Have you ever heard of the cotton diet? People dip cotton balls in their favourite juice and swallow them. Supposedly, the cotton will fill their stomachs, help them feel full, and help them lose weight. While this sounds insane, this “diet” actually exists and can harm your health in irreparable ways that go from bowel obstructions to choking. Luckily, you don’t have to go to such lengths to lose weight and improve your overall health. Instead, you can try healthy meal plans to improve your well-being and become fitter, such as the famous Mediterranean diet.
And don’t let the word “diet” mislead you. This eating programme is not something born of restriction to help you lose weight. Instead, you’ll be making healthier eating choices, focusing on the types of food eaten in countries around the Mediterranean sea, like Italy and Greece.
Interesting, right? Keep on reading and discover what the Mediterranean diet is, how you can lose weight with it and improve your health while eating deliciously every day with our 7-days meal plan!
#1 - What is the Mediterranean diet?
As you’ve probably guessed already, the Mediterranean diet is based on the traditional cuisines of Mediterranean countries, such as Greece and Italy. But don’t believe that your diet will be based on delicious pizza or spaghetti alla carbonara. Instead, this is a plant-based eating approach, with whole grains, legumes, olive oil, fruits, and vegetables as protagonists. In turn, you’ll limit your consumption of red meat, sugar, and dairy (though you’ll still be eating cheese and yogurt!).
#2 - How Does the Mediterranean Diet Work Exactly?
The Mediterranean diet is a style of eating in a specific region that has evolved and adapted over the centuries. As such, there’s no “correct” way of following it. What characterises the Mediterranean diet is its flexibility and its focus on certain foods, avoiding other items. Here are some of the highlights of the Mediterranean diet and how it works:
- You’ll be eating a lot of healthy fats, especially extra virgin olive oil, avocados, nuts, and salmon. Forget about butter or margarine!
- Eating meat is recommended only a few times per month. Instead, you should choose fish as your preferred animal protein and eat it at least twice a week.
- Your main daily beverage will be water, though you can also take a glass of wine with your meals if you want to.
#3 - What Are the Potential and Known Health Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet?
Interest in the Mediterranean diet started in the 1950s, when scientists noted that heart disease was not so common in this region as it was in others (1). In subsequent years, it was discovered that the diet brings about even more health benefits that range from cognitive health to managing diabetes.
These are some of the most well-known health benefits of the Mediterranean diet and how it can improve your well-being:
- It can help you prevent heart disease. Many studies prove that following the Mediterranean diet and a healthy lifestyle can lower the risk for heart disease significantly (2), especially when consuming red wine and olive oil.
- The Mediterranean diet can reduce the risk for stroke in women, because it usually contains foods that prevent blood clotting, like tomatoes. (3)
- As proven by a study published in 2016, this type of diet improves your cognitive function, slowing down the aging process of the brain and helping you prevent Alzheimer’s disease (4).
- The diet has a focus on protein, whole grains, and healthy fats that can help you manage and even prevent type 2 diabetes (5).
- You’ll live longer. As your risk for heart, stroke, and other diseases will be lower, you’ll significantly increase your longevity if you adopt the Mediterranean diet.
#4 - Can the Mediterranean Diet Help With Weight Loss?
Have you ever felt enthusiastic about those calorie-restrictive diets only to end up binge eating those foods you loved and missed? If this sounds like you, then the Mediterranean diet can be the answer to your prayers. This is not a weight loss programme per se, but as it focuses on eating fresh, healthy foods, this type of diet can help you lose weight in a sustainable way.
The Mediterranean diet is very flexible: while you should try to eat fruits, vegetables, plant-based fat, and whole grains, you can also have that glass of wine you crave at the end of the day and not feel guilty about it.
Furthermore, this eating regime is high in protein and fibre, which will help you feel full even if you are not eating that much. And, as you’ll be eating fruits and vegetables in almost every meal, you’ll be able to eat generous portions because they don’t usually contain many calories or fats. As you won’t be missing out on the foods you love, this type of diet is more realistic to lose weight in the long term.
