Mediterranean Diet vs. Keto Diet: Which Is Healthiest

One supports meat and cheese, the other plants. Can two very different diets be healthy? We compare the Mediterranean and keto diets based on research.

Mediterranean diet is lifestyle, not diet. Named after Mediterranean Sea-bordering countries' traditional diets. Italy and Greece have eaten this way for centuries, but the Mediterranean "diet" wasn't popularized until the 1960s, when researchers found that people in that region were healthy and had a lower risk of many lifestyle diseases than Americans.

What Is the Mediterranean Diet 

The Mediterranean diet's structurelessness may make it hard to follow. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend a Mediterranean-Style diet with serving sizes and calories. The Mediterranean diet may be cheaper than the keto diet but take longer to prepare.

Mediterranean Diet Drawbacks

Mediterranean diets' lack of structure appeals. No restrictions or calorie counting. Simply eat more of some items and less of others. The diet is easier to follow than a strict one that may not persist. Additionally, U.S. News & World Report named it the healthiest diet in years! We find that hard to beat.

Mediterranean Diet Benefit

The ketogenic ("keto") diet was developed in the 1920s to treat epilepsy. The high-fat, moderate-protein, low-carb diet has been examined for weight loss, diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer's, and more. Less than 5% of keto diet calories include carbs. Fat burning for energy happens through ketogenesis and ketosis at low carbohydrate intake. Fat is burnt as ketones by the liver until carbs are consumed again.

What Is the Keto Diet

While the ketogenic diet can help you lose weight fast, it has downsides. When the body enters ketosis and burns fat instead of carbs, the "keto flu" may occur. The keto diet requires careful planning and may require a registered dietitian or other nutritionist due to its low carb count.

Keto Diet Drawback

The keto diet may speed weight loss. A 2019 Nutrients review indicated that keto can lower blood sugar and enhance insulin sensitivity. Without counting calories, you can follow it. Satiety increases with high-fat diets. 

Keto Diet Benefit

If you still want to follow a keto diet after reading this recap of the Mediterranean diet versus the keto diet, EatingWell dietitians recommend including heart-healthy fats like fatty fish, nuts, seeds, olive oil, and avocados in your low-carb, high-fat diet. Limit red and processed meats, butter, and cheese to minimize inflammation and improve health.

The Bottom Line

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