The Mediterranean diet is one of the healthiest diets in the world, but can it help you to lose weight? It might but there are no guarantees. As with any other diet plan, you will only lose weight if your diet provides your body with fewer calories than it burns.
Although many people want to lose weight, a lot of them don’t fully understand the relationship between calories and body weight. If you are serious about losing weight, you may want to swot up on the subject. If so, I have an article that can help: What are Calories & How Do You Count Them?
Once you get your calorie intake under control, you can lose weight with any type of diet plan at all. However, if you want to healthier as well as thinner, the Mediterranean diet is a good option to choose.
What is the Mediterranean Diet?
The Mediterranean diet is not a weight loss diet. It’s a diet that provides guidelines for the types of food you should be aiming to eat.
If you want to lose weight with the Mediterranean diet you will make the correct food choices and keep track of your calorie intake as well.
So what foods can you eat on the Mediterranean diet? No big surprises ahead. You need to base your diet on the types of food eaten by people living in the Mediterranean area.
A typical Mediterranean diet is high in fruits, vegetables, legumes, beans, grains, nuts, and fish. Olive oil plays a big part in the Mediterranean diet too. People living in the countries that border the Mediterranean Sea use olive oil instead of saturated fats.
If you’ve ever spent any time in Spain, Italy, or any of the other Mediterranean countries you may have noticed people drizzling olive oil over their food or dipping their bread in an olive oil dip.
Don’t worry, you don’t need to guzzle olive oil by the gallon to follow the Mediterranean diet. You just have to avoid unhealthier options such as lard, butter, and similar saturated fats. Olive oil is a healthier substitute but nut oils and other unsaturated options are good options too.
It’s not just hearsay. Eating a Mediterranean-style diet really is a healthy option. Numerous studies show it reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. So, if you’ve heard it’s good for your heart, you heard right.
It’s not just about heart health though. The Mediterranean diet also appears to reduce the risk of cancer and may even help improve cognitive function. So, all things considered, it’s a smart way to go.
Further Reading: Definition of the Mediterranean Diet: A Literature Review
Why Is the Mediterranean Diet Healthy?
There are lots of reasons why the Mediterranean diet is so good for your health. One of them is the focus on vegetables and fruit.
Health advisory bodies in the UK and USA are always telling people they need to eat at least five pieces of fruit and vegetable per day. The same is true in many other countries of the world. People who are eating a Mediterranean diet will be getting all that and more.
The focus on fish instead of meat is also another point in this diet’s favor.
White fish is high in protein and low in fat. It’s a much healthier option than red meats, which are high in saturated fats.
Saturated fats elevate cholesterol and increase the likelihood of heart disease. (Fat: the Facts)
Of course, chicken and turkey are high in protein and low in fat as well. So, if you do eat meat occasionally, you will be better off choosing chicken or turkey over beef or lamb.
Oily fish, such as mackerel and salmon, are a source of fat, but it’s mostly in the form of Omega-3 fatty acids.
Omega-3 fatty acids are linked to many health benefits and, among other virtues, are known to be very good for your heart. (17 Science-Based Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids)
Oily fish is also good for providing Vitamin D. It’s an important fat-soluble vitamin. Your body needs it but many people do not get enough.
Needless to say, it would be counterproductive to eat a diet that is overly high in fatty fish, but it’s a good idea to eat it at least a couple of times a week.
Talking of fats, let’s get back onto the subject of olive oil. It’s not just that it’s a healthier option than saturated fats, it has other virtues too.
For one thing, olive oil is rich in antioxidants that can help fight aging and reduce the risk of chronic disease.
Olive oil also has antibacterial properties, it fights inflammation, may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, and offers many additional health benefits on top. (11 Proven Benefits of Olive Oil)
One of the other good things about eating the Mediterranean way is you will also get plenty of fiber.
High-fiber diets help keep your bowels healthy, keep you regular, and lower cholesterol. Experts at the Mayo Clinic point out some studies suggest eating a high-fiber diet may also help you to live longer. (Dietary Fiber: Essential for a Healthy Diet)
Another good thing about foods that are high in fiber is they help keep you stomach feeling full, making you less likely to overeat.
Foods to Eat + Foods to Avoid
Foods to Eat
Foods to Avoid
Nuts and Seeds
White Fish (Cod, Haddock, Bass, etc.)
Herbs and spices (garlic, basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, black pepper, cinnamon, coriander)
Beverages (water, tea, coffee, red wine (1–2 glasses per day)
Sugar & Sugary Beverages
Other Things to Avoid
As you can see, finding foods that are a good fit for the Mediterranean diet is not difficult. There are plenty to choose from and the foods you need to avoid are not so many in comparison.
First and foremost, the Mediterranean diet is a healthy diet. There are many reasons to try it but, if you want to lose weight with the Mediterranean diet, you will need to count those calories too. Yep! I know I’ve said it before but it’s such an important point it bears repeating.