While there isn't "a" Mediterranean diet, most versions share many of the same principles. According to Oldways, the nonprofit food think tank in Boston that helped develop a Mediterranean food pyramid, you'll load up on fruits, veggies, whole grains, nuts and legumes; eat plenty of fish and seafood; get a little poultry, eggs, cheese and yogurt; and mostly pick at sweets and red meat. And don't forget a drizzle of olive oil and (if you want) a couple glugs of wine.
Participants were recruited from the Durham Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) outpatient clinics. Inclusion criteria were age 35–75 years; body mass index (BMI) >25 kg/m2; and fasting serum glucose >125 mg/dL or hemoglobin A1c >6.5% without medications, or treatment with oral hypoglycemic agents (OHA) and/or insulin. Exclusion criteria were evidence of renal insufficiency, liver disease, or unstable cardiovascular disease by history, physical examination, and laboratory tests. All participants provided written informed consent approved by the institutional review board. No monetary incentives were provided.
Because the ketogenic diet alters the body's metabolism, it is a first-line therapy in children with certain congenital metabolic diseases such as pyruvate dehydrogenase (E1) deficiency and glucose transporter 1 deficiency syndrome,[34] which prevent the body from using carbohydrates as fuel, leading to a dependency on ketone bodies. The ketogenic diet is beneficial in treating the seizures and some other symptoms in these diseases and is an absolute indication.[35] On the other hand, it is absolutely contraindicated in the treatment of other diseases such as pyruvate carboxylase deficiency, porphyria and other rare genetic disorders of fat metabolism.[9] A person with a disorder of fatty acid oxidation is unable to metabolise fatty acids, which replace carbohydrates as the major energy source on the diet. On the ketogenic diet, their body would consume its own protein stores for fuel, leading to ketoacidosis, and eventually coma and death.[36]
Insulin is a hormone that lets your body use or store sugar as fuel. Ketogenic diets make you burn through this fuel quickly, so you don’t need to store it. This means your body needs -- and makes -- less insulin. Those lower levels may help protect you against some kinds of cancer or even slow the growth of cancer cells. More research is needed on this, though.
The popular low-carb diets (such as Atkins or Paleo) modify a true keto diet. But they come with the same risks if you overdo it on fats and proteins and lay off the carbs. So why do people follow the diets? "They're everywhere, and people hear anecdotally that they work," McManus says. Theories about short-term low-carb diet success include lower appetite because fat burns slower than carbs. "But again, we don't know about the long term," she says. "And eating a restrictive diet, no matter what the plan, is difficult to sustain. Once you resume a normal diet, the weight will likely return."
While the ketogenic diet is straightforward, it does require careful monitoring. You should begin by having your doctor check your blood glucose and ketone levels. Once you’ve been on the diet for some time and your body has adjusted to using fat for fuel, it’s still a good idea to see your doctor once a month for testing and to determine if your medications need any adjustments. And, even though you will most likely see your symptoms improve on this diet, be sure to regularly monitor your blood glucose at home, ideally before and after meals.
Insulin is a hormone that lets your body use or store sugar as fuel. Ketogenic diets make you burn through this fuel quickly, so you don’t need to store it. This means your body needs -- and makes -- less insulin. Those lower levels may help protect you against some kinds of cancer or even slow the growth of cancer cells. More research is needed on this, though.
Dr. Reynolds reviewed numerous research studies on ketogenic diets,6 and he has found that most studies show that the drop in blood sugar is typically short-term—only lasting during the initial three months or so—but does not last.  "So it is very hard to encourage ketogenic diets when we have no evidence that they work over longer periods of time," he tells EndocrineWeb.
"The keto diet is primarily used to help reduce the frequency of epileptic seizures in children. While it also has been tried for weight loss, only short-term results have been studied, and the results have been mixed. We don't know if it works in the long term, nor whether it's safe," warns registered dietitian Kathy McManus, director of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital.
“So many of us sacrifice this for work, family, or social experiences, but sleep is a basic tenet of health; you will not function properly, cognitively or physically, without adequate sleep,” Moreno explains. "Adequate usually means at least 8 hours. Set strict sleep time rules and practice good sleep hygiene. When you prioritize sleep, other aspects of good health may line up more easily.”
Iwould hope to meet a diabetic nurse in the uk who was open minded about keto, but that has not been my experience as a patient. As a nurse speaking to colleagues as an equal and frmy experience has been very different. I have not spoken to one nurse with personal/professional interest in this subject that has said if they were diabetic they would follow the guidance of our health service. All have said they would do keto.
“I think the caution with a low-carbohydrate diet is the idea that it’s very restrictive,” Zeratsky says. “When you start getting into the very low carbohydrates, when you’re talking about 20 grams, which for some people would be a cup of [starchy] vegetables. … If there is someone who is interested in it, it’s very important they understand what a low carbohydrate diet means in a practical sense.”
What is your opinion on the conflicting opinions about whether or not wine is healthy or harmful? It seems there is a daily article touting research that proclaims wine is health alternating with another article about research that indicates that even moderate intake of wine is associated with cancer or dementia. I’m trying to understand all of this conflicting data with the reality/evidence of Mediterranean cultures that include daily intake of wine. Is it the amount drunk that is key?

