The Mediterranean diet might help you lose weight. While some people fear that eating a diet like the Mediterranean diet that is relatively rich in fats (think olive oil, olives, avocado and some cheese) will keep them fat, more and more research is suggesting the opposite is true. Of course, it depends on which aspects you adopt and how it compares to your current diet. If, for instance, you build a "calorie deficit" into your plan – eating fewer calories than your daily recommended max or burning off extra by exercising – you should shed some pounds. How quickly and whether you keep them off is up to you.
You can eat what you love. It’s evident that with such a variety of whole, fresh foods available to you as options, it’s easy to build meals based on the diet. And, you don’t have to eliminate your favorites, either. They may just require some tweaks. For instance, rather than a sausage and pepperoni pizza, you’d choose one piled high with veggies and topped with some cheese. You can also fit in a lot of food into one meal. Filling up on fresh foods like fruits and vegetables will allow you to build volume into meals for fewer calories.
The Mediterranean diet wasn’t built as a weight loss plan — in fact, because it wasn’t developed at all, but is a style of eating of a region of people that evolved naturally over centuries, there’s no official way to follow it. But it’s popular because it’s a well-rounded approach to eating that isn’t restrictive. Two of the five Blue Zones — areas where people live longer and have lower rates of disease — are located in Mediterranean cities (Ikaria, Greece and Sardinia, Italy). (2) These places are known for having some of the lowest rates of heart disease and cancer worldwide. (3)
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).
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.
Several human studies have also poked holes in olive oil’s heart–health claims. When researchers from the University of Crete recently compared residents of Crete who had heart disease with residents free of the disease, they found that the residents with heart disease ate a diet with “significantly higher daily intakes” of monounsaturated fats (principally from olive oil) as well as higher fat intake overall. (3)
Another influencing factor is that this diet encourages people to spend time in nature, get good sleep and come together to bond over a home-cooked healthy meal, which are great ways to relieve stress and, therefore, help prevent inflammation. Generally, people in these regions make sure to spend a lot of time outdoors in nature; eating food surrounded by family and friends (rather than alone or on-the-go); and put aside time to laugh, dance, garden and practice hobbies.
MCTs and saturated fats are good for you in other ways, too: They reduce the risks of low-fat diets, and they’re supportive of your gut environment, especially since they have the capability to combat harmful bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites. Additionally, MCTs contain antioxidant properties, which is why coconut oil has far-reaching inflammatory benefits that have led it to be used to treat dozens of health problems in folk medicine for centuries.
This research and other data indicate that olive oil is not heart protective, Dr. Robert Vogel told Pritikin Perspective. Dr. Vogel, a cardiologist who has studied heart disease for more than 30 years, counsels his patients to “feast on fish” and other rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids instead of olive oil, and to eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains every day.
From a health and dietary perspective, the popularity of the ketogenic diet has arrived because, at its root, the body is burning fat for energy. As the body becomes efficient in this method of energy extraction, you can reduce the amount of fat you consume and the body will start to use stored fat as well as the fat you consume to facilitate ketosis.
It also may help stave off chronic diseases, like heart disease and type 2 diabetes, as well as act protectively against certain cancers. (34) The diet is also a boon to mental health, as it’s associated with reduced odds of depression. (34) There’s even some data to suggest it can be supportive in relieving symptoms of arthritis, according to a paper published in April 2018 in the journal Frontiers in Psychology. (35)
While each person’s keto journey will be unique, the fact remains: going keto is an effective way to shed extra weight and kickstart a life with better health. You’ll look better, feel better, and perform better in everyday life. But as with any diet, there will be times when the weight effortlessly slips off, and other times when the weight stubbornly hangs on. When you hit those weight loss stalls, the best thing to do is stick with it and stay on track. The ketogenic diet works and the health benefits of losing weight could transform your life.
That first drop might be mostly water weight. But research suggests that the keto diet is good for fat loss, too. An Italian study of nearly 20,000 obese adults found that participants who ate keto lost around 12 pounds in 25 days. However, there aren’t many studies looking at whether the pounds will stay off long-term, researchers note. Most people find it tough to stick with such a strict eating plan, and if you veer off your diet, the pounds can easily pile back on.
Walnuts are packed with tryptophan, an amino acid your body needs to create the feel-great chemical serotonin. (In fact, Spanish researchers found that walnut eaters have higher levels of this natural mood-regulator.) Another perk: "They're digested slowly," said Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale Prevention Research Center. "This contributes to mood stability and can help you tolerate stress."
Remove artificial sweeteners: If you have been including artificial sweeteners like aspartame or sucralose in your low-carb or keto diet, our experts recommend you wean yourself off them. “While there are not a whole lot of scientific studies, anecdotally we find when people get rid of artificial sweeetners, they were able to lose weight. Come off them as soon as you can,” advises Dr. Westman.
Olive oil cuts hunger. You won’t burn belly fat (or any fat, for that matter) unless you first take in fewer calories than your body needs to fuel itself. “And you won’t stick with a low-cal approach if you’re constantly hungry,” says Palinksi-Wade. That’s why using olive oil to reduce belly fat and lose weight is a no-brainer. “You often hear that protein or fiber help control hunger, but I find olive oil is equally if not more powerful.” Explanation: Olive oil is made up of 75 percent oleic acid, a substance shown to help us feel content for hours longer between meals. For this reason, Palinski-Wade actually includes more olive oil on the lowest-calorie version of her plan. “Olive oil is extremely filling.”