Why are mediterranean and keto Diet so popular?

Mediterranean Diet vs Keto: Which One Should You Follow?

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Tamara
January 20, 2022
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Both the Mediterranean diet and keto diet have been around for decades.

They are becoming very popular, whether you want to start a healthier diet or lose excess weight.

Is the keto diet just a fad?

A keto diet is said to be a fad because of how it can help you to boost your weight loss potential really quickly, but it’s difficult to maintain.

That said, there are important things to know about the Mediterranean diet vs keto diet. Read on to learn about them and why they’re so popular. 

What Is The Mediterranean Diet? 

Greek food is tipical mediterranean food

While you might assume Mediterranean cuisine is one type of cuisine, it actually includes a variety of cuisines from different regions of the Mediterranean, such as Italian, Egyptian, Lebanese, and Greek food.

The Mediterranean diet is known for being healthy. It focuses on whole grains, vegetables, and fruits. It also encourages the consumption of nuts, legumes, seeds, and healthy fats.

Foods that are restricted on this diet include alcohol, added sugar, refined grains, and processed foods. While you can eat yogurt, cheese, poultry, and cheese, these should be consumed in moderation. 

Some basic rules of the Mediterranean diet: 

  • Your diet must mainly consist of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, beans, and lentils.
  • You should consume healthy fats, such as extra virgin olive oil.
  • Eggs, poultry, and seafood are enjoyed in moderate amounts.
  • You must not eat saturated fat or sugar on a regular basis. 

Pros

  • The Mediterranean diet encourages a healthier heart. This is because it’s filled with healthy nutrients. Research found that this diet is linked to a lower risk of heart attack, coronary heart disease, and overall mortality. 
  • It can reduce your risk of getting cancer. Research has found that people who closely followed the Mediterranean diet had a lower risk of developing some types of cancer, such as colorectal, gastric, head and neck, and prostate cancer. This is said to be because the diet contains anti-inflammatory and antioxidant foods.
  • It is a balanced, healthy diet that still delivers a lot of flavor.
  • Although there are rules about the types of foods to eat in large amounts and others to reduce, the diet is flexible.
  • The Mediterranean diet is kind to the planet because it relies on plant-based foods and reduces meat products.

Cons 

  • It can be difficult to start a Mediterranean diet, such as if refined grains and high-sugar foods are a big part of your current diet.
  • You might lack some nutrients, such as calcium, because you’re reducing your consumption of dairy. This is why you’ll have to adjust the diet so that you get calcium in other ways.

What Is The Keto Diet? 

Principles of ketogenic diet

The keto, or ketogenic, diet is focused on consuming a low amount of carbohydrates while being high in fat.

By lowering your consumption of carbs and replacing them with fat, this puts your body into a metabolic state called ketosis.

This encourages weight loss because the body starts to burn fat. It also converts fat into ketones in the liver, which brings more energy to your brain.

Basically, ketosis is a state in which your body uses fat for fuel instead of relying on carbs.

To follow the keto diet, you have to limit your carb intake to 20 to 50 grams per day. 

Foods that you’ll eat on a keto diet include high-fat fish, oils, nuts, dairy, and meats. You’ll also replace high-carb fresh produce such as most fruits with low-carb ones.

Some basic rules of the keto diet: 

  • Protein sources such as pork roast, chicken thighs with their skin on, and bacon are encouraged – skinless poultry and lean meat is discouraged. 
  • You can eat whole-dairy foods. 
  • You have to avoid starchy vegetables, such as corn and sweet potatoes. 
  • Sugar is restricted, since it’s a carb and you’re only allowed to have 20-30 grams of carbs per day. 

