Diet Lifestyle

Mediterranean Keto: The Ultimate Diet for Health & Weight Loss

July 3, 2020


Mediterranean Keto: The Ultimate Diet for Health & Weight Loss

You’ve probably heard of both the Mediterranean diet and Keto. But in the last few years, and especially the last few months, fitness experts, health gurus, and scientists have all been talking less about how these two popular lifestyles are different and more about the superfoods they have in common. If fact, there’s a lot of evidence that combining them is the key to long lasting health and weight-loss.

The Mediterranean diet, and the related Blue Zones and Longevity Diets, are widely recognized as being the best diets for sustainable weightloss, mental health, longevity, aging, and overall health. When compared to a typical western diet filled with processed foods, this plant-based, sprinkled with light seafood diet, is a safe, effective, and reliable bet and incredibly good for your heart.

However, moderate diets often have moderate results. In the last 5 years, the health community has seen the incredible and often drastic weight-loss achieved by putting the body into ketosis— an extreme change to the body that sometimes comes with an increased health risk.

Both the Mediterranean diet and the ketogenic diet both can be extremely useful lifestyles for moving away from the Standard American Diet although one might be too slow, and one might be too risky. When we combine them into one diet, both of their downsides melt away, leaving us with a way of eating that can significantly improve every aspect of health.

But before we take a closer look at the Mediterranean keto diet, let’s uncover the foundational principles of each diet first.

What is the Mediterranean Diet?

The Mediterranean diet has talked about and researched for over 50 years. Its rise in popularity began after Ancel Keys, PhD, a professor from the University of Minnesota, published the Seven Countries Study.

This study examined the health outcomes of nearly 13,000 middle-aged men in the United States, Japan, Italy, Greece, the Netherlands, Finland, and then-Yugoslavia. His team found that men from Italy, Greece, and Crete (a large island in the Mediterranean sea) experienced lower heart disease rates than their counterparts in other countries. Keys discovered that this was due to these countries all resorting to their poorer diets, and that whie in the U.S., Finland, and the Netherlands, poor countries relied on processed foods and animal fats, the “poor” diet of the Mediterranean focused on fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, and fish .

Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet

Since that first study in the 1950’s, thousands of studies have been made. They show that the Mediterranean Diet helps with:

  • increased life span
  • lower risks of certain cancers, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and type 2 diabetes
  • reduced mortality risk from stroke and heart attack
  • reduced incidence of stroke and heart attack
  • improved body composition
  • enhanced brain function
  • lower levels of blood pressure and LDL cholesterol

Mediterranean Macros

50%–60% of daily calories from carbohydrates mostly grains, vegetabes, and starches. 25%–35% of calories from fat (with a heavy emphasis on natural unsaturated fats), and the remainder from protein.

Mediterranean Staples

Common staples of the Mediterranean diet are as follows:


  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Legumes
  • Potatoes
  • Whole grains
  • Bread
  • Herbs & spices
  • Fish & seafood
  • Olive oil

EAT IN MODERATION: Cheese, poultry, eggs, and yogurt are also a part of the diet in moderation.

AVOID: Typically, red meat is rarely consumed, and sugar-sweetened beverages, added sugars, processed meat, refined grains, refined oils, and other highly processed foods are avoided.

What is the Keto Diet?

The ketogenic diet, and by similarities the Atkins and High Fat diets, is most commonly described as being a high-fat, low-carb, low-to-moderate protein diet initially used as a treatment for some cases of epilepsy in the early 1900s. However, phrases like “high-fat” and “low-carb” are so vague that they don’t encapsulate what differentiates a keto diet from any other low carb diet.

Basically, if you restrict carbs to the point that you enter and sustain ketosis with your diet, you are on keto.

Ketosis is a metabolic state in which your body is consistently using and burning a highly efficient alternative fuel called ketones. To produce ketones and enter ketosis, we must continually trigger a process in the liver called ketogenesis. The healthiest way to do this is by limiting carb consumption to under 50g per day.

Benefits of the Keto Diet

Although there hasn’t been as much research on the keto diet as there has been on the Mediterranean diet, The current data suggests that the diet can have a profound impact on our health including:

  • Remarkable decreases in insulin, blood sugar, and hbA1c levels
  • Significant reductions in triglyceride levels
  • Rapid and sustained weight-loss.
  • Significant reductions in blood pressure
  • Reducing the severity of type 2 diabetes, fatty liver disease, PCOS, certain types of cancer and neurological disorders including epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease

Despite the proven upsides of the keto diet, there are some serious potential downsides, mainly that the body can not survive longterm on fat alone. The increased saturated fat content of the keto diet will significantly increase cholesterol levels and heart disease risk.

Keto Staples

And get most of your calories from these healthy high-fat foods:

  • Meats – fish, beef, lamb, poultry, eggs, etc.
  • Low-carb vegetables: spinach, kale, broccoli, and cabbage.
  • High-fat dairy: hard cheeses, high fat cream, butter, etc.
  • Nuts and seeds: macadamias, walnuts, sunflower seeds, etc.
  • Avocado and berries: raspberries, blackberries, and other low glycemic impact berries
  • Other fats – coconut oil, high-fat salad dressing, saturated fats, etc.

