I would like to understand the similarities and differences between the Atkins and low carb paleo diet, as practised by many. I see two important differences: that paleo stresses the value of pasture raised (if possible also organic) meat, dairy and eggs and also that paleo puts a great value on the Omega 3 versus Omega 6 balance. Beyond those two valuable differences, it seems to me that those who practice low carb paleo follow a diet almost identical to Atkins. Am I right or are there other important differences?
As I see it, there are two huge differences:
Carbs: Paleo allows sweet potatoes and other starchy tubers for people who are not overweight and who exercise a lot. Potatoes could even be okay if you peel them. Atkins says starches are bad period.
Fats: Atkins says fat is good. Paleo says basically all vegetable/seed oils are bad (except coconut oil and, if not used for cooking, olive oil). So Atkins says mayo is great, Paleo says it's awful. Gigantic difference.
There are smaller differences, e.g. Paleo prefers less dairy and focuses more on grass-fed, organic, unprocessed, etc. Paleo discourages sugar-alchohols and artificial sweeteners, etc. But the very main thing is, for God's sake, back away from the corn oil!
I think you hit it on the nose when you mentioned quality. The quality of the protein and fats are vastly different between Atkins and LC Paleo. Personally, I wouldn't venture into the LC realm unless I knew I was getting great O3:O6. Gotta watch that inflammation!
I also think (correct me if I'm wrong) that Atkins is only LC for a portion of the diet, in order to reintroduce good carbs. Some LC Paleo folks live that way.
I think that another difference is that paleo is about eating real foods, not processed foods. Atkins has a whole line of their food and it's full of chemicals and extra fiber and sugar alcohols etc.
A major difference between Atkins and low-carb Paleo is that Atkins advocates their bars and shakes, etc., which are all full of chemicals and artificial sweeteners. Paleo is the way to go if you want to be rid of your "sweet tooth."
As I understand it, eating Atkins means eating anything at all as long as the carb count comes below a certain level. So you might eat specially formulated low carb versions of neolithic foods. Paleo is about avoiding neolithic foods that have been shown to cause problems, so you would not eat that low carb pasta because you'd be avoiding gluten.
In most dietary studies the Atkins diet usually produces the best lipid profile (vs. Ornish, Zone, USDA recommendations, etc). Notably in the Standford AtoZ diet study.
You usually don't hear about cholesterol spiking as much on Atkins as paleo (tends to be more olive oil, nuts, and cooking things in US trad oils). Atkins usually ends up pretty close to Mediterranean actually. Since Paleo would say that having a cholesterol over 300 is okay (and in general not worth paying attention to), asking which produces a better profile does not mean much if you are jumping into paleo however.
One thing that seems missing here is that Atkins is fine with grains as long as you are on maintenance levels or are eating 'low carb' breads and things. There was a discussion of low carb tortillas earlier and I think this is a major place Atkins and Paleo part ways. Paleo is anti-grains in all amounts and at all carb levels. That said you could probably be Paleo on the Atkins diet but not all people on Atkins would be considered Paleo.
I feel that when we play with labels the first (and usually the hardest) thing is to define those labels. In my opinion "paleo" per se doesn't exist (although the argument could be that Paleo is Cordain's version), there are just different schools so it's really hard to talk about "paleo" when going in the specifics.
This question is very similar if not equal to the one I link below, so good luck and I vote for a close. Reason: duplicate thread.
And if anyone has anything more to say about this topic, please use the thread linked below.
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