The Mediterranean diet and the ketogenic, or keto, diet have both received praise over the past few years for their abilities to help people lose and maintain weight, as well as cutting blood sugar levels in people with prediabetes and Type 2 diabetes.
The “low-carb” diets were both created with the goal of reducing sugars and refined grains, with the keto diet being the more restrictive of the two. The diets aimed to add more starchy vegetables to a person’s diet, which have been found to be beneficial to people with any form of diabetes.
While the diets share many similarities, their exact outcomes are not the same. In a study of 33 people with diabetes conducted for the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, it was found that the keto diet had a 9% drop in HbA1c, or blood sugar levels, while the Mediterranean diet only resulted in a 7% drop.
While both diets showed a decrease in weight, the keto diet maintained a slight edge with an 8% drop in weight versus the keto diet’s 7%.
For cardiometabolic parameters, the keto diet saw a much larger drop in triglycerides, at 16%, while the Mediterranean diet only had a 5% drop.
However, the Mediterranean diet did have the edge on some metrics. For LDL cholesterol, often known as “bad” cholesterol, the keto diet had a 10% increase, while the Mediterranean diet had a 5% decrease. Also, those following the keto diet saw a drop in nutrients compared to those on the Mediterranean diet and had a much lower intake of fiber.
In the keto diet, the goal is to reach “ketosis,” in which the body does not have enough carbs to burn for energy, so it begins to burn fat. It is quite restrictive, because a person must eat a high amount of protein and fat with an extremely low amount of carbohydrates.
The Mediterranean diet is often much simpler to follow, as it is inspired by people who live near the sea. It mostly includes whole grains, fruits, vegetables and seafood, as well as olive oil.