If you’ve been researching new diets to try, there’s no doubt that you’ve come across the ever-popular Mediterranean variety. In 2019 U.S. News & World Report ranked it as the number one diet in its list of 41 best overall. This beats out Keto, Paleo, raw food, and 37 others. And unlike most diets, there’s no gimmick here and no extremes - it’s simply based on the way most people in the Mediterranean eat - plenty of vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds, and fish, a modest amount of dairy, plenty of olive oil, and very limited red meat. Just picture yourself out and about in Spain, France, or Greece sipping a small glass of red wine (with a meal of course!) living your best life.
The diet doesn’t involve counting calories, but it does incorporate being physically active (a norm for the Mediterranean lifestyle, and something everyone should be doing anyway) and avoiding processed foods, refined carbohydrates, unhealthy fats, and foods high in sugar. Stay away from things like cookies, white rice, soda, white pasta, hot dogs, etc. And while we mentioned red wine earlier, this should only be incorporated into meals socially and in moderation - clearly, alcohol is not good for you or your diet. Water is the beverage of choice!
The diet is so healthy because it incorporates plenty of antioxidants, omega-3, healthy fats, fiber, protein, potassium, calcium, iron, vitamin A, and vitamin C. It’s primarily vegetarian with a focus on fish for protein instead of red meat or poultry (except in small doses), and integrates all of the food groups.
Here’s a list of benefits associated with a Mediterranean diet:
● Helps you lose weight
● Fights certain types of cancer
● Can help fight symptoms of depression
● Reduces risk of heart disease
● Regulates blood sugar levels
● Helps fight off stage 2 diabetes
● Reduces risk of Alzheimer's and Dementia
● Reduces risk of Parkinson’s
● Helps you live longer
Here’s a list of foods that are part of a Mediterranean diet:
● Greek Yogurt
● Extra Virgin Olive Oil
● Leafy Greens (kale or arugula)
● Nuts (almonds, walnuts, cashews, and pistachios)
● Whole Grains (quinoa, whole wheat bread, oatmeal, farro, bulgur, and buckwheat)
The Mediterranean diet is a delicious way to develop a healthier lifestyle while not having to count calories. Portion control is at your own discretion (of course you do not want to overeat if you’re trying to lose weight), and you can still snack - though you’ll want to replace cookies and ice cream with baby carrots and hummus or a handful of cashews. Eating out is also still an option, you’ll just want to opt for fish over red meat, and maybe a side of vegetables instead of French fries. It’s a fairly easy diet to adjust to and affords so many great benefits.
Please remember to always consult a medical professional before starting any new training regimen or diet to be sure it’s the best fit for you.