top of page

Paleo, Whole30, Keto: How Does the Low FODMAP Diet Compare?

A closer look at the Paleo, Whole30, Keto, and Low FODMAP Diet




What do Whole30, the Paleo Diet, and the Ketogenic Diet have in common? Besides being popular diets with strict rules, they’re also diets that many people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) have tried only to realize that there must be an association between the foods they’re eating and their IBS symptoms. Maybe you’ve tried one of these diets and have seen an improvement in your IBS symptoms or maybe you know someone who had positive results after following one of these popular diets and you’re looking for the same outcome. These anecdotal improvements to IBS symptoms aren’t a coincidence. Each of these popular diet approaches overlaps with the Low FODMAP approach, but with one important difference – the Low FODMAP diet is a therapeutic diet to treat IBS. Whole30, Paleo, and the Ketogenic diet are not. This difference is important when it comes to long-term management of IBS.


What is a Low FODMAP Diet?


Before you consider the differences between the Low FODMAP diet and other popular diets, you need to understand the basics of the Low FODMAP diet.


The Low FODMAP diet is a diet that is low in fermentable carbohydrates.


FODMAP is an acronym for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols. These fermentable carbohydrates cause symptoms in many people with IBS, but not everyone reacts the same way to the foods containing FODMAPs. This diet is intended to help individuals manage IBS by identifying trigger foods, removing those foods, and eventually diversifying the diet by adding as many of those foods back to the diet in an amount that is tolerated.


The Low FODMAP diet is individualized.


Following a Low FODMAP diet means following a diet that is customized to meet your needs. There are no rules for avoidance or total elimination attached to the high FODMAP foods. There’s no blueprint or blanket one-size-fits-all approach. The result? The Low FODMAP diet looks different for everyone.


The Low FODMAP diet is not a weight loss diet.


Unlike many popular diets that claim to aid in weight loss, the Low FODMAP diet makes no such claims. Some people with IBS may experience changes in weight when following a Low FODMAP diet, but the intention of the diet is not to result in weight loss or gain. Read more on preventing weight loss while on the Low FODMAP diet.


Whole30 vs Low FODMAP Diet


According to Google search trends, Whole30 hit its popularity peak in January of 2018. However, this diet continues to remain popular year after year, especially in January as people look for a diet reset. Whole30 is a 30-day diet with strict rules that require a participant to start the 30 days over if they mess up and accidentally eat or drink something that isn’t allowed on the diet. The rules are strict:


Allowed

Not Allowed

Meat

Refined Sugars

Seafood

Alcohol

Eggs

Grains

Peas & Lentils

Other Legumes

Vegetables & Fruits

Dairy


How does Whole30 compare to the Low FODMAP Diet?


There are a few significant differences between Whole30 and the Low FODMAP diet, but let’s call out the obvious: the Low FODMAP diet isn’t short-term and it doesn’t require you start over if you “slip up.” Eating a Low FODMAP diet is a therapeutic approach to managing IBS. It’s not a 30-day diet with strict rules - it is meant to be customized to meet your individual needs. This difference in philosophy and approach is extremely important to understand before attempting a Low FODMAP diet for your health.


The Low FODMAP diet does have some similarities to Whole30 when it comes to the foods recommended and those to limit. This may explain why some people with IBS experience improved symptoms when following a Whole30 plan. For example, if beans are a trigger food then eliminating beans while following Whole30 may lead to improved symptoms and a return of those symptoms when the 30 days ends and those foods are reintroduced.


Whole 30

Low FODMAP

Fruits & Vegetables

Yes

Yes*

Meat, Seafood, Eggs

Yes

Yes

Beans & Legumes

No**

Yes*

Dairy

No

Yes*

Whole Grains/Cereal Grains

No

Yes

​Alcohol

No

Yes

*Some foods within this group may require smaller portions or avoidance dependent on tolerance.

**Peas and lentils are the exception on Whole30.


Paleo Diet vs. Low FODMAP Diet


The paleo diet is a diet that’s built on the idea of eating like our ancestors of the paleolithic times. This means eliminating many of the ingredients found in modern day foods and allowing only those most likely to be eaten millions of years ago. Foods allowed on the Paleo Diet include fresh fruits and vegetables (any), meats, fish, eggs, nuts and seeds, and some oils like olive oil. Foods not allowed on the Paleo Diet include refined sugar, beans and legumes, cereal grains, and dairy.


How does the Paleo Diet compare to the Low FODMAP Diet?


Compared to the Low FODMAP diet, there are some similarities such as the inclusion of meat, seafood, and eggs as well as fruits and vegetables. However, the most notable differences are that the Low FODMAP diet allows for flexibility when it comes to beans, dairy, and grains whereas the Paleo Diet eliminates them completely. The Paleo Diet also doesn’t take FODMAPs into account when it comes to fruits and vegetables which is a consideration on the Low FODMAP diet. However, the Low FODMAP diet doesn’t list any food as off limits and instead encourages the most diverse diet possible while managing IBS symptoms.

Paleo

Low FODMAP

Fruits & Vegetables

Yes

Yes*

Meat, Seafood, Eggs

Yes

Yes

Beans & Legumes

No

Yes*

Dairy

No

Yes*

Whole Grains/Cereal Grains

No

Yes*

*Some foods within this group may require smaller portions or avoidance dependent on tolerance.


Keto vs Low FODMAP


Of the three diets discussed, the ketogenic diet is the most dissimilar to the Low FODMAP diet. This is because the ketogenic diet severely limits carbohydrate intake and requires only a moderate intake of protein leaving fat as the primary energy source. While there isn’t a specific list of foods that are allowed and/or off-limits, the very nature of the diet restricts many foods commonly consumed in the standard American diet. Severely limiting carbohydrates requires that foods such as grains, beans and legumes, dairy, and fruits be restricted. (Note: many carbohydrate-containing foods are also high in FODMAPs.) Other foods that fall in line with the macronutrient ratio required on the ketogenic diet are those that are naturally lower in FODMAPs such as meats, seafood, eggs, and oils. These diet adjustments may explain why some people who follow a ketogenic diet experience an improvement in their IBS symptoms.


Managing IBS Symptoms with Diet


If you’ve tried one of these diets and have noticed an improvement in your IBS symptoms then it may be time to meet with a registered dietitian to dig deeper. The Low FODMAP diet is not only more manageable for the long-term, it also has the benefit of increasing nutrient diversity by not unnecessarily eliminating foods from the diet that don’t cause symptoms. If you’re looking for more guidance on managing your IBS symptoms, start here with these practical tips and free meal plan to start managing your IBS or consider booking a call to learn more.


90 views0 comments
bottom of page