Really, it shouldn’t be so difficult to figure out which eating regimen will set fire to fat while maintaining muscle. Fortunately, the International Society of Sports Nutrition just released its position paper, which combs through all existing scientific studies to report how every diet will affect your body composition. Here, we’ve pulled five of the most six-pack-friendly diets and streamlined how they’re great, as well as why they might be right (or wrong) for you—according to the hard science.
“The alkaline diet often has a focus on eating lots of fresh produce and unprocessed foods, which could be a good thing,” says Hultin. “However, keep in mind that this is not an evidence-based therapeutic diet. When people take it too far — for instance, drinking baking soda — or become too restrictive or obsessive over food choices, it can definitely turn negative.”
Wondering what fits into a keto diet — and what doesn’t? “It’s so important to know what foods you’ll be eating before you start, and how to incorporate more fats into your diet,” says Kristen Mancinelli, RD, author of The Ketogenic Diet: A Scientifically Proven Approach to Fast, Healthy Weight Loss, who is based in New York City. We asked her for some guidelines.
While it’s true that low-carb diets do raise the so-called bad LDL-cholesterol in some people, it’s important to note that LDL-C, when influenced by diet, has never been shown to have any effect on cardiovascular risk. Large clinical trials and observational studies show that one’s level of LDL-C and the lowering of LDL-C through diet is not reliably linked to cardiovascular outcomes.21, 22, 23
Thank you SO much for this! My husband approached me about the Mediterranean diet being good for depression and suggested I give it a try. But I already knew this was not the best term to describe what I needed, even before reading your article on the subject. However, I did have an idea of what they meant and I have struggled to find recipes that fit the bill. Too many well-meaning people have made it more “healthful” by cutting back on the fat. ANYWAY . . . This little meal plan is going to be immensely helpful to me and I am poking all around the site and your social media. Thank you for sharing!
Keto decreases inflammation and improves brain function — so much so that Alzheimer’s patients who switch to a keto diet actually begin to recover their brain function, which up until now was unheard of.[20][21][22][23][24] So there’s that. (Dale Bredesen and Mark Hyman have discussed these on the Bulletproof Radio podcast. Check out Dale’s episode here, and Mark’s here.)  

