Mediterranean diet for weight loss. A complete guide

Mediterranean diet for weight loss. A complete guide
  • PublishedMay 29, 2020

This article will take you through the Mediterranean diet for weight loss, including its benefits, potential drawbacks, foods to eat, and the food to avoid. Research shows that close to half of American adults try to lose weight each year. And changing diet is the best among the many ways one can use to lose weight.

With the sheer number of weight-loss diets such as keto diet, the Mediterranean diet for weight loss, and the paleo diet, it becomes difficult to start. We are also skeptical of suitability, sustainability, and effectiveness.

Some diets curb appetite to reduce food intake, while others put restrictions on calorie intake and carbohydrates or fats.

What is the Mediterranean diet?

This is a modern recommendation on nutrition inspired by traditional dietary behaviors of coastal regions of the Mediterranean Sea, southern Italy, and Greece in the 1960s. 

It was first publicized in 1975 by Ancel keys and Margaret keys both American biologists and chemists respectively. But it failed to gain publicity until the 1990s. The most understood version of the Mediterranean diet was presented in the 1990s at Harvard University’s School of Public Health. 

The concept of the Mediterranean diet was to reflect food patterns typical of Crete, Italy, and most areas of Greece in the early 1960s.  

It is based on a paradox: That people in Mediterranean countries consume relatively high amounts of fat, but have far lower rates of cardiovascular diseases than in countries like where similar levels of fat consumption are found.

Numerous researches have come out in support of the Mediterranean diet’s capability to promote weight loss, help prevent heart attacks, strokes, type 2diabetes, and premature death.

What should I eat on the Mediterranean diet?

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The food to consume on the Mediterranean diet for weight loss includes;

  • Fresh fruits such as apples, oranges, melon, pears, strawberries, blueberries, and apricots
  • Vegetables like spinach, broccoli, kale, onions, asparagus, and iris potatoes
  • Legumes such as lentils, beans, peanuts, and chickpeas
  • Whole grains like quinoa, oats, brown rice, farro, buckwheat, and whole-grain pasta
  • Nuts and seeds include; almonds, walnut, chia seeds, flax seeds, sunflower seeds, and macadamia nuts
  • Poultry like turkey, duck, and chicken
  • Seafood which includes salmon, tuna, mackerel, mussels and trout
  • Egg yolks and egg white
  • Herbs and spices
  • Dairy products including cheese, yogurt, milk
  • Healthy fats including avocado, olives, olive oil
  • Beverages such as wine, tea, coffee and water

Foods not to eat on the Mediterranean diet? 

Here are some of the foods to avoid on the Mediterranean diet

  • Processed meat such as bacon, salami, hot dogs, sausage
  • Sugar-sweetened beverages like soda, energy drinks, juice
  • Refined grains like white bread, white pasta, white rice, crackers
  • Refined oils including vegetable oil, corn oil, Soya bean oil, safflower oil
  • Added sugar such as ice cream, candies, ice cream, cookies, table sugar
  • Processed foods including chips, pretzels, fast foods, microwave popcorn

How do we follow the Mediterranean diet?

1. The Mediterranean diet focuses mainly on nutrient-dense, whole food ingredients like fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and whole grains.

2. Even though it looks at plant-based foods, other ingredients like poultry, seafood, eggs, and dairy can also be enjoyed in moderation.

3. The Mediterranean diet avoids foods such as processed foods, added sugars, refined grains, and sugar-sweetened beverages 

4. The diet permits regular alcohol consumption i.e. 1 serving for women and 2 servings for men per day.

5. In addition to making changes to your diet, engaging in daily physical activity such as running, walking, bicycling is a crucial component of the Mediterranean diet.

Does the Mediterranean diet work for weight loss?

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Yes, the Mediterranean diet works for weight loss because;

The Mediterranean diet promotes eating a variety of food rich in nutrients and limits processed foods and added sugars, which are high in calories. Therefore, combining the Mediterranean diet with a healthy lifestyle could promote weight loss

The foods in the Mediterranean diet such as pasta, bread, nuts, and pasta make you feel full longer and therefore hold hunger at bay. The less you eat, the faster the weight loss results.

According to various research conducted, the results have come out to support the Mediterranean diet for weight loss.

For example, a review of 5 studies established that the Mediterranean diet was as successful as other popular diets like the low carb diet for weight loss, leading to 10 kg of weight loss over 1 year.

Another large study in which over 32,000 people were subjected to a long-term Mediterranean diet, the result showed a decreased risk of gaining weight and belly fat over 5 years.

How long does it take to lose weight on a Mediterranean diet? 

