you?

What Is The Atkins Diet About?

The Atkins diet is a low-carbohydrate diet that was originally proposed by a physician Dr. Robert C. Atkins in the 1970s.

Originally the diet was considered as unhealthy due to the amount of saturated fats content and was demonized by the health authorities.

As you probably know, back in the 1960s Harvard researchers convinced us that the main cause of heart diseases were saturated fats.

However, in 2016 it was proven that this research was sponsored by the sugar lobby (1).

As I have mentioned earlier the Atkins diet is a low-carbohydrate diet and the main purpose of it is weight loss.

By increasing the protein and fat content and avoiding foods high in carbs, it supposes to teach your body to burn fat for energy instead of carbohydrates.

Another reason why low-carbohydrate diets are so effective in weight loss is that you do not feel hungry for a longer period of times. By filling up your plate with protein and fat and reducing carbohydrates component, you feel full for longer times, that automatically leads to consuming fewer calories without even thinking about it.

What Are The Atkins Diet Principles?

The Atkins diet principles are very similar to the Keto diet ones. Both diets promote the increase of protein and fat consumption and reducing the carbohydrates component. However, there are certain differences between these diets.

In particular, the Atkins diet promotes four different phases where each of the phases has its own purpose (2):

Atkins Diet Vs Paleo DietPhase 1. Induction

The purpose of this phase is to initiate weight loss.

During this phase, you are encouraged to eat high-fat, high protein with low-carb vegetables like leafy greens.

It is important to significantly drop your daily net carbohydrates intake to an average 20 grams (no more than 22 and no less than 18), the level where almost everybody will start burning primarily fat.

This stage is supposed to last at least 2 weeks but can be followed for longer until 15 pounds from goal weight is reached.

A lot of people assume that the first phase is the whole program. However, the idea of the diet is to kick-start the weight loss.

As you move through the program you will gradually start adding more carbohydrates and foods to your diet.

Phase 2. Balancing

During this phase, you will be adding more carbohydrates to your diet.

This is also a stage where you will be listening to your body and finding your personal carbohydrates balance.

At this stage, you are allowed to add nuts and seeds, low carb vegetables and certain fruits like strawberries, blueberries, and melon, cheese and yogurt.

Typically, you will want to stay in this phase until you are within 10 pounds of your goal, though you can still transition to phase 3 if you would like to slow down the weight loss.

Phase 3. Fine-tuning

This is the phase where you will almost see the end of your journey and your weight loss target.

During this phase, you will continue increasing carbohydrates though focusing on maintaining your weight.

It is recommended to stay in this phase until you reach your goal and will be able to maintain it for a month.

Phase 4. Maintenance

Generally speaking, this phase should not be considered as a phase as it becomes a permanent lifestyle. The foods you will be eating will stay the same during this phase as the ones you have been already eating.

The main purpose of this phase is to keep maintaining the progress you made and never gain more than 5 pounds (unless pregnant) without taking immediate action.

During this stage, it is recommended to continue eating 12-15 grams of net carbohydrates in a form of foundation vegetables, 4-6 ounces of cooked protein at each meal and no more than 2 servings of fruit a day.

Foods To Avoid On The Atkins Diet

The Atkins diet avoid list is very similar to the Paleo diet one and the Keto diet one.

Here is the list of foods that are not recommended consuming while following the Atkins diet:

  • Sugar and sweeteners (always read the label, if doubt – do not buy)
  • Grains of any type (including gluten)
  • Vegetable oils, like corn, soybean, cottonseed, canola etc
  • High-carbohydrate vegetables like carrots, turnips etc
  • Starchy vegetables like potatoes, sweet potatoes etc
  • Legumes, including beans, lentils etc
  • High-carbohydrate fruits, like bananas, apples, oranges, pears, grapes etc
  • Trans fats, mostly presented in processed foods
  • ‘Diet’ and ‘low-fat’ foods, as they usually contain sugar

What Are The Main Differences With The Paleo Diet?

