For every person in America who has a few extra pounds to shed, there is a new diet promising results where others have failed. The latest in a long list of diets we can try is known as the Mediterranean Diet. This diet is endorsed by plenty of medical professionals and celebrities, including TV’s Dr. Mehmet Oz.
Dr. Oz grew up eating a Mediterranean diet due to his parents’ Turkish heritage. He is very familiar with all of the fruits, vegetables, and grains typically included in menus in and around the Mediterranean region. According to All About You, Oz believes that the Mediterranean Diet is largely responsible for the good health his family enjoys.
Not a Weight Loss Plan
The Mediterranean Diet is not really a diet in the way we define the word. In other words, it is not a weight-loss program with specific guidelines and goals to be reached. Rather, it is a method of eating based on the types of food you choose and the portions you consume.
WebMD provides a broad overview, saying that the food involved in a Mediterranean diet would be the types of food you’d find in southern Italy, southern France, Spain, and Greece. The menus in those countries are heavy on certain types of vegetables, fruits, grains, and fish, with plenty of olive oil thrown in. There isn’t a whole lot by way of sweets, dairy, and meat.
Those who believe in the Mediterranean Diet claim it’s good for the overall health as well is weight loss. It apparently reduces the risk of a number of serious diseases, including cancer and Alzheimer’s, and helps to keep your heart and brain working well. Even the mono-unsaturated fats and omega-3s found in Mediterranean foods are good for you.
The Calorie Question
Eating a healthy Mediterranean diet can be helpful for weight loss because of the low calorie count most of the foods have. For example, 100 grams of whole wheat bread provides about 247 calories as opposed to the 361 calories in the same amount of white bread. Likewise, three ounces of salmon is just 177 calories while three ounces of beef comes in at about 279.
As for all of the fruits and vegetables, it should be obvious they have much lower calorie count than the processed foods found in most American grocery stores. By sticking with fewer calories, you’re giving your body less excess energy that could be stored as fat.
The other thing to consider about calories is what comes with them. The Food Network explains that it comes down to how well the calories you consume are packed with nutrients. If you take 100 calories each of both chocolate candy and vegetables, the vegetables obviously offer a lot more nutrients, including vitamins and minerals. They are better for you than than the empty calories provided by the candy.
The Portion Control Question
You could make the case that a calorie is a calorie regardless of its source. Technically, you’d be right. And that’s why using the Mediterranean Diet for weight loss also includes the idea of portion control. While you can eat more vegetables and fruits with lower calorie counts, you’ll still have a tough time losing weight if you eat more than you should.
For Dummies addresses the portion control question by explaining what’s commonly found in the Mediterranean region. There they typically eat in smaller portions, thereby keeping their calories in check naturally. Dining at a typical restaurant in southern Italy will not result in multiple plates with mountains of food served at your table.
All About You reinforces this idea. They say that Mediterranean foods are typically served as finger foods in lighter and smaller portions. That’s not what you find in most Western countries. The combination of smaller portions, lower calorie counts, and high nutritional value create the perfect storm for losing weight.
It’s Completely Safe
There have been diets throughout history that have caused more harm than good. The Cabbage Soup and Master Cleanse diets are but two examples. But remember, the Mediterranean diet isn’t a weight loss plan as such. It is a change in the way you eat; not only today, but every day thereafter.
The key to the Mediterranean Diet is to eat enough of everything. That means enough fruits, vegetables, grains, fish, and oils. You reduce total calorie intake when you want to lose weight, then switch to a maintenance calorie intake once you’ve reached your weight loss goals. That maintenance calorie intake should prevent you from putting on excessive weight in the future.
The end result is that the Mediterranean Diet is completely safe when practiced appropriately. And rest assured there are plenty of tasty foods and recipes you can get your hands on. Going Mediterranean doesn’t mean you’ll be confined to rice cakes and wheat grass juice. You can enjoy all sorts of intensely flavorful dishes that are good for your health and will help you maintain your weight.