Keto Diet vs Mediterranean Diet – InVite Health Podcast, Episode 525
Please see below for a complete transcript of this episode.
Keto Diet vs Mediterranean Diet – InViteⓇ Health Podcast, Episode 525
Hosted by Amanda Williams, MPH
InViteⓇ Health Podcast Intro: Welcome to the InViteⓇ Health Podcast, where our degreed healthcare professionals are excited to offer you the most important health and wellness information you need to make informed choices about your health. You can learn more about the products discussed in each of these episodes and all that InViteⓇ Health has to offer at www.invitehealth.com/podcast. First time customers can use promo code PODCAST at checkout for an additional 15% off your first purchase. Let’s get started!
Amanda Williams, MPH:
[00:00:40] When it comes to a healthy diet, oftentimes people get confused between dieting and diet. Today, I want to talk about the importance of diet, and I’m going to zero in on the difference between the two most popular diets that people adhere to. One is the Mediterranean diet, the other is the keto diet. The keto diet has definitely gained a lot of attention and momentum over the past few years, so I want to really be able to differentiate between the two, which is the most ideal and why one would be following a said diet. So not dieting, but actual diet. I’m Amanda Williams, MD, MPH, Scientific Director at InViteⓇ Health, and it’s important to understand the difference, when you think about the word dieting and people will often say this, “Oh, I’m on a diet,” or “I’m dieting.” Dieting is when you’re actually limiting yourself to, you know, certain choices of foods as opposed to following a healthy diet, which is going to allow you to have a lot more options, but they’re in that healthy category.† [00:01:52]
[00:01:53] So we have to understand that when it comes to adhering to a particular dietary pattern, the two diets that most people trend to are going to be the Mediterranean diet and the keto diet, and there’s a lot of interest in this. They are very different in their own right. We understand that many people say, “Oh, you have to be on a keto diet and this creates ketosis.” There’s a lot of science that will show that actually the adherence to the Mediterranean diet is the preferred dietary choice. And I encourage people all the time when they come to me and say, “Hey, should I be doing a keto diet? I had a friend that did it and they lost all this weight and they feel really good and energetic.” It doesn’t work the same for every single person. So when you’re doing the keto diet, we’re actually kind of following in that vein of dieting because we’re limiting our exposure to certain nutrients, whereas the Mediterranean diet is not doing that. We have the full spectrum of all of the different food groups, but we’re just making healthier choices.† [00:03:05]
[00:03:06] So let’s get into some of the science behind this. So what’s really involved when someone’s doing a Mediterranean diet or a keto diet and comparing the two? So historically, when you think about the Mediterranean diet, this is when you think about countries that border the Mediterranean Sea, who always followed a very unique dietary routine that included many healthy fats, things like seeds and nuts, lots of fruits and vegetables, a good intake when it came to fatty fish and a low intake of things like red meat and sugar and dairy. Now, following a Mediterranean diet is certainly advantageous and the most widely studied of all diets out there. So we understand that when we look at every single system in the body, the Mediterranean diet has been shown to be clinically effective at targeting issues with cognitive health because it helps to maintain your brain volume as you age. When it comes to heart health for supporting the entire vascular system. When it comes to regulating blood cholesterol levels as well as blood sugar levels. So all in all, we know that the most healthy way to eat is through that adherence of the Mediterranean diet. Having optimal cardiovascular health is what most people should be striving for. Maintaining the health of our brain is what most people should be striving for. And of course, not falling into that trap of having elevated glucose that can do so much damage to every single system in the body.† [00:04:44]
[00:04:45] Now, when you think about the keto diet, this is a little bit different. The keto diet was initially introduced back in the 1920s as a diet to turn to for neurological support. So when people had seizures, for example, what they were doing was allowing the body to use ketosis. It’s using fat for fuel instead of carbohydrates. So when you think about this and you correlate this into a dietary intake, this is why a keto diet is going to be incredibly restrictive or basically eliminating down carbohydrates. So the carb intake would solely be coming from minimal exposure to, say, a little tiny bit of fruit or a little tiny bit of vegetables. So its initial, you know, target for brain health and for the neurological component to that made a lot of sense because you didn’t want to have excess sugar, which would then create these misfirings. However, for the average person to eat this way is usually not going to be sustainable. And we know that when people are doing a keto diet, oftentimes they will find this initial drop in weight, and that’s because you’re taking the bad carbohydrates out, so initially you can have this weight loss. But the problem is is that managing that weight loss and maintaining that over time becomes difficult because now you’re lacking in key nutrients that come from healthy carbohydrates. So now you can start to see the difference. And this can start to create this response in the body where originally you do the keto diet, you have a lot of energy and then over time you start to dwindle and you start to feel tired and fatigued, and it can even affect your mood. You maybe start feeling anxious or depressed. It can affect your sleep.† [00:06:49]
[00:06:51] So when we think about a keto diet, does it mean no one should ever do a keto diet? No, not necessarily. There are times where a keto diet could be quite advantageous, but for the average person, 95% of people the Mediterranean diet is 100% the choice that you want to make. And looking at that comparison, the risk versus benefits one could say between a keto diet and a Mediterranean diet, it is definitely very scientific, and we can look at how many of the foods that are contained in both the keto diet as well as the Mediterranean diet. There’s a cross linking of those when you look at some of the healthy fats, for example. But we also have to realize that it is through that, you know, strict adherence to a keto diet that things can start to diminish in the body.† [00:07:46]
