These two diet plans have been around for ages and have gathered a fair amount of praise and criticism from dieticians, doctors and people who have actually walked the talk. There is so much conflicting information that can be overwhelming when you finally decide to take control of your health through your eating habits.
We will pit the Mediterranean diet vs. keto diet to help you to decide which is ideal for your needs. Keep reading for the strengths and weaknesses of the two diet plans and how the nutrients and minerals affect your body.
Do you know you can develop effective and sustainable eating plans once you establish your dietary requirements and develop an effective and sustainable eating plan based on Mediterranean or Keto policies?
There is a huge correlation between our nutrition and how we feel, heal and think. A holistic approach to wellness must include the diet.
The Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean diet borrows from the eating patterns of residents of countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea—Italy, Spain, Greece and others—who were found to be generally healthier and less susceptible to lifestyle diseases than your average American.
The diet is loosely structured and has no absolute exclusions; some foods are limited, while others are encouraged depending on their health benefits. Poultry, eggs, dairy and seafood are encouraged to be taken in moderation, while red meat (lamb, beef, pork) is limited.
Plant proteins are preferred to animal proteins, and processed foods such as processed meat products, refined grains and sweets are limited. Sweetened foods and beverages or foods with added sugar are highly discouraged but not entirely prohibited. The diet fancies whole grains, plenty of fruits, vegetables, legumes, beans and healthy fat.
The Mediterranean diet goes beyond what you eat to other lifestyle indulgences like the occasional glass of wine to wash down the food while sharing a meal and the physical activities you engage in.
Mediterranean Diet Benefits
It is easy to execute because it is accommodative and not overly restrictive. The general idea is to consume more of certain classes of healthy foods and less of others. This allows you to work with what is convenient and available.
The fact that you don’t have to keep counting calories makes it easy to adhere to even when you are not at home. This makes it more sustainable than other restrictive diets.
It promotes numerous high fiber foods that help regulate blood glucose levels by slowing down sugar absorption. This reduces the chances of type 2 diabetes development.
The diet may be hard to follow because it is liberal, without a defined structure. This can be addressed by identifying or formulating strict guidelines based on Mediterranean eating patterns, complete with recommended portions and calorie count evaluations.
The diet has the potential to be expensive and time-consuming depending on the complexity of the meals—although it is generally cheaper and less complex than the keto diet. It makes up for this by allowing the incorporation of canned and frozen produce and dried spices and herbs. You can take advantage of these to reduce food prep time and wastage.
Mediterranean Diet Food Guide
Fruits and vegetables dominate the dishes prepared with herbs and spices. There are many whole grains, nuts, legumes and beans. The meals are prepared exclusively with healthy fats such as olive oil.
Red meat is occasional and widely spread. Poultry, dairy and eggs are regulated, and so is seafood, though fish is more frequent. The eggs are baked, and you can snack on Greek yogurt and nuts.
There are limitless combinations of ingredients and recipes to use on a Mediterranean diet because it doesn’t have food restrictions.
The Keto Diet
The ketogenic diet was first used in 1921 to treat epilepsy but was only officially recognized as a diet option in the last couple of decades. It reduces episodes of epileptic seizures by altering how the brain receives functional energy. To date, it is recommended for children whose epilepsy persists despite medication.
The idea behind keto is to eliminate carbohydrates from your meals so that the body resorts to breaking down fat for energy. Your liver converts fats to chemicals called ketones which the body uses for energy.
You aim to derive less than five percent of your total calories from carbohydrates so that you can trigger ketosis—the process of converting fats to ketones. Your typical keto diet comprises 80 to 70% fats, between 30 and 20% protein, and less than 10% carbs.
Foods with high sugar content, like desserts, sweetened drinks, pastries or confectionery, are excluded (you can eat low carb sweet snacks and keto desserts instead).To compensate for the low carbohydrate intake, you increase the fat and protein portions. It includes plenty of seeds, nuts, cream, butter, avocados, cheese, oils, eggs, dairy products, fish, meat and non-starchy vegetables.
There is a limitation on processed foods, fruits, grains, legumes and vegetables with a higher carbohydrate content. These have the potential to swing the body out of ketosis, negating all the effort.
Keto Diet Benefits
High-fat diets keep you feeling sated longer. The keto diet also subdues ghrelin, the hunger hormone, which makes it easier to consume fewer calories while dieting. Additionally, increasing protein intake enhances metabolism while also suppressing appetite.
This combination of attributes makes it easier to observe the regimen as you are not constantly hungry. Combined with the enhanced metabolism, weight loss becomes significantly easier. The absence of carbohydrates also means reduced blood sugar levels and better insulin sensitivity.
It retrains your body to burn fat for fuel, which is great for managing obesity. This can also reduce the fat deposits in the cardiovascular system, although this is hard to quantify, given that you will be ingesting more fat to replace used energy.
The impact of altering the brain’s functions applies to the management of other neurological conditions like autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and Alzheimer’s.
When the body enters ketosis, you might experience the keto flu. Also known as the carb flu, this refers to different combinations of carb withdrawal symptoms you may suffer as the body depletes its glucose reserves and turns to burn fatty acids for fuel.
