But much has changed on Crete – and throughout the Mediterranean – since then. Today, the people of Crete still eat a lot of olive oil, but their intake of whole, natural foods has gone way down, as has their physical activity. The island’s new staples are meat, cheese, TV, and the Internet. Today, more than 60% of Crete’s adult population – and an alarming 50% of its children – are overweight.
The second reason is arguably more important: Vegies taste better with olive oil, so people are likely to eat more. “My rule of thumb is one tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil to one cup of veg,” Flynn says, adding that sautéing them or roasting are tasty options, plus these methods maintain much of their nutrient value. “Eating veg like this fills you up and stops you being hungry.” An added bonus, she says, is fibre from the veg also improves bowel regularity.
Nuts are another Mediterranean diet staple. Grabbing a handful, whether that's almonds, cashews, or pistachios, can make for a satisfying, on-the-go snack. One study in Nutrition Journal found that if people replaced their standard snack (cookies, chips, crackers, snack mix, cereal bars) with almonds, their diets would be lower in empty calories, added sugar, and sodium. Plus, nuts contain more fiber and minerals, such as potassium, than processed snack foods.

When examining the studies, the researchers noted that, on average, the participants in the VLCKD groups lost about 2 lbs. more of bodyweight compared to the low-fat diet groups. [19] This difference was statistically significant and described as “moderate”. The researchers also noted greater improvements in triglycerides, blood pressure, and HDL cholesterol in the VLCKD group compared to the low-fat diet group.
Flynn had always had an interest in dietary guidelines and how various diet patterns impact weight and disease risk. She was especially intrigued after having read the Seven Countries Study in the mid-1980s that demonstrated notable cardiovascular benefits from what is now widely known as the Mediterranean Diet, in which individuals consume considerable amounts of healthy fats, especially olive oil. Flynn had also spent time analyzing the literature behind dietary guidelines and recommendations and was “astounded” by the lack of evidence supporting the health claims made by proponents of low-fat diets. She went on to co-author a book, Low-Fat Lies (Lifeline Press, 1999), drawing on the scientific evidence revealing the numerous problems with extremely low-fat diets and demonstrating the positive effects of a more Mediterranean-style eating pattern.
Indeed, the people most likely to live 100 robust years and beyond, the citizens of Okinawa, Japan, don’t even use olive oil. They do eat a lot of fiber–rich, straight–from–the–earth foods, (14) as do other communities with high percentages of centenarians, such as the Seventh Day Adventists of Loma Linda, California; and the people of Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica; Icaria, Greece; and Sardinia, Italy. (15)
Alzheimer's disease. There is interest in using MCTs to treat Alzheimer's disease because MCTs might provide extra energy to the brain and might also protect the brain against damage from beta-amyloid protein plaques. These plaques are the structures that form in Alzheimer's disease and cause symptoms. Some research shows that a specific MCT product (AC-1202) does not significantly improve learning, memory and information processing (cognitive thinking) in people with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease, except in people with a particular genetic make-up (change in the APOE4 gene). In the people with the APEO4 gene change, a single dose of the MCT product seems to improve cognitive thinking skills.
Fat is a macronutrient with many benefits, one of which is the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. It is also a building block of every cell membrane in the body. It provides energy, slows the absorption of other nutrients (so you feel full longer after a meal) and is required for healthy liver function. Plus, let’s face it, fat makes food taste better.
As for the type of MCT oil to take, I prefer the more expensive C8 (caprylic acid) oil over those containing both C8 and C10. Avoid cheaper versions containing C6. Even a 1 to 2 percent concentration of C6 can contribute to GI distress. If you want C12 (lauric acid) for its anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory activity, add coconut oil to your diet, which is less expensive and more versatile than MCT oil.
I lost 7lbs in the first 2 weeks of Keto, I do one aerobic type class a week and 4-5 HIIT classes. I have recently purchased the Ketostix and according to that i’m not in a ketogenic state. I have decided to throw myself back into this week regardless and I’m consciously writing down everything that I’m eating and keeping the net carbs to less than 20g’s a day. I’d be interested to know how many calories and protein you are consuming a day and what should my minimum fat intake be? A day for me at the min looks something like this
This supposedly “good” monounsaturated fat-rich meal, in effect, elevated blood fats and crippled the workings of the endothelium (the inside skin of the arteries), putting the squeeze on blood flow and reducing the arteries’ ability to deliver more blood to tissues. Research has shown that things that impair endothelial function in the short term usually contribute to clogged arteries in the long run. No problems with impaired endothelial function occurred with meals enriched in other parts of the Mediterranean diet, such as vegetables and fruits.