Even though the Atkins diet has some similarities with the Paleo diet, especially when it comes to the avoid food list, there are definitely more differences between these two diets.

1. Weight loss

Atkins Diet Vs Paleo DietThe Atkins diet was designed to help people achieve their weight goals.

It is similar in a way with the keto diet that is also very popular among people wanting to lose weight.

The Paleo diet is followed by people who would like to improve their health or have certain medical conditions that require excluding certain food groups.

And because the Paleo diet eliminates certain foods (mostly the ones containing a high level of carbohydrates), it is natural for the dieters to start losing weight.

Though weight loss is not a primary goal for the Paleo diet.

2. Carbohydrates quantity

While the Paleo diet excludes certain foods, especially the ones, containing a high level of carbohydrates (like grains, sugar, and legumes), it is hardly can be qualified as a low-carb diet.

Even though certain foods are eliminated, the Paleo diet does not restrict the number of carbohydrates consumed through the day, that potentially can be topped up with fruits and vegetables.

The Atkins diet, on the other hand, has certain restrictions regarding the number of carbohydrates consumed. Depending on the phase of the diet, the carbohydrates level can be as low as 20 grams a day!

The idea behind that is to minimize carbohydrates consumption for your body to start looking for alternative sources of fuel, like fat.

3. Fat consumption

Fat and protein are the main food groups that the Atkins diet is based on.

And because carbohydrates will still need to be presented for the proper functioning of your body, the Atkins diet limits it to the bare minimum of 20 grams a day on phase 1 of the diet.

The fat and protein consumption is increased to help your body reach ketosis, the fat-burning stage.

The Paleo diet does not use macros when it comes to food types. Though it eliminates one of the main fat sources like dairy. It is also recommended to chose lean meat for consumption.

4. Dieting process

The Paleo diet does not really have any specific processes. It is recommended to follow the diet for at least 30 days to let your body heal and after slowly adding one healthy food group at a time to understand what type of food has a negative impact on your body in order to completely eliminate it from your diet.

The Atkins diet has a specific process that refers to your final weight goal. Once the goal is reached, you can then move to the last phase called maintenance.

During this stage, you basically gradually increase healthy carbohydrates consumption, though still monitoring your weight and act immediately if you gained more than 5 pounds.

What Are The Benefits Of The Atkins Diet?

Atkins Diet Vs Paleo DietOne of the main benefits of the Atkins diet is its efficiency in weight loss.

As I have mentioned earlier by following the Atkins diet your body enters the ketosis stage, where it uses fat as a fuel.

It was proven to be one of the most effective weight loss strategies for a couple of reasons.

For example, when you follow the calorie count diet, you still consume a fair amount of carbohydrates. As a result, a lot of people constantly cycle between sugar ‘highs’ (where excess sugar is stored as fat in your body) and sugar ‘lows’ (where you feel fatigued and hungry).

The Atkins diet minimizes carbohydrates consumption and teaches your body to burn fat, including body fat, for fuel. And because this fuel is steady, you naturally will reduce the calorie consumption, as you will feel full for longer.

What Diet To Choose?

The Paleo diet promotes a healthy lifestyle and its main purpose is to let your body heal and feel better and more energetic. Weight loss is a nice benefit while following the Paleo diet principles.

By eliminating certain food groups you would be able naturally to lose weight even though it might not be your primary goal.

The Atkins diet was created for the weight loss purpose. It prepares your body to burn fat as its fuel by significantly reducing carbohydrates consumption.

So if your primary goal is weight loss the Atkins diet will be a perfect solution. It also promotes healthy lifestyle once your weight goal is reached and you have entered the maintenance phase.



Atkins Diet Vs Paleo Diet


6 thoughts on “Atkins Diet Vs Paleo Diet – What Is The Difference?

