Quick Summary tl;dr
The New Mediterranean Ketogenic Diet isn’t a “diet.” It’s a lifestyle that uses modern science to bring evolutionary logic into the 21st century.
Whatever your goal may be — fat loss, improved cognition, prevention of chronic disease — what do you have to lose by trying a way of eating that’s backed by evidence, supported by experts, and different than anything else you’ve seen.
The four pillars of the New Medi-Keto Diet are:
1. Whole foods. The one thing that unites all healthy is eating real whole food. That’s why it’s the first pillar of the New Medi-Keto Diet.
2. Low-carb. Our species evolved to burn fat as fuel. Reducing carb intake reteaches the body the wisdom of evolution, helping you improve your metabolism and become a fat-burner.
3. Omega-6/3. Most people eat too much omega-6 fat and too little omega-3 fat, leading to inflammation. The New Medi-Keto Diet optimizes the omega-6/3 ratio to help keep inflammation at bay.
4. Science. While remaining true to its evolutionary logic, the New Medi-Keto Diet also uses data from scientific studies to turn delicious recipes into health-supporting formulas. That’s what makes it New!
What happens when you blend evolutionary logic with modern science? You get The New Mediterranean-Ketogenic Diet. Doctors and scientists declare, this is the Superdiet!
Diet War: Mediterranean vs. Ketogenic Diets
Conflict gets clicks. That’s why media loves controversy. This is true with respect to politics, celebrity news, and the diet wars. Two of the most popular diets are the Mediterranean and ketogenic diets.
Mediterranean diets conjure images of colorful vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and seafood. By contrast, ketogenic diets conjure images of meats, bacon, cheese, eggs, fats and oils. But are these pictures accurate?
What is a Mediterranean Diet?
A Mediterranean diet is one that emphasizes a diversity of real whole foods, including both plant and animal products.
Diversity cultivates variety within your body’s microbiome, the community of microorganisms that live in your gut and make up over half the cells in your body! Just like a diverse rainforest generates oxygen for the planet, diversity in your microbiome is associated with better overall health.
Furthermore, Mediterranean diets are rich in healthy fats from extra virgin olive oil and fatty fish. These monounsaturated and omega-3 fats are indispensable in a healthy diet and support every organ in your body, from your heart to your brain. Therefore, it’s not surprising that a Mediterranean diet and lifestyle are associated with good health and longevity.
What is a Ketogenic Diet?
A ketogenic diet is a type of low-carbohydrate diet. By reducing carbohydrate intake, ketogenic diets teach the body to better burn fat as fuel, including body fat. Some of this fat is turned into molecules called ketone bodies, which is how the diet gets its name.
Ketone bodies are clean and efficient fuels for the body and, especially, the brain. It is because our big brains demanded ketones that the human species evolved to become the best animals at making this super-fuel. Without ketones, we would likely have gone extinct! What’s more, ketone bodies are potent signaling molecules. The bind to special receptors and even alter how DNA is expressed!
Dirty Keto vs. Clean Keto
Not all ketogenic diets are created equal. Just like a vegetarian diet made up of only Oreos would be a poorly formulated vegetarian diet, poorly formulated “dirty keto” diets have given keto a bad name. By contrast, well-formulated “clean keto” is a powerful metabolic tool for treatment or prevention of a variety of chronic diseases, from weight loss to mental illnesses.
Who is Winning the Diet War?
Proponents of each diet are armed with scientific data. For example, a Mediterranean diet and lifestyle are associated with a more diverse microbiome and long lifespans. On the other hand, ketogenic diets unlock the bodies potential to burn stored fat, effectively reverse metabolic diseases, and even improve brain function. Both diets are armed with evidence. Who will win?
This war is unnecessary! While the Mediterranean diet and ketogenic diets are often cast as mutually exclusive, they are actually perfectly complementary. Mediterranean diets are all about colorful vegetables, fresh fatty seafood, and extra virgin olive oil, ketogenic diets are all about reducing carbohydrate intake to boost fat burning and improve metabolism.
What if we redirected the scientific weaponry of each diet away from each other and towards diseases? Why pick sides when we can have the best of both worlds?!
These two diets aren’t opponents, but teammates!
While the Mediterranean diet and ketogenic diets are often cast as mutually exclusive, they are actually perfectly complementary.
Is it Hard to Eat a Mediterranean-Ketogenic Diet?
It’s not hard or restrictive to eat a Mediterranean-ketogenic diet. You start by basing your meal around a protein. This can be whatever you want, including fish, eggs, chicken, or pea protein and tempeh for vegetarians. You can also eat meat and pork, which are eaten on authentic Mediterranean diets.
Around your protein, you can build a plate of colorful vegetables and specific fruits. Leafy greens, avocado, blueberries, cauliflower, cucumber, green beans, eggplant, mushrooms, olives, strawberries, zucchini and many more plants are on the menu!
Then, you fill out the meal with rich, healthy fats, including raw nuts, polyphenol-rich extra virgin olive oil! and full-fat goat’s and sheep’s milk dairy (yes, even according the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, real food sources of saturated fat are healthy!) (Arne Astrup et al, 2020)
Even dessert is fair game! Wild berries, coconut butter, seed and nut butters, dark chocolate, and more can be combined into an infinite variety of delicious desserts!
5 Health Benefits of a Well-Formulated Mediterranean-Ketogenic Diet
Once your metabolism begins to adapt to the low-carbohydrate aspect of the Mediterranean-ketogenic diet, incredible changes start to happen!
1. Fat Loss
It’s true what they say, well-formulated ketogenic diets are the best diets for fat loss. This is because decreasing carbohydrate intake decreases levels of the fat storage hormone, insulin, in your body.
