There is a recent interest in the Mediterranean Diet for losing weight. Strictly speaking, it is not so much a diet but a lifestyle of the people of Greece and southern Italy or the coastal areas along the Mediterranean Sea. However, the eating habits of this region was recently recognised as a diet good for heart health and was also noted that it may be beneficial for weight loss. I have therefore doing a review of it here with regards to its effectiveness in weight loss.
The lifestyle of the Greeks and Italians is to gather around and dining is more of a social gathering rather than just eating.
They consume high amounts of legumes like lentils and broad beans, tubers like radishes, turnips and carrots, green leafy vegetables like lettuce and root vegetable like potatoe, tomatoes and eggplants, nuts and seeds.
They also partake a lot of fruits like apricots, peaches, nectarines and cherries, olives and in season figs and grapes too. Oil used is olive oil
Proteins from Fishes
Fishes like fresh sardines and anchovy are also eaten a lot with moderate diary products mainly of cheese and yogurt. The fish are usually grilled and drizzled with lemon juice. Wine consumption is moderate with a very low intake of non-fish meat products like pork, chicken, lamb and beef. Also rarely seen in cuisines of this region are processed foods high in salt and sugar.
For staples, pita, either white or whole grain and barley bread is consumed. Now let’s see how this eating habit does for your weight loss efforts.
How the Mediterranean diet for losing weight works
Firstly, Olive oil is high in healthy monounsaturated fats instead of the unhealthy polyunsaturated and trans fats found in other types of oil.
By plant based proteins
Secondly, studies have shown that eating a serving a day (about 130grams) of lentils and broad beans help study subjects lose 0.34 kg over a 6 week period.
The Mediterranean cuisines also uses plenty of tomatoes and eggplants.
By food that reverses leptin resistance
Tomatoes are known to reduce inflammation and water retention and reversing leptin resistance. Leptin is the protein that signals to our brain that we are full and stop eating. Therefore, tomatoes are great to prevent us from overeating and lower our calorie intake.
By high fiber and low calorie vegetables
Eggplants are high fiber and low calorie. Its high fiber can lower blood sugar by slowing rate of digestion and absorption of sugar in body. Slower absorption keep blood sugar levels steady.
It is also known to increase production of insulin which can lower blood sugar. The high fiber content also helps to keep you full longer resulting in lower calorie consumption.
By protein from fishes
Thirdly, their diet also consist of fresh sardines and anchovy. Each 100g of serving of sardines contains 125 calories, 7g of fat, 20g protein and 0 carbohydrates. Each 1 oz serving of anchovy contributes 37 calories, 1.4g fat and 5.8g protein. Both are rich in omega 3 fatty acids.
By taking low GL bread
White pita bread has a Glycemic index of 57, with the whole grain option being lower while the barley bread is even lower at 34.
By taking metabolism boosting fruits
As for the fruits eaten, all are highly beneficial for weight loss. Apricots is low in calories of roughly 48 calories per 100 grams and high fiber. Peaches are also low in calories and boost metabolism as tthey contain flavanoids like catechins and they also have high fiber content. A medium nectarine has 60 calories, 15 g fat and 2g fiber. Sweet and juicy, it provide a source of natural sugar without the need for added sugar. Cherries contain a hormone called melatonin which is what is produced when we are in deep sleep that sets our body fat burning into overdrive mode. They are also low in calories and contains vitamins that boost metabolism. Cherries are believed to be one of the most energy boosting fruits.
Based on the above observation, all the components seem to be tailored for weight loss. No wonder the recent craze on this diet. Although it was not originally meant as a diet plan, with just a few minor adjustments, it can be turned into a super effective weight loss diet. Some of the changes are for example to skip the pita and just take the barley bread instead, and skip the potatoes. In addition, non-fish meat products should be limited to skinless chicken breast and skip the other meats altogether.
Summary of the Mediterranean Diet for losing weight
With these changes, what your eating plan would be
a. Carbohydrates from green leafy vegetables and low to non existent starchy carbohydrates
b. Low fat diet mainly from cheese and yogurt
c. High protein from the nuts, seeds, sardines and anchovy
d. low calorie, high fiber and metabolism boosting fruits
e. Moderated consumption of wine which also helps
I would say, you can’t go much wrong following the above.
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