Mediterranean Diet 101, Nutrition

How to Switch from a Keto Diet to an Authentic Mediterranean Diet

March 19, 2019

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.

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.

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:

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.

Good Luck!

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.

Selected References


5 ways to transition from a Keto Diet to a Mediterranean Diet. Avoid Weight loss plus Keto Friendly Mediterranean Recipes. #Mediterraneandiet #Keto #recipes #diet #ideas #weightlos #nutrition #mediterranean
Photo by Elena Paravantes All Rights Reserved

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  • Reply Jackie Layton March 19, 2019 at 2:54 pm

    Thanks for the great tips!

  • Reply Karen March 19, 2019 at 4:40 pm

    Thank you Elena. I am indeed switching from the Keto to the Mediterranean diet for the very reasons you suggest. I especially found that I lacked enough fiber in my Keto diet, and that made it harder to follow Keto. The lack of fiber led to constipation, so then I found it too hard to keep eating that way. All the weight I had lost came piling back on. Now, I’m just trying to be sensible, and upping the amount of veggies that we eat, and reducing the amount of meat. I have been loving your website and your recipes.

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN March 19, 2019 at 7:32 pm

      Thanks for sharing Karen and happy you are enjoying the site! Yes fiber is so important for so many reasons, it is a necessary part of any balanced diet.

  • Reply Corina March 19, 2019 at 5:05 pm

    Love, love all your wonderful information Elena! I have made many of your recipes and my entire family enjoys the Mediterranean diet. I am wondering what the dish is pictured above with the chickpeas? I would like to try that one next! Thank you so much for all your information and support of our well-being goals!

  • Reply Helen Reith March 19, 2019 at 7:03 pm

    Hi Elena:
    I have seen many Greek Mediterranean recipes for fish and seafood like calamari, octopus, shrimp, mussels, etc. but I’ve never seen a Greek recipe for clams. I am curious, do Greeks eat clams and if so do you have a recipe? I am trying to eat more seafood and less meat. Thank you for all your information!

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN March 19, 2019 at 7:49 pm

      Hi Helen, Most often the small clams are served here steamed or cooked with pasta, but generally they are usually served in taverns rather than at home I do not have a clam recipe currently.

  • Reply Zaferia March 20, 2019 at 3:56 am

    I’ve been following you for sometime…I love the recipes you share and your knowledge of nutrition. Please please please, consider coming up with an APP similar to MyPlate by Livestrong. I use it regularly tracking my food…I love it, except the macro nutrients are not the same ratio as the Mediterranean diet. The app helps keep me accountable and tracks my progress, it’s similar to the WW app. Wouldn’t it be great to have a tracking app for the Mediterranean diet?

    • Reply Billie Sue Patrick March 20, 2019 at 6:41 pm

      Part of the beauty of the Mediterranean diet is that there is no need for calorie counting or nutritional analysis. If you just focus on eating a ton of vegetables and legumes seasoned liberally with olive oil, herbs, and garlic you will get all the nutrients you need. Avoid meat and sugar. Use feta cheese and yogurt as condiments. Drink red wine within the recommended amounts. Easy and delicious.

      • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN March 21, 2019 at 8:22 am

        Generally yes, if you eat this way your diet will be balanced. And I feel it is important to move away from strict calorie and macronutrient counting if we want to improve our relationship with food. On the other hand, one will have to be cognizant of the calories they are consuming in general but not necessarily on detail.

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN March 21, 2019 at 8:18 am

      Thank you for the suggestion Zaferia!

  • Reply Zaferia March 20, 2019 at 11:54 pm

    When a person is obese, calorie counting matters. Calories in calories out…but not all calories are equal. I love love love the Mediterranean diet…I was raised on it! But living in the States, and straying away from my roots…well not so good. Mediterranean diet consists of a different ratio of macro nutrients than most. An app would certainly help people like myself who can be successful with weight loss when counting. I’d love to plug in my recipes, and calculate can if I afford 1/2 c of Fakes today or 1 cup? Sprinkled with 1 oz of “real” feta or 2 oz….the app is a useful tool to help with planned out decisions.

  • Reply Zaferia March 20, 2019 at 11:57 pm

    When a person is obese, calorie counting matters. Calories in calories out…but not all calories are equal. I love love love the Mediterranean diet…I was raised on it! But living in the States, and straying away from my roots…well not so good. Mediterranean diet consists of a different ratio of macro nutrients than most. An app would certainly help people like myself who can be successful with weight loss when counting. I’d love to plug in my recipes, and calculate can if I afford 1/2 c of Fakes today or 1 cup? Sprinkled with 1 oz of “real” feta or 2 oz…having a tool to help with planned out decisions would be awesome.

