Time to switch to the gold standard of diets!
Over the years, the ketogenic, or keto, diet has become a buzz among social media influencers and fitness enthusiasts for quick weight loss.
If you’re planning to work on a lifestyle change, chances are, it’s the diet that has piqued your interest. Afterall, who wouldn’t love quick results?
Sadly, according to nutritionists, doctors, and critics, this fad diet works only in the short term and is not healthy for the long haul.—citing unpleasant side effects, health risks, and the diet’s unsustainable nature.
If you’re wondering which lifestyle is optimal for weight loss and more importantly, for overall health – even better, the secret to a long, healthy life – the answer is: the Mediterranean diet.
What is the Mediterranean Diet?
The Mediterranean Diet (Med diet, for short) is all about delicious flavors, textures and colors which means it’s perfect for everyone and yes, even for the picky eaters!
Now dubbed as the Gold Standard of diets, the Med Diet is built on daily exercise along with a lot of fruit, vegetables, plant-based proteins, whole grains, fish and smaller amounts of poultry, red meat and simple sugars.
It was first inspired by the healthy habits of countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea like Spain, France, Italy, Egypt, Morocco, Syria, Malta, Tunisia, Turkey, Algeria, Albania, Greece, Israel, Croatia, Libya, and Lebanon.
Ancel Keys, the father of the Mediterranean Diet, discovered in the 1940s, that people who ate a Mediterranean-style diet had very low rates of heart disease and were living longer than people in Northern Europe.
But it’s more than just a diet; it’s a lifestyle approach to healthy eating.
It is also consistently found to promote good health.
Studies show that people who follow the Med diet report numerous health benefits including lower risk of heart disease, certain cancers, diabetes, obesity, and Alzheimer’s disease as well as lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Where to start?
Let’s be honest, we can all agree that food should be joyful, not restrictive.
While it’s true that all foods fit in the Mediterranean Diet, moderation is key in this diet.
Eat vegetables and fish instead of red meat.
Studies have shown that reducing meat is correlated with better health.
Eat fish instead. Salmon, sardines, and mackerel are great sources of heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids and shellfish including mussels, oysters, shrimp, and clams have similar benefits.
Tip: Use meat as a flavoring instead of a main component in a meal. (Add small strips of sirloin to a sauté that features lots of vegetables)
Switch to olive oil.
Make olive oil your main source of dietary fat. Use it for all your cooking and baking needs.
Use spices and herbs instead of salt.
Herbs and spices are better for your heart health than salt. Salt, over time, can lead to raised blood pressure and increased risk of heart and circulatory diseases.
Snack on nuts instead of processed snacks.
A handful of nuts makes a good snack since it’s packed with protein, fiber and heart-healthy fats.
Choose whole grains instead of refined grains.
Whole grains contain “good” carbs, fiber and protein. Although refined grains have longer shelf life, these are much less nutritious than whole grains.
Eat whole fruit instead of sweets for dessert.
Fruits at every meal are a key part of the Mediterranean Diet.
Tip: Eat fresh fruit rather than drinking fruit juice for a better source of fiber.
Daily physical activity.
Add physical activity to each day such as running and aerobics, walking or doing some house-or-yard work, or even taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
Tip: Aim for at least 150 minutes of exercise every week.
Sure, it takes a while before these changes become new habits.
Take it one day at a time.
Nonetheless, these little upkeeps bring monumental results to your lifestyle, fitness, and overall health in the long run.
This article was medically reviewed by Rodrigo Payson, RND.