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Mediterranean Diet: the Benefits and Downsides

How to Lose Weight without exercising? This is a very common question when people start thinking about how they are going to lose weight. The answer might lie in our everyday diet and lifestyle. A healthy diet is key to losing weight.

The Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean diet takes inspiration from south European countries. With an emphasis on plant based foods, olive oil, fish, poultry, beans, and grains. All of these foods are healthy and great components of any weight loss program.

This healthy diet draws together the common food types of several different regions. This include Greece, Spain, southern France, Portugal, and Italy. Studies suggest that people who consume a Mediterranean diet have a lower risk of various diseases, which include obesity, diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease.

Other important traits of a Mediterranean diet include sharing meals with family and friends, enjoying a glass of red wine and being physically active.

It is widely believed that eating in company rather than alone boosts our mood and our overall well-being, giving us a more positive mental state and higher levels of motivation.

Key Ingredients of the Mediterranean Diet

The key ingredients of this healthy diet include alot of fresh fruits and vegetables, unsaturated fats, oily fish, and a moderate intake of dairy, and a low consumption of red meat and added sugar. Studies have linked these factors with positive healthy outcomes. The following are some examples of typical ingredients people often include in the Mediterranean diet:

Vegetables: Tomatoes, peppers, onions, eggplant, zucchini, cucumber, leafy green vegetables, plus others.

Fruits: Melon, apples, apricots, peaches, oranges, and lemons, and so on.

Legumes: Beans, lentils, and chickpeas.

Nuts and seeds: Almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, and cashews.

Unsaturated fat: Olive oil, sunflower oil, olives, and avocados.

Dairy products: Cheese and yogurt are the main dairy foods.

Cereals: These are mostly whole grain and include wheat and rice with bread accompanying many meals.

Fish: Sardines and other oily fish, as well as oysters and other shellfish. Salmon is very healthy as well and rich in good oils.

Poultry: Chicken or turkey.

Eggs: Chicken, quail, and duck eggs.

Drinks: A person can drink red/white wine in moderation: the Mediterranean diet does not include strong liquors or carbonated and sweetened drinks.

greek salad

What are the benefits of the Mediterranean Diet?

The Mediterranean diet has a long-standing reputation as one of the most popular and healthiest diets. The diet is flexible, rich in wholesome foods, and is loaded with health benefits.

The Mediterranean diet promotes the consumption of whole-plant based foods. These include vegetables, fresh fruits, whole grains, legumes, and nuts. These foods guarantee a high intake of important minerals, vitamins, and phytonutrients. These are highly beneficial in maintaining good health.  This is extremely beneficial to weight loss, and can make losing weight a much more enjoyable journey.

How does the Mediterranean diet affect Weight Loss?

The Mediterranean diet itself is not just meant for weight loss,. This diet involves increasing your fiber intake and cutting down on red meat, animal fats, and processed foods. People who follow this healthy diet may also have a lower risk of various diseases.

Recent studies have also shown that long-term effects of this Mediterranean diet are associated with a decreased risk of gaining weight and belly fat.

The Mediterranean diet helps you pay attention to your individual lifestyle, including the types of foods you eat, the portion sizes you consume, your physical activities, and your overall way of life. You can incorporate these changes into your daily life and create long-term habits that bring you not only weight loss but also an overall sense of well-being.

We all have different metabolic rates which determine how quickly we burn calories; to this end, you can not lose weight if you eat more calories than you burn through daily activity and exercise.

Other associated health benefits

The Mediterranean diet focuses basically on plant-based foods, which are good sources of antioxidants. Recent research has proved that the Mediterranean diet might offer protection from a number of diseases. This is due to the high intake of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. The high fiber and antioxidant content offered by food in this diet have also been found to be vital in promoting good mental and physical health.

Preventing heart disease and strokes

Cardiovascular diseases have always been attributed to diet. It has also been proven that following a healthy diet can balance cholesterol levels. When following a Mediterranean diet, usually there is limited intake of red meats, processed foods and fatty foods hence this will encourage your heart to remain healthy.