“Intermittent fasting can be really challenging if you have an ever-changing schedule,” adds Hultin. “If you're traveling and crossing time zones, it could be very difficult to follow. It might be best for people with more stability in their lives.” Intermittent fasting isn’t safe for people with type 2 diabetes, children, pregnant or lactating women, or anyone with a history of an eating disorder.
Dr. O’Brien proclaimed that the benefits of the Mediterranean diet as a push away from using animals as a protein source, introducing more fruits and vegetables in meals, while also cutting out butter in favor of using oils cooking. It seemed simple which made me skeptical. I know that in dieting nothing good is easy. When I got back to office I started my research and was surprised to learn that the Mediterranean diet was endorsed by the American Heart Association and Mayo Clinic.
Implementing the diet can present difficulties for caregivers and the patient due to the time commitment involved in measuring and planning meals. Since any unplanned eating can potentially break the nutritional balance required, some people find the discipline needed to maintain the diet challenging and unpleasant. Some people terminate the diet or switch to a less demanding diet, like the modified Atkins diet (MAD) or the low-glycaemic index treatment (LGIT) diet, because they find the difficulties too great.[41]
This is a helpful article. But there are some inaccurate things too. I have type two diabetes and use a keto genie diet to lose weight (45# so far). I was able to get my cholesterol down, Triggs down, and my A1C to 6! I went off and followed a Mediterranean diet for a year. I gained back 15# and my diabetes got worse. So I am back on keto. I am using a closer to Mediterranean keto both then and now.
Adherence to the DASH-style pattern may also help prevent the development of diabetes, as analyzed in a recent meta-analysis, and kidney disease as found in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) cohort that followed more than 3700 people who developed kidney disease. [8, 9] Dietary components of DASH that were protective in the ARIC cohort included a high intake of nuts, legumes, and low-fat dairy products. A high intake of red meat and processed meats increased kidney disease risk.

“It came to another frustration point that medication really isn’t helping,” Lofton says. “I had tried many other things, like a weight loss program. I tried looking into bariatric surgery, and was very frustrated that all these things — like watching my food intake and my servings, 60 grams (of carbs) per meal — all of that wasn’t really making a difference.”
This is a helpful article. But there are some inaccurate things too. I have type two diabetes and use a keto genie diet to lose weight (45# so far). I was able to get my cholesterol down, Triggs down, and my A1C to 6! I went off and followed a Mediterranean diet for a year. I gained back 15# and my diabetes got worse. So I am back on keto. I am using a closer to Mediterranean keto both then and now.
Hi Maya. I LOVE your site!! Interesting, informative with fab recipes and ideas. Hubby and I have just started eating low carb and I have to say, we are not finding it too difficult and I already feel sooo much better!! I find the hardest part is choosing low carb veg, I feel as if we are not eating enough. Any suggestions on how to get more veggies into our diet?
Pros: Compared to eating a traditional diet, switching to a low-carb diet can significantly reduce body fat, studies show. Cap your carb intake at 20% of daily calories and the weight-loss results are even stronger—plus, you can reduce your risk for heart disease and stroke. Some research suggests low-carb diets are even better than low-fat diets: One study in Annals of Internal Medicine found that people who limited their carbs lost eight more pounds than those who cut back on fat. If you cut back on carbs enough, your body learns to burn fat as fuel instead. Studies are mixed on how low-carb diets affect performance, but some evidence suggests that endurance performance can actually improve among people whose bodies adapt to fat-burning fairly easily.
Christian Wolfrum, one of the corresponding authors on the paper said 'Diabetes is one of the biggest health issues we face. Although ketogenic diets are known to be healthy, our findings indicate that there may be an increased risk of insulin resistance with this type of diet that may lead to Type 2 diabetes. The next step is to try to identify the mechanism for this effect and to address whether this is a physiological adaptation. Our hypothesis is that when fatty acids are metabolized, their products might have important signaling roles to play in the brain.'
“Instead of using a heavy salad dressing, try a drizzle of thick balsamic glaze along with a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime juice” Taub-Dix says. “By cutting the fat in your diet, you can not only save calories, but you can also leave room for healthier fats like avocado or nuts, which are toppings you can actually chew and enjoy with greater satisfaction.”
If you’re on a quest to jumpstart weight loss, why not kick your metabolism into overdrive by sneaking spicy foods into your diet. Capsaicin, the active ingredient in cayenne pepper that gives it its spiciness, revs up your metabolism in a way that’s conducive to weight loss. In fact, according to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, those who supplemented their diet with capsaicin consumed 200 fewer calories during their next meal.
"The DASH diet: the weight-loss plan approved by doctors. When doctors devised an eating plan to fight high blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes, weight loss was an added bonus. An eating programme devised by doctors to fight high blood pressure has become the latest weight-loss phenomenon and named America's healthiest diet two years in a row." - from the Weekend London Times
Keep up electrolytes. The major electrolytes in our bodies are sodium, potassium and magnesium. Because a low carb diet (especially a keto diet!) reduces the amount of water you store, this can flush out electrolytes and make you feel sick (called “keto flu”). This is temporary, but you can avoid or eliminate it by salting your food liberally, drinking broth (especially bone broth), and eating pickled vegetables. Some people also choose to take supplements for electrolytes, but it’s best to first consult a doctor that understands and supports keto/low carb lifestyles.
Full disclosure: I have followed a low-carb diet for nearly a decade and find no problem adhering to it. I’ve lost weight and all my cardiovascular biomarkers have improved. Moreover, I’ve studied the science and history behind low-carbohydrate diets, so beyond my personal experience, I bring an evidence-based perspective. (Previously, for 25+ years, I adhered faithfully to a “mostly plants” regimen of fruits, veggies, and whole grains, including my own homemade 7-grain bread, while exercising religiously. Yet during that time my blood lipids were unhealthy, and I never could shake an extra 10-20 pounds.)

