I have had several readers contact me about switching from a Keto diet to the Mediterranean diet. Let me start by saying that any diet for weight loss will have results if you follow it. Studies have shown that optimizing adherence is the most important factor for weight loss success. Having said that, when choosing a diet, an eating plan, a way of life- you really need to think about how realistic it is. Can you eat this way forever and be content? If the answer is no, then most likely that diet will be a failure.
Benefits of Switching from Keto Diet to a Mediterranean Diet
1. Easier to follow. The Mediterranean diet does not eliminate any food group.
2. Healthier and Evidence Based. I will not go into all the details here, but over 6000 studies support the Mediterranean Diet, the Keto Diet on the other hand has much less evidence. Actually, there is no comparison, the Mediterranean Diet has by far the most evidence than any other diet.
3. Long-term results. For the most part we know that a low carbohydrate diet may accelerate weight loss IN THE SHORT TERM, long term though there is no difference with a Mediterranean diet.
4. It’s a Real Diet. The Mediterranean diet is a real way of eating that appeared in certain areas of the world, not a man-made diet.
5. What about diabetes? Repeatedly, overviews and meta-analysis of studies show that the Mediterranean diet not only can prevent the appearance of diabetes, but for those who have it, the diet can provide a good control of blood sugar. It is important to note that some of this protection can be attributed to the polyphenols (compounds with antioxidant activity found in plants) present in the diet.
The Authentic Mediterranean Diet is NOT a High Carbohydrate Diet
Before we start I need to clarify one issue or rather a misconception about the Mediterranean Diet that may be important to Keto followers. Contrary to what you may have heard, the real/authentic Mediterranean diet is not a high carbohydrate diet. It is not about pasta and bread, but about a lot of vegetables and a lot of olive oil. A typical menu on the Greek Diet which is considered the prototype of the Mediterranean diet, comes to about 40% fat, 40% carbohydrates and 20% protein. These are the findings from an analysis of macro- and micronutrients in a traditional Greek menu gathered by top Mediterranean Diet researcher Dr. Antonia Trichopoulou. The Greek diet is extremely rich in plant foods with small amounts of meat and the fat mainly comes from the generous use of extra virgin olive oil, resulting in moderate carbohydrate, moderate fat (not low fat) diet making it highly palatable.
So now that we have that out of the way, let’s look at how you can transition to a Mediterranean Diet smoothly:
5 Ways To Transition From a Keto Diet to the Mediterranean Diet
1. Start with Keto Friendly Mediterranean Meals. If you look specifically at the Greek-Mediterranean diet you will find numerous foods that are quite keto friendly, this will get you used to consuming more vegetables and good fats. Some to try:
- Greek Green Beans
- Shrimp with Tomatoes and Feta
- Stuffed Eggplant with Tomato and Onion
- One Pot Greek Style Mushrooms and Leeks
- Mediterranean Garlic and Herb Crusted Roasted Sardines
- Roasted Zucchini and Tomatoes
- Traditional Greek Asparagus Omelet
2. Introduce Carbohydrates with Beans. Since you will be introducing carbohydrates in your diet again, the best way is to start eating beans. Bean or legumes combine, carbohydrates, protein, fiber and antioxidants and provide good blood sugar control. Start out with this lentil stew and these one pot black-eyed beans as they are better tolerated.
3. Always Pair Carbohydrates with Good fats and Protein. Don’t start eating carbohydrates on their own as this may lead to blood sugar fluctuations as well as increased hunger, always pair them with some good extra virgin olive oil and plenty of vegetables as well as some protein such as tahini, peanut butter, cheese etc,
4. Reduce Meat Gradually. We know from the research that processed meats specifically, and red meat are associated with reduced longevity. In the Mediterranean diet red meat is consumed in small amounts about once a week. Try by reducing meat gradually: instead of 5-6 ounces reduce to 2 ounces. For more tips checkout this post for eating less meat in 5 steps.
5. Have Vegetable Based Meals. The Mediterranean diet has hundreds of recipes that consist of vegetables. These vegetable main course recipes are filling, healthy and often consist of mostly vegetables. They may be accompanied with a bit of cheese and if you wish a small piece of whole grain bread or barley rusks.
A Final Word
It can be scary to change your diet, especially if you feel it may cause you to gain weight. Take it slowly and adjust as needed. The most important part of this switch is not so much increasing your carbs, but reducing meat intake and saturated fats.
Next Steps: Following A Complete Mediterranean Diet Plan
Once you are ready, head over to my Complete Guide to the Authentic Mediterranean Diet for more guidance including menu plans, tips, lists and more.
