Mediterranean Diet Vs. Keto 2023: Which Is The Better One?
People may choose to follow a diet plan for many reasons. You may want to lose weight, increase your health, be happier with your appearance, have more energy, or improve your overall well-being.
When you think of dieting, you may think you must eliminate some foods you enjoy. Especially the foods that contain a large amount of calories and fat. But is this true?
The good news is that not all diets ask you to skip out on fat-containing foods. And two of these diets have gained popularity recently.
So let’s talk diets. Specifically, the Mediterranean diet vs keto diet. Could one of them be the right diet for you? Save yourself some time and research by reading this article!
Mediterranean Diet Vs. Keto Diet
In this article, we will explore and compare the Mediterranean diet and the ketogenic, or keto diet. We will explain what each diet is, as well as important similarities and differences. We will also discuss some special considerations to be aware of if you are thinking about either diet. Let’s get started!
The Mediterranean Diet Explained
The Mediterranean diet is based on the dietary traditions of countries near the Mediterranean Sea. Beginning in the 1940s, these countries were noticed to have a higher life expectancy and a lower rate of chronic disease, despite limited health care.
Because of this, their food choices were looked at as a way to both lose weight and decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease and other chronic conditions. This diet does not completely restrict certain foods or specify required portions or calorie amounts. It is known as more of an eating pattern than a precisely regimented diet.
Mediterranean diets focus on the intake of healthy, unsaturated fats. They encourage a plant-based diet, including whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, beans, and extra virgin olive oil. Animal proteins are ok, with fish as the preferred choice. And it encourages wine! In moderation, of course.
The Ketogenic Diet Explained
The ketogenic diet was first developed in the 1800s to manage diabetes before the discovery of insulin. It was also used in the 1920s to control seizures if medication was ineffective. It began receiving increased popularity as a means for weight loss in the 1970s, along with other low-carb diets.
The keto diet recommends high fat, low carbohydrate, and low to moderate protein intake. Your carb and sugar intake has to be low enough to put your body into ketosis, where your body burns fat for energy instead of carbohydrates. This diet requires strict adherence, but many people can initially see significant weight loss benefits.
Mediterranean Diet Vs. Keto: The Differences
Macro Tracking– What Are Macros?
Macro is short for macronutrients. Macros are nutrients that are needed in relatively large quantities by your body. There are three types of macronutrients: carbohydrates, protein, and fat. In contrast, there are micronutrients, which are also required by your body but in smaller amounts. Micronutrients are vitamins and minerals.
Macro tracking is typically done as part of a nutrition or diet regimen. It requires a little extra time and ensures that your food choices follow a particular diet’s recommendation. Generally, the easiest way to track your macros is to use a nutrition-tracking app.
Macro Tracking: Mediterranean And Ketogenic Diets
As mentioned earlier, the Mediterranean diet is more of an eating pattern versus a strict diet, and it does not specify certain accounts of macros, portion sizes, or calorie amounts. Because of this, macro tracking is not required. However, you can use it if you would like. It is a great way to see what macronutrient category your food choices fall under and adjust this as you see fit.
On the other hand, the keto diet clearly states what macronutrients are necessary and in what quantities. The keto diet requires near-perfect adherence. Otherwise, your body will not be in ketosis, and you will not see weight loss or health benefits.To follow a keto diet, 60% of your daily calories must be from fat, 30% from protein, and 10% from carbs. Because of the precision required to maintain ketosis, macro tracking is needed to maintain a keto diet. You need to know how many grams of carbs you consume and the percentage of them related to the rest of your macros to ensure ketosis.
Along with healthy fat intake, the Mediterranean diet allows for carbohydrates, provided they are whole grains. Since the Mediterranean diet doesn’t specifically limit carb intake, it is not considered a low-carb diet. The Mediterranean diet does not encourage processed grains and other highly processed foods.
The keto diet is very restrictive of carbohydrates, with carbohydrate intake limited to 20-50 grams per day. For comparison, the Mayo Clinic recommends 225-325 grams of carbohydrates per day for a general intake as a part of a healthy diet with no specific food restrictions.
Both the keto and Mediterranean diets allow for the intake of healthy fats. But what is healthy fat? There are two main types of fats: saturated fat, which is unhealthy, and unsaturated fat, which is healthy. It is important to note these important differences when beginning either the keto or Mediterranean diets.
- Saturated Fat- This is found in meats, cheeses, butter, and full-fat dairy products. Saturated fats raise the LDL cholesterol in your blood, leading to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease. They are commonly known as unhealthy fats.
