Both the Mediterranean diet and the keto diet claim health benefits and weight loss—but which is better? The Mediterranean diet and the keto diet have been around for decades, but new health claims are always popping up about both diets. We summarize the pros and cons of each, discuss which foods are and aren’t allowed, and note the health benefits associated with adhering to each style of eating. The Mediterranean diet is more of a lifestyle than a diet. Its name is a reference to the traditional eating pattern of people living in countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. Although people in countries like Italy and Greece have been eating this way for centuries, the Mediterranean “diet” wasn’t popularized until the s, when a group of researchers noted that people in that area of the world were exceptionally healthy and had a lower risk of many lifestyle diseases compared to Americans. So what does the Mediterranean diet look like? It includes an abundance of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, legumes and healthy fats; a moderate amount of chicken, fish, eggs and dairy; and limited amounts of red and processed meats, added sugars and processed foods. Enjoying meals with others, having an occasional glass of red wine and being physically active most days are also components of the Mediterranean diet. See: Healthy Mediterranean Recipes. The ketogenic “keto” diet was developed in the s as a treatment for epilepsy.
For example, do you always stick with an iceberg lettuce side salad? Dairy foods, fish, and lamb are included in small amounts. The Mediterranean diet isn’t something you go on for a few weeks and then abandon. See all of our healthy Mediterranean meal plans, like these seasonal plans for summer and fall.
Losing weight sometimes takes experimentation. If you give a diet your best shot and it doesn’t work long term, maybe it wasn’t the right one for you, your metabolism, or your situation. Genes, family, your environment — even your friends — influence how, why, what, and how much you eat, so don’t get too discouraged or beat yourself up because a diet that “worked for everybody” didn’t pay off for you. Try another, keeping in mind that almost any diet will help you shed pounds — at least for a short time. Once the main strategy for losing weight, low-fat diets are now less popular. Since fat contains nine calories per gram while carbohydrates contain four, you could theoretically eat more without taking in more calories by cutting back on fatty foods and eating more that are full of carbohydrates, especially water-rich fruits and vegetables. But if the carbs you eat in place of fat are highly processed and rapidly digested, you may be sabotaging your weight-loss plan. Eating carbohydrates — especially highly processed ones like white bread and white rice — quickly boosts blood sugar, which triggers an outpouring of insulin from the pancreas. The surge of insulin can rapidly drop blood sugar, causing hunger. Low-carb proponents claim that people who eat a lot of carbohydrates take in extra calories and gain weight. Limiting carbs in favor of protein and fat is supposed to prevent the insulin surge and make you feel full longer. To make up for the lack of carbohydrates in the diet, the body mobilizes its own carbohydrate stores from liver and muscle tissue.
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Year after year, experts tell us to look to the Mediterranean lifestyle and way of eating. More a style of eating than an official diet, the Mediterranean diet features locally-sourced plant foods as mainstays: nuts, olives, legumes, fruits, greens and vegetables, and herbs and spices. Dairy foods, fish, and lamb are included in small amounts. Sugary desserts are uncommon in the diet, although honey is used as a sweetener. Why adopt this diet? The Mediterranean diet is the most studied one out there. Research consistently links this style of eating to a lower risk for chronic diseases, such as heart disease and cancer, as well as easier weight management. In fact, the Mediterranean diet was ranked 1 in by U.