Keto diet versus Mediterranean diet. Ding Ding!
Diet is defined as our eating preferences regularly. While some of us may follow a strict dietary lifestyle, others go for grab-n-go eatables. Our fast-paced lifestyles dictate a myriad of dietary habits depending upon our personal choices.
On the other hand, self-awareness and a health-conscious attitude are also some big players in directing our eating habits. Keto and Mediterranean diets are also among the many dietary routines, each touting tall health benefits and tagged with many advocates and followers.
A diet is limiting in nature; any diet aims to restrict food quality to achieve medical upshots or achieve personal milestones as weight loss. The keto and Mediterranean diets differ right at the outstart. Both diets’ primary objective is the same: to supply the body with an energy source, yet their modus operandi differs.
People adopt the keto diet mainly for weight loss purposes. In contrast, the Mediterranean one is more of a dietary lifestyle as per nutrition experts.
So what are the two diets? How do they differ? Which one of them is best for you? Read on to know some interesting details.
A brief history of keto and Mediterranean diets
The Mediterranean diet has been around for ages (1). It refers to the traditional eating patterns of communities residing along the Mediterranean Sea coastline, including France, Italy, Spain, Morocco, and Greece.
The diet was considered a poor man’s diet, developed over hundreds of years as locals labored to create sustenance in unfriendly grounds. The Bronze Age saw the emergence of farming in these areas after years of hunting traditions. People used seasonal, local, and traditional resources to prepare food.
Despite being prevalent for centuries in these areas, the diet came into the spotlight in 1960 when health researchers compared populations’ health status in different regions. The Mediterranean diet is not devised or designed by a nutritionist’s panel compared to its counterpart keto diet.
It was an observation made by health researchers. They observed that these communities had a lower incidence of chronic disease. It stirred their interest in their lifestyle habits. It so came to the spotlight on their diet, a mainstay of research activities for more than fifty years now.
Fasting has always had a role in disease prevention. The ancient Greeks studied the subject extensively. However, the ketogenic diet was highlighted for its therapeutic role for epilepsy in the 1920s and 30s (2). Since then, the keto diet’s role has been probed for its many health benefits, especially weight loss.
What are Mediterranean and keto diets?
Mediterranean diet typically consists of fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, whole grains, a moderate amount of proteins, and healthy fats. It limits processed foods and sugar products.
Keto diet comprises of high-fat, low-carbohydrate, and moderate proteins. The main components include meat, fish, cheese, eggs, oils, avocados, butter, cream, nuts, seeds, and low-carb vegetables.
Both of the diets are flaunted for their benefits in warding off chronic diseases like cardiovascular ailments, diabetes, Alzheimer’s’, some cancer types, and so on (3). While the Mediterranean diet is more of a dietary guideline, the keto diet involves counting calories and portion control of different food groups.
The keto diet shifts the body’s metabolism in favor of fats from carbohydrates, thereby putting the body into ketosis. So if you have resolved to shed some pounds on the weighing scale as the New Year’s resolution, you should go for the keto diet because it aims to cut back the stored fats. However, if you desire to shift to healthy eating patterns for the long-term, go for the Mediterranean.
What is the difference between the two diets?
Some of the salient features of the two dietary regimens include:
- The macronutrients distribution
The keto diet’s macronutrient content distribution comprises 75% fats, 15-20% proteins, and 5-10% carbohydrates. With the restriction of carbohydrates as the primary energy fuel, the body’s metabolic processes shift into ketosis. This process stimulates the mobilization of stored fats and its utilization as an energy resource.
The Mediterranean diet comprises 50-60% caloric intake from carbohydrates, 25-35% of calories from fats, and the rest from proteins.
- Counting and calculations
The macronutrient distribution shows that the keto diet requires a vigilant calorie calculation. In contrast, the Mediterranean is more liberal in its food resources; that is why called a dietary pattern and not a diet. The latter is more concerned with food than numbers. Individuals following a keto lifestyle must calculate their grams of carbs, fats, and proteins to stay in ketosis. While it helps and benefits, the keto diet requires you to be mathematically efficient.
- Inclusive and exclusive criteria
Keto diet is restrictive because it limits the carbs and proteins with more emphasis on fats. In comparison, the Mediterranean focuses on excluding food groups rather than exclusion with no off-limit foods. But you have to follow a strict food consumption protocol if you want your body to shift gears into keto.
- Fat source
Both dietary regimes include fats but in different quantities and quality. The keto diet calls for having high-fat sources like coconut oil, butter, ghee, cheese, high-fat food with protein like bacon and sausages.