- Unsaturated Fat- This is also known as healthy fat. We’ll take a closer look at these foods in the next paragraph. Studies show that having a healthy intake of unsaturated fat leads to lowered LDL cholesterol, lower triglyceride levels, and a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. Unsaturated fats also include Omega-3 fatty acids, a great addition to any healthy lifestyle. Eating these fats can also help your blood sugar regulation.
Food Sources For The Mediterranean And Keto Diets
Now, we’ll talk about what foods each diet recommends. Let’s start with the Mediterranean diet.
The Mediterranean diet suggests a primarily plant-based diet. You can also eat whole grains, olive oil, fruits, beans, vegetables, nuts, and legumes.
Animal proteins are suggested at least twice weekly, with fish being the preferred source. Other animal proteins recommended are poultry and eggs, with red meat limited to a few times per month. Water is the suggested beverage, with red wine being ok in moderation: two glasses per day for men and one glass per day for women.
Along with the above food choices, the Mediterranean diet suggests healthy or unsaturated fats. Here are some examples of unsaturated fats:
- Extra virgin olive oil– Or other plant oils, such as peanut and sunflower oil.
- Nuts & Seeds– Such as walnuts, almonds, cashews, pecans, or pumpkin seeds.
- Nut Butters– Including almond and peanut butter.
- Oily Fish– Such as salmon and sardines.
The Mediterranean diet encourages the intake of fresh and unprocessed foods. It does not specifically forbid or exclude any particular food choices. While on this eating plan, limiting highly processed grains and sugars and limiting your red meat intake is beneficial. Here are some of the best-prepared meal delivery services with Mediterranean diet options.
All of the above listed unsaturated fats are excellent choices for fat intake in the keto diet. Other food choices that the keto diet includes are:
- Non-starchy vegetables– Such as broccoli, carrots, brussels sprouts, and asparagus.
- Dairy– Without added sugar.
- Sugar-free sweeteners– Including Splenda and Stevia.
- Unprocessed meats– Such as fatty fish and seafood.
Unlike the Mediterranean diet, the keto diet specifically limits your carbohydrate intake. The keto diet does not allow most fruits, starchy vegetables, grains, natural sweeteners, or white or brown sugar.
Mediterranean Diet Vs. Keto: Similarities & Differences
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How Are These Diets Similar?
- Both the Mediterranean diet and keto diets encourage the intake of unprocessed or minimally processed foods, nutrient-dense foods, and healthy, unsaturated fats. Both diets avoid saturated, unhealthy fats and processed foods.
- When done with consideration for healthy versus unhealthy fat consumption, both diets can lead to weight loss and lower risks of heart disease.
How Are They Different?
- The Mediterranean diet is less of a strictly controlled diet and more of a healthy eating plan. It does not specify portion sizes or calorie amounts, allowing for more flexibility with food choices.
- The keto is a fairly restrictive diet that demands more planning, attention, and care regarding your food choices. If you exceed your carb goal, or your ratio of macronutrients is not quite right, you will not be in ketosis, will not be burning as much fat, and will not see weight loss benefits.
- The keto diet is a true low-carbohydrate diet; the Mediterranean diet is not.
Mediterranean Diet versus Keto: Which Should You Choose
There is plenty to consider when deciding which diet is for you. Whether or not a diet is right for you depends on many factors, such as your goals, food preferences, lifestyle, and overall health. Here are a few last talking points:
- We recommend you start the keto diet under a doctor and dietician’s supervision. The keto diet is also unsafe for people with pancreas, liver, gallbladder, and thyroid conditions. The Mediterranean diet is not strictly controlled and does not require close supervision from a health care provider.
- The keto diet can lead to swift weight loss when followed correctly. However, the keto diet is so restrictive that it can be challenging to maintain for long periods of time.
- The Mediterranean diet does not lead to as fast of a weight loss as the keto diet. Still, it is a significantly more flexible eating plan that more people are able to stick with. Because of this, the benefits of the Mediterranean diet can be more sustainable and longer-lasting.
- Athletes may struggle to maintain a ketogenic diet, as carbs are your body’s preferred energy source and are needed to sustain frequent and intense activity.
The keto and Mediterranean diets have similarities and differences that are important when deciding which is best for you. Whether a diet is for you or not depends on many factors- such as your goals, lifestyle, dietary preferences, and even your medical history.
Both diets emphasize eating healthy unsaturated fats, whole foods, and vegetables. They suggest minimizing unhealthy saturated fats, processed sugars, and other processed foods. The keto diet requires more planning and effort, while the Mediterranean diet is more flexible. When done correctly, they can both lead to weight loss and improved health.
We hope this article has answered some of your questions, provided some insight into these popular diets, and helped you determine if either the ketogenic or Mediterranean diet is a good choice for you and your lifestyle!
+ 9 sources
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