The following is a guest post from Dr. Tyler Tonso of BodyBalance Chiropractic and Wellness in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
While paleo has gained notoriety and risen in popularity recently, there still seems to be confusion on the difference between the paleo diet and the Atkins diet. Some people think, “Meat and no carbs….so it’s the Atkins diet, right? “ NO! There are some very important differences when we’re looking at paleo vs Atkins. Here are a few of the important points:
1. Atkins doesn’t care where you get your meat.
The Atkins diet couldn’t care less if you got your meat from a steroid-raised crammed chicken farm that was fed GMO corn and grain and given antibiotics to keep from dying in their terrible conditions. The Paleo diet emphasizes meat from animals that have been pasture-raised with high standards. No steroids, GMO-laced food, antibiotics, and pesticides. This can have marked differences in the quality of fats inside the animal you consume which will therefore have marked differences inside you! Eating sick animals will make you sick, and eating healthy animals will make you healthy. Pretty simple.
2. Paleo says NO to chemicals and processed foods
The paleo diet is strict in eliminating all chemicals and altered substances. The Atkins diet allows certain chemicals as long as there aren’t any carbs. For example, the Atkins diet suggests using Splenda and diet soda while on their diet which contain aspartame and phenylalanine. These chemicals have been shown to increase appetite and even cause cancer. Atkins even goes as far to list “Process Foods (with refined sugars or partially hydrogenated oils)” on their list of recommended foods. Obviously there’s a long list of detrimental effects shown with numerous studies that can come from these processed foods. For paleo it’s pretty simple, if it comes in a packet, it probably isn’t paleo. This will reduce and eliminate any potential for external chemicals and xenobiotics.
3. Atkins diet suggests the use of omega-6 filled vegetable oil
Vegetable oils have high levels of omega-6 fat which promote chronic inflammation. Examples of these oils include peanut oil, corn oil, grape seed oil, canola oil and soybean oil. Ghee, olive oil, coconut oil, and avocado oil are common paleo cooking oils that are not packed with these unhealthy fats and consist of healthy omega-3’s. This is the difference between you being fully inflamed and in constant repair versus you thriving as a human being.
4. Paleo omits grains
Surprisingly, a lot of people don’t realize you are allowed to eat grains on the Atkins diet, as long as they are low in calories. During certain phases of the Atkins diet you’re allowed to eat oatmeal, brown rice, and whole wheat products. This is strictly against the paleo diet as the consumption of these products can exacerbate gluten sensibility and gut permeability – which leads to more inflammation and autoimmune symptoms. A lot of times people don’t realize how much these grains are effecting them until omitting them altogether. Gluten should be removed at all costs and whole grains typically limited as well.
5. Paleo is a lifestyle…not a diet
People on the Atkins diet often have one goal in mind – to lose weight. The paleo diet isn’t built around losing pounds, it’s built on the idea of getting healthier with healthier foods. The paleo diet focuses on you thriving as a human being, ridding yourself of constant physical stress and inflammation, and it doesn’t stop at just food. Setting your body up with what it was programmed for with sleep, social skills, sunlight, and stress reduction are huge things that can make a major positive impact on improving health and reducing disease.
6.Paleo doesn’t try to get you to buy their food
Atkins continuously suggests purchasing their foods while on the diet. Apparently buying their food somehow makes it healthier. Paleo is a collective way of thinking, not a business trying to sell you something. Are there people with paleo cookbooks and meal plans available? Of course! But there is no one agenda with an ideal and motive to sell you something behind it.
When looking at paleo vs Atkins it now seems like there is a clear winner. Hopefully you can see the many reasons why paleo is exceptional when compared to the Atkins diet and in fact has many important differences. I just wouldn’t take Atkin’s views on the comparison(From the Atkin’s website):
“When comparing the two diets, the Atkins diet is easier with less food eliminated and more convenience.”
A diet of unlimited candy sounds much more convenient, but that doesn’t mean it’s healthier. Make the better choice between paleo vs Atkins and your body will thank you for it.
Dr. Tyler Tonso is a chiropractic physician and clinic director at BodyBalance Chiropractic and Wellness. His certifications include bachelor degrees in Kinesiology and Health Promotion, Human Biology, as well as a Doctorate of Chiropractic from the University of Western States. His current focus is on neuromuscular associated pain, functional movement and overall wellness by emphasizing proper nutrition and exercise.