Diabetes

Research has indicated that the Mediterranean diet may help prevent type 2 diabetes and can reduce the risk of other cardiovascular diseases, which often occur together.

Reduces inflammation

In the human body, acute inflammation often occurs as a normal process which enhances the resistance ability of the immune system against illness and infection.

Chronic inflammation on the other hand can contribute to other diseases and may be the reason behind heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Research has however shown that the Mediterranean diet may help reduce levels of inflammation, which could help prevent illness.

Keeping you agile and increasing longevity

As an older adult, nutrients obtained from a Mediterranean diet may reduce your risk of developing muscle weakness and other signs of frailty by about 70 percent. Consequently, a reduction in the risk of developing heart disease or cancer will also reduce the risk of death at any age by 20%.

Reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease

Since the Mediterranean diet has the capacity of reducing cholesterol, blood sugar levels, and overall blood vessel health, this in turn may reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia since they are related to these factors.

Reducing the risk of Parkinson’s disease

With the high levels of antioxidants in the Mediterranean diet, there is a considerable chance of preventing cells from undergoing a damaging process called oxidative stress. This in turn, reduces the risk of Parkinson’s disease.

Cancer Prevention

In most cases, cancer is caused by a combination of many genetic and environmental factors; and not just a singular factor.

It is also important for you to know that your diet can play a crucial role in preventing disease. Certain dietary patterns including the Mediterranean diet have been linked with a reduced risk of cancer. Recently carried out research has also proven that people who stick to a Mediterranean diet may have a lower risk of developing certain types of cancer.

Potential downsides

With impressive health benefits such as lowering cholesterol, improving cardiovascular health, helping with weight loss, amongst others, you should also know that there are a few cons associated with the Mediterranean diet. For some people, there might be a few drawbacks to the Mediterranean diet; though many of these cons are possible to deal with.

Cost

Following the Mediterranean diet may not require expensive branded foods or special supplements; however, consumers may worry about the cost of some particular foods, including fish, seeds, nuts, and olive oil; which tend to be more expensive than their counterparts. However, there are many ways you can shop for these items on a budget.

Concerns about Alcohol Intake

Food experts have raised concerns about the regular wine intake in the Mediterranean diet and whether it is actually safe to recommend.

It has been suggested that you consult your doctor before consuming any alcohol. People who are pregnant or have a family history of alcohol addiction are however advised to abstain from consuming alcohol.

Alcohol can also contain a large amount of Calories and therefore should be taken in moderation when on a diet or weight loss program.

Lack of Specific Guidelines

Unlike similar diet patterns, there is no provision for specific calorie counts, food portion sizes, or strict lists of foods to eat or not.

This might be a challenge for people who are working on weight loss or weight maintenance and prefer a more structured eating style. Good enough, the Healthy Mediterranean-Style Eating Pattern that has been set out by the USDA can however be used as a guide for those in need of a more specific approach.

This guide can be followed by simply choosing the calorie goal in line with your dietary needs. Calorie targets are provided ranging from 1,000 calories per day to 3,200 per day. If you have diabetes, you can consult a dietitian to help you plan the right carbohydrate counts for your meals.

Time Factor

Some people are of the opinion that shopping for Mediterranean diet foods and preparing meals will likely take more time than heating up already prepared foods or fast-food on the go, which unfortunately can be packed with Calories.

However, the Mediterranean diet strongly recommends balanced meals made with whole ingredients, while processed foods are discouraged.

In the long run, many people learn to love cooking and preparing meals for themselves or their families; large quantities of foods can also be prepared in advance to use at meals later.

Recipes

Visit our recipe section to find out what foods you can eat whilst following the Mediterranean diet.

You can Lose Weight and Lose Fat with these amazing recipes cooked with fresh and healthy ingredients, without spending all day in the Kitchen.

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