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Mediterranean Diet vs. Keto Diet: Which Diet Is Right for Weight Loss?

The Mediterranean and ketogenic diets are great options when striving for a healthy lifestyle or trying to lose weight, as both have positive effects on long and short-term health. How do you choose one over the other?

These popular dietary programs differ significantly, and it is essential to understand the requirements of each plan and how they can fit into your eating habits and food preferences so you can stick to your new practices in the long term.

In this article, we’ll go over everything you need to know about Mediterranean and ketogenic diets, and help you find out which would be the best choice for you.

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Mediterranean and Keto Diets: Basics

The Mediterranean diet is based on the traditional cuisines of countries that border the Mediterranean sea, while the ketogenic diet is a regime in which one abstains from eating foods high in carbs while focusing on the intake of fats and proteins. Let’s dive into these concepts.

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Mediterranean Diet Overview

The Mediterranean diet has gained recognition for its positive impact on heart health, as it has been observed that heart disease rates are much lower in Mediterranean countries.

The diet can also be considered a lifestyle, as it prioritizes consuming products widely available in the region that gives it its name: fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, and healthy fats such as extra virgin olive oil. It also recommends choosing poultry, seafood, and legumes for protein sources instead of red meat, and excludes processed foods, sweets, and sugary drinks.

While there are various versions of the Mediterranean diet, the common theme is a high intake of healthy fats and plant-based foods.

Overall, this is a healthy eating habit that can help prevent cardiovascular diseases, increase lifespan, and promote healthy aging. A Mediterranean diet, combined with intermittent fasting, can even promote healthy weight loss.

Keto Diet Overview

The Keto diet is a low-carb diet that aims to induce a state of ketosis in the body, in which fat is used as an energy source instead of glucose.

While following this diet, you are limited to consuming 50 grams of carbs a day, with your daily calories split into about 70% fat, 20% protein, and 10% carbs.

When your body enters ketosis, it also enters a fat-burning mode, which can contribute to weight loss. Additionally, following a ketogenic diet may also lead to reduced blood pressure.

In contrast to the Mediterranean diet, which is relatively simple to follow and does not have strict rules, low-carb diets like the ketogenic diet may require more careful adherence to specific guidelines.

Mediterranean Diet vs. Keto Diet: Food List Comparison

Let’s take a look now at the foods included in each of these regimes.

Mediterranean Diet Food List

On a Mediterranean diet, the following foods are generally recommended:

  • Healthy fats — avocados, avocado oil, extra virgin olive oil, nuts, seeds.
  • Vegetables — starchy vegetables, tomatoes, kale, carrots, cucumbers, broccoli, spinach, onions, brussels sprouts.
  • Fruits — dates, figs, bananas, apples, pears, oranges, grapes, melons, peaches, strawberries.
  • Legumes — lentils, peanuts, chickpeas, peas, beans.
  • Whole grains — brown rice, corn, oats, buckwheat, whole wheat bread, pasta.
  • Fatty fish and seafood — tuna, salmon, mackerel, sardines, shrimp, crab, mussels, oysters, calms.
  • Poultry — chicken, turkey, duck.
  • Dairy products — milk, cheese, yogurt.
  • Eggs — chicken or duck eggs.
  • Spices and herbs — garlic, basil, pepper, cinnamon, sage, mint, nutmeg.

On the contrary, while on a Mediterranean diet, it is generally recommended to avoid the following foods:

  • Refined oils — canola oil, soybean oil, rapeseed oil, cottonseed oil.
  • Trans fats — fried or processed foods, margarine.
  • Sugar — added sugar in soda, sweets, syrup, or pastry.
  • Refined grains — chips, crackers, tortillas.
  • Processed foods — fast food, convenience foods.
  • Processed meat — sausages, beef jerky, hot dogs.

Keto Diet Food List

On a ketogenic diet, the following foods are generally allowed:

  • Seafood — salmon, shrimp, crabs, oysters, octopus, sardines, mackerel.
  • Red meat — beef, pork, lamb.
  • Poultry — chicken, turkey, or duck.
  • Eggs — chicken or duck eggs.
  • Dairy products — cheese, plain greek yogurt, cream.
  • Vegetables and fruits — leafy greens, peppers, zucchini, cauliflower, jicama, turnips, asparagus, broccoli, cucumber, mushrooms, eggplant, tomatoes, radishes, brussels sprouts, avocados, olives.
  • Nuts and seeds — almonds, pecans, macadamia nuts, walnuts, chia seeds, flaxseeds.
  • Fats and oils — olive oil, butter, and ghee.
  • Dark chocolate — 70% cocoa dark chocolate.
  • Berries — strawberries and raspberries.

While following this eating habit, the following foods should be avoided:

  • High-carb foods — grains, starchy vegetables, and high-sugar fruits.
  • Foods with added sugar — sweetened yogurts, sweets, sugary drinks, syrup, and honey.
  • Processed foods — snacks, baked goods, fast foods.

The main distinction between these two diets is that the Mediterranean diet excludes red meat, processed foods, and added sugar, while the ketogenic diet places greater limits on foods high in carbohydrates and sugar.

Which Diet To Choose for Weight Loss?

Although the Mediterranean diet does not require calorie counting, studies have shown that following this diet can lead to significant body fat loss.