- Systematic Review of the Mediterranean Diet for Long-Term Weight Loss. The American Journal of Medicine
- Is There an Optimal Diet for Weight Management and Metabolic Health? Gastroenterology
- Dietary Polyphenols, Mediterranean Diet, Prediabetes, and Type 2 Diabetes: A Narrative Review of the Evidence. Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity
- Mediterranean diet and type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Metabolism Research and Review
- A journey into a Mediterranean diet and type 2 diabetes: a systematic review with meta-analyses. British Medical Journal Open
- Macro- and micronutrients in a traditional Greek menu. Forum of Nutrition
Switching over from Keto, I love fruit and vegetables too much and miss them. A couple questions:
1) I see a lot of talk about a serving of this and a serving of that, but hard to find information on what a “serving size” is.
2) What about things like mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard, bbq sauces…?
4) what about cooked vegetables like collard/ mustard greens?
Thanks for all the info!
Thank you for the article! I’m currently Keto (the lots of veggies less meat keto) because it eliminates most of the foods I’m allergic to, But I know Mediterranean is the gold standard way of eating. Is there anyway I can get the benefits of the Mediterranean diet without being able to eat grains?
What is the photo a recipe of? I cannot seem to match it searching chick peas, or garbanzo. It looks so good and I really want some. lol
Hi, I hope it isn’t too late to comment. All the recipes look delicious, but unfortunately I am allergic to tomatoes. There are tomatoes in each one. I tried making a “nomato” sauce and while I found it acceptable, tasty in fact, the rest of my family didn’t care for it – they want the regular tomatoes. Do you have any suggestions?
I’m so glad you’re here doing this work! I’m from an Italian family and was raised on a traditional Mediterranean diet, but over the years I’ve been drawn in by the touted benefits of pretty much every other ‘diet’ out there in the hopes of healing some chronic digestive issues and gaining some healthy mass (am chronically underweight) – the latest of which, the keto diet … Time and again though I find myself, sooner or later, gravitating back to my roots and, like you say, the only way of eating that has really stood the test of time. (Will I ever learn?!) I know there’s a lot of science and credibility to the therapeutic benefits of a keto diet and that’s all well and good, but I really believe there’s no substitute in the world for the kind of wisdom that’s so inherent and ingrained in a traditional diet like this one – so it was so refreshing to hear you share the same perspective.
I do have one quick question, since the keto diet is so centred around macros – I was wondering when you mention the profile of the traditional Mediterranean diet is that 40% fat, 40% carbs and 20% protein by weight (so, 40g out of every 100g of food are fat grams, etc.) – or by calories (like the keto people use)? I do want to move away from tracking this eventually but as an interim it would be really useful to have a guide to help me transition back (hopefully once and for all!).
Thank you again for the work you’re doing, let’s keep dispelling the nonsense at is really is so important!!
Much love! 🙂
I started keto in August 2019 and ended just before Christmas. I lost 45 pounds. I went from BMI 0f 40.1 to 32. I was astonished to find my LDLs increased by 90 points! No more keto for me. Should just do what my doctor always recommended… Mediterranean diet.
Congratulations Stacy for losing the weight. Yes, the Mediterranean diet is sustainable and you will see health benefits (apart from weight loss). Welcome!
Same story for me
If someone needs to lose 25 lbs.. is there any harm in doing a Keto diet for faster weight loss and then switching over to a Mediterranean Diet as a lifestyle? Would it cause any harm or subsequent weight gain?
Hi this is all very useful information so thank you! I’m actually studying to become a registered dietitian, but I still have a year or so left. I’m wondering what your thoughts are on ketogenic vs Mediterranean or some kind of mix of the two for PCOS? I have PCOS and want to specialize in helping others with it. I can only find a few articles on keto for pcos, but they all have promising results. I went to a lunch and learn about pcos by a doctor who has treated many women with this condition, and he said the best results he has seen are in those who have eaten no more than 50 grams of net carbs per day. I get so confused because that sounds to me like a ketogenic diet. I’ve had several teachers who are RDs say the keto diet is a fad and there’s no evidence to support it other than for epilepsy. Then there’s other teachers (also RDs) who do support it for insulin resistance, diabetes, etc. Which sounds like it could also be useful for pcos. Anyways I’m really interested in a Mediterranean style diet but also still want to learn more about if a ketogenic diet could be therapeutic for pcos. I feel like the two could be combined by cutting out the grains and beans, but that could make it not as beneficial. Any thoughts on this?
So glad to have found you. There is a study going on right now about how the Mediterranean diet affects people with Crohn’s Disease. That’s me. Just attended a virtual seminar today and the RD said increase fruits and vegetables, decrease saturated fats and food additives. My husband suggested I give this diet a shot. I am really excited because it doesn’t look difficult, restrictive, or expensive.
Thanks for sharing Naomi!
I found your site while looking for information about the Mediterranean diet. So happy I did! I have had two kidney transplants and breast cancer. It sounds crazy, but I am doing well. I have recently gained some weight and tired of feeling tired all the time. I was just wondering if this way of eating is kidney-friendly. I am not on a kidney and looing for a healthier way of eating
*Kidney diet and looking
I bless the day I found this site. Elena, you are an angel!! 🙂
Thank you Bruce!!