You have to give yourself time to learn how to feel if you are full or still hungry. And so you do that for each meal, for a week’s time, you realize at some point that you are eating the right amount, you are eating too much, or you are eating too little. You will realize at some meals “I was eating too much. I didn’t need that second egg or whatever.” It is a way to do it without counting calories, to do it based on your body’s need and for you to get in touch with your body’s need.
"I start my day with coffee and heavy whipping cream. My first meal of the day is in the afternoon and is usually something small like leftovers or some eggs. It’s about getting in protein and making sure whatever I eat is quality and tastes delicious. For dinner, I have a bigger meal which is always an animal protein with a side of something green like spinach or broccoli."
As the tide began to turn in the early 2000s and the claims for low-fat diets grew more dubious, new dietary culprits were called into question, such as refined carbohydrates and gluten. Meanwhile, more research emerged exploring the benefits of diets rich in healthy fats. These days, Flynn is noted for seemingly having known before others that low-fat diets were not optimal for health. “I constantly hear from people now ‘How did you know low-fat diets were unhealthy?’ ” She laughs this off remarking that she would simply always read the references supporting dietary guidelines and was a critical reviewer of the evidence. “I constantly tell my students to not take dietary guidelines at face value; look into the evidence.”
Day 8: I'm still struggling to find a morning beverage that I enjoy and that keeps me full, so I try flavorless collagen protein powder with my coffee plus a splash of macadamia nut milk. It still isn't the same as a French press with cream, but it's a win! On the solid-food front, I'm starting to get a little grossed out about all the meat I've eaten in the past week. It's more than I'd normally eat in three times as long. Lamb burgers, turkey lettuce-wrap tacos, chicken salads. My digestion is off (even though I take probiotics every morning), so Dr. Axe recommends his Keto Digest supplements at lunch. They contain fat-digesting enzymes to help break down the extra fat and protein that my body isn't used to consuming, and it helps.
She went on to research whether a plant-based olive oil diet would improve risk factors for chronic disease, including breast and prostate cancers, relative to a lower fat diet. In one major study of 44 women with breast cancer, participants were assigned either a conventional diet where less than 30 percent of calories came from fat or a plant-based olive oil diet. The women followed the diets for eight weeks of weight loss and then could choose which they wanted to continue on for six months of follow-up. Somewhat surprisingly to Flynn, a strong majority of the women chose her diet, saying that the meals tasted better, were easy to prepare, inexpensive, and could be used both for everyday eating and when entertaining. Moreover, those who have tried to adopt the plant-based olive diet in both research and outpatient settings have mentioned feeling better after just one day following it, which is a powerful motivator for lasting behavior change.
Elena Paravantes, RDN is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Writer and consultant specializing in the Mediterranean Diet and Cuisine. She has been active as a clinician, consultant and lecturer for 20 years, both in the U.S. and Greece. An expert on the Greek Mediterranean Diet, her interviews and articles have been published in many publications including CNN, U.S. News and World Report, Prevention, NPR, and Shape. Elena has collaborated with a number of organizations including Loyola University, Yale University, University of Missouri, Louisiana State University, and the American College of Greece.
The premise of the ketogenic diet for weight loss is that if you deprive the body of glucose—the main source of energy for all cells in the body, which is obtained by eating carbohydrate foods—an alternative fuel called ketones is produced from stored fat (thus, the term “keto”-genic). The brain demands the most glucose in a steady supply, about 120 grams daily, because it cannot store glucose. During fasting, or when very little carbohydrate is eaten, the body first pulls stored glucose from the liver and temporarily breaks down muscle to release glucose. If this continues for 3-4 days and stored glucose is fully depleted, blood levels of a hormone called insulin decrease, and the body begins to use fat as its primary fuel. The liver produces ketone bodies from fat, which can be used in the absence of glucose. [1]
I lost most of my weight on a high protein, low carb diet prescribed by my surgeon, but I’ve recently started the Deeper State Keto program which is much higher fat. I’ve cut out the protein bars and shakes and have so much energy. I feel like I could do cartwheels at all times. It’s not like I felt bad before. I wasn’t sleepy, lethargic, or sluggish. Now, I’m alert, bright and energized all the time."

