It's generally accepted that the folks in countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea live longer and suffer less than most Americans from cancer and cardiovascular ailments. The not-so-surprising secret is an active lifestyle, weight control, and a diet low in red meat, sugar and saturated fat and high in produce, nuts and other healthful foods. The Mediterranean Diet may offer a host of health benefits, including weight loss, heart and brain health, cancer prevention, and diabetes prevention and control. By following the Mediterranean Diet, you could also keep that weight off while avoiding chronic disease.
"I'm not obsessed with food anymore. Before keto, I was constantly hungry and thinking about food. If we got takeout, I would open all of the containers to see which one had the most in it and I would grab that one. It makes sense now because everything I was eating was full of sugar and carbs and I was in that vicious cycle. Growing up, if we had a bad day my dad would say, "Let’s go get some ice cream." He wasn’t trying to raise a food addict.
What is the key to a healthy diet?According to the Harvard Medical School Food Pyramid, the total amount of fat you eat, whether high or low, is not really linked with disease. What really matters is the type of fat you eat. The "bad" fats -- saturated and trans fats -- increase the risk for certain diseases. The "good" fats – mono-unsaturated and poly-unsaturated fats –- like those contained in olive oil lower disease risk. The key to a healthy diet is to substitute good fats for bad fats, and to avoid trans fats.
The ketogenic diet has been shown to produce beneficial metabolic changes in the short-term. Along with weight loss, health parameters associated with carrying excess weight have improved, such as insulin resistance, high blood pressure, and elevated cholesterol and triglycerides. [2,7] There is also growing interest in the use of low-carbohydrate diets, including the ketogenic diet, for type 2 diabetes. Several theories exist as to why the ketogenic diet promotes weight loss, though they have not been consistently shown in research: [2,8,9]
Don’t eat too much protein — In addition to limiting your carb intake, you need to limit your protein intake as well. You should aim for about 20% of your calories to come from protein. If you eat more than that, your body will turn the excess protein into glucose in a process called gluconeogenesis. Your body will then try to burn this glucose off instead of fat and will kick your body out of ketosis.
Refined carbs lack nutrients and can wreak havoc on your blood sugar. Whole grains are best; have four small daily portions of whole-wheat bread, or try a pasta made from quinoa. And always eat grains with healthy fats and protein. Incorporate sprouted or fermented grains (hello, sourdough!) for easier digestion and better nutrient absorption. Or look for creative ways to swap out grains, such as using spaghetti squash in place of noodles.
There’s room for interpretation in the Mediterranean diet, whether you prefer to eat lower carb, lower protein or somewhere in between. The diet focuses on consumption of healthy fats while keeping carbohydrates relatively low and improving a person’s intake of high-quality protein foods. If you refer protein over legumes and grains, you have the option to lose weight in a healthy, no-deprivation-kind-of-way with a high amount of seafood and quality dairy products (that simultaneously provide other benefits like omega-3s and often probiotics).
You may also want to try a cyclical keto diet, or carb cycling. You follow the standard keto diet for 6 days of the week, when you eat less than 50 grams of net carbs a day. But on one day of the week, you increase your carb intake to roughly 150 grams of net carbs. Doing this satisfies any carb cravings you might have, making it easier to sustain keto in the long-run. Learn more about the benefits of carb cycling and weight loss here.
When your body goes into ketosis, it will start to produce by-products called ketones. This includes acetone—yes, the same chemical found in nail polish remover, which your body actually naturally makes on its own, according to a 2015 review of research. Because acetone is a smaller molecule, it tends to make its way into your lungs. You’ll eventually exhale them out, resulting in “keto breath.” Your mouth might also have a metallic taste, but it won’t last forever as you adjust to the diet. Just be diligent about brushing your teeth!
Don’t be surprised if you find yourself parched while you’re on the keto diet. Excreting all that extra water will likely cause a spike in thirst—so make it a point to drink up, Mancinelli advises. There’s no hard and fast recommendation for how much water you should be having on a keto diet. But in general, aim to drink enough so your urine is clear or pale yellow. If it’s any darker, bump your intake.
“The beneficial components of the Mediterranean diet,” concluded Robert Vogel, MD, and colleagues at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, “appear to be antioxidant-rich foods, including vegetables, fruits, and their derivatives such as vinegar, and omega–3–rich fish…” These foods, he continued, “appear to provide some protection against the direct impairment in endothelial function produced by high-fat foods, including olive oil.”
A small amount of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids present in extra virgin olive oil are essential for brain health. Scientifically, it has been seen that consumption of extra virgin olive oil may help in reducing the risk of Alzheimer's disease. A recent study published in the Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology, shows that extra virgin olive olive may help protect the brain tissue against toxic substances that can cause Alzheimer's disease.
For those who love their potatoes, pasta, and even fruit, this is a diet that will change your lifestyle completely. You’ve probably already guessed that the pasta and other wheat foods are not allowed. Potatoes and other starchy foods, like legumes and beans, are also on the banned list and that makes sense to many. But fruit? Is fruit not allowed?