The Mediterranean diet plan may be the best way to lose weight, especially for those who suffer from metabolic syndrome and those who are concerned about heart disease, diabetes and obesity.
Voted as the second best diet behind the DASH diet by US News, the Mediterranean diet is high in healthy monounsaturated fats such as olive oil, and the main foods in the diet are vegetables, fruit, fish, whole grains and a moderate amount of wine–the wine is optional.
According to The Wall Street Journal article “Health and Wellness: Why to Eat Like a Greek” by Ron Winslow, the Mediterranean Diet Plan “has been shown in numerous studies and clinical trials to reduce mortality from such causes as cardiovascular disease and cancer.”
Mediterranean Diet and Metabolic Syndrome
Winslow states the Mediterranean diet is “associated with a 31 percent reduction in risk of developing metabolic syndrome.” These results were pooled from 50 different studies of more than 500,000 patients by an Athens university.
According to the MayoClinc, metabolic syndrome is characterized by a cluster of at least three of the following conditions:
- Increased blood pressure (A systolic measurement higher than 120 or a diastolic blood pressure higher than 80)
- abnormal insulin levels
- excess fat around the waist (circumference of over 35 inches for woman and 40 inches for men)
- High cholesterol (High levels of triglycerides and low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol — the “good” cholesterol)
Metabolic syndrome paves the way to heart disease and type 2 diabetes. According to “Metabolic Syndrome” in WebMd, the condition is associated with the accumulation of fat in the liver, which can result in cirrhosis. Kidneys may also be affected by metabolic syndrome.
Other health conditions associated with metabolic syndrome include dementia and cognitive decline as people get older, obstructive sleep apnea and polycystic ovary syndrome. Even if you only suffer from one of these health conditions, it contributes to your risk of getting a serious disease increases.
How to Follow the Mediterranean Diet Plan
- Eat seven to ten servings of fresh vegetables and fruits daily. Avoid processed fruits and vegetables.
- Eat whole grains
- Eat nuts like almonds, cashews and walnuts sparingly.
- Replace butter with olive oil.
- Eat fish at least twice a week and avoid red high-fat meats like sausage and bacon. When choosing to eat red meat, opt for lean portions and small servings.
- Eat low-fat dairy. Avoid dairy products high in fat such as 2 percent or whole milk, cheese and ice cream.
- Have a small glass of wine with dinner or drink grape juice, which can be an alternative to wine.
Make sure to consume fewer calories than you burn each day if you want to shed extra pounds. To estimate the number of calories you need to maintain your weight, simply multiply your weight in pounds by 15. The total is the approximate number of calories you need to consume each day to maintain your current weight if you exercise for 30 minutes each day. If you want to drop weight, reduce the number of calories you eat every day.
Make sure not to eat fewer than 1,200 calories a day. It’s not the best way to lose weight fast. It may also affect your health and your metabolism. Several studies reveal that 95 percent of people who drop pounds too quickly–more than two pounds a week–gain the pounds back as quickly as they lost it.
Percentage of Fat and Carbohydrates
About 30 percent of your calories should come from fat; however, no more than 10 percent should come from saturated animal fats. Most fat in your diet should come from polyunsaturated fats from vegetable oils like olive oil, safflower oil and soybean oil.
Aim to get about 60 percent of your daily calories from carbohydrates. About 50 percent of these calories should come from complex carbohydrates in fruits and vegetables. No more than 10 percent should come from refined and processed sugars (National Center for Biotechnology Information).
Mediterranean Diet Plan and Metabolic Syndrome
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, the benefits of a Mediterranean Diet for metabolic syndrome has been proven beneficial in several studies, specifically consuming fish and omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential components of the Mediterranean diet.
“Metabolic Syndrome.” MayoClinic.
“Metabolic Syndrome.” WebMd.
Winslow, Ron. “Health and Wellness: Why to Eat Like a Greek.” The Wall Street Journal. (Eastern edition). New York, N.Y.: March 8, 2011, D3.
“The Role of the Mediterranean Diet Program.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. April 12, 2005.