Pros

  • This diet helps you to lose weight. Research found that following a low-carb and high-fat diet is a bit more effective for long-term weight loss than a low-fat diet, as in the study participants on the keto diet lost about two pounds more than those who followed a low-fat diet. 
  • It improves insulin sensitivity. A study found that the keto diet can enhance insulin sensitivity by up to 75 percent. This is as a result of how it helps you to lose excess fat that’s linked to Type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and pre-diabetes.
  • It prevents abdominal fat that is linked to insulin resistance and inflammation in the body.
  • It eliminates triglycerides. These are molecules that move around in your bloodstream and can increase your risk of heart disease. In sedentary people, one of the main triggers of triglycerides is carb consumption. By cutting carbs, this reduces your triglycerides.
  • It increases your good cholesterol. When you have high levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or good cholesterol, as compared to bad cholesterol, this decreases your risk of heart disease. To increase good cholesterol, you need to eat more fat. So, the good thing about the keto diet is that it contains a lot of fat instead of carbs.

Cons 

  • People with diabetes or blood-sugar problems are at risk of experiencing complications on this diet, so they need to consult with their doctor before going on it.
  • Since you’re eating more high-fat foods on this diet, it could increase your intake of saturated fats.
  • The diet restricts carbs, so it’s usually low in dietary fiber. This prevents the formation of gut-friendly bacteria, which can lead to inflammation in the body.
  • You might experience keto flu. These are symptoms, which include constipation, nausea, difficulty sleeping, fatigue, and irritability that can happen when your body is transitioning from carb- to fat-burning mode, but they’re short term side effects. 

Mediterranean Diet vs Keto Diet: What Are Their Differences? 

There are some important differences to know about these two popular diets.

They will help you to figure out which one is better for you and will fit into your lifestyle. 

Food Group Percentages 

Percentages of different food groups

On the keto diet, 75 percent of the calories you eat are made up of fat, 15-20 percent of calories are made up of protein, and five to 10 percent of calories are made up of carbs. 

By comparison, a Mediterranean diet is made up of 50 to 60 percent of calories that are carbs, 25 to 35 percent of calories that are fat (note that saturated fats are restricted), while the rest is made up of protein.

Flexibility

The Mediterranean diet is more of a lifestyle choice than a diet.

While it does have some rules and lists the various foods you should avoid versus the ones you should prioritize, there is more flexibility in what you can eat. Usually, the foods are restricted but not completely eliminated.

By comparison, the keto diet is more rigid than the Mediterranean diet. You have to follow a high-fat and low-carb eating plan. 

Fat Intake

Fat intake comparison

Both types of diets contain fats, but in different ways. The Mediterranean diet focuses on healthy fats, such as olive oil.

While healthy fats are encouraged on the keto diet, it’s not always easy to get enough fats, which could cause you to eat unhealthy fats. On this diet, you need 70-80 percent of your diet to be made up of fat.

Food Tracking

One of the biggest differences between the Mediterranean and keto diets is that the keto diet requires you to track your food very closely in order to maintain ketosis.

This means you have to count the grams of fat, carbs, and protein you’re consuming. This can be difficult.

By comparison, on the Mediterranean diet you don’t have to worry about tracking foods too much. Your focus is on eating healthy foods instead of worrying too much about measuring their grams. 

Health Issues

health concerns

There are more health concerns that are linked to the keto diet than the Mediterranean diet. This is because a high-fat diet comes with more health risks.

For starters, you won’t eat much fiber on a keto diet because fiber is found in many carbs and you can’t eat a lot of carbs. This can lead to gut issues and constipation. By comparison, the Mediterranean diet is filled with fiber. 

Since on the keto diet you can eat fat in almost unlimited amounts, unhealthy fats such as butter and red meat can sneak into your diet and cause health problems, such as heart disease.

Sustainability

It’s easier to maintain the Mediterranean diet in the long term as compared to the keto diet. This is because it’s more flexible and contains a range of foods.

You can, for instance, make use of in-season produce on the Mediterranean diet to meet your whole food, plant-based needs. 

By comparison, the keto diet requires a lot of animal-based foods as well as processed fats, which can be difficult to maintain and source. 