[00:07:47] So I want to talk about a study that was done in 2021, and it was published in the Nutrients Journal, where they were looking at the adherence of a ketogenic and Mediterranean style diets. So this was a crossover trial, and it was called the Keto-Med randomized trial. So it’s kind of interesting, right? Keto-Med randomized trial. And the reason why they wanted to focus in on this is because of the prevalence, the rate of type two diabetes that is increasing at this alarming rate throughout the United States as well as throughout the world. And we know that the foods are that driving factor. So people who follow a Standard American Diet, which is high in bad carbohydrates and unhealthy fats, does not have any exposure to the powerful antioxidants that fruits and vegetables provide, or the fiber that those fruits and vegetables provide. We know that when we’re looking at the average carbohydrate intake in the United States, it makes up well over for many folks 50% of your daily energy, and that is certainly going to be problematic. Now, when you look at a Mediterranean diet because you’re getting this expansive exposure to different nutrients, the healthy fats coming from the olive oils and the nuts and the seeds, fatty fish, avocados, for example, we know that the energy coming from the carbohydrates is going to be somewhere around 35%. Now we can look at a ketogenic diet. We know that this is incredibly restrictive to that carb intake. And so the range of carb energy when someone’s on a keto diet is roughly about 10%. So you can see Standard American Diet, you’re well over 50% just eating donuts, horrible foods that are just not nutrient dense whatsoever. We can look at healthier carb options in the Mediterranean diet, which is going to yield you really wonderful energy. About 35% of your energy will be coming from those foods, from those carbohydrate-based foods, but they’re healthy carbs, whereas the restrictive keto diet only going to be 10% and in some cases even lower than that.† [00:10:05]
[00:10:05] So they wanted to set up this randomized crossover trial to compare the two different diets. So looking at the ketogenic diet versus the Mediterranean diet, and the objective was to really determine which diet is more effective in improving blood glucose for that regulation of diabetes and looking at those outcomes over time. It was quite interesting the way that they set this study up, so they took adults over the age of 18 years old and they were assessing their blood glucose levels, their hemoglobin A1C and these were all people who had been diagnosed with type two diabetes. They had them complete these different screening assessments to see what their current dietary intake was like. And then they had them join into this, and they had them adhere to a Mediterranean diet, and then after they did that, they switched them over to a keto diet and they were able to follow and track how these people responded to the different foods through the analysis of blood testing. So it’s a really interesting way to, to assess how foods impact the human body. And they’ve done a really interesting study where they had people go and eat like a burger and fries and a milkshake. And then like an hour later, they tested their blood levels and you could see how the immune system was incredibly raging and the inflammation was driving up. And then they tested them like six hours after they had that meal and it was still really high. So it tells you the damaging effects of those bad foods. So looking at this particular study, they, you know, tracked what they were eating. They had them do the Mediterranean diet. Then they switched them over to doing a keto diet and then assessed all of those different functional levels so they can compare which one is going to actually yield and garnish the better support for someone who is dealing with type two diabetes. And what they were able to notate through this study was that the nutritional interventions that both of the different diets yielded, the Mediterranean diet by far gave the greatest bit of support because remember, they were getting that comprehensive blend of fruits and vegetables that were helping to fend off oxidative stress and inflammation in the body. And so this is a example of a very scientifically driven study showing the advantages of adherence to a Mediterranean diet over a ketogenic diet.† [00:12:54]
[00:12:55] There have been other studies that have looked at both the positives and negatives of a ketogenic diet, and it is, like I said, gained a lot of momentum and popularity over the last decade. And the main reason is because people can lose a lot of weight. So I always say ketogenic is technically dieting. It’s not a diet. It’s not something that you would stick with for life. It’s dieting. And to understand the difference between the two and seeing the science behind the Mediterranean diet and its prevention of chronic diseases, it is hands down the most widely studied and the most supported when it comes to the scientific data when you’re looking across all different spectrums, whether we’re talking about chronic kidney disease, heart disease, any of the metabolic disorders, we know that it comes down to the full spectrum of getting vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fibers, healthy fats, good healthy carbohydrates. This is what the human body actually needs. So when we’re restricting the body to less amounts of one thing, it doesn’t always pay off for us in the end. So hopefully this yields a little clarity for those who maybe are kind of on the fence, like, “Which one should I do? Should I do the keto diet or the Mediterranean diet?” Well, Mediterranean diet is actually the one about healthy eating, keto diet is technically dieting. So if you understand the difference between the two, maybe you use the keto diet for a short term, maybe a couple of weeks. You know you’re getting ready to go on a beach vacation. You want to trim down a little bit. Perhaps that keto diet in the short term would be ideal, but for long term overall health for all aspects of your wellness, the Mediterranean diet is the choice to definitely make.† [00:14:50]
[00:14:51] So I want to thank you so much for tuning in to the InViteⓇ Health Podcast. Remember, you can find all of our episodes for free wherever you listen to podcasts or by visiting invitehealth.com/podcast. Now, do make sure that you subscribe and you leave us a review. You can follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @invitehealth and we will see you next time for another episode of the InViteⓇ Health Podcast.† [00:14:51]