Introduction To The Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean Diet is a great choice for those who enjoy eating fish, vegetables, and pasta more so than eating tons of bacon, steak, and other red meat. It is a plan that requires considerable cooking and food prep, though, so be warned about that aspect of it. It will help if you like to cook or want to start learning how!
The weight loss may not be as fast or as effective for some people as a strict very low carb plan would be, but it is filled with great healthy and fulfilling food choices. You can even enjoy a little red wine and still lose weight and get healthier!
Now I know that, at first, this sounds just too good to be true. Here’s a diet that doesn’t involve cutting anything out of your routine, that doesn’t involve starving yourself and that allows you to eat delicious meals that feel rich, indulgent and highly satisfying. And yet it has tons of incredible benefits!
For years, researchers and dieters have been trying to “crack the code” of healthy eating and have been looking for tricks and techniques they can use in order to lose weight safely and consistently. This search led to the belief that saturated fats were bad for us and could cause heart disease and stroke. Seeing as fats are also higher in calories than either carbs or protein, this seemed like a good bet!
Fortunately, further research looked a little more closely at this idea. Statistical data from around the world appeared to show that people from Mediterranean countries – Greece, Spain, Italy, Southern France – actually lived longer and had healthier hearts… despite eating lots of saturated fats and drinking lots of red wine!
Most of us would consider going out to a Greek or Italian restaurant to be indulgent and a ‘treat’…. And we all know that diets should never be enjoyable!
What was going on?
It seemed like a complete mystery until the science finally caught up. Under more controlled experimental conditions, it turns out that saturated fat doesn’t increase the bad kind of cholesterol (LDL) but only the good kind (HDL).
And on top of this, the Mediterranean Diet also packs in a host of amazing ingredients. That red wine? Not only is a small amount of red wine actually useful for relaxing the heart and helping to reduce stress, but the high quantities of resveratrol found in red grapes helps to provide extra antioxidants and improved cellular function.
And there’s much, much more.
Today there is no question or doubt about it. There is no secret to eating well. It’s simply a matter of eating a balanced and nutritious diet. And few cuisines do this as well as Mediterranean cuisine has been doing for centuries.
One of the best things you can do for yourself is to get over the idea of being “on a diet“, and get into the mindset that you will be making a lifestyle change. This isn’t something you will do for awhile, then stop and go back to your old bad way of eating, so it’s critical to choose a food plan that you will enjoy for the long term!
Let’s take a closer look at how all this works and how you can utilize the Mediterranean diet in your own lifestyle…
Mediterranean Diet Basics
So what exactly does the Mediterranean Diet consist of? What do you need to know about it in order to start enjoying it?
Perhaps the best way to visualize this and understand it is to focus in on just one meal for a moment. That meal is going to be Greek salad, which perfectly encapsulates what works so well about this diet.
This salad consists of cherry tomatoes, orange pepper, cucumber, feta cheese, and olive oil. Most of us consider it rather tasty as the oil and the cheese are very satisfying and filling. Saturated fat is actually very good at making us feel full – so it’s no surprise that all those man-made “diet foods” aren’t all that satisfying.
What’s more, the saturated fat in the form of the olive oil and the cheese also makes sure that you can absorb those nutrients much more readily.
Just take a look at the Greek salad and something should strike you right away – the sheer amount of color in the bowl. This is an incredibly colorful looking meal, and that is always an excellent indicator that there’s a large amount of nutrition here.
Nutritious meals like this mean you can expect to enjoy better resistance against colds, a higher level of energy, and even a faster metabolism!
The saturated fat even helps your body to produce more testosterone. That alone is enough to improve your fat loss and to build more muscle.
If you don’t believe that hormones can really make a difference, just ask anyone who suffers from hypothyroidism how hard it is to lose weight – or look at someone who uses steroids. That’s all about the hormones!
This is what the Mediterranean Diet is all about. It’s about making proper fresh meals that look colorful and smell and taste intoxicating.
It’s about the kind of meals that you would normally think of as a real treat for a romantic evening with your partner at a restaurant. Light a candle, enjoy a glass of wine and indulge yourself with delicious, juicy fruits and vegetables and savory fish and pasta.
When you do this, you might be consuming more calories than you would be if you lived off of fat-free processed foods…
But at the same time, you’ll be fueling your body with all the nutrients it needs to feel full and satisfied – and you’ll be avoiding feeling hungry and snacking later. You’ll be helping your body to more efficiently burn fat and build muscle and you’ll be actually enjoying your food and cooking again!
As mentioned previously, this is sometimes more effective at boosting your health than it is for losing weight, but the surprise is that you can lose a lot of weight this way – because you’ll feel fuller and more satisfied on smaller portions.
Also, you will not be eating as many simple carbs like cake and soda drinks (which cause a sugar rush followed by a sugar crash), and because you’ll be getting all of the nutrients you need from the variety of fruits and vegetables.
Low nutrient intake is actually largely responsible for many of the cravings we get – that’s our body’s way of trying to tell us that we need to eat more of a certain thing.
The problem is that these days we eat a lot of unhealthy, unnatural foods that have added artificial flavors. So when you crave vitamin C (meaning your body wants fruit), you can end up consuming sugary drinks or snacks to satisfy the craving but without getting the vitamins you actually need!
There is such a simple solution for the problem of ravenous cravings. If you eat a healthy diet consisting of properly cooked meals, filled with salad greens, fresh vegetables, and other nutritious foods, you’ll find you don’t get those cravings because your body is getting everything it needs!