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Paleo Diet & Ketosis

author image Aglaee Jacob
Aglaee Jacob is a registered dietitian. She has experience working with people who have diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and obesity issues. Jacob obtained a bachelor of science and a master of science, both in nutrition, from Laval University in Quebec City, Canada.
Paleo Diet & Ketosis
Salad with apples and nuts on a white plate. Photo Credit olgakr/iStock/Getty Images

The Paleo diet is based on foods humans used to eat during the Paleolithic period, which ended 10,000 years ago. The idea is that human genes have evolved to eat particular foods, which have been replaced by many refined and processed foods in our diet nowadays. Advocates of the Paleo diet claim that it is the best one for keeping your weight under control and optimizing health.


The Paleo diet focuses on unprocessed and whole foods. Carbohydrates are almost nonexistent on a Paleo diet, since agriculture had not been introduced at that time. Therefore grains, legumes, any food made from flour, as well as dairy products and sugars are excluded from this diet plan. Instead, the Paleo diet is based on an adequate amount of protein from grass-fed meat, free-range poultry and eggs and wild-caught fish. The diet also includes generous servings of healthy fats, including avocado, olives and olive oil, coconut oil, nuts and seeds. Seasonal fruits and vegetables are also part of the foods allowed on the Paleo diet.

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What Is Ketosis

Low-carb diets are usually ketogenic diets because they induce a metabolic pathway called ketosis. When you consume very limited amounts of carbohydrates, the body needs to switch from using carbohydrates to using fat as its main source of energy, as explained by Dr. Michael Eades. By burning fat for fuel, the body produces ketone bodies that can be used by different organs, such as your muscles, brain and heart. Ketosis constitutes a normal metabolic pathway and is not harmful, say diet proponents.

Losing Weight

Following low-carb diets, such as the Paleo diet, is a good way to induce ketosis and force your body into fat-burning mode. In addition to burning fat for energy, ketogenic diets have been shown to make people feel fuller on fewer calories. In a study published in 2008 in the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition," half of the participants were instructed to follow a very-low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet, providing less than 4 percent of its calories from carbohydrates, while the other half followed a moderate-carbohydrate nonketogenic diet, providing about 35 percent of its calories as carbohydrates. Although the subjects were allowed to eat as much as they wanted, it was found that the very-low-carbohydrate group, eating a diet similar to the Paleo diet, consumed fewer calories because they did not feel as hungry. As a result, they ended up losing more weight.

Health and Ketosis

A Paleo ketogenic diet is not only good for your weight, but can also help you improve your health. A study has shown that a Paleo diet could help people with type 2 diabetes improve their blood sugar levels and triglycerides levels in addition to raising their good HDL cholesterol levels, compared to a traditional low-fat, high-carbohydrate diabetic diet, in as little as 3 months. The study was published in the July 2009 issue of "Cardiovascular Diabetology."

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