In recent years, a high-protein/low-carb diet has gained popularity as a means of weight loss and overall health enhancement, according to Packaged Facts’ new November 2023 report Keto and Paleo Consumers: High Protein/Low Carb Diet Trends and Opportunities. Various dietary plans, including the keto and paleo diets, emphasize reduced carbohydrate intake as a fundamental aspect of their broader nutritional or lifestyle approaches.
Packaged Facts’ September-October 2023 National Online Consumer Survey found that 5% of respondents follow the keto diet always or almost always, while 4% reported following the paleo diet at this frequency. Additionally, 11% of consumers claimed they always or almost always follow a low-carb diet, revealing broader interest in low-carb lifestyles than in keto or paleo diets.
Low-Carb/High Protein Eating: How Do Paleo and Keto Diets Fit In?
Typically, consuming an excess of calories from any food source can lead to weight gain, as the body stores unused energy. However, in recent decades, public concern has transitioned from high-fat diets to an emphasis on excessive sugar and carbohydrate intake as primary culprits in weight gain. This perception has prompted a significant number of individuals to adopt diets that limit or eliminate sugars and carbs, including more recent dietary trends like the paleo and keto diets, as well as diets that were developed earlier, such as the Atkins and South Beach diets. Many consumers believe that adhering to these diets can be effective in preventing weight gain.
The keto (or ketogenic) diet mandates very low carbohydrate intake, high fat, and adequate protein content. The strictness of this diet is intended to bring the body into ketosis for faster weight loss. It forces the body to burn fat by making carbohydrates scarce. This diet tends to be the lowest in carbohydrate content compared to other low-carb diets.
The paleo (or Paleolithic) diet, also called the “caveman diet” or the “stone age diet,” consists of foods that may have (or could have) been eaten by our Paleolithic counterparts. There are different variants of the diet, with some being fully plant-based and some featuring animal products. The diet encourages adherents to avoid processed foods and opt instead for whole options like vegetables, fruits, nuts, roots, eggs, meat, and seafood. Besides the broad category of “processed,” forbidden foods include dairy products, grains, added/refined sugars, legumes, salt, alcohol, and coffee.
Although the paleo diet is not specifically low-carb, in practice the allowed foods tend to provide fewer carbohydrates and more protein and fat content than standard American diets.
Popular Label Claims for Food and Diet Products
With the growing interest in keto and paleo diets, a variety of new food and diet products have emerged sporting keto and paleo labels. These products are often perceived as healthier and more conducive to weight loss, making them increasingly attractive to consumers who aren't strictly following these diets but are looking to boost their protein intake and cut back on sugar and carbs.
There are substantial opportunities for the development of food and beverage product lines that cater to keto and paleo dieters. However, even greater potential lies in products featuring more general labels indicating low-carb or high protein content. Packaged Facts survey results indicate that more than half of consumers view high protein designations as a high priority on food labels, while 30% place a high priority on low-carb food labels. This is much greater than the percentages of consumers who place a high priority on keto or paleo labeling.
Additional analysis on keto and paleo consumers and low-carb/high protein food trends can be found in the November 2023 Packaged Facts report Keto and Paleo Consumers: High Protein/Low Carb Diet Trends and Opportunities.
About the blogger:
Cara Rasch is a food and beverage analyst for Packaged Facts. She studies consumer and industry trends in this space and has a B.A. in economics from Allegheny College.