Day 6: When I thought back to what I ate today, I realized that between my salad and my lamb burger, I ate an entire avocado. The Keto360 plan recommends no more than half an avocado a day, and most nutritionists would probably agree. While the creamy, green fruit is filled with a lot of healthy fats, which I need in excess to stay in ketosis, at 300 calories a pop, that can quickly add up. (One gram of fat equals 9 calories, opposed to 4 calories per gram for both protein and carbs.)
In the United States, the Mediterranean diet’s popularity continues to rise alongside a growing need for healthier eating patterns and lifestyles. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) confirms heart disease as the leading cause of death in America for men and women, due to obesity, poor diet, lack of physical activity, diabetes, high levels of bad LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, and more. In the 1970s, U.S. physiologist Ancel Keys first linked a Mediterranean-style diet and better cardiovascular health through his “Seven Countries Study,” but his theory would not catch on until several decades later. In the 1990s, non-profit Oldways Preservation Trust introduced the Mediterranean Diet pyramid (pictured below), offering Americans a different approach to healthy eating than the USDA food pyramid provided. Through solid research, increased support from experts, and continued education to the public, the Mediterranean diet is regarded today as a powerful weapon against rising rates of heart disease in the U.S.
Day 5: As fate would have it, 3 p.m. rolls around and we get a message that there are cookies in the conference room. I have been snacking on keto-approved foods like Granny Smith apples (the tart green apple has way less sugar than, say, a red Gala), and full-fat cottage cheese with blueberries (where have you been all my life, snack?) with no real trouble with cravings. But just knowing there are cookies that I can't eat makes me feel a little cheated. (Though These Low-Carb Keto Desserts Help With That.)
However, this diet is gaining considerable attention as a potential weight-loss strategy due to the low-carb diet craze, which started in the 1970s with the Atkins diet (a very low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet, which was a commercial success and popularized low-carb diets to a new level). Today, other low-carb diets including the Paleo, South Beach, and Dukan diets are all high in protein but moderate in fat. In contrast, the ketogenic diet is distinctive for its exceptionally high-fat content, typically 70% to 80%, though with only a moderate intake of protein.
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“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.”
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.