A: You’ll find a detailed menu earlier in this article (also, recipes from Everyday Health!), but generally, you’ll want to make plants and whole grains the stars of your plate. If you look at a Mediterranean diet food pyramid, sweets are up top (indicating they should make up only a small part of your diet), followed by meat and dairy, and then fish. Last are fruit, veggies, and whole grains (suggesting they can be eaten liberally). Also, enjoying food with friends and family is a tenet of the eating approach, so make your meals a social affair!
Julius thanks for sharing your story with us and the great breakdown of everything. I’m two weeks in on my standard keto diet along with exercise and I feel great. I know how vital sleep is but I find myself waking up very early in the morning usually between 3-4 am(I wake up at 5 for work) but I have so much energy I can’t go back to sleep and I am not tired throughout the day. From your knowledge and experience is this normal? And is working out more than 3x a week counter productive in your opinion? Thanks again, Josh
It is no secret that Southern Europeans who eat a more Mediterranean Diet, consisting of vegetables, fruits, lots of fish and plenty of olive oil, have a higher life expectancy with fewer diseases. An average, Italians and Spaniards consume about 13 liters of olive oil per person per year. While the entire diet does play a big role in how healthy people are, it seems the use of extra virgin olive oil is the major contributing factor to longevity and health.
There’s been no shortage of coconut oil uses and treatments proven by recent research — it provides not only MCTs (especially abundant levels of lauric acid), but also antibacterial properties, antioxidants, anti-inflammatories and more. The difference between MCT oil and coconut oil is that MCT oil is much more concentrated and contains mostly capric acid and caprylic acid. While coconut oil certainly has MCTs in it, concentrated MCT oil is almost entirely MCTs.
Dr. Fung suggests not doing the same fasting routine, day after day, but to “switch it up”; 16:8 one day, 24 hours IF the next, then a day of regular eating. That is because the body has a strong physiological drive to seek homeostasis — energy balance. “Whenever the body is exposed to a constant stimulus, it will become acclimated to it,” he says.
Your calorie deficit. The one factor that leads to the most significant and consistent weight loss is a calorie deficit. In other words, when we consume fewer calories than we need to maintain our weight, we will lose weight. This means that your weight loss rate will usually increase as your total calorie consumption decreases. However, there are limits to how far you should take you should take your deficit. The human body is designed to prevent massive amounts of weight loss during times of starvation via mechanisms that make long-term fat loss much harder to achieve and maintain. Because of this, it is never a good idea to starve yourself for extended periods of time. Research indicates that calorie deficits above 30% are enough to stimulate some of these counterproductive mechanisms for long-term fat loss.
The polyphenols in extra virgin olive oil act as antioxidants to rid the body of free radicals that would otherwise damage cells, or even lead to cancer. A study found that drinking olive oil inhibited colon cancer at various stages of the disease. So why not use it to fend off cancer to begin with? This is not to say that you should skip those recommended colonoscopies after age 50, but go ahead and add olive oil to your daily regimen as a preventative measure.

Lauric acid is naturally antimicrobial, antibacterial and antiviral. It is excellent for the skin and it has even been studied for its potential ability to help with severe acne for this reason! Coconut oil is the richest natural source, followed by human breastmilk, which contains up to 20% of its saturated fat content as lauric acid. (Side note to nursing moms: there are studies that show that consuming coconut oil helps improve the lauric acid content of milk.)


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).

