It's been said that the Mediterranean diet is the most complete and balanced diet of all. So what makes this diet so balanced and complete, and how can you lose weight with a mediterranean diet?
What is a Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean diet is said to be the way of eating in Mediterranean countries (although this is not entirely true) and is known to be balanced and complete, giving you the proper nutrients you need throughout the day, but also allowing your body to easily absorb and digest these nutrients. The meals are packed with goodness, without all of the unnecessary items that we see in a modern day 'Western' diet. This diet is known for it's high consumption of olive oil, vegetables and only a moderate amount of protein.
This lifestyle of eating is known for providing a great amount of essential nutrients and antioxidants, as well as keeping our caloric intake at a lower level and, according to recent studies, this diet has also helped to prevent some diseases that seem to run rampant in the western world. Some researchers believe that people who live by this diet have a much lower chance of having a heart attack, or getting heart disease.
How Can You Lose Weight with a Mediterranean Diet
Due to the lower caloric intake and many meals per day, this diet is great for people who stick to it. It is not a crash/fad diet, this is a real diet, meaning it's how you eat. The goal with this diet is to separate your "giant" meals you normally eat into far smaller meals, adhering to the 'rules' of the Mediterranean diet. 4-6 smaller meals is what you should be targeting.
Eating more smaller meals will not only help you curb cravings and 'hunger', but it will also allow you to keep your insulin levels in check as well as allow your digestive system to more efficiently break down the meals, whereas large meals put stress on the digestive system.
The meal timing goal is this:
- Breakfast: you want a smaller, healthy meal that will get you going to start the day.
- Lunch: Lunch should be eaten 2-4 hours later. If your lunch time is further than 4-5 hours, then pack an extra snack. Very light snack.
- Snack: after lunch you will probably have 3-5 hours before eating dinner, so be sure to eat (another) light snack if needed.
- Dinner: this shouldn't be your typical large meal. Stick to the rules and eat smaller than normally if you eat a lot.
- Snack: a very light meal for a snack
- Snack/Meal: if you still feel slightly hungry, you can eat one more smaller meal here.
- Fruits and Veggies: 6-12 servings per day
- Milk products: 1-3 servings per day (low fat)
- Grain products: 4-6 servings per day
- Meat: 1-2 servings of poultry, fish, rabbit and/or shellfish per day
- Wine (for some): you can have one glass of red wine per day
Pasta is a staple in the Mediterranean diet. You will be eating this quite often. Just do yourself a favor and do not go overboard. Remember that carbohydrates are extremely harmful to your weight loss goals if you consume too many, especially if you do not exercise often. But unless you're lifting serious weights, they're still going to affect your fat loss goals over time.
Meats (and sweets)
Eat these sparingly. If you are a bodybuilder or athlete, you'll want to consume more protein. However, if you're a couch potato or simply workout once in a while, you do not need much protein. Sweets should be a very random meal. Once a month should be the treat for you, but be careful that it's not a huge meal.
Poultry, eggs, cheese and yogurt can be eaten in moderation. Suggestions vary, from daily to weekly. Eat them sparingly, but they're safer than red meats.
Fish and seafood is different. Yes, they're protein, but they have plenty of Essential Fatty Acids (EFA's) that are great for your health. Eat these at least 2 times a week!
Fruits and Veggies
Every meal should be consumed with fruits or veggies. However, you should be sure to limit your fruits compared to veggies. Vegetables are awesome. The more, the better. Eat as much as you want, especially if they're green. Fruits contain sugars and carbohydrates, so be sure to limit these each day, even if you workout.
Grains, Nuts and other items
The Mediterranean diet includes grains, nuts, olive oil, legumes, seeds, beans, herbs and spices. You can eat these with every meal, just like fruits and vegetables. Using herbs and spices rather than salt is a great way to make your food taste better. Breads are eaten in this diet, but remember that breads (whole grain or not) still contain a lot of carbs, so eat them sparingly, if you have to eat them at all.
Olive Oil is a great, healthy fat that can help make meals taste great if used with herbs and spices.
Use the goals outlined above when considering your meals. You could whip up plenty of great tasting meals quickly and easily, yet still get all of the nutrients and antioxidants daily.
Pasta with pesto, shrimp, broccoli, tomatoes and other vegetables could be made quite easily.
Be sure to use a little Olive Oil and a lot of Veggies with every meal. The goal is health and weight loss. You can lose al ot of weight (fat) when you start to eat healthier meals with a lot of veggies and less fat and meat.
Choose lean meats. No matter what type of meat you choose, try your best to stick with 93% or leaner. Leaner is better. Less fat and more quality protein for muscle. Be sure to change out meats over time. Don't get bored with the same meals over and over.
Cook the meats and vegetables together or apart for different tastes.
After a few weeks you will find yourself cooking up some delicious meals that are extremely healthy.