People from the Mediterranean region generally tend to have a better quality of life when it comes to heart health and weight loss. While a big part of this is down to environmental and sociological factors such as a pleasant climate and a love of the outdoors, it's largely down to the Mediterranean diet.
If you are trying to achieve or maintain a healthy weight, you might want to look more closely at the Mediterranean diet and what it can achieve for you.
In this post, we're going to take a closer look at the diet, why it works, and we'll also dive into the best Mediterranean diet plan for weight loss.
What Is The Mediterranean Diet?
Before we dive into the specifics of the Mediterranean diet, let's take a closer look at some of the big factors.
The Mediterranean diet generally refers to the approach to food adopted in the Mediterranean. This often means enjoying authentic, traditional flavors to achieve good health by using great ingredients and cooking methods.
The diet shot to popularity during the 1960s when more sophisticated statistics and medicine threw light on the fact that Mediterranean countries experience fewer deaths from coronary heart disease - the world's biggest killer.
People turned their attention enthusiastically toward the food and habits in countries like Italy and Greece. Evidence revealed that those people demonstrated a lower risk of different cardiovascular diseases.
The diet has achieved proven results over the years and as such, the diet is included as a sensible and viable diet in the DietaryGuideliness for Americans. On a more global scale, the World Health Organization has gone on record to say that this is a healthy and sustainable diet.
The actual definition of the Mediterranean diet is somewhat loose, given that the scope is so broad.
As a rule of thumb, though, these diets are characterized by a high quantity of beans, nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, grains, and - of course - delicious olive oil.
The type of food is one part of the Mediterranean diet, though. The eating pattern is also particularly important. Most Mediterranean people will consume vegetables, fruits, grains, and healthy fats on a daily basis.
Fish, poultry, beans, and eggs are eaten on a weekly basis while dairy products are kept to moderate proportions. The diet is also characterized by a limited intake of red meat.
The final part of the Mediterranean diet puzzle is the social aspect. It's not uncommon for Mediterranean communities to enjoy eating outdoors alongside family and friends. This can help people to practice mindful eating, avoid distractions, and slow down the speed that they eat.
Why The Mediterranean Diet Becoming So Popular
Now that we have a clearer idea of the Mediterranean diet and its mechanics, let's take a closer look at exactly why it is becoming so popular.
Better heart health
As we touched on earlier, better heart health was one of the main reasons that the Mediterranean diet shot to prominence. Studies have shown that the Mediterranean diet can indeed reduce a person's risk of cardiovascular disease while elevating their overall health.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide. If you can reduce your risk, you will naturally find that your longevity and quality of life will increase.
If you are trying to lose weight, you may just find that the Mediterranean diet clicks with your body and your lifestyle. Many people find that the diet helps them to reduce the number of calories that they consume without feeling as though they're hungry or missing out.
Countless people in the US and beyond have effectively used the Mediterranean diet to boost the number of fish, fruits, and vegetables that they consume while cutting out red meat. This is generally a great way to access healthy fats while reducing the number of calories that you consume.
Some people find that dieting can cause them to feel like they're missing out. If a person doesn't enjoy the food that they're eating on their diet, it's just a matter of time until they give up and decide to relapse.
The Mediterranean diet is fantastic, though, because it can really help people to enjoy some delicious flavors. For many people, the Mediterranean diet opens up a world of fresh ingredients and flavors - the diet is often an improvement in terms of flavor too!
If you are looking to spice up your approach to food, you can't go wrong by sampling some fresh Mediterranean dishes.
A flexible diet
Some diets put very rigid limits in place when it comes to certain macronutrients. Carbohydrates are seen as a bad thing by many diets, and they demand that people restrict their intake.
This can really affect a person's ability to stick to their diet. It leads to withdrawals and many dieticians and medical professionals have called that dramatic and unbalanced approach into question.
The Mediterranean diet, on the other hand, doesn't have this type of extreme approach. You will find that there are lots of different delicious foods to be enjoyed - just within reason.
Nothing is off the table with this diet, and that's one of the main reasons that people find it easier to stick to. This improves their overall experience and stops them from relapsing into old habits and putting their weight straight back on.
The Mediterranean Diet And Weight Loss
The Mediterranean diet is a favorite for people attempting to lose weight. Here are the key reasons that this is such an effective diet if you're looking to take back control of your weight:
Reduced red meat
People living in Mediterranean communities don't eat a great deal of red meat. Many medical professionals believe that this is one of the key reasons Mediterranean people enjoy such excellent heart health and healthier weights.
Research has suggested that processed meats can cause dramatic weight gain. Red meat is also problematic because it has a high level of saturated fat. This saturated fat raises your cholesterol levels which, in turn, increases your risk of strokes and heart disease.
Lower quantities of salt
Mediterranean food is delicious and it manages to achieve some amazing flavors without a dependency on salt. Herbs and spices make food feel fresh and delicious, helping you to reduce the amount of salt that you eat.
Excess consumption of salt can mean that you put on the pounds. This is because salt can increase water retention - large quantities of salt can cause you to retain unwanted weight.
Lots of fruit and vegetables
Fruit and vegetables are essential to any healthy eating plan. While some fruit and vegetables contain high levels of sugar, those are healthy sugars that are easily metabolized within the body.
The cellulose within fruit and vegetables can also increase the weight of a person's stool. This helps to ease the passage of digested food and reduce the transit time, helping their digestive system to work more effectively.
Healthy whole grains
Whole grains deliver a range of health benefits. They help people to reduce their susceptibility to diabetes and heart disease, for instance. They are much better than processed grains.
Whole grains also deliver more calories and carbohydrates per pound, but they are also more filling. This helps people to suppress their appetite and eat smaller quantities of food.
The Mediterranean coast offers a range of healthy fish that is easy to grill and make the centerpiece of any meal. Grilled fish isn't just delicious - it is high in protein and low in fat.
The fatty acids in fish help to lower your blood pressure and maintain your heart health. The lean nature of fish also helps you to reduce the amount of unhealthy fat that you eat and lose more weight.
The strong emphasis on fish means that it's also simple to put together an effective vegetarian Mediterranean diet meal plan.
Low Carb Diets and The Mediterranean Influence
Are you looking for a low carb Mediterranean diet plan? Some dieticians and individuals have made attempts to marry these two concepts together to deliver all of the goodness of the Mediterranean diet without the carbs.
In some ways, low-carb diets and the Mediterranean diet are very different. The Mediterranean diet is high in protein and healthy fats, but it isn't quite as restrictive on carbohydrates. In fact, the fruit and vegetables that underpin the Mediterranean diet would often be prohibited by some low-carb diets.
As with any diet, it's important that you figure out what works for you and that you listen to your body. If you're hoping to lose weight while elevating your overall health, you should certainly learn more about the Mediterranean diet and what it could do for you.