These symptoms can be one or a combination of nausea, stomach pains, cramping, constipation or diarrhea, muscle soreness, sugar cravings, irritability, dizziness, brain fog, deteriorated focus or concentration, insomnia or excessive sleepiness. This is a common reason people abandon the low-carb diet before seeing tangible results.
Maintaining a carb count below five percent is also not easy. It needs proactive planning, which may require the input of a nutritional expert to keep the body in ketosis. They often charge for their services.
The highly restrictive nature of the keto diet limits food choices, making it hard to maintain in comparison to the Mediterranean diet in the long run. Many people regain the lost weight soon after quitting the diet.
Research is yet to determine the exact impact of the long-term use of a low-carb, high-fat diet on the body. We can’t rule out the relationship with health complications that may come up later.
More than three-quarters of your daily calories come from fat and approximately 20% from proteins on a keto diet. This goes against many traditional dietary guidelines.
Keto diets don’t exclude saturated fats and red and processed meats; you risk consuming excessive amounts of these, along with bacon, cheese, eggs and other proteins. These foods, in large proportions, can trigger inflammation. They have even been linked to cancer and heart disease. They might affect your overall health if not carefully monitored and regulated.
Keto Diet Food Guide
Foods in the keto diet are often stuffed with cheese and cooked in butter. There are a lot of processed meats for snacking, like sausages and bacon. There are no cooking oil restrictions. Use low-carb vegetables and fatty fruits like avocados. Poultry is prepared with the skin on, dairy is consumed full-fat, and eggs are fried.
Mediterranean Diet vs Keto – Which Is Healthier?
Research about the long-term impact of a ketogenic diet is still ongoing but based on several controlled studies, we know what to expect in the short run.
Mediterranean and keto diets are both effective in weight loss and blood sugar stability. The Mediterranean diet manages blood sugar levels through the regulation of absorption thanks to its fiber-rich ingredients. The keto diet limits carb and sugar intake from the onset.
The Mediterranean diet helps to reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. Excessive LDL cholesterol in your body renders it susceptible to cardiovascular disease and stroke because they build up and form plaque on the walls of your blood vessels.
This narrows the passage and hampers blood flow, increasing your blood pressure and straining the heart. Therefore, observing a proper Mediterranean diet significantly reduces your susceptibility to heart disease.
The keto diet’s restriction of some healthy carbs also takes away sources of fiber and a number of organic minerals and vitamins. The absence of whole grains can lead to thiamine deficiency.
Legumes and nuts are natural phosphorus sources, and vitamins C and E are derived chiefly from fruits, vegetables and seeds. You may have to incorporate supplements to make it nutritionally wholesome without compromising ketosis.
The keto diet limits your options regarding antioxidants and anti-inflammatory ingredients by eliminating plant-based foods like whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables. The fact that it replaces the carbs with animal fats and proteins doesn’t make the situation any better. You might be left relying almost entirely on the omega 3 fatty acids from fatty fish to counter common irritations, infections and injuries.
Unlike keto, the Mediterranean diet has many other options for polyphenols and antioxidants besides omega-3 fatty acids, which significantly lower inflammation levels and reduce instances of chronic inflammation. Ailments such as arthritis, diabetes, cancer, depression, and Alzheimer’s have been liked to chronic inflammation, so it is good to find a diet that covers inflammation.
The fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains in the Mediterranean diet are also rich in fiber which functions as a prebiotic for the gut bacteria to feed on, balancing the microbiome and further reducing the possibility of inflammation.A
How to Choose Between Mediterranean and Keto Diets
The keto diet is easier to observe than many other diets because you rarely feel hungry between meals, and each meal is structured. Your body learns to rely on fat for energy which can translate to rapid weight loss. It works perfectly in the short run, but if you can’t maintain the regimen, you may gain all the weight back.
The Mediterranean diet offers steady and consistent results, which will take longer to be achieved but are more sustainable. Your sense of urgency and consistency will influence the best option for you.
Some diets are meant to address illnesses, injuries, or certain conditions. The doctor might recommend them as treatment, preventive or management measures. The appropriate diet in such circumstances depends on your specific situation, what you need and what you should get rid of.
The keto diet is still recommended for treating epilepsy for children of all ages. The impact of ketosis on the brain also makes the diet applicable to managing neurological conditions like ASD and Alzheimer’s. Your doctor might recommend the diet.
The Mediterranean vs keto debate doesn’t have a universal winner because each diet has its own unique health benefits. Your needs and prevailing circumstances will determine your chosen diet’s effectiveness, especially when treating a specific condition.
They are among the best diets for weight management, prevention or treatment of lifestyle diseases and providing much-needed nutrition for the body. That being said, if all factors are held constant, a well-executed Mediterranean diet plan is more sustainable and less likely to trigger complications in the future. It is the overall better option in our books.
Many people use keto as a stepping stone to reach the desired target and then opt for other, more sustainable diets. Others cycle in and out of it, while others stay on it indefinitely. At the end of the day, the onus is on you to determine what works for your goals.