Keto Is Slightly Better for Blood Sugar but Not Healthier than Mediterranean

We get asked all the time what the healthiest diet is. Our answer is none of them. No restrictive diet with hard-to-follow rules will be sustainable, and they cultivate unhealthy relationships with food. When people ask follow-up questions about following specific diets for health concerns, we suggest listening to your doctor.

We often suggest the Mediterranean diet if you are looking for a diet to aid blood sugar concerns. The reason we like this diet while disliking most is that it isn’t a typical one. Instead of having hard-to-follow rules, it teaches you a new lifestyle and trains you to eat in a more balanced way while cutting out refined sugar. It has been proven in study after study to have health benefits for a wide swath of illnesses.

When asked about keto, we’re always hesitant. It requires you to eat a lot of fat, and its meager amount of vegetables is worrying. You can lose out on many nutrients while eating a keto diet. It’s relatively new, and the research isn’t there yet to say how safe it is. While it’s extremely low in simple carbs, it also lacks healthy carbs and fiber. So, we never recommend it.

But, a new study that pitted them head to head had mixed results. The study was small with only 33 people. They all had blood sugar concerns. The participants followed each diet for 12 weeks and then swapped.

When following the keto diet, they saw a nine percent drop in their blood sugar levels. When following the Mediterranean they only saw a seven percent drop. When it came to weight loss, keto followers lost eight percent of their weight. In comparison, Mediterranean dieters lost seven percent of their weight. Additionally, keto dieters saw a 16 percent drop in triglycerides, while the Mediterranean diet only led to a five percent drop.  

On the other hand, LDL cholesterol went up 10 percent in keto dieters and down five percent in Mediterranean dieters. And the keto dieters were missing essential nutrients and fiber from their bodies. The researchers also noted that the Mediterranean diet is much easier to follow.

The researchers said that, while the blood sugar and triglycerides results were better, the trade-off of cutting out healthy food and increasing cholesterol may not be worth it. It was only a two percent difference in blood sugar decrease. And it’s a much more difficult, restrictive diet.

Restricting added sugars and refined grains and emphasizing the inclusion of vegetables should be the focus,” lead researcher Dr. Christopher Gardner from Stanford Univ. said. “There’s no reason to restrict heart-healthy, quality carbohydrate foods above and beyond.”

If dropping your triglycerides fast is important for your health, your doctor may suggest keto. But for blood sugar, we’re still going to stick to our recommendation of following the Mediterranean diet if you want a specific diet.

Banner image: Casey Lee via Unsplash

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