Our readers should know that with weight loss, there are no quick fixes. You have to be consistent, determined, and committed to regular body activity and healthy eating.

With the Mediterranean diet, do not focus on eating solely for weight loss but rather focus on overall health. With time, you will see the scale moving in the right direction and keeping there.

What are the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet?

The health benefits of the Mediterranean diet for weight loss include;

1. Nutrient-dense

The Mediterranean diet meets your nutritional needs because it does not eliminate any food groups.

2. Longer life

Following the Mediterranean diet is long life.  According to a meta-analysis published in the British Medical Journal, it was established that the diet improved health and led to a reduction in death from heart diseases, cancer, Parkinson and Alzheimer’s disease by 8%.   

Other studies have shown that healthy fats in the diet may reduce inflammation and pain of rheumatoid arthritis and reduce the risk of getting amyotrophic lateral sclerosis by 60 percent.

3. Heart health

Mediterranean diet decreases every heart-disease risk factor, including high blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels. For example, the antioxidants in fruits and vegetables help to prevent the blockage of arteries, Omega-3 fatty acids in fish lower blood pressure, and triglyceride levels. Olive oil lessens bad cholesterol. 

4. Prevention of diabetes

The Mediterranean diet lowers blood sugar in people with the pre-diabetic condition and successfully prevents the development of full-blown type 2 diabetes.  Another study shows that even without calorie reduction, people at high-risk for cardiovascular disease could reduce their diabetes risk by following a Mediterranean diet plan

5. Weight loss

The foods in the Mediterranean diet such as pasta, bread, nuts, and pasta make you feel full longer and therefore hold hunger at bay. The less you eat, the faster the weight loss results.

The healthy fats and protein in the diet keep the blood sugar low, which means you are less likely to hunt down chips, cookies, or fast food to get through the day.

According to the study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, it was found that those who followed the diet for 2 years lost more weight than low-fat dieters and maintained their 10-pound loss.

6. Better eyesight 

 Mediterranean diet prevents macular degeneration. This is the disease that causes vision loss in the center of the eye. Research shows that eating fish or the omega-3 fatty in fish, and vegetables can lower macular degeneration. 

7. Reduces inflammation 

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Acute inflammation helps the immune system to fight against illnesses and infection. On the other hand, chronic inflammation can lead to the development of cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. 

The Mediterranean diet reduces levels of inflammation. For example in one study, were 66 older adults followed the Mediterranean diet for 3-5yrs, the results showed decreased markers of inflammation.

8. Mental health

Research shows that following a Mediterranean diet improves mental health. For example, a 2018 molecular psychiatry study, established that those who closely followed the diet were 33% less likely to develop incident depression compared to those that didn’t follow.

What are the drawbacks of the Mediterranean diet?

Although the Mediterranean diet is endowed with a vast number of health benefits, it also comes with downsides which we think the framers should have handled. These include;

1. Cost

Some consumers of the Mediterranean diet worry about the cost of foods such as fish, seeds, nuts, and olive oil.

2. The restrictions may feel challenging

The Mediterranean diet recommends the reduction of red meat and added sugar consumption which is difficult for some people.

3. Need for additional guidance 

Although the Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of diabetes and improves blood sugar control, individuals with diabetes may need additional guidance while on this diet. Most foods such as grains, fruits, and vegetables are high in carbohydrates which has an impact on people with diabetes.

4. Maybe time-consuming

From shopping to preparing meals, the Mediterranean diet takes more time than heating prepared food or picking on fast-food on the go.

5. Diet has no specific guidelines

The Mediterranean diet does not give any calorie counts, food portions, or strict lists of foods to eat and foods to avoid.  For some individuals who prefer a structured eating style, this provides a challenge.

6. Concern about alcohol 

The diet recommends regular alcohol intake. This is dangerous because; when alcohol intake is accompanied by unhealthy habits, like smoking, poor diet health risks prevail.

What is the difference between the Mediterranean diet and the raw food diet?

Unlike the Mediterranean diet, the raw food diet, rawism, or raw foodism are practices that involve the eating of mostly uncooked and unprocessed plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seed or organic food

Learn more from our article the raw food diet”, the food to eat, food to avoid, and the benefits of the raw food diet over other forms of diets.

Bottom line

The Mediterranean diet reflects the traditional healthy eating patterns of countries like Spain, France, Italy, and Greece.

It entails plant-based, nutrient-dense foods like fruits, veggies, healthy fats, and whole grains but restricting processed foods and added sugar.

Not only does the Mediterranean diet help weight loss but also enhance heart health, reduce inflammation, and control blood sugar.


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