And, contrary to what others may say, ketogenic diets are highly sustainable long-term ( Athinarayanan et al, 2019, Unwin et al, 2020). Ketogenic diets aren’t just a quick fix, they can be a lifestyle. I’ve personally known dozens of people on ketogenic diets for over a decade, and they are leaner and healthier, metabolically speaking, in their 50s and 60s than they were in their 20s.
Ketogenic diets aren’t just a quick fix, they can be a lifestyle.
2. Disappearance of Cravings
Did you ever ask yourself why you get hungry every few hours when your body has tens of thousands of calories stored as fat? The spikes and drops in fat-storing insulin trick your body into a state of hormonal hunger or “cravings.” When you erase this hormonal insulin roller coaster, cravings tend to disappear.
What’s more eating carbohydrates chronically causes the body to forget how to burn fat effectively. But returning to a diet in which fat is fuel reeducates the metabolism to burn fat, boosting your body’s fat burning potential by more than 200% ( Volek et al, 2015)! This not only means more fat loss, but it also means your body can run off body fat instead of bothering you to find it a sugary snack.
3. Restored Metabolism
We do a lot of damage to our metabolisms by eating processed foods, carbohydrates multiple times per day, and yo-yo dieting. About one in three Americans has metabolic syndrome and 88% of Americans are not metabolically healthy ( Araújo et al, 2018). But ketogenic diets are proven to reverse metabolic syndrome more effectively than low-fat diets ( Hyde et al, 2019).
4. Improvement of Chronic Diseases
Well-formulated ketogenic diets have been shown to reverse diabetes ( Athinarayanan et al, 2019, Unwin et al, 2020), decrease cardiovascular risk markers ( Hyde et al, 2019, Diamond et al, 2020), put inflammatory bowel disease into remission ( Norwitz et al, 2020), improve mental illnesses ( Norwitz et al, 2020) and neurodegenerative diseases ( Phillips et al, 2021, Phillips et al, 2018), and so much more.
5. Improved Cognition
With a well-formulated Mediterranean-ketogenic diet, you are also likely to experience an improvement in cognitive function as you nourish your gut-brain axis and your brain begins to burn ketones.
I cannot count the number of times people have told me, “I started keto for the weight-loss benefits, but I stuck with it because of how much better my brain worked!” In fact, keto has been shown to improve the way in which different regions of the brain communicate with each other, a property called Brain Network Stability ( Mujica-Parodi et al, 2020).
The Mediterranean-Ketogenic Diet is New and Old
We posed the question, is the Mediterranean-ketogenic diet the “next” superdiet?
Ironically, the future of food might be found in the past. The Mediterranean-ketogenic diet approach emphasized eating real whole food, a diverse diet, and reducing carbs. This is exactly how our species is supposed to eat!
Early humans hunted animals for protein and prioritized the fattiest parts. When animals weren’t around, we gathered mostly low-carb plants and some nuts. High-sugar fruits like the bananas, watermelon, and pineapples you see in grocery stores were either non-existent or extremely rare.
We indulged in delicious food when we had it and happily ran on body fat when food was scarce. Now, we are rediscovering the wisdom of evolution through modern science!
The future of food might be found in the past. The Mediterranean-ketogenic diet approach emphasized eating real whole food, a diverse diet, and reducing carbs. This is exactly how our species is supposed to eat!
The Next Superdiet Evolves
Although the Mediterranean-ketogenic diet is complementary with evolutionary logic, it is based on science and evolves as science evolves. Evolution produces great results, but not optimal results. Nor are our priorities as a species the same as they were thousands of years ago. Therefore, we want to tweak the Mediterranean-ketogenic diet as we research and learn. That’s why we have The New Mediterranean-Ketogenic Diet.
The New Mediterranean Diet is a forward-looking culinary method that blends cutting-edge science with delicious food to bring you an approach to eating that optimizes health, wellness, and longevity. It’s a method based on two principles:
- Good food is the foundation of good health.
- Science is a tool we can use in the kitchen to optimize nutrition.
We, the authors of The New Mediterranean Diet, are a team of professional chefs, scientists, and healthcare providers who collectively possess experience, not only in the kitchen, but also in the laboratory and in hospitals caring for people with chronic diseases. We hail from reputable institutions like Harvard, Stanford, and Oxford, and are passionate about translating our expertise into useful content for you because we have seen how focusing on Food as Medicine and correcting metabolic health can change lives, including our own.
Don’t take our word for it. Hear what experts have to say…
This book is incredible! Finally ... a book that combines accurate science with delicious, whole-food recipes to empower people to take control of their health through diet. Get this book!
CHRIS PALMER, MD
This book is a wonderful combination of the healthy tastes of the Mediterranean and the metabolic benefits of low carb. Plus, top it all off with a description of the science and you get the perfect combination!
BRET SCHER, MD
The health advantages of low carb, the tastes of the Mediterranean, and slices of straightforward science – this book serves it all up beautifully!
ADELE HITE, PHD, RD
As a physician, I am excited to use this New Mediterranean Keto approach as a tool for my patients looking for peak physical performance while optimizing their overall health.
DR. BRADFORD GARNER, MD
A savory cookbook, full of cutting-edge science that empowers those of us who want to cook our way back to health. A must read for anyone looking to infuse gourmet and science on their plate.
NEVADA GRAY PHARMD, RN
Although 'The New Mediterranean Diet Cookbook' contains dozens of tasty recipes, it is so much more than a cookbook. It’s truly a roadmap to better health via nourishing whole foods.
FRANZISKA SPRITZLER, RD
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