Research shows that greater adherence to the traditional Mediterranean diet, including plenty of monounsaturated fats and omega-3 foods, is associated with a significant reduction in all-cause mortality, especially heart disease. A striking protective effect of a Mediterranean diet rich in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) from olive oil has been shown in many studies, with some finding that a Mediterranean-style diet can decrease the risk of cardiac death by 30 percent and sudden cardiac death by 45 percent. (6)
There’s no required schedule of meals and snacks, either, but the diet does emphasize the social aspect of eating—like sitting down at a table with friends or family. “When you talk about the pillars of the Mediterranean lifestyle, diet is only part of it,” says Weinandy. “Regular social interaction and staying active with exercise are also really important.”
Day 4: Grabbing lunch out has been successful thus far. Today was some tilapia, zucchini, and yellow squash, and a kale and tofu side salad. I tossed on half an avocado for good fatty measure. Oh, and I notice that I've lost a pound already, which is definitely just water weight-carbs hold water so limiting them is a surefire way to release some fluid in your body-but nonetheless. Weight loss wasn't my objective, but I doubt I'm alone in thinking, "I'll take it!"
So if you are experiencing a weight-loss stall, our experts recommend you look at how much fat you are consuming and see where you might cut back without harming the tastiness or quality of your food or your feeling of fullness, and without bringing back the cravings and blood sugar swings. Don’t starve yourself, but be mindful of excess fat for now. Samantha decided to cut out her bulletproof coffee for now.
“Certainly, a single high-fat meal has been shown to impair blood flow in part because of acute damage to the endothelium, which may explain why angina is often much worse for several hours after each high-fat meal. A vital question scientists must ask is: ‘How much inflammatory damage do dietary fats cause, and, as a result, how much cardiovascular disease are they causing’?”
It reduces risk of disease. A growing number of studies suggest that people who follow a Mediterranean diet are less likely to die of heart disease than people who follow a typical American diet. (1) What’s more, evidence is emerging that shows people who eat this way have a lower risk of colon cancer, prostate cancer, and some head and neck cancers, according to studies published in September 2016 in the British Journal of Cancer and in February 2018 in the Journal of Urology. (27,28,29)

The Mediterranean Diet is not a diet. It is a lifelong habit. Something you must stick to as a creed. Decades ago, this was the usual way of life of the communities around the Mediterranean Basin. It was the everyday life in countries like Spain, Italy or Greece. Its major points were physical activity, healthy nutrition and calm attitude. And not much money to throw away.
A meta-analysis of 13 randomized controlled trials following overweight and obese participants for 1-2 years on either low-fat diets or very-low-carbohydrate ketogenic diets found that the ketogenic diet produced a small but significantly greater reduction in weight, triglycerides, and blood pressure, and a greater increase in HDL and LDL cholesterol compared with the low-fat diet at one year. [10] The authors acknowledged the small weight loss difference between the two diets of about 2 pounds, and that compliance to the ketogenic diet declined over time, which may have explained the more significant difference at one year but not at two years (the authors did not provide additional data on this).
Medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) are fats that are naturally found in coconut and palm kernel oils. They’re more easily and rapidly digested than other types of fats. MCTs are readily absorbed from the GI tract and are metabolized very quickly by the liver, where they are reported to encourage the use of fat for energy rather than for storage.* Numerous studies suggest that substituting MCT oil for other fats in a healthy diet may therefore help to support healthy weight and body composition.*
The diet primarily consists of foods and ingredients that are very close to nature, including olive oil, legumes like peas and beans, fruits, vegetables, unrefined cereal products, and small portions of animal products (that are always “organic” and locally produced). In contrast to the typical American diet, it’s very low in sugar and practically free of all GMOs or artificial ingredients like high fructose corn syrup, preservatives and flavor enhancers. For something sweet, people in the Mediterranean enjoy fruit or small quantities of homemade desserts made with natural sweeteners like honey.
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Add in intermittent fasting: Once you are fat-adapted, hunger pangs diminish and it is easy to go for longer periods without eating. Many people naturally stop eating breakfast — they just aren’t hungry when they wake up. The number one rule of low-carb eating is “eat when you are hungry and stop when you are full.” So if you are not hungry try fasting for 16 hours, and then eating just lunch and dinner in an 8-hour window, called a 16:8 fast. Or try eating dinner one night, than fasting until dinner the next night, doing a 24-hours fast.
One review, published in April 2016 in The American Journal of Medicine, looked at five research trials on overweight and obese people and found that after one year those who followed a Mediterranean diet lost as much as 11 pounds (lbs) more than low-fat eaters. (6) (They lost between 9 and 22 lbs total and kept it off for a year.) But that same study found similar weight loss in other diets, like low-carb diets and the American Diabetes Association diet. The results suggest, the researchers say, that “there is no ideal diet for achieving sustained weight loss in overweight or obese individuals.”

