Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet

I’ve put together a very-low-carbohydrate Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet for loss of excess weight.

Why ketogenic?

Your body gets its energy from either fats, or carbohydrates like glucose and glycogen. In people eating normally, at rest, 50–60% of the energy comes from fats. In a ketogenic diet, the carbohydrate content of the diet is so low that the body has to break down even more of its fat to supply energy needed by most tissues. Fat breakdown produces ketone bodies in the bloodstream. Hence, “ketogenic diet.” Also called “very low-carb diets,” ketogenic diets have been around for over a hundred years.

There are several practical advantages over other diets (disputed by some authorities):

  • simplicity
  • unlimited access to many high-protein and fatty foods
  • less trouble with hunger
  • better short-term weight loss than many other diets
  • lower blood sugar levels, which is important to people with diabetes, pre-diabetes, and metabolic syndrome
  • reduced insulin levels in people who often have elevated levels (hyperinsulinemia), which may help reduce chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, some cancers, and coronary heart disease
  • improved levels of HDL cholesterol and triglycerides, which may reduce risk of heart disease
  • it obviously works well for a significant portion of the overweight population, but not for everybody
  • better adherence to the program compared with other diets, at least for the short-term

Why Mediterranean?

  1. The Mediterranean diet is widely recognized as the healthiest diet.
  2. Despite an emphasis on bread, pasta, fruits, legumes, and certain vegetables, the Mediterranean diet has several healthy components compatible with a very low-carb eating style:

Although cheese is a component of the traditional Mediterranean diet, I can’t argue that it provides nutrients you couldn’t get elsewhere.

Long-Term Issues

Long-term effects of a very-low-carb or ketogenic diet in most people are unclear—they may have better or worse overall health—we just don’t know yet. Perhaps some people gain a clear benefit, while others, with different metabolisms and genetic make-up are worse off.

If the diet results in major weight loss that lasts, we may see longer lifespan, less type 2 diabetes, less cancer, less heart disease, less high blood pressure, and less of the other obesity-related medical conditions.

Ketogenic diets are generally higher in total fat, saturated fats, and cholesterol than many other diets. Some authorities are concerned this may increase the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke, while others disagree.

Ketogenic diets have the potential to cause kidney stones, osteoporosis (thin, brittle bones), gout, deficiency of vitamins and minerals, and may worsen existing kidney disease.

It’s clear that compliance with very-low-carb diets is difficult to maintain for six to 12 months. Many people can’t do it for more than a couple weeks. So, long-term effects haven’t come into play for most users. As with most weight-loss diets, regain of lost weight is a problem. I anticipate that the majority of people who try a ketogenic diet will stay on it for only one to six months, with significant loss of excess body fat. After that, more carbohydrates can be added to gain the potential long-term benefits of fruits, legumes, additional vegetables, and whole grains.

Or not.

Click here to view a three-page PDF of the Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet, version 2.3. If you try it, I’d love to hear about your experience with it. Email me at steveparkermdATgmailDOTcom.

Steve Parker, M.D.

Disclaimer: All matters regarding your health require supervision by a personal physician or other appropriate health professional familiar with your current health status. Always consult your personal physican before making any dietary or exercise changes.

Last modification date:  February 13, 2012

13 responses to “Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet

  1. Steve this is great!

    I would like to ask that when you discuss “long term issues”, please at least list info that shows that some of these “issues” are not issues and that many people do follow ketogenic diets (up to 50 grams of CHO) for a lifetime. They enjoy the food and a life of good health.

    Thank you!

    • Thanks, Valerie. Yes, those potential low-carb drawbacks have been debunked for the most part, if not entirely. (Readers, Valerie has been an advocate of carbohydrate-restricted eating for many years. Check out her blog and books.)


  2. Hi Steve ~ I clicked the link to the, but the link appears to be broken. I already love and follow a Mediterranean-style diet, and have read extensively about the ketogenic diet. Combining the two seems like a brilliant idea. Eagerly awaiting your reply. Thanks!

  3. Thanks, Steve. The link works great now. Glad you like the moniker…I get bored easily AND have a whacked sense of humor. Life’s too short to NOT have fun (AND great eats, even while losing the lard!)!

  4. Pingback: Mediterranean Diet Helps With Maintenance of Weight Loss After Ketogenic Diet | Advanced Mediterranean Life

  5. Hey Doc, i have been on the KMD for 8 weeks, weight loss a little slow but 13 lbs is nothing to dislike. Bs is better then it has ever been. I do get spikes every now and then also but nothing as before. My roommate has stayed on it with me and has lost weight unlike before and her Bs is also down. Thank you, I am waiting to do blood work to see where the blood fats are. Will let you know.

  6. abusumayahlaughton

    Interesting post.

  7. I have in ketosis for 2 year I find you Mediterranean diet excellent and I am following you diet I should add my ketosis in the morning is 3.1 and up by night time goes to 4 and son time up too 6.

  8. Nancye Alameda

    Is there a cookbook or diet guide specifically for the Spanish Mediterranean Ketogenic Diet? If so, details please and author

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