In recent years, low carb and even very low carb diets have become more and more prominent in the diet world. However, as always, debate continues to rage over what constitutes a low carb diet and what doesn’t. One of the most common questions asked about the paleo diet is whether it is a low carb diet, and is that why it works so well? There are certainly similarities, but does that mean that the paleo diet is just one of the many low carb diets being pushed today?
The statement that the paleo diet is a low carb diet is usually made by way of an inherent incorrect assumption - many people assume that the paleo diet is absolutely low in carbs. The reality is that it very much depends on the individual. Some people following the paleo diet do not avoid carbs in the traditional sense, and therefore, it is not right to say categorically that the paleo diet is the same as a low carb diet.
There are certainly similarities. The paleo diet advocates that followers eat foods that mirror what our ancestors would have eaten, with a diet high in protein, fruits, vegetables and seafood. It states to avoid processed foods, dairy, legumes, starches and other foods that can traditionally be associated with carbs. However, many proponents of the paleo diet are also quite active, and even athletic. They increase their consumption of protein, and in order to properly break down this protein they generally require some level of carbs in their diet to help their kidneys and liver.
This is why the answer is somewhat subjective. The paleo diet is by no means a one size fits all straight-jacket that insists on precise amounts of specific types of food. Rather, it focuses on avoiding food types that our bodies might struggle to break down. While for some, this can result in a reduced carb intake, to say that the lack of carbs is the focus of the paleo diet is simply not true. It may be a by-product in some instances, but it does not ultimately define the diet.
To conclude, while the paleo diet often manifests itself as a low carb diet, that is only because of similarities in some of the foods eaten. Strictly speaking, this is a by-product of following the diet rather than an inherent requirement. It may not be incorrect to say that there are many overlaps between the two processes, to say they are synonymous is untrue.