Milk is limited. There are no long-term risks to eating Mediterranean, says Cohen. But you may be put off if you’re big on eating a lot of milk and rely on it to get all the calcium you need. You’ll get to eat cheese and yogurt, but in smaller amounts. "To get enough calcium in the diet without milk, one would need to eat enough yogurt and cheese, or seek nondairy calcium sources," says Cohen. If needed, drink skim milk. Otherwise, nondairy calcium sources include fortified almond milk, sardines, kale, and tofu made with calcium sulfate. (30)
I do know a little bit about nutrition (what heavy person doesn't?). I wanted a plan that followed sound nutritional guidelines and had some research to back it up. This one does. Marla does a great job of explaining why the things I learned about nutrition in my 20s aren't working for me in my 40s, and then lays out, clearly, concisely, and with menus and recipes, what *will* work...and it did. I was nervous about cutting down on grains--I attempted the Atkins plan a few times and it just made me sick--but I felt fine. The menu plans are satisfying and tasty, and Marla has really helped me to re-frame the way I think about food.

Close the Kitchen at Night. Establish a time when you will stop eating so you won't give in to the late-night munchies or mindless snacking while watching television. "Have a cup of tea, suck on a piece of hard candy or enjoy a small bowl of light ice cream or frozen yogurt if you want something sweet after dinner, but then brush your teeth so you will be less likely to eat or drink anything else," suggests Elaine Magee, MPH, RD, WebMD's "Recipe Doctor" and the author of Comfort Food Makeovers.


