Should I Go European and Start The Mediterranean Diet?
What Makes a Diet “Mediterranean”?
The Mediterranean diet, also known as a spin-off diet called the Sonoma diet, actually is a diet that is commonly adopted by the geographic region it references. Of course it refers to the eating lifestyle of the people who live along the Mediterranean coast in countries like Greece, Italy, and France. There are many variations of the diet, but the most commonly known version is by Dr. Walter Willett in his book Eat, Drink, and be Healthy.
So what is the mediterranean diet? The focus of the diet is predominantly fruits, vegetables, whole grains, olive oil, beans, nuts, legumes and seafood. It is low on sugar, poultry, eggs, cheese, and meats. A follower is encouraged to base meals around foods that are local, seasonal and minimally-processed
The diet was created because of the long-standing belief that the people who live in this region tend to live longer and happier lives. Some of this started with the Ancel Keys Seven Countries Study in the 70′s supposedly aligned cardiovascular disease risk with saturated fat. Supporters of this diet claim that you will experience more energy and improved health, with reduced risk of cancer, heart disease and diseases such as Parkinson’s & Alzheimer’s.
This diet is really the exact opposite of the Atkins diet or the Paleo diet.
What Will I Be Giving Up with the Mediterranean Diet?
As mentioned the focus is staying away from excessive amounts of red meat, saturated fat and sugar. Even alcohol is allowed and encouraged in moderation as they believe in the studies that believe in the benefits of a daily glass of red wine.
What Do I Get?
The Mediterranean diet plan is more of a lifestyle and is very loosely structured when it comes to Mediterranean foods. There are no “phases” as it is believed that you are eating this way to improve your health and not just to lose weight.
This does make it rather hard to know how to tinker with the diet in order to improve it.
Again the main benefit is a better, stronger heart.
What Else Should I Know?
Studies and research have confirmed that this multi-cultural way of eating has been linked to a lowered risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and unhealthy cholesterol levels. Studies have not shown a direct link to correspond this diet with weight loss.
What’s the Skinny?
With every food, there is always going to be some level of health benefits. The question is how much health versus how much of it will negatively impact the body. Grains do have positive benefits, but they don’t outweigh the negative impact of the gut irritation and insulin spiking nature of grains. Some people can get away with limited amounts of grains, but the Mediterranean diet is founded on grains. That is very risky because not only can grains cause health issues, but it can become somewhat addictive.
The biggest concern I have is that it is so limiting on animal protein. Yes fish and seafood are welcomed, but it is easy to eat very little when you are stuffing your face with grains and fruit. Animal protein may be the strongest input in improving HDL levels, decreasing LDL levels, and improving blood pressure levels. If you want to learn more about that, then go to the protein series that I wrote.
So the bottom line is that a low-fat diet is the easiest way to get a high-fat gut. I would avoid this diet.
From here we try to find our “zone” with the Zone diet.