  • Reply Zaferia March 20, 2019 at 11:58 pm

    Oops…to help with decision making

  • Reply Mary March 21, 2019 at 5:11 am

    You say that part of the beauty of the Mediterranean diet is that there is no need for calorie counting or nutritional analysis., but I, like Zaferia would also be curious as to, if it is possible, have an idea of how many calories say, for example, for a over 60’s woman with a sedentary lifestyle.

    I really would appreciate an answer on this one please Elena.

  • Reply Mary March 22, 2019 at 3:51 am

    Thanks Elena.

  • Reply Delaney Spencer March 24, 2019 at 5:16 pm

    After being keto since 2016, I recently switched my family (husband, 4 yo girl, and 10 yo boy with high-functioning autism) to a more Mediterranean way of eating. My husband’s cholesterol (and especially triglycerides) was steadily climbing and my weight loss had stalled. My son’s symptoms haven’t improved over the years. So far, other than being hungry a lot, this way of eating has been delicious…for everyone but my daughter. She is having issues with just about every dish I make–she is pickier now than she’s ever been! Lentils, chickpeas, onions, mushrooms, everything is an issue except salad. Any suggestions on how to make this more appealing to her? Thanks for having such an amazing resource available!

  • Reply Leila March 30, 2019 at 5:22 am

    This is off the topic of Keto, but…

    I love your site & have tried many recipes. I think the Mediterranean diet works well for our family (we’re already vegetarian) but I’m having a few struggles with it. One is I’m nursing an infant and I’m having trouble staying full. I’m also in the tricky position of coming home from work and needing to simultaneously cook and nurse the baby, so I’m looking for anything to make prep faster. I’m grateful for any advice!

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN March 31, 2019 at 9:16 am

      Hi Leila. As you are nursing you do need additional calories (about 300 extra), so it makes sense you are having trouble feeling full. Many of the vegetable dishes taste better the next day, so you could try cooking them the day before and serving them the next day for dinner. Also most of these dishes are served with some good whole grain bread and feta which makes them filling. This post may also be helpful:

  • Reply Kara April 2, 2019 at 10:13 pm

    I am so happy to have found your site. I am Sicilian by blood and am trying to eat more like this in order to control my weight and blood sugar. I had a nutritionist put me on a Keto diet only to have my kidneys rebel. Turns out for me Ketosis leads to over worked kidneys and kidney stones. So I am shifting away from that and to a let protein heavy diet.

  • Reply David April 30, 2019 at 11:47 am

    I’ve been keto for a little over a year, and eliminating sugar, bread, noodles, rice, potatoes, etc has done wonders for my weight (20% body weight loss), energy, blood chemistry (blood sugar, cholesterol, and triglycerides), it has become boring and I find my self straying occasionally.

    For me, the Mediterranean way of eating seems more sustainable. I’m convinced that a calory deficit is a key for me, and the idea of eating more vegetables is appealing.

    One question: where do fruits fit into the Mediterranean equation? And fish? I live in a SEAsia tropical country, and these are in plentiful supply.

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN May 1, 2019 at 11:09 am

      Hi David,
      Congratulations on your weight loss! Typically fruit are consumed after a meal, as a closure to the meal, so about 2-3 fruit a day. Fish is typically consumed 2 times a week.

  • Reply Bruce Wilson June 2, 2019 at 12:25 am

    Thank you so much for this! I tried the keto diet for three months and had very little success with weight loss, probably because I overate due to foods I missed. e.g. Missing whole grains or bean dishes made me eat more cream, cream cheese, keto “bread” and nuts. So the weight didn’t come off.

    This is exactly what I need. The MedDiet has all the foods I love and it is SO much easier to follow. No deprivation as on keto. No counting carbs. No more meat, meat, meat and sat fat galore. It gets really unpalatable after awhile, despite the raves from its fans. And honestly, I really hate bacon. It’s such an unnatural diet.

    So I’d rather eat the traditional Greek way and pretend I’m on the island of Crete during ancient times than gorge down on endless fatty meals and…ugh!…pork rinds.

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN June 4, 2019 at 5:04 am

      Thank you for your insight Bruce! And thank you for sharing your experience.

  • Reply Bruce Wilson June 2, 2019 at 8:24 pm

    I bless the day I found this site. Elena, you are an angel!! 🙂

  • Reply Teresa June 4, 2019 at 3:30 pm

    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

    • Reply Teresa June 4, 2019 at 3:37 pm

      *Kidney diet and looking

  • Reply Katie July 9, 2019 at 3:21 pm

    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?

  • Reply Roseann November 26, 2019 at 10:58 am

    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?

  • Reply Stacy January 13, 2020 at 10:47 pm

    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.

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN January 14, 2020 at 6:01 am

      Congratulations Stacy for losing the weight. Yes, the Mediterranean diet is sustainable and you will see health benefits (apart from weight loss). Welcome!

  • Reply Lucia February 16, 2020 at 10:18 am

    Hi Elena,

    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! 🙂

  • Reply Carol April 14, 2020 at 7:22 am

    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?

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