#5 - Foods to Eat
Essentially, if you are starting a Mediterranean diet, you’ll be eating what the people in the Mediterranean region typically eat. But what does this really mean? What foods are recommended? Here is a list of the essentials of this eating programme and what you can expect to consume every day:
- Olive oil will be the absolute protagonist of your diet. As it provides your body with monounsaturated fat, eating olive oil helps you lower your bad cholesterol levels, among other benefits (5).
- You’ll have a lot of fatty fish, such as sardines, tuna, and salmon, which are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These nutrients help you reduce inflammation and the risk of stroke and heart failure (6).
- If you like it, you can also enjoy some red wine, which is also good for your heart. However, you should not have more than one glass per day to avoid other health complications.
- You’ll discover all the nutrients packed in tomatoes! They contain powerful antioxidants that have anti-aging properties and reduce the risk of blood clots, for example.
- Walnuts are rich in healthy fats and impact your microbiome favourably, improving your digestive health and lowering your levels of bad cholesterol!
- You’ll enjoy whole grains, like oats, brown rice, pasta, and whole wheat bread on a daily basis.
- Chickpeas are excellent sources of fibre and other nutrients like iron, zinc and magnesium. You can eat chickpeas in different ways, from salads to hummus.
#6 - Foods to Avoid
While this eating programme is not restrictive, there are still certain foods you should avoid if you want to enjoy all the benefits of the Mediterranean diet. These include:
- Forget about processed red meat, like bacon or hot dogs (no matter how delicious they may be!).
- Desserts, candy, and other sugary foods.
- Refined grains, such as white bread, pasta, and other products containing white flour.
- Sodas and sugary beverages — water should be your main source of hydration every day.
- Alcohol in general (though you can still have red wine, yay!).
- Oils other than extra virgin olive oil.
#7 - Mediterranean 7-Day Meal Plan
Are you ready to start eating more mindfully? Find some ideas here so you can start planning your Mediterranean weekly menu. Try to take the time to cook a homemade meal and sit down to enjoy it, no matter how busy your schedule! Eat without distractions and make the most of your Mediterranean-inspired meal, be it lunch, dinner, breakfast, or even a snack. Bear in mind that you can take as many snacks a day as you need so you never feel hungry! So, here is our Mediterranean 7-day meal plan. Adapt it to your preferences and needs!
Snack ideas: a bowl of olives or almonds.
Snack ideas: fresh cheese and chickpeas.
Snack idea: carrots or other veggies dipped in hummus.
Snack idea: A peach, a handful of berries, or an apple
Snack idea: A handful of pistachios
Snack idea: Avocado with lemon.
#8 - You can Also Complement it With a Natural Supplement…
Ready to take your health to the next level? You can complement the Mediterranean diet with a natural supplement for long-lasting weight loss and excellent gut health. For instance, our Prebiotic Collagen Protein is your best ally when relieving digestive issues and fixing gut damage while giving you a boost of energy to fight fatigue. Plus, it will help you reduce sugar cravings so you can easily replace unhealthy snacks, such as chips, for healthier ones, like pistachios or nuts.
You can also take our FREE comprehensive health assessment and discover other products that can help you feel and look your best!
Start Eating Like a Greek God
While keto diets and intermittent fasting can work for some people, the truth is they may not be sustainable in the long run. If you want to forget about restricting calories and get through life at your healthiest while eating the things you love, the Mediterranean diet is for you.
The best thing is that there’s no predefined Mediterranean diet, but there’s rather a dietary pattern you can adapt to your needs and preferences. If you don’t particularly enjoy chicken, for instance, you can always replace it for fish and red meat (though you should limit its consumption to once a week, at the most). Start with this eating programme and soon you’ll enjoy all the health benefits it brings about, such as better heart health, reduced risk of stroke, enhanced cognitive function, and more!
Adapt the principles of the Mediterranean diet in a way that works with you and complement it with natural health supplements for even better results. Soon, you’ll be fresh, healthy, and full of energy all the while eating the foods you love!