Knowing the Difference Between Mediterranean Diet and Keto Diet

Although they’re both famous, there are many differences between the Mediterranean diet and the Keto diet.

For one, the Mediterranean diet was voted as the best diet of the year. On the flip side, the Keto diet is voted the worst.

Next, the Mediterranean diet is more plant-based. It also includes fresh fruits and vegetables and lean proteins. Meanwhile, the Keto diet is high-fat, low-carb. Meaning, you program your body to burn fats as an energy source instead of carbohydrates.

Here are other things you need to know about the two:

The Mediterranean Diet

While there isn’t a unique version, the Mediterranean diet is a balanced way of eating. Overall, here’s what Mediterranean-style eating includes:

  • High in fruit and vegetables
  • Lots of whole grains, beans, lentils, and nuts
  • Herbs and spices for seasoning
  • Abundant in healthy fats like olive oil
  • Fish and seafood twice weekly
  • Reasonable amounts of dairy, as well as eggs and poultry
  • Rare red meat, saturated fat, and sugar (if any)

Many people who seek a healthy way to lose weight ask about the Mediterranean diet, and for a good reason.

For one, the Mediterranean diet is packed with foods that we know are good for us. This includes fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, and lentils. Meanwhile, we can get our proteins primarily from seafood.

And while pasta gets a poor rap in the Mediterranean diet, it is not restricted. What’s important is that you don’t overcook it, eat the right amount, and top it with a sauce that has protein and healthy fat. Doing so allows you to reduce your carb intake and prevents the sauce from being absorbed too quickly.

This diet is proven to be healthy and adaptable because it’s inclusive rather than “punitive.” Plus, it is the most studied diet on the planet.

The Ketogenic Diet

With Keto, you can encounter many versions of the diet. Some people stay on Keto regularly, whereas others cycle in and out.

Keto highlights weight loss through fat-burning. You cut the carbs you consume and fill up on fats instead. By doing so, you safely start a state of ketosis, according to diet proponents.

In ketosis, your body breaks down both dietary and stored body fat into elements called ketones. Your fat-burning system now relies essentially on fat – instead of sugar – for energy. That can lead to immediate weight loss.

Urine or blood test results, fruity breath, fewer hunger pangs, sharper focus, and weight loss are signs of ketosis.

In general, keto plans call for limiting carbs to about 15 to 20 net carbs a day. Fat consumption makes up roughly 70% of daily calories. In comparison, the 2015-20 Dietary Guidelines for Americans call for 130 grams of daily carbs and fat consumption varying from 25% to 35% of daily calories.

Keto shifts traditional thinking on diets. Here’s how a keto diet might appear:

  • Instead of skinless poultry and lean cuts of meat, protein sources incorporate ribeye steak, skin-on chicken thighs, pork roast, and bacon.
  • Consuming whole-dairy foods are encouraged.
  • You’ll experience sugar cravings with desserts like dark chocolate and nut butter.
  • For a salad, greens such as spinach, kale, and lettuce, along with broccoli, cauliflower, and cucumbers, are okay. But starchy veggies, such as corn and sweet potatoes, are too high in carbs.
  • Salad dressing can include oils like avocado, olive, canola, flaxseed, and palm, or even mayonnaise.

Similarities Between Mediterranean and Keto Diets

While there’s a difference between the two, there’s no denying that you can combine the Mediterranean and Keto diets. That’s because both diets don’t have a single, founded plan.

Meaning, you can combine these diets’ features based on your taste, food preferences, lifestyle, and budget.

Pricing and Cost

Depending on how you squeeze them, both diets could put a hole in your budget.

With Keto, you remove affordable staples like beans, lentils, and whole grains. On the other hand, the ingredients for a Mediterranean recipe can be costly.

If you’re on Keto, you can instead buy more affordable cuts of meat to fulfill fat requirements. Meanwhile, you can substitute tuna or sardines if you’re on the Mediterranean, and fresh seafood is pricey.

Similarly, you could include frozen fruits and vegetables in place of some fresh produce.

Health Benefits

Dropping weight, however you do it, can decrease health risks. This includes high blood pressure, heart attacks, and cancer. These are diseases that are linked to being overweight or obese.

Early study suggests that the keto diet may help lower blood sugar (blood glucose) levels and avoid blood sugar spikes. This can be handy if you need to manage Type 2 diabetes.

Moreover, small research in 2017 and 2018 found reductions in hemoglobin A1C levels. The hemoglobin A1C levels measure long-term glucose management for prediabetic and diabetic people.

The Mediterranean diet, on the other hand, has consistently shown health benefits.

Back in 2018, there was a long-term study of almost 26,000 healthy U.S. women. Those who followed a Mediterranean diet saw a 25% decrease in heart disease risk.