Experiment with “real” whole grains that are still in their “whole” form and haven’t been refined. Quinoa cooks up in just 20 minutes, making it a great side dish for weeknight meals. Barley is full of fiber and it’s filling: pair it with mushrooms for a steamy, satisfying soup. A hot bowl of oatmeal is perfect for breakfast on a cold winter morning. Even popcorn is a whole grain—just keep it healthy by eating air-popped corn and forgo the butter (try a drizzle of olive oil instead). Supplement your intake with other whole-grain products, like whole-wheat bread and pasta. Look for the term “whole” or “whole grain” on the food package and in the ingredient list—it should be listed as the first ingredient. But if you still find it too hard to make the switch from your old refined favorites, phase in a whole grain by using whole-grain blends of pastas and rice or mixing whole grains half-and-half with a refined one (like half whole-wheat pasta and half white).
Eating extra virgin olive oil as part of a diverse Mediterranean diet is clearly beneficial in Spanish adults. And although genes partially control preferences, there is no reason to believe it won’t work in other cultures and populations. If we start educating people to use high-quality extra virgin olive oil early in life and change its stigma as a medicine or punishment, we could make our populations and our gut microbiomes healthier. Although we are unlikely to ever match the Greeks.
Compared to other types of oils and fats, MCTs seem to have positive effects on fat burning and weight reduction. As part of a healthy diet, MCT oil can help increase satiety and even raise the metabolic rate at which the body functions. Does this mean eating large amounts of MCTs daily will make you drop pounds? Not quite. Not every study has shown that MCTs can produce weight loss necessarily, but some definitely have shown the positive effects of MCTs on metabolic function.
Medical and public health research suggests that body weight and BMI are useful indicators of health. According to the National Institutes of Health, being obese and morbidly obese is significantly associated with an increased risk of developing serious health issues such as certain cancers, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and kidney damage. [2, 3, 4] Maintaining a healthy weight is a critical way to prevent the onset of many of these health problems.
Most people in the Mediterranean eat a balanced breakfast within one to two hours of waking up, which starts their day right by balancing blood sugar when it’s at its lowest. They then typically eat three meals a day that are filling, with plenty of fiber and healthy fats. Many people choose to have their biggest meal mid-day as opposed to at night, which gives them the opportunity to use that food for energy while they’re still active.
It’s no secret that carbs—especially refined ones like sugary cereals, white bread and pasta, or sweet drinks—cause your blood sugar to spike and dip. So it makes sense that eating less of them can help keep things nice and even. For healthy people, this can translate to more steady energy, less brain fog, and fewer sugary cravings, Mancinelli explains.
MCT oil powder is a unique form of dietary fat rapidly absorbed by the body and has a wide range of health benefits. Supplementation with MCT powder can help combat fatigue, suppress appetite[*], enhance thermogenesis (aka ‘fat burning’)[*] and help your body adapt to using ketones for fuel. A recent scientific review showed that MCTs can effectively decrease body weight, total body fat, hip circumference, waist circumference, total subcutaneous fat and visceral fat[*]. Check out this articlefor more information on how to supplement with MCTs.
Lift weights: While you can’t exercise your way out of a bad diet, adding in weight lifting will build muscle and increase your metabolism. “The more muscle you add, the better your insulin sensitivity, so any sort of resistant strain you can add to your muscle is great for weight loss,” says Dr. Naiman. The weight lifting doesn’t have to be a excessive — 90 seconds, twice a week can do it. But he notes it has to be a heavy enough weight that after about to 10 to 15 lifts (reps) you cannot do another rep. That is called lifting to muscle failure. “It is only if you go to absolute failure that you convince your body that you’re not strong enough. Your body won’t add muscle unless you send the message that it needs more,” Dr. Naiman says. Squats, push-ups and other body resistance methods are just as effective as hand held weights or weight machines.
In 2017, Drs. Kevin Hall and Juen Guo published a meta-analysis of controlled feeding studies that compared diets of equal calorie and protein content with variations in carbohydrate and fat content. By designing the study in this way, the researchers could finally find out whether restricting carbs or limiting calories is more important when it comes to weight loss.
What’s next for Flynn? With teaching, research, clinical and non-profit work on her plate, she still feels that there is much left to learn about the application of a plant-based diet that includes high-quality extra virgin olive oil. Securing funding remains challenging, which Flynn attributes in large part due to the “dismal failure” of low-fat diet research. She also is confident in the potential of using “food as medicine” to improve risk factors for chronic diseases among low-income groups, which offers dual benefits of improving lives as well as decreasing health care costs. She is also curious about the freshness of olive oil vis-à-vis its provision of health benefits and whether there is a cutoff at which these benefits begin to decline.
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You also need to consume coconut and other healthy fats in order absorb fat-soluble nutrients found in various foods. These include nutrients like beta-carotene (a precursor of vitamin A found in plants like berries, squash and leafy greens), vitamin E, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and lutein. When you consume a healthy diet filled with lots of different whole, plant foods but don’t get enough healthy fat sources at the same time, your body is basically not capable of utilizing these nutrients as well.
While most people in the Mediterranean aren’t vegetarians, the diet promotes only a small consumption on meats and heavier meals — instead going for the lighter and healthier fish options across the board. This can be beneficial for those looking to lose weight and improve things such as their cholesterol, heart health and omega-3 fatty acid intake.
Great article and very inspiring. I am very interested in the Keto lifestyle. My husband has Chrons disease and a friend of ours was telling us about the Keto diet. From the research I have done this seems very beneficial. However, I am struggling with the meal planning part of this. I currently plan our meals and grocery shopping weekly and know if I had a meal plan/recipes that we could be very successful. Do you have recommendations or suggestions on a place to find this?
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).
Results, she promises, can be quite dramatic. And sure enough, Woman’s World readers who tested Palinski-Wade’s olive oil diet menus melted up to eight pounds and four inches of ab flab in just seven days. “I tried Weight Watchers, supplements, fad diets, but nothing worked until this,” says Pennsylvania grandmother Eleanor Downing, 62. “I lost a pant size in a week!” Meanwhile, Colorado travel agent Erika Crocker, 47, who whisked four inches off her middle, still can’t believe such a simple approach could be so effective. As for 30-year-old Mississippi mom Lindsey Bradley, 30, dropping a size has her raving: “For once, my belly got flatter without hunger pangs.”
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