Rich in low-starch vegetables, fruit, healthy fats (mostly from olives and olive oil), nuts, seeds, whole grains, legumes, and fish, the Mediterranean diet eschews simple sugars and refined starches and is low in red meat. Interested in embarking on the diet for yourself? Read through to see a Mediterranean diet shopping list, what it's like to be on the diet, and why it's so easy to follow.
Think of it as intermittent fasting 2.0 – only a bit more complicated. Ready? Here goes. There are three windows: one to get you started, one to help you reach your goal weight and a maintenance plan. You eat within a 12-hour, 14-hour or 16-hour window depending on which phase you’re in. But what you eat counts, too. The ‘green light’ lists of foods changes with every phase. Still there?
The sad truth is that conventional ideas – eat less, run more – do not work long term. Counting calories, exercising for hours every day and trying to ignore your hunger? That’s needless suffering and it wastes your time and precious willpower. It’s weight loss for masochists. Eventually almost everyone gives up. That’s why we have an obesity epidemic. Fortunately there’s a better way.
Many dieters shy away from nuts because of their high calorie and fat count. But studies show that eating a handful several times a week can prevent heart disease and ultimately help you shed pounds since they fill you up and stop you from snacking on other things. Almonds, in particular, contain lots of monounsaturated fats and fiber. (Healthy swap: Replace peanut butter with almond butter.)
If you want to lose weight you should start by avoiding sugar and starch (like bread, pasta and potatoes). This is an old idea: For 150 years or more there have been a huge number of weight-loss diets based on eating fewer carbs. What’s new is that dozens of modern scientific studies have proven that, yes, low carb is the most effective way to lose weight.
How many times have you heard a doctor specifically name a diet that fights heart disease and helps you lose weight? By name? We’re always told to eat healthy, maybe you are given a list of foods to add or avoid but from that point it’s on you to bring the meal plan together. Not with the Mediterranean diet. “This diet is for anyone but specifically for those with high blood pressure,” says Susan. “This is a low sodium, low fat, low cholesterol diet. It’s also ideal for those that are at risk for developing cardiovascular disease. It’s also great for weight loss or management, so if you are looking to shed a few pounds this is a great diet to embrace.”
Though we singled out quinoa above, whole grains in general (we’re talking cereal, rice, pasta, and more) are conducive to weight loss, especially when they’re used in place of refined—white—grains. In fact, a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that substituting whole grains for refined grains in the diet increases calorie loss by reducing calories retained during digestion and speeding up metabolism. Unlike refined grains, whole grains are packed with satiating, heart-healthy fiber.
The brain is composed of a network of neurons that transmit signals by propagating nerve impulses. The propagation of this impulse from one neuron to another is typically controlled by neurotransmitters, though there are also electrical pathways between some neurons. Neurotransmitters can inhibit impulse firing (primarily done by γ-aminobutyric acid, or GABA) or they can excite the neuron into firing (primarily done by glutamate). A neuron that releases inhibitory neurotransmitters from its terminals is called an inhibitory neuron, while one that releases excitatory neurotransmitters is an excitatory neuron. When the normal balance between inhibition and excitation is significantly disrupted in all or part of the brain, a seizure can occur. The GABA system is an important target for anticonvulsant drugs, since seizures may be discouraged by increasing GABA synthesis, decreasing its breakdown, or enhancing its effect on neurons.
What the diet guru says: ‘Every phase of the New Atkins plan is based on proven scientific principles and is a completely safe, natural way to lose weight,’ say Akins Nutritionals Inc. ‘Phase one is about transforming your body into a fat burning machine and kickstarting your weight loss. By limiting the amount of carbs you eat to around 20g a day, your body will switch its main fuel source from carbs to fat.’
First, that study, which was reported upon widely, was on mice. Mice are not like humans in the way they fatten or contract metabolic diseases. Journalists/media should stop reporting on mice stories as if they were applicable to humans, especially when there is such a large body of clinical trial data on humans. Let’s be clear: rigorous clinical trial data on humans trumps any data on mice. Every time. And what does the rigorous data on humans say?
Remember that on some days, you may eat a few more or a few less servings than recommended for a particular food group. That's generally OK, as long as the average of several days or a week is close to the recommendations. The exception is sodium. Try to stay within the daily limit for sodium as much as possible. Also note that the values for nutritional information may vary according to specific brands of ingredients you use or changes you make in meal preparation.
One aspect that is not often mentioned is carb cravings. Before I started a keto diet, every day I would have serious starchy- or sweet- carb cravings that were uncontrollable and HAD TO BE satisfied. The high-fat keto diet has pretty much eliminated those carb cravings. It is wonderful to not be under the control of those cravings anymore. I think the high success rate of keto diets is that you are not hungry and have no cravings.
