You probably already know that eating a Mediterranean diet is said to be good for you, but countless studies have found that those who follow a Mediterranean diet have fewer weight problems as well as better health. So, what are the principles of the Mediterranean diet, and how can you incorporate them into your own lifestyle to lose more weight? Here we explain how you can lose weight by eating Mediterranean style.
1. Pile On The Veggies
The cornerstone of the Mediterranean diet is the abundance of fresh produce. While meat, fish or carbohydrates like potatoes and pasta should be limited to a small plated portion, a freshly made salad or dish of roasted seasonal vegetables, such as eggplant, zucchini, peppers, and carrots will serve as a centerpiece for you to help yourself several times throughout the meal. This way, you’ll eat far more veggies at one sitting and you’ll feel full afterwards on fewer calories, so less chance of snacking.
2. Go For Whole Grains
Bread often serves as an accompaniment to meals in the Med as an affordable way to fill you up on fiber and stretch the leftovers into a meal for another day. Of course, a Mediterranean diet wouldn’t be anything without paella or pasta, but simple carbs should be bypassed in favor of whole grains such as brown rice and whole grain pastas and breads. If you’re still not convinced, here are 6 great reasons to eat healthy carbs.
3. Choose Healthy Fats
Use the standard virgin olive oil for cooking while higher quality extra virgin olive oil is reserved to dress salads and as a dip for bread. Pass on butter, which is full of saturated fats, and instead take some inspiration from the Catalans with some ‘tomato bread’ - rub a clove of garlic on some lightly toasted whole grain bread, add a drizzle of olive oil and then rub half a tomato over the surface to coat the bread – a tasty way to use up any older tomatoes you have hanging around the kitchen. You should aim for around four servings a day of healthy fats each day; a serving could be 5 olives, a teaspoon of olive oil, and about 1/8 of an avocado.
4. Make It Social
Sharing a relaxed meal with family and friends is a core part of life in this region. Food is savored and shared, and constant conversation meals that meals aren’t rushed. Try to eat with loved ones as much as possible as this positive attitude toward eating helps improve digestion and lower stress – that means no TV at the dinner table and definitely no microwave lunches at your desk!
5. Do Dairy And Add Some Eggs
Adding dairy to your diet in the form of cultured milk (kefir, yogurt, and fresh curd cheeses like ricotta) supplies beneficial bacteria to contribute to digestive health. These types of dairy products also supply you with the winning combination calcium and protein to boost weight loss and fat burn. Eggs, in the form of a vegetable-stuffed frittata are a great way to fill up on protein at breakfast, plus the fat-burning choline in egg yolks helps boost weight loss.
6. Know Your Herbs
Skip the salt and add weight-loss boosting herbs and spices to your homemade dishes for added flavor and health benefits. As you learn more about herbs and spices and how they work in combination with certain foods you’ll be making all your sauces and soups from scratch in no time, meaning you’ll save yourself a lot of artificial ingredients and hidden salt, fat and sugar, resulting in a healthier diet and more weight loss.
7. Rethink Your Drinks
While an occasional small glass of red wine can form part of a healthy diet, you’re also likely to see big jugs of fresh iced water at a family meal on the Med. Having the water there on the table means you’re more likely to keep refilling your glass, helping to keep you hydrated and aid digestion. Plus, filling your stomach with calorie-free water means that you’ll eat less food but still feel satisfied with your meal.
8. Focus On Fish
Fish and seafood is favored in the Med while red meat is only eaten a handful of times per month. Try to eat a 4oz portion of fish at least twice a week, and a mixed paella with vitamin B-rich seafood and vegetables is a great dish to share with family once you get the hang of the often tricky recipe.
9. Love Your Legumes, Nuts And Seeds
A small portion of about 12 nuts (such as walnuts, pistachios and almonds) should be eaten daily, and sesame seeds ground into Greek-style tahini make a great dip, as does hummus made from fiber-rich garbanzo beans. But, be sure to use vegetable crudités such as red pepper or carrot as your dippers rather than breadsticks to skip the calories and add more nutrients to your diet. Packed full of filling fiber, legumes such as lentils and beans are often used in this region as a way of bulking up dishes with fewer calories and are also much more affordable than meat; a three bean soup is a great Mediterranean-style winter warmer for when the weather starts to cool.
10. Eat Locally And Seasonally
Since the Mediterranean diet relies heavily on fresh produce, the cheapest and healthiest way to ensure that you’re getting a broad range of fruit and veggies is to shop locally and choose seasonal veggies. Eating this way ensures you get the best of nature’s natural remedies for each season and don’t miss out on these important weight loss-boosting nutrients.
Above all, a Mediterranean diet relies on a range of whole foods and emphasizes the importance of home cooking rather than relying on ready meals. But that doesn’t mean that you have to spend a fortune or spend hours slaving away in the kitchen. Opting for seasonal vegetables, filling up on super-affordable legumes, buying locally, drinking water, and cooking in bulk to stretch out leftovers for the next day are all key to Mediterranean-style cooking, which will help you to save time and money, and all while benefitting your health.
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