What is the Mediterranean diet? Have you heard of it? What foods can I eat on this diet? What kind of results can I expect? Is this diet safe? In this post I answer all of your questions about this trending diet! Note: This post contains affiliate links.
I was on Pinterest the other day and I clicked the “trending” tab to see what’s up-and-coming in the virtual world right now.
It’s something that I do pretty regularly, but normally the things I find there are either not interesting or not new to me.
But the words, “Mediterranean diet” caught my eye.
Was this a new diet or just recipes for Mediterranean food?
I was curious, since I have heard all about the latest diets. I know people doing the Whole 30, going paleo, ketogenic, gluten-free, the list goes on.
What is the Mediterranean diet?
I honestly didn’t know. But because I see people “dieting” a lot and I’m a personal trainer, I had to know. So I did a little bit of research for my readers.
(P.S. I do not personally believe in the word “dieting.” A diet is just what you’re eating – but putting yourself ON a diet is silly to me. It’s limiting mentally and I just don’t think that short-term solutions are effective for really changing your life…Also, since I’m a personal trainer, I can’t recommend any of these diets legally – I can kind of just give you the info and let you do what you will with it. So take it all with a grain of salt.)
Y’all, Mediterranean food is delicious. I love it.
And as it turns out, the diet itself pretty simple.
The Mediterranean diet is a heart-healthy diet inspired by the cooking styles of the countries bordering the Mediterranean sea.
That would be Spain, Italy, Greece, etc.
(I have actually been to Spain and olives are a huge industry, so this makes sense. The climate is just right.)
Anyway, there’s a lot of olive oil, fish, whole grains, and fruits and veggies involved. (They even allow a little wine as part of this diet!)
The Mediterranean diet is considered “heart healthy” because of the omegas in fish and healthy fats in olive oil, so I’d say that this might be a diet style worth trying if you have high cholesterol. Well, at least some recipes, anyway. (Remember, I don’t believe in following ONE strict diet. I think that backfires way too often. Moderation is key!)
But I wanted to know more about the Mediterranean diet, so I did some more research.
What is the Mediterranean diet in more specific terms?
Here are the key components:
- The diet is low-sodium because it uses herbs and spices for flavoring instead of added salt
- There’s a focus on plant-based foods, including legumes, nuts, fruits, and veggies
- Butter is not used – instead olive and other plant-based oils are prominent
- Red meat consumption is very limited
- Fish and poultry are the most commonly consumed animal proteins
- Wine is allowed in moderation
- Daily exercise is suggested as complementary to the diet
- Food is to be a social event – from cooking to eating
Related Reading: How Do You Know What Fats are “Good” Fats?
What do the studies say about the Mediterranean diet?
According to Mayo Clinic studies are really in support of claims that the Mediterranean diet is “heart healthy.” It’s been associated with improved cardiovascular health, reducing the risk of cardiovascular-related death. It’s also associated with less incidences of cancer, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s disease. It’s also suggested that it might reduce the risk of breast cancer.
So these are all pretty worthy reasons to try the Mediterranean diet – even if you aren’t in poor health to begin with.
What I Like About This Diet as a Personal Trainer and Human Being
In my opinion, the best part about this diet is that everything is OK to eat in moderation. In other words, you aren’t “breaking” your diet by having chocolate or wine. I think that’s important mentally and emotionally – diets that are overly limiting set you up for failure.
They just aren’t sustainable. I personally think that diets like the Whole 30 or the 21 Day Fix are great for “kick-starting” weight loss efforts. They are great for motivation and busting through plateaus, but they just aren’t real life. They aren’t.
If you’ve ever tried a super limiting diet (carb-free, Whole 30, etc.) then you probably know what I mean.
For those who aren’t highly disciplined, extremely limiting diets can be an emotional rollercoaster. Plus, they don’t guarantee that you’ll make long-lasting changes. What’s the point in losing a bunch of weight one month just to gain it back once you’re “off” of your diet?
Okay, rant over.
Can the Mediterranean Diet Help Me Lose Weight?
Everyone should be eating healthy fats (see my article about the different types of fat and their sources) and eating a lot of fresh, minimally processed foods.
As with any “diet,” the answer is yes and no. It depends on how rigid you are with your diet and whether or not you exercise, too. However, keep in mind that this particular diet is not as rigid as others. If you start eating “Mediterranean style” and it helps you eat more fruit, veggies, and healthy fats, you probably will see weight loss.
If you abuse the “everything in moderation” concept, you probably wont.
The beauty of this diet is that you can ask yourself, “What is the Mediterranean diet for me?” If your goals are to lose weight, you can eat this diet with that in mind. It’s all you, boo.
Because as we know, a calorie deficit is ultimately what leads to weight loss.
Related Reading: Is Low-Carb Really The Way to Go for Weight Loss?
More fruit, veggies, whole grains, legumes, and nuts will primarily impact other aspects of health (like heart health). Do with that what you will.
Recipes to Try for Those Interested in the Mediterranean Diet
I love Pinterest, ya know. Here are some recipes that looked amazing:
- Grilled Salmon with Avocado Greek Salza
- Cucumber Greek Salad
- Mediterranean Quinoa Salad
- Greek “Nachos”
- Mediterranean Meatball Gyros
- Olive Oil Pasta
- Mediterranean Pasta Salad
So, if someone posed the question, “What is the Mediterranean diet?” would you be comfortable explaining it to them?
I hope this helped some of you who were curious! Let me know what you think about this diet by dropping a comment below!