Speaking of flavonoids, the waist-whittling compounds also exist in higher concentrations in red fruits such as watermelon, Pink Lady apples, and plums, meaning they also have the power to induce weight loss. In fact, a 2016 study in the journal BMJ found that people who eat a diet rich in flavonoid-heavy food tend to gain less weight, which could be promising seeing as many people tend to put on pounds as they age. In addition, anthocyanin, a specific flavonoid compound that gives red fruits their color, has been shown to reduce fat-storage genes.
The diet suggests a specific number of servings of the recommended foods listed above. The sample plans provided by the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) are based on 1600, 2000, or 2600 calories daily. For 2000 calories a day, this translates to about 6-8 servings of grains or grain products (whole grains recommended), 4-5 servings vegetables, 4-5 fruits, 2-3 low fat dairy foods, 2 or fewer 3-ounce servings of meat, poultry, or fish, 2-3 servings of fats and oils, and 4-5 servings of nuts, seeds, or dry beans per week. It advises limiting sweets and added sugars to 5 servings or less per week. The plan defines the serving sizes of each these food groups.
Stock up: Jet.com's new City Grocery service (available in select markets) makes it easy to ensure you always have keto-friendly veggies in the fridge. We love their delivery scheduling tool; simply fill your cart, then decide which day and timeframe you'd like your groceries delivered. One of our faves: Urban Roots Green Squash Veggie Noodles are great for whipping up low-carb "pasta" dishes.
When you're deciding to go on a diet, there are so many options to choose from. You can go keto and focus on healthy fats, try intermittent fasting, or just eat a certain amount of calories a day. One option you might not have tried yet, though, is the DASH diet, which has a simple goal: keeping your body (especially your heart!) as healthy as possible.
Yancy WS, Olsen MK, Guyton JR, Bakst RP, Westman EC; “A Low-Carbohydrate, Ketogenic Diet versus a Low-Fat Diet To Treat Obesity and Hyperlipidemia: A Randomized, Controlled Trial” (2004) Annals of Internal Medicine 140(10): 769-777. Accessed 6/4/2018 https://annals.org/aim/fullarticle/717451/low-carbohydrate-ketogenic-diet-versus-low-fat-diet-treat-obesity
For patients who benefit, half achieve a seizure reduction within five days (if the diet starts with an initial fast of one to two days), three-quarters achieve a reduction within two weeks, and 90% achieve a reduction within 23 days. If the diet does not begin with a fast, the time for half of the patients to achieve an improvement is longer (two weeks) but the long-term seizure reduction rates are unaffected. Parents are encouraged to persist with the diet for at least three months before any final consideration is made regarding efficacy.
If you are interested in trying out a ketogenic diet, it’s important to do your research about how to make sure to obtain adequate nutrition and also to be prepared to adjust (or have your healthcare provider help you to adjust) your medication doses. Many people find that their insulin sensitivity changes after starting a ketogenic diet, so it is very important to be on the lookout for changes in blood glucose trends to determine if treatment needs to be adapted.
Recently, I had the chance to speak with the author of “The Mediterranean Diet Plan,” Susan Zogheib, a registered dietician about her diet plan. Susan will be joining me for an upcoming episode of HeartTalk presented by Capital Cardiology Associates this month (Sunday, June 24th). I wanted to share the highlights of conversation before YOU grocery shop this week so that you can discover the join of healthy eating this summer.
Have Protein at Every Meal and Snack. Adding a source of lean or low-fat protein to each meal and snack will help keep you feeling full longer so you're less likely to overeat. Try low-fat yogurt, small portion of nuts, peanut butter, eggs, beans, or lean meats. Experts also recommend eating small, frequent meals and snacks (every 3-4 hours), to keep your blood sugar levels steady and to avoid overindulging.
That doesn’t mean keto causes diabetes; it’s amazing for most diabetics. However, if your cells are great at processing fat, but suck at processing glucose or carbohydrates, you won’t be able to run at full power, and parts of your body that prefer glucose over fat — like the glial cells in your brain that handle immune function and synaptic pruning — don’t work as well over time.
At first glance the ketogenic (keto) diet may seem like a crazy idea for type 2 diabetics. After all, many patients are put on diets to help them lose weight. The keto diet is high in fat, but it is very low in carbs, and this combination can help change the way your body stores and uses energy. With this diet your body converts fat instead of sugar into energy, which can improve blood glucose levels while reducing the need for insulin.