Early large European and U.S. studies of adults who adhered to the diet found declines in heart attack risk, stroke, or death. 

The Mediterranean diet can reverse metabolic syndrome. These are a constellation of heart disease and diabetes risk factors.

Weight-loss effects

You can lose weight on both diets.

Mediterranean Diet vs. Keto Diet

Here are some of the key differences between these two popular diets:

Keto is a true diet. Mediterranean diet is an eating pattern.

By definition, a diet comprises the kinds of food that a person eats or doesn’t eat normally. It restricts your food options and may be used for weight loss, medical purposes, or personal goals.

This explains why the Keto diet is a real diet. It is based on rigorous rules about what you can and can’t eat. It also uses grams as a computation tool.

On the other hand, the Mediterranean diet has fewer rules of what food you can consume. Nonetheless, it is based on a dietary guide that you can turn into a diet.

Keto is more restrictive than the Mediterranean diet

When you’re on the Mediterranian diet, no foods are off-limits. Meanwhile, the keto diet concentrates on dietary restrictions. 

With the former, you can have any food you like as long as they’re fresh. As for the latter, there are specific foods you can’t eat since you have a limited gram allotment.

Moreover, the Mediterranean is focused on composition. It also features olive oil and other healthy fats, whole grains, legumes, and leafy greens.” Meanwhile, the keto diet supports a very high-fat, moderate protein, very low-carbohydrate way of eating.

Both encourage the consumption of fats

Those starting on the keto diet may find themselves consuming cheese, bacon, and butter. These foods, which are high in fat, are approved on the keto diet. But that’s not the case with the Mediterranean diet.

While both diest highlight fat, the Keto diet has higher fat consumption. So much so that it can be challenging for the body to get an ample supply of other macronutrients.

On the other hand, the Mediterranean diet plan promotes followers to consume healthy fats like avocados and olive oil.

The Mediterranean diet calls for nutrient-rich food groups

The two styles of eating are built on a framework of different food combinations.

The Mediterranean diet highlights whole grains, legumes, and other fiber-rich carbohydrate foods. On the other hand, the keto diet does not indicate these nutrient-rich food groups.

The Keto diet requires you to track your food

The Mediterranean diet takes less preparation than the keto diet. For one, you don’t need to count calories or carbs.

However, people who are on the Keto diet must keep an eye on their macros. This is to ensure that they will achieve ketosis.

The sustainability rate for each diet is very different

According to a certified dietitian, Lisa De Fazio, it’s common to see high cholesterol people after following a Keto diet. After all, you cannot eat massive amounts of meat, cheese, and fat without consequences.

Moreover, it can screw up your metabolism. This explains why people who went to Keto and quit regained their weight and more.

Thus, many experts agree that the Keto diet is not a viable, long-term diet.

The keto diet may pose more health risks

Compared to the Mediterranean diet, the ketogenic diet can post many health risks. This includes high cholesterol, low blood pressure, and hypoglycemia from not consuming carbohydrates.

Moreover, going Keto can also trigger an eating disorder. That’s because it follows a rigid rule and focuses on numbers. This is common when you limit the intake of certain foods.

Both diets moderate your sugar intake

The Mediterranean diet does not necessarily limit your sugar intake. Instead, it highlights other fresh foods like fruits and vegetables. Hence, it is inherent that you’ll have less sugar intake.

As for the Keto diet, you’re limited to 25 grams of carb intake per day at most. And they specify which foods you can and cannot eat.

Regardless, both Keto and Mediterranean diets crowd out the sugar.

Which One is Better?

The keto diet may work better for people looking primarily for swift weight loss. The Mediterranean diet is a better choice if you want a balanced eating plan to maintain a healthy weight over time. Here’s what to consider:

Weight LossUp to 10 pounds in the first week (includes water weight). 
FoodExtremely low-carb, high-fat plan with many versions.
Health BenefitsMay reduce blood sugar levels and spikes.
Health RisksNot advised for people with liver or kidney conditions.
Weight LossGradual weight loss could approach 20 pounds over a year.
FoodBalanced plan high in produce, nuts, whole grains, olive oil. Moderate in seafood, poultry, dairy. Infrequent red meat or sweets.
Health BenefitsReduces risk factors for heart disease and diabetes.
Health RisksNo risks reported.

Deciding which diet is right for you depends on many factors. But arguably, the two things you should consider are what restrictions you feel you can stick to and your goals.

While the Keto diet may produce great short-term results, sticking to it long-term could lead to health risks. Eating a bunch of bacon might be appealing in the short-term. However, it’s challenging to stick to a diet that stops you from eating foods that are usually considered healthy, like fruits and nuts.

By contrast, the Mediterranean diet is considered to be one of the healthiest possible diets. It’s also simple to follow, which helps people manage or lose weight over time. However, it’s not likely to give you results as quickly as Keto.