“Acknowledge that health is an onion; it's layered and complex, and isn't just about nutrition,” Moreno says. “Map out your health and wellness path by creating lists of issues vs. goals in your life within the realms of nutrition, movement, sleep, stress, spiritual, social, and medical issues. You’ll learn to see yourself as an amalgam of health traits and not just a roster of foods you ate in the last week.”
“Tremendous Results”….guess that’s why the diabetes nationwide gets worse every year, because of the stellar advice your kind is giving out. I’ve been on the virta clinic for two months and already went off insulin, Janumet and Jardiance, which I’ve been on for 10 years, with blood sugars between 80 and 150. The advice you give makes people get sick slower. The ketogenic approach deals with the real issue, carbohydrate intolerance. If you are lactose intolerant you stop ingesting lactose. Type two diabetes is simply carbohydrate intolerance. Stop eating the carbs and the symptoms go away. I think you meet to cite some of the other research out there I’ve read in other books and the work the Virta Clinic has done. In my opinion you’ve cherry picked data to suit your preconceived beliefs.
Weight Watchers – the diet your nan used to follow – is no more. In 2018, the company had a re-brand, with the new WW branding signalling a move away from diet culture and into the wellness-sphere – hint: WW now stands for ‘Wellness that Works’. ‘We are not classed as a diet,’ a member of the press office team tells WH. ‘It is a lifestyle change – a healthy living programme that encompasses food, activity and mindset.’
The ADA has recommended since 2013 we use our best clinical judgement in recommending a low carbohydrate diet for people with diabetes, recognizing it needs to be individualized. 60-75 grams is the carbohydrate amount I would give to a very tall, large boned man or perhaps an active teen or young adult. I would never recommend that many carbohydrates for an average size man who was trying to lose weight; he would get 45-60 grams of carbohydrates per meal and 15-30 grams for snacks. A women trying to lose weight would get 30-45 grams of carbohydrates per meal and 15 grams for snacks.

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.
In a bowl, combine 7 1/2 ounces (half a 15-ounce can) canned chickpeas (rinse in a colander for two minutes to remove excess sodium and drain well; save other half for Tuesday's snack), 2 teaspoons olive oil, 1/4 cup chopped white onion, 1/4 cup chopped green pepper (save the rest of the onion and pepper for dinner), 1 tablespoon sliced black olives, 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, and 1 1/2 tablespoons white vinegar. Mix thoroughly. Serve mixture over 2 cups romaine lettuce leaves.
On keto, I’ve adjusted my basal rates and I barely need to bolus at all. My blood glucose numbers have definitely improved and what I find really extraordinary is that I’m needing about 60% less total daily insulin, than I did before starting keto. What’s even more fascinating to me is seeing a steady straight line across my pump for 6, 12, and even 24 hours – no crazy spikes or dips in my blood sugar.
Thank you for this comment. It is truth! I keep telling people about this diet. It is literally the best diet I have ever been on. I can eat good food, I feel full, my weight is dropping, I feel better and I can actually feel the difference. While it is great for a professional to be skeptical of emerging diet trends (and lets face it, most diet trends are garbage peddled by snake oil salesmen), this one actually has science from some prestigious institutions behind it, not a marketing scheme.
A computer program such as KetoCalculator may be used to help generate recipes.[46] The meals often have four components: heavy whipping cream, a protein-rich food (typically meat), a fruit or vegetable and a fat such as butter, vegetable oil or mayonnaise. Only low-carbohydrate fruits and vegetables are allowed, which excludes bananas, potatoes, peas and corn. Suitable fruits are divided into two groups based on the amount of carbohydrate they contain, and vegetables are similarly divided into two groups. Foods within each of these four groups may be freely substituted to allow for variation without needing to recalculate portion sizes. For example, cooked broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and green beans are all equivalent. Fresh, canned or frozen foods are equivalent, but raw and cooked vegetables differ, and processed foods are an additional complication. Parents are required to be precise when measuring food quantities on an electronic scale accurate to 1 g. The child must eat the whole meal and cannot have extra portions; any snacks must be incorporated into the meal plan. A small amount of MCT oil may be used to help with constipation or to increase ketosis.[36]

Because people with type 2 diabetes are at an increased risk for cardiovascular disease, there’s a specific concern that the saturated fat in the diet may drive up LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol levels, and further increase the odds of heart problems. If you have type 2 diabetes, talk to your doctor before attempting a ketogenic diet. They may recommend a different weight-loss diet for you, like a reduced-calorie diet, to manage diabetes. Those with epilepsy should also consult their doctor before using this as part of their treatment plan.

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