This may be because the diet emphasizes eating nutrient-rich foods and avoiding highly processed meals, which can reduce overall calorie intake. Some studies have even shown that following the Mediterranean lifestyle can lead to a weight loss of up to 22 pounds in a year.

In contrast to the Mediterranean diet, the ketogenic diet can help reduce appetite by changing the body’s primary fuel source from glucose to ketone bodies. This shift into ketosis, or a fat-burning mode, can boost the metabolic response and actively burn fat.

The amount of weight loss that can be achieved on a ketogenic diet varies depending on factors such as individual fat-adaptation period, body composition, and habits—some people claim to lose 1 pound per week, while others claim to lose 10 pounds per week.

It’s worth noting that, initially, following a ketogenic diet may include a loss of water weight. However, there is no doubt that the ketogenic diet can help individuals reach their weight loss goals.

Overall, the ketogenic diet may offer faster results than the Mediterranean diet. While the Mediterranean diet promotes long-term weight loss, the ketogenic diet can help individuals enter a fat-burning mode in less than a week.

As such, the ketogenic diet may be a good choice for those seeking rapid changes in their bodies, while the Mediterranean diet may be a better option for those looking to maintain or gradually lose weight.

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Mediterranean Diet vs. Keto Diet: Other Benefits

In addition to aiding in weight loss, these two diets offer other health benefits.

Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet

Benefits of the Keto Diet

  • Reduction of seizures in people with epilepsy — the ketogenic diet has been shown to be effective in reducing seizures in some people with epilepsy, potentially due to factors like ketosis and low carbohydrate intake.
  • A healthier heart — this diet promotes a drop in total cholesterol levels, low-density lipoprotein, and triglycerides, and an increase in good cholesterol and high-density lipoprotein.
  • A healthier brain — this eating habit offers neuroprotective benefits.
  • Suitable for people with type 2 diabetes or prediabetes — it helps lower blood sugar levels.
  • Can reduce acne symptoms — some people have reported an improvement in acne symptoms after following a ketogenic diet, potentially due to a decreased carb intake.

All in all, both the Mediterranean and ketogenic diets have promising health advantages. The Mediterranean diet has been shown to be particularly effective in improving heart health, while the ketogenic diet may be helpful for people with type 2 diabetes or prediabetes.

Mediterranean Diet vs. Keto Diet: Downsides and Risks To Consider

It’s important to consider the potential drawbacks of these two diets before adopting them as part of your lifestyle.

Risks of the Mediterranean Diet

  • Not enough strict guidelines — the lack of guidance can lead to weight gain from consuming too much fat.
  • Risk of specific nutrient loss — avoiding or limiting certain food groups, such as red meat and dairy products, on the Mediterranean diet may result in deficiencies in nutrients like iron.
  • Cost — The Mediterranean diet, which prioritizes fresh fruits, vegetables, and extra virgin olive oil, may be more expensive than other diets.
  • Encouraged consumption of red wine — while moderate red wine consumption may be part of the Mediterranean diet, some people should not drink alcohol for personal or medical reasons.

Risks of the Keto Diet

Overall, it’s important to carefully consider these diets’ potential risks and benefits before making any significant changes to your eating habits.

Combine With Intermittent Fasting for a Healthy Lifestyle

Intermittent fasting is a time-restricted eating pattern that has been shown to have many health benefits.

When combined with a ketogenic diet, intermittent fasting may help facilitate reaching ketosis. This is because intermittent fasting and the ketogenic diet switch the body’s primary energy source from carbohydrates to fats. During fasting, insulin levels and glycogen reserves tend to drop, leading the body to burn fat for fuel.

Intermittent fasting paired with the Mediterranean diet may also lead to enhanced weight loss results and even greater heart health benefits. This is because both intermittent fasting and the Mediterranean diet have been linked to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.

If you want to incorporate intermittent fasting into your routine, start with a 12:12 fasting schedule and adjust the fasting window as needed.

It can be challenging to both fast and follow a specific diet, but you can make your life a little bit easier by using tools like DoFasting.

The DoFasting app can be a lifesaver when it comes to diets and fasting, as it includes a fasting tracker that will remind you of your fasting and eating windows while also allowing you to track your calorie intake and explore over 5000 healthy recipes that fit the Mediterranean or ketogenic diets.

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Key Takeaways

The Mediterranean diet prioritizes the consumption of healthy fats, such as extra virgin olive oil, and limits the intake of processed foods. This diet has been shown to be effective in reducing the risk of heart disease and promoting healthy aging, but it does not have strict rules.

On the other hand, the ketogenic diet is a low-carbohydrate diet that aims to induce ketosis, a state in which the body burns fat for fuel instead of glucose. This diet has been shown to be effective for weight loss and may also have other health benefits, such as reducing blood pressure. However, it does require strict adherence to specific macronutrient ratios and can be challenging to follow for some people.

In order to choose the perfect diet for you, look at your goals, your needs, and your habits, evaluate the benefits and the risks of each pattern, and, most importantly, listen to your body to understand if your chosen path is working for you.


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This is an evidence-based article that includes scientific citations. DoFasting’s professional writers and editors prepared the content, which a team of medical experts verified to be accurate.

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