  1. Thank you for bringing some light on a few diets I was intrigued about.

    12 to 15 grams of carbs per days seems like nothing! Tomato paste alone will take a few of these grams of carbs. It surely isn’t a natural process to follow the Atkins diet.

    I was wondering if you could provide some thoughts on the Ketogenic diet. From what I understand, it seems like a mix of the two: the paleo diet and the Atkins’. What do you think?

    • Hi,

      Thank you for your comment.

      The Atkins diet recommend up to 20 grams of carbs a day for the first 2 weeks only to get your body used to the process of burning fat for energy. It does not sound too much, but you will be surprised that with even that amount you would be able to fill up your plate with delicious food. Do not forget that you are allowed to consume protein, fat and green leafy vegetables.

      Once your body adjusts to the process, you would be able to move to phase 2 where you will be able to introduce more carbs to your diet.

      The Keto diet is very similar to the Atkins diet. The keto diet originally was created to treat epilepsy. It is high in fat and protein diet and also very low on carbohydrates. I would say that once you move to the phase 2 and 3 of Atkins diet it actually brings you more variety of food choices compared with the keto diet. You can read more about Paleo Diet Vs Ketogenic Diet over here. 

      What is your main health goal for the diet? If you are looking to lose weight the Atkins diet and Ketogenic diet will suit perfectly this purpose. If your goal is making better food choices, improve your health and feel more energetic, then Paleo diet is a great choice.

      Hope it helps!

  2. Hi Ruanka!

    Thanks for this informative article!

    I like the fact that you mention many fruits and vegetables contain carbohydrates, and how you highlight that this is one of the major differences between Atkins and Paleo.

    I also found your suggestion that the Paleo diet doesn’t have any particular processes interesting. I think this might prove difficult for some people that are searching for a more structured diet plan.

    Have you experimented with either of these diets personally? Sorry if that’s too personal!

    And thanks again for the amazing information!

    • Hi Tucker,

      Thank you for your feedback.

      The paleo diet is quite structured when it comes to the food choices. Though it is considered a permanent lifestyle change, therefore you are pretty much either go straight to Paleo or become Paleo gradually. Here is a little more about How To Start The Paleo Diet – 8 Useful Tips To Start The Paleo Diet.

      Personally, I tried a lot of different diets including the Atkins diet and the Keto diet. There are pluses and minuses of each of them. I Do prefer the Paleo diet for maintenance as it provides me with more food choices and it is more balanced compared with the other two. But once again the Atkins and the Keto diet have the specific purpose of weight loss, therefore if weight loss is not your main priority, but you would like to improve your digestive system and health overall, the Paleo diet will perfectly serve these needs.

      Hope it helps!

      Let me know if you have more questions and I will be happy to help you out.

  3. Very interesting post.

    I did try the Atkins diet years ago, but I could not stick to it, too many fatty foods, however one of my brother friends did it and he lost a lot of weight and he has kept it all off over the years.

    I have not tried the paleo diet though, mainly, because I don’t diet anymore. I am looking weight now but I am doing it through eating that I want but monitoring my daily calories intake.

    I only started a 2 weeks ago and have lost 7lbs so far I am getting down to 10% bodyfat for the summer.

    • Hi Thomas,

      Thank you for your comment!

      It is true that fatty foods scares a lot of people due to the believe that it will raise your cholesterol. Though that believe was initiated back into 1960s when sugar industry sponsored the Harvard research to change the focus from negative impact of sugar to the negative impact of saturated fat. It was proven in 2017 that this research was sponsored and does not reflect the reality. Indeed people who cut off saturated fat were more vulnerable to heard diseases than the ones who did not. You can find a little more information about it Is Sugar Healthy For You?.

      As per my understanding you are following calorie calculation approach. It is a great way to lose weight as well. It allows you to eat whatever you want though losing weight. However one of the disadvantages of this approach is the maintenance stage as once you reach your goal and you stop counting calories you may gain all the weight lost back. Do you have a plan in place for the maintenance part?

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