In addition, it’s important to be realistic about how you’ll feel on the diet in the next few months or years. A keto diet doesn’t contain any bread, pasta, rice, or potatoes, so it’s pretty restrictive.

It might not be viable or realistic to live the rest of your life without such foods, even in small amounts. 

Which Diet Should You Choose For Weight Loss?

Keto diet fat intake

If you want to shed some pounds, you might wonder if you’ll be more successful by going on the Mediterranean or keto diet. 

Both of these diets can help you to lose weight, but they do it differently. You’ll experience a more gradual weight loss on the Mediterranean diet, and shed pounds faster on the keto.

This is because the keto diet restricts many foods, but that can make it more difficult to sustain over time. 

Keto diet for weight loss

Research has found that the keto diet promotes weight loss as a result of various factors. These include the following: 

  • The high-fat content of the diet provides a more filling result and can make you reduce your food cravings. 
  • Eating fewer carbs results in fewer appetite-stimulating hormones like ghrelin and insulin. 
  • The body’s metabolic effects of transforming fat and protein into glucose results in more calorie expenditure. 

Mediterranean diet for weight loss 

By comparison, a Mediterranean diet encourages the following which can promote weight loss. 

  • Fruits and vegetables feature in most meals on the Mediterranean diet, and they contain a low amount of calories while being good sources of water and fiber, the latter of which keeps you feeling fuller for longer. 
  • Sugar and processed foods are both restricted on the Mediterranean diet, which contributes to weight loss. 
  • Pulses and whole grains help to make you feel fuller for longer. 

Mediterranean Diet vs Keto Diet: Which One Is Healthier?

The keto diet has health benefits, but it’s not as healthy as the Mediterranean diet.

This is because of various reasons, such as the following:

  • The keto diet is very restrictive. It eliminates many fruits and vegetables that are carbs, but these have health benefits you’re missing out on, such as antioxidants and fiber. Whenever you drastically reduce or eliminate many foods from your diet, you’ll be lacking essential nutrients.
  • The Mediterranean diet includes carbohydrates that contain fiber, whole grains, and legumes – all of these are not included on the keto diet. Again, this results in you missing out on nutrients.
  • The Mediterranean diet is great for long-term health because it helps you to make healthier choices, such as consuming healthy fats instead of saturated fats. By comparison, the keto diet could be difficult to sustain. It relies on many fats, not all of which are healthy.  

Can You Combine Both Diets? 

Combine Both Diets

You can! It’s called the Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet, and it combines the best elements of both diets in one.

So, you’ll be able to include 7-10 percent of carbs, 55-65 percent of fat, 22-30 percent of protein, and 5-10 percent of alcohol into your diet.

This means you can enjoy healthy fats as you would on the Mediterranean diet, and you can also add leafy green vegetables and a bit of alcohol to your regular eating plan.

However, most grains, sugars, and starches will be eliminated or restricted, just as they are on the keto diet. 

Can you be vegan on the keto diet? 

If you’re vegan, you can follow the keto diet and reach ketosis by eating a high-fat diet that contains plant-based foods instead of animal-based ones.

What meat can you eat on the Mediterranean diet?

You can eat seafood and poultry, but keep beef, lamb, and pork to a minimum. 

Conclusion

If you want to start a healthier diet, you might wonder if the Mediterranean or keto diet is better.

In this article, we’ve looked at everything you need to know about these popular diets, featuring information about their differences, health benefits, and potential health risks.

Sources

Tamara

Tamara is an avid foodie and successful restaurateur. She has dedicated a large chunk of her life to researching healthy food recipes and diet plans, and also teaching people how to improve their eating habits. Using Eatomology, Tamara shares the very best diet plans, cookbooks, and more. Also, for those on a quest to improve their kitchen, Tamara shares some awesome and high-quality kitchen equipment recommendations as well as buying guides on her website.