Think of each almond as a natural weight-loss pill. A study of overweight and obese adults found that, combined with a calorie-restricted diet, consuming a little more than a quarter cup of the nuts can decrease weight more effectively than a snack comprised of complex carbohydrates and safflower oil—after just two weeks! (And after 24 weeks, those who ate the nuts experienced a 62% greater reduction in weight and BMI!) For optimal results, eat your daily serving before you hit the gym. A study printed in The Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that almonds, rich in the amino acid L-arginine, can actually help you burn more fat and carbs during workouts. Fill up, but don’t fill out: Use these Eat This, Not That!-recommended 10 Daily Habits That Blast Belly Fat.
i began eating the Mediterranean “diet” last January. Actually began with the Daniel plan in getting ready for my sons wedding in June! I was able to successfully lose quite a bit of weight and feel wonderful at the same time! It is now the plan i follow most of the time. I still love a good hamburger and fries; but now for the most part eat a Mediterranean style every day! I am grateful that i happen to love the Mediterranean flavors and never feel hungry or deprived! I love the recipes you post and have made many of them! Do you have a cookbook or are your considering putting all your fabulous recipes together in one soon? Thank you for sharing your delicious and healthy recipes!
Blood specimens were obtained at weeks 0, 8, and 16 after the participant had fasted overnight. The following serum tests were performed in the hospital laboratory using standardized methods: complete blood count, chemistry panel, lipid panel, thyroid-stimulating hormone, and uric acid. A non-fasting specimen was also drawn at weeks 4 and 12 to monitor electrolytes and kidney function.
Net carbs is simply total carbs minus fiber and non-digestible sugar alcohols, like erythritol. (This doesn’t apply to high glycemic sugar alcohols, like maltitol.) We don’t have to count fiber and certain sugar alcohols in net carbs, because they either don’t get broken down by our bodies, are not absorbed, or are absorbed but not metabolized. (Read more about sugar alcohols here.)
The subjects had a mean BMI of 42.2, mean age of 56 years, and were of either African-American or Caucasian descent. In their intervention, subjects consumed a LCKD diet with the goal of eating less than 20 grams of carbohydrates per day while reducing dosages of diabetes medication. Subjects also received nutritional counseling and medication adjustment every two weeks.
Eating out is possible on the DASH Diet, but proceed with caution. Restaurant meals are notoriously salty, oversized and fatty, so you’ll need to be conscientious if you dine out. NHLBI suggests avoiding salt by shunning pickled, cured or smoked items; limiting condiments; choosing fruits or vegetables instead of soup; and requesting the chef find other ways to season your meal. You can also drink alcohol moderately on the DASH Diet.
Spirulina is a high-protein seaweed supplement that’s typically dried and sold in powdered form. The dried stuff is about 60 percent protein, and, like quinoa, it’s a complete protein, meaning it can be converted directly into muscle in the body and is thus a great weight loss tool. A tablespoon of the blue-green algae delivers 8 grams of metabolism-boosting protein for just 43 calories, plus half a day’s allotment of vitamin B12, which in and of itself can give you more energy and boost your metabolism. Try tossing some spirulina into a smoothie and watching the pounds melt off. For more skinny smoothie ideas, check out this list of 56 Smoothies for Weight Loss!
A majority of the meal planning for the Mediterranean diet consists of fresh fruits and vegetables. A sample days meal menu consists of: a pumpkin-gingerbread smoothie for breakfast, Macaroni with Milk (Macoroni oil-Hali) for lunch, and Trout with Wilted Greens for dinner. Your suggested snacks during the day: Mango-Pear Smoothie, cashews and raisins, low-fat ricotta cheese with peaches, hummus, and seed and nut snack bars.
I think what bothered me most about the article was the way in which the writer has put her own fears about living without cake onto the shoulders of any diabetic she might treat. In the same way an epileptic might choose a life without cake in order to remain seizure free I choose a life without cake to remain “undiabetic”. I must admit that when I was researching this diet I did worry that I would not have the stamina, but the thought of going blind is a useful motivator.
In 1921, Rollin Turner Woodyatt reviewed the research on diet and diabetes. He reported that three water-soluble compounds, β-hydroxybutyrate, acetoacetate and acetone (known collectively as ketone bodies), were produced by the liver in otherwise healthy people when they were starved or if they consumed a very low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet. Dr. Russell Morse Wilder, at the Mayo Clinic, built on this research and coined the term ketogenic diet to describe a diet that produced a high level of ketone bodies in the blood (ketonemia) through an excess of fat and lack of carbohydrate. Wilder hoped to obtain the benefits of fasting in a dietary therapy that could be maintained indefinitely. His trial on a few epilepsy patients in 1921 was the first use of the ketogenic diet as a treatment for epilepsy.
When you’re eating the foods that get you there (more on that in a minute), your body can enter a state of ketosis in one to three days, she adds. During the diet, the majority of calories you consume come from fat, with a little protein and very little carbohydrates. Ketosis also happens if you eat a very low-calorie diet — think doctor-supervised, only when medically recommended diets of 600 to 800 total calories.