Keto Diet vs. Mediterranean Diet: Differences Explained

by Dr. Nick Zyrowski November 30, 2022

Many of us want to make positive changes when it comes to our health. For most people, it’s not laziness or a lack of willpower. It can often be a simple misunderstanding of what the best plan to follow is for our nutritional needs.

Truthfully, diets aren’t always a one-size-fits-all approach. You can eat differently than your friends and still maintain a healthy lifestyle. It can come down to what your nutritional needs are and what preferences you enjoy. We’re going to take two of the most popular diets and break them down so that you can decide which one might be the perfect lifestyle choice for you.

What is the Keto diet?

The keto diet is a high-fat, moderate-protein diet that includes very few carbohydrates. On a strict ketogenic diet, you get less than 5 percent of your energy intake from carbs. When you reduce the number of carbs you eat, it puts the body into ketosis, which is a metabolic state of burning fat for fuel. (1)

When you enter ketosis, your body breaks down stored fat into molecules called ketones. These ketones are used for energy, rather than blood sugar from food. When your body reaches ketosis, most of your cells will use ketones to generate energy.

Foods on the Keto diet

When you eat a keto diet, you can have plenty of foods that are delicious and sustain you for long periods. Lots of healthy fats are encouraged, like olive oil, butter, fatty fish, and meats.

You can also have non-starchy veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, squash, and dark, leafy greens. Many people on the ketogenic diet enjoy lots of eggs and avocados, too. These are packed with nutrients and have lots of healthy fat.

If you need a snack, you can opt for foods like cheese, pepperoni, and plain Greek yogurt. Their protein and fat content will reduce your hunger and keep you satiated. (2)

The main foods you want to stay away from on the keto diet are high-carb, processed foods. These are all inflammatory and cause you to gain weight and will make your blood sugar spike. If you’re concerned that you won’t be able to satisfy your sweet tooth on the ketogenic diet, there are lots of sugar alternatives that won’t ruin your health. Instead of unhealthy sugar, opt for things like allulose, stevia, and erythritol.

What is the Mediterranean diet?

The Mediterranean diet is more plant-based than the keto diet. It gained popularity in the 1950s when it was noted that heart disease was less prevalent in Mediterranean countries than in the United States. (3)

The Mediterranean diet is based on the traditional eating styles of Greece and Italy. It includes lots of plant-based foods, whole grains, herbs and spices, nuts, seeds, and fruits. A staple of the Mediterranean diet is olive oil, which is the main source of fat.

Food focus of the Mediterranean diet

As we mentioned above, the Mediterranean diet focuses on plants, rather than meats. You’re encouraged to eat healthy fats on this diet, also. Rather than butter, olive oil is used for cooking and finishing sauces. You’ll eat plenty of fatty fish like mackerel, sardines, and herring.

When you build your plate, most of your foods will be vegetables, beans, and whole grains. You may eat some poultry and other seafood too, like shrimp and scallops. For dessert, fresh fruit is often served.

You can eat meat in moderation on the Mediterranean diet, but it’s not a mainstay. The foundation of your diet will consist mostly of fresh veggies and grains. (4)

Major diet differences

Now that you know what both of these diets include, you can better decide which one you prefer. You can try them both and see which diet your body responds to better and how you feel with each one.

The differences between these two diets are pretty stark in comparison. The keto diet focuses on healthy fats for energy and eating only a few carbohydrates. The Mediterranean diet, in opposition, is plant-based and revolves around vegetables and carbs.

The keto diet involves fats like eggs and butter. Many proponents of the keto diet eat lots of butter to maintain enough fat in their diets. On the Mediterranean diet, olive oil is used instead of butter.

Some people suggest the Mediterranean diet is a low-carb diet, but it’s not specifically geared toward lowering carbohydrates. The emphasis is to eat more veggies, legumes, olive oil, and seafood. (5)

Which is the best diet?

The best diet is the one you can follow long-term that gives you the best results for your health. If you enjoy lots of vegetables and don’t like fatty meats, the Mediterranean diet may be better for you.

On the other hand, if you love lots of fats in your diet and don’t enjoy eating tons of veggies, you may want to give the keto diet a try. That doesn’t mean you can’t have vegetables on the keto diet. You can still enjoy tons of low-carb veggies like:

  • Cucumbers
  • Zucchini
  • Peppers
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Asparagus
  • Celery
  • Lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Mushrooms
  • Brussels sprouts

One of the typical tenets of the keto diet is that if it grows under the ground, you should avoid it. That means you should limit or not eat foods like sweet potatoes, white potatoes, and carrots. These foods tend to be higher in carbs than other vegetables. (6)

Keys to success

When it comes to either of these diets, to be successful you need to plan your meals whenever possible. If you’re like the rest of us, you have a busy life, and it’s not always easy to cook. If seeing tons of ingredients to prepare a meal overwhelms you, we understand. That’s why having some simple items on hand, ready to cook in minutes can help make your healthy eating easier. You want to use foods that can heal your health issues, and get you on the road to success. Include low-carb recipes that you can make for the entire family without a lot of fuss and dirty dishes!

You also have to be realistic when making a lifestyle change. Most of us are not gourmet chefs, and we must be able to transition into our eating plans. If you are always on the go, that’s normal for most people these days. Leftovers can be lifesavers when you’re in a hurry. Don’t be afraid to prepare more than necessary, so you can take healthy food to work and avoid vending machines and unhealthy cafeteria meals.

Another option is to take a healthy shake that’s filled with nutrients to keep you energetic and satiated all day. These shakes can work for a keto lifestyle or someone on the Mediterranean diet that wants a quick meal with plenty of vitamins included.

Exercise is crucial no matter which diet you follow. Get off the couch and start moving. You will be amazed at how much better you can feel in a short amount of time. Being physically active will help you have a happier, healthier life at any age. (7)

When you exercise, you lower your risk of developing diseases and chronic conditions. You may avoid illnesses like diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and even some cancers.

Making a change

When you’re ready to change your diet, you want to give yourself some time to adjust. If you’ve been eating the Standard American Diet (SAD), changing your palette to enjoy healthy foods will take time. Be patient, and remember your goal is to give your body the tools to be well. Each step you take in the right direction will positively affect your future self and your wellness. If you feel like you messed up, don’t get discouraged. Get right back on the health plan you’ve chosen and move forward. Our website has resources to help you achieve success on your wellness journey. If you want access to exclusive content, consider joining our wellness warrior tribe or contact us for more information on how we can help.

References :,grains%2C%20olive%20oil%20and%20fish.'s%20strong,%2C%20stroke%2C%20and%20some%20cancers.,moderate%20intake%20of%20red%20wine.

Dr. Nick Zyrowski
Dr. Nick Zyrowski

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