There is no shortage of studies supporting the Mediterranean diet – it offers many potential health benefits, such as improved blood sugar control, better cardiovascular results (such as lowering blood pressure and cholesterol), and may help maintain a healthy inflammatory response. But adding the keto angle can kick things up a notch.
In a 2021 study, researchers compared the results of following a keto diet versus a Mediterranean diet for 12 weeks in 33 people. Although both plans resulted in a similar adherence rate, participants on the keto diet experienced better blood sugar control and more significant decreases in triglyceride and LDL levels. They also lost more weight, on average.
In another 2021 study published in Nutrientsthe researchers set out to compare a Mediterranean diet with a low carbohydrate diet. They divided 36 participants into two groups: one group followed a traditional Mediterranean diet, while the other followed a low-carb (but not quite keto) nutrition plan with the same amount of calories.
While both groups experienced health benefits, like better insulin sensitivity, the low-carb group lost about 60% more weight, on average.
Years ago, researchers also looked at unlimited calorie intake Mediterranean keto diet, in particular, and found that it can promote weight loss, normalize blood pressure, and lower total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides in obese people. It can also raise HDL, or “good” cholesterol.
A A 2011 study showed similar resultsalthough it should be noted that the participants in this study also took herbal plant extracts daily (such as mint, guarana and ginseng, to name a few) to increase their intake overall in phytonutrients and take advantage of functional botanical bioactives.
Although there are potential benefits for both the Mediterranean diet and the keto dietThere is very little research on the combined effects of this diet, with all of the previously mentioned studies lasting only short periods with small numbers of people.
Besides the physical health benefits, the Mediterranean keto diet is also a bit more flexible than a traditional keto diet. Because there is no emphasis on strict macro counting, many people find it easier to stick to long-term than a traditional keto diet. It is also more adaptable to other dietary preferences, such as vegetarian or vegan diets.
But like any new diet, there may be an adjustment period when you’re first starting out. If you are on a very high carbohydrate diet, you may experience some signs of carb withdrawal.
The most common signs of carb withdrawal are headaches, effects on digestive regularity, bad breath, muscle cramps, muscle weakness, and dizziness. These issues usually resolve on their own within two weeks of starting a low-carb diet, during which time you may notice less bloating and less sugar cravings. However, if these unpleasant side effects persist, contact a healthcare professional for help.