While the Mediterranean diet is called a poor man’s diet, it contains fat sources from plants as seeds, nuts, nut oils, plant-based oil like olive, etc. The quantity of total fat intake is also less than the keto version.
- Nutrient content
The Mediterranean diet allows for nutrient-dense food elements by making room for fruits, vegetables, and other plant-based items. On the other hand, the keto diet includes food that is dense in fat, but it might not necessarily be nutrient-dense.
- The sustainability rate
It is easier to follow the Mediterranean diet than it is for the keto diet. The majority cannot survive without their bread and pasta for long, which is mandatory in keto.
- Success rate
Suppose your aim is weight loss within a short period. In that case, keto is the one in which you must refrain from the carb-rich diet recommended in the Mediterranean version. The keto diet’s success rate is high for the short term as it is not recommended for an extended time. The Mediterranean one can be a lifestyle choice; however, do not expect drastic weight loss by following it.
The pros and cons of the two
The fact that the Mediterranean diet is liberal might make it difficult to follow for some who go by the book and are looking for a devised weight loss plan. The lack of structure, calorie counts, and portion distribution may be cumbersome for some when shopping for Mediterranean meals. So if you are looking to lose some serious weight, you may lose track of the poor man’s diet.
On the other hand, if and when you get the hang of it, this liberal approach to food selection makes the Mediterranean diet easy to follow for the long term.
The keto diet cuts back on weight quickly by improving the insulin sensitivity of the body cells. You do not have to do a lot; switch the significant food consumption from carbs to fats. Yes, you may require calculations and counting because you do not want to exceed the fat intake, the weight loss is worth the effort.
A high-fat keto diet satisfies satiety for more extended periods, so you do not go hungry at any time. Ketosis suppresses ghrelin levels in the body, the hunger hormone. Suppose you lack the enthusiasm to start dieting because you cannot resist the hunger cravings. In that case, the keto diet is for you because reduced ghrelin levels enable you to duck the unwanted food cravings. The protein intake further suppresses appetite, preserves muscles, and boosts metabolism.
The Keto diet is accompanied by keto flu in the early stages. It might be severe enough for some people to ditch the diet altogether. Suppose you are not careful with selecting fat sources or exceeding the required fat intake limit. In that case, the keto diet can raise your triglyceride levels in the body with serious health repercussions. Keto for the Long term may result in vitamin and mineral deficiencies and contribute to a constipated gut as the diet lacks fiber.
Which is better for you – Keto or the Mediterranean diet?
Well, it all depends on what your goals are. If your target is to lose weight in a few months, the keto diet is the answer. If you want to maintain regular dietary habits, the Mediterranean should be your call.
If you are ready to put in more work and think you have the diet-endurance, then go for keto. Keto diet can work for extended times if you make informed and careful choices (4).
- The right kind of fat
The fact that you can eat unhealthy fat in the keto diet may put you off. The keto diet may indeed lead to high cholesterol and harmful LDL levels in the body. However, you have the controls in your hands. Selecting suitable and healthy fat choices removes any such apprehensions.
The unsaturated fats are heart-healthy and anti-inflammatory. Plant-based fats are some other good fat choices for the keto diet. Some plant-based fats like coconut and olive oil contain zero carbs. Switching these fats with nut butter and avocado-based products delivers the right amount of fat and carbs simultaneously.
Similarly, omega-3 fatty acids are essential fats for a keto diet, which can be availed through fatty fish and seeds like chia and flax seeds. Restricting the cheese, butter, red, and processed meat should enable you to get the best out of your keto regime.
- Distribute the fat intake
Spreading out the total fat intake for a day over all the meals is another smart approach to avoiding excess fat consumption in the keto diet.
- Add low glycemic carbs
The Mediterranean diet has room for all kinds of carbs. On the other hand, selecting low-glycemic carbs in a keto diet helps sidestep any long-term mineral, vitamin, or fiber deficiency.
Take home message
The Mediterranean and keto diets differ in percentages of food group consumption. However, either diet regime does not exclude any food group entirely. While the Mediterranean diet gives you a sense of liberation as it does not require calculations, selecting healthy and smart fat-based foods in the keto diet is worth the subtractions and additions. Keeping a mindful attitude helps achieve the best, whether you go for the Mediterranean or keto dietary routines.
“I have the metabolism of a sloth and a body that hates putting on muscles. This curse motivated me to study weight loss and nutrition. I want to share my experiences and knowledge to help you achieve your ideal body.”— Christian Tanobey