One review, published in April 2016 in The American Journal of Medicine, looked at five research trials on overweight and obese people and found that after one year those who followed a Mediterranean diet lost as much as 11 pounds (lbs) more than low-fat eaters. (6) (They lost between 9 and 22 lbs total and kept it off for a year.) But that same study found similar weight loss in other diets, like low-carb diets and the American Diabetes Association diet. The results suggest, the researchers say, that “there is no ideal diet for achieving sustained weight loss in overweight or obese individuals.”
Shortly after World War II, Ancel Keys and colleagues (including Paul Dudley White, later President Eisenhower’s heart doctor) organized the remarkable Seven Countries Study to examine the hypothesis that Mediterranean-eating patterns contributed directly to improved health outcomes. This long-running study examined the health of almost thirteen thousand middle-aged men in the United States, Japan, Italy, Greece, the Netherlands, Finland, and then-Yugoslavia.
A study of 89 obese adults who were placed on a two-phase diet regimen (6 months of a very-low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet and 6 months of a reintroduction phase on a normal calorie Mediterranean diet) showed a significant mean 10% weight loss with no weight regain at one year. The ketogenic diet provided about 980 calories with 12% carbohydrate, 36% protein, and 52% fat, while the Mediterranean diet provided about 1800 calories with 58% carbohydrate, 15% protein, and 27% fat. Eighty-eight percent of the participants were compliant with the entire regimen. [12] It is noted that the ketogenic diet used in this study was lower in fat and slightly higher in carbohydrate and protein than the average ketogenic diet that provides 70% or greater calories from fat and less than 20% protein.

MCT oils are particularly good for cooking because they have a high “smoke point,” meaning they don’t oxidize from heat easily and can withstand high temperatures. This is crucial, because even certain “good fats” are not well-suited for cooking (like extra virgin olive oil or flaxseed oil, for example) and can become rancid oils somewhat easily. Both coconut oil and MCT oil can be used for the most part in baked goods, sautés, stir-fries and grilled foods without oxidizing.
Because this is an eating pattern – not a structured diet – you're on your own to figure out how many calories you should eat to lose or maintain your weight, what you'll do to stay active and how you'll shape your Mediterranean menu. The Mediterranean diet pyramid should help get you started. The pyramid emphasizes eating fruits, veggies, whole grains, beans, nuts, legumes, olive oil, and flavorful herbs and spices; fish and seafood at least a couple of times a week; and poultry, eggs, cheese and yogurt in moderation, while saving sweets and red meat for special occasions. Top it off with a splash of red wine (if you want), remember to stay physically active and you're set.

Due to the high-quality design and data of the study, it was published in the Journal of American Medicine, one of the most prestigious research journals in the world. The research team stated that “in this study of overweight and obese premenopausal women, those assigned to follow the Atkins diet had more weight loss and more favorable outcomes for metabolic effects at 1 year than women assigned to the Zone, Ornish, or LEARN diets.” [16]


So while some marketers of MCT oil might claim that their products contain more concentrated and diverse MCTs than real coconut oil does, it might be because they’re chemically altered. It could even have “filler” oils like omega-6 polyunsaturated fats. Another factor to consider is that most MCT oils on the market are manufactured via chemical/solvent refining, which can mean they require using chemicals like hexane and different enzymes and combustion chemicals.
Julius – You are awesome and nice job with this! I have been a crazy person researching every university and medical journal to study nutritional ketosis as well as fasting, and how to use in combination. My goal is to be on the cover of SHAPE magazine when I’m 60 – a few years away – and this lifestyle what will make that happen. So far, 26 pounds in 6 weeks – this is huge – and I was inspired to read your results. DO YOU FIND that keeping snacks in your diet is OK?? Same question for whey powder vs egg white powder?? I thought the whey resulted in a higher insulin response…have you compared the two? As a former competitive powerlifter, I’m curious about this….and thanks for doing this great blog.
Unsaturated fatty acids, whether monounsaturated or polyunsaturated, can lower your levels of "bad" cholesterol (which decreases your risk of heart disease) if you eat them instead of saturated fatty acids, Hughes says. Saturated fat -- found mostly in animal products and in palm and coconut oils -- is the main dietary cause of high blood cholesterol, according to the American Heart Association.
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