To achieve this unique metabolic state, you must avoid these high-carb foods:

  • Grains – wheat, corn, rice, cereal, etc.
  • Sugar – honey, agave, maple syrup, etc.
  • Fruit – apples, bananas, oranges, etc.
  • Starches – potato, yams, corn, etc.

Keto Macros

It is also essential to make sure you are eating around 70% fats, 25% protein, and 5% carbohydrate. When carb and/or protein consumption are too high, ketone production will be impaired.

Although this may occur for a small subset of the population that has familial hypercholesterolemia and/or hypothyroid related issues, the majority of the research literature has found that keto optimizes cholesterol levels and many other risk factors for heart disease. (For a closer look at the research behind these statements, check out our in-depth article on the keto diet and heart disease.)

That being said, research indicates that combining keto with the Mediterranean diet can actually reduce LDL cholesterol levels, which may provide us with even more protection from heart disease. We will take a look at this promising data after we compare and contrast the two diets.

The Similarities

The four similarities worth noting are:

  • They benefit similar aspects of health. Both diets, when compared to westernized low-fat diets, help us improve several important biomarkers for overall health, such as cholesterol, triglycerides, blood sugar, and blood pressure levels.
  • They provide us with similar long-term weight loss results. Although the keto diet typically yields more weight loss in the short-term, studies indicate that both diets achieve similar weight loss after 1-2 years.
  • They both have similar adherence levels. Although the keto diet looks more restrictive than the Mediterranean diet on paper, research indicates that it has roughly the same drop-out rates as other diets in dietary intervention trials (at around 24%). This may suggest that diet adherence depends more heavily on individual differences than on how much a diet restricts specific foods or macronutrients.
  • They both are biased toward “clean eating.” Both keto and Mediterranean diets tend to avoid all heavily processed foods and derive most of their calories from minimally processed, high-quality whole foods. This simple shift in food quality is one of the critical factors responsible for the many health benefits these diets have in common.

The Differences

  • Carb intake. The Mediterranean diet emphasizes healthy fats and eliminates refined sugars, but it also includes a moderately high amount of carbohydrates — including fruits and whole grain breads and pastas. In contrast, the ketogenic diet is always going to be very low in all carbohydrates, even from unrefined higher carb plant foods.
  • Fat intake. The Mediterranean diet is higher in fat compared with standard low-fat diets, but it’s much lower in fat than keto. The primary source of calories on the keto diet is fat, while the primary source of calories on the Mediterranean diet is usually carbs.
  • Type of fat consumed. The type of fat typically consumed on both diets is also different. The Mediterranean diet emphasizes natural unsaturated fats from plant-based oils and fish, while keto foods include copious amounts of saturated and unsaturated fats.

Mediterranean Keto Diet: The Best of Both Worlds?

To be honest? We’re sold. The drastic weight-loss benefits of Keto are tempting, but the tendency to overly rely on red meat, bacon, butter and cheese, leaves arteries stuffed and brains foggy. When you combine the ketogenic macros with mediterranean omega-3s, dark leafy greens, sardines, olives, cruciferous veggies and antioxidant heavy berries.

In 2008, researchers from Spain sought to explore the potential impact of combining the ketogenic diet with the Mediterranean diet. Their diet plan was based on the following:

  • Little need for calorie counting.
  • Olive oil as the major source of added fat, with over 2 tablespoons consumed per day.
  • Green vegetables and salads as the primary carbohydrate source.
  • Fish was the major source of protein.
  • Participants also drank a moderate amount of daily wine (200-400 ml/day).

The researchers called this a “Spanish Ketogenic Mediterranean diet,” and it resulted in changes you’d expected from a standard keto diet, including significant decreases in body fat, blood pressure, glucose, and triglycerides.

In the end, the Mediterranean Keto diet appears to be an effective way to lose weight while taking care of your overall health.

  1. Avatar

    Brenda Hernandez

    What is the macros that are used for Mediterranean keto diet?

  • MacroPlate


    Hi Brenda, Great question. The Mediterranean Diet is an ingredient-based diet that focuses on the inclusion/exclusion of certain ingredients. The Ketogenic diet (while health experts and nutritionists do often recommend specific ingredients for best results) is a macro-nutrient ratio focused way of eating. For Keto it's usually recommended to get over 70% of your calories from healthy fats in the first 1-2 weeks to get your body into ketosis, and then it can decrease to 40%-60%. The Mediterranean Keto diet would have the same macros as Keto, while choosing to eat from the ingredients recommended by Mediterranean.

  • Avatar

    Cassie Hubbell

    I've struggled with my weight my whole life and it's safe to say that I've tried a LOT of diets... The Keto diet is the only one I've managed to stick to and the weight is literal55ly melting off my body. Unlike other diets where I am feeling hungry all day and food is constantly on my mind, the keto diet has completely eliminated this, I actually NEVER feel hungry with this way of eating! I would definitely recommend anyone struggling to lose weight to try these custom keto meal plans as they really have been a godsend for me. To learn more click this link>>>

  • Avatar


    What wine is best to incorporate into the Keto/Mediterranean Morph diet? I realize it's a red but I need the name of the best one for the least money please. Thanks

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