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How to Lose Weight on a Mediterranean Diet – 5 Tips

Mediterranean Diet Weight LossYou can lose weight on the Mediterranean Diet. New research coming from the now known PREDIMED study, a long-term nutritional intervention study aimed to assess the efficacy of the Mediterranean diet in the primary prevention of cardiovascular diseases, showed that people lost slightly more weight when following a Mediterranean diet, compared to a low-fat diet. They also had the least increase in waist circumference compared to the low-fat diet. Of course this is not the first time the Mediterranean diet has been associated with weight loss, another study in 2008 published in the New England Journal of Medicine also showed that there was greater weight loss with the Mediterranean diet compared to a low-fat diet. Other studies have also associated the Mediterranean diet with a healthy weight in children as well as in pregnant women.

So it is not something new. Now, to clarify, many people associate the Mediterranean diet with lots of pasta and olive oil. That is a misconception, the traditional Mediterranean diet that had as a prototype the Cretan diet is mainly plants and olive oil with some carbs interspersed, it is a moderate to high fat diet with a moderate amount of carbohydrates.

If you want to lose weight following a Mediterranean diet here are my 5 tips that work.

1. Eat your main meal early in the day

Traditionally within a Mediterranean diet, lunch is the main meal , it being consumed between 1 to 3 pm. By moving a larger meal early in the day, you reduce the risk of overeating later. In fact a Spanish study showed that people who ate their largest meal before 3 pm lost more weight.

2. Eat vegetables as a main course cooked in olive oil

I cannot stress this enough but this type of dish is the magic of the Greek diet. By eating a vegetable dish cooked in olive oil and tomato not only are you satisfied, but you are consuming 3-4 servings of vegetables in one sitting. These dishes are of moderate caloric level and low in carbs. Accompany it with a piece of feta cheese and you are set. Another benefit of eating vegetables as a main course is that because it is not a carb rich meal you will avoid the sleepiness that follows. For some Greek basic vegetables based main courses click here.

3. You should drink water mostly and sometimes tea, coffee and wine (for adults)

Yes, it is standard in some countries (like the US) to drink milk with meals, but is it really necessary? No. With the Mediterranean diet most dairy comes from cheese and yogurt, so save your calories and use them by eating solid food rather than liquid calories. The same goes for juice. Nobody really needs juice, eat your fruit. They are filling and you get all the fiber and nutrients. As for coffee and wine, each has its place in the Mediterranean diet, but they do not replace water. Traditional Greek coffee has been associated with several health benefits and so has wine.

4. Consume the right amount of olive oil

More and more research is confirming what we here in the Mediterranean already know: good fat does not make you fat. Yes, calories count, but in order to sustain a vegetable based diet you need something to provide satiety and flavor; and that is olive oil. Olive oil not only makes all those vegetables delicious, it makes the meal filling. That does not mean, however, that you should be pouring olive oil mindlessly on everything. A good amount that is also associated with all the health benefits is about 3 tablespoons a day.

5. Move

The Mediterranean diet is not only a diet, it is a lifestyle, so moving around is imperative. Walking is fine, but general movement throughout the day is key. It’s not enough to go to the gym for an hour in the morning and then sit at your office or on the couch the rest of the day. Take walking breaks, do some stretches every hour, do housework and if you can walk somewhere, do that instead of driving.

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11 Comments

  • Reply Bernice Lupo September 14, 2019 at 1:16 pm

    I’m a bit confused here. Some articles specify plenty of olive oil while others say use it sparingly. When you refer to 3 tablespoons do you mean per serving of vegetables? I find it hard to believe it is 3 tablespoons per day.

    What kind of bread is allowed?

    Per my doctor I must lose at least 40 lbs safely. I have COPD and breathing is difficult when you’re overweight. I figured eating the way my ancestors ate should be a good thing.

    Thanks for your time.

    Bernice L

    • Reply Angela September 17, 2019 at 6:51 pm

      Yes, I’m curious about the oil too.
      Some nutritionists are saying no oil at all because it damages the lining of the heart. Is this true? I’m totally confused.

      • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN September 23, 2019 at 6:59 am

        There are literally hundreds of studies that show the benefits of olive oil particularly for heart health. Olive oil does not damage the lining of the heart.

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN September 23, 2019 at 7:06 am

      Hi Bernice, 3 tablespoons of olive oil is recommended minimally (at least) to see benefits according to research. Olive oil should be used generously (I note amounts on my recipes) especially when cooking vegetables, however when consuming these vegetable dishes you will not be consuming all the olive oil as much of it will be left in the pot. Check out these posts for more information on using olive oil:
      https://www.olivetomato.com/how-to-use-olive-oil-to-get-the-most-benefits/
      https://www.olivetomato.com/5-ways-you-are-using-olive-oil-wrong/

      Whole grain bread is the ideal choice

    • Reply Kate October 10, 2019 at 10:42 am

      If you know Bob Harper for The Biggest Loser he did the low-carb diets and stuff and he said he had a heart attack with that so he went to the Mediterranean and yes olive oil on the on the low-carb diets they lemon olive oil but on the Mediterranean diets they do not it’s olive oil they put it on their vegetables cuz they don’t eat but you can have pasta and stuff on the Mediterranean diet but it’s a side not the main dish and everything you eat has to be whole grains or whole whole grains whole grain rice brown rice stuffed us not stay away from processed stuff you can have meat but they mostly eat fish and chickens very just get on your computer and look it up the recipes and stuff my doctor told me to do this for health reasons and to help me lose weight cuz he knows I’m really extremely overweight hope this helps and sorry I’m using the thing where you talk into your phone to do your typing and sometimes it works sometimes it don’t but I hope you can

  • Reply Ana August 1, 2019 at 3:01 am

    Forget so much olive oil! We eat a lot of bread, pasta, rice, vegetables, pulses, fruit, and nuts. We eat very low amounts of dairy (think small pieces of feta in Greek salad and a cup of milk in the mornings), small amounts of pork, fish, lamb etc – but nearly always in stews with pulses and vegetables of every type. It amazes me how much olive oil people think we actually consume !!! We usually use a couple of teaspoons per dish that is prepared for a whole family – we don’t drizzle and drizzle and drizzle. From Spain.

  • Reply Gracey May 15, 2019 at 8:24 am

    And my eyes are sparkling * so my mum says

  • Reply Gracey May 15, 2019 at 8:21 am

    I’ve lost 5 pounds this week by starting the Mediterranean diet.. Absolutely loving eating so much fresh food.. my skin is looking so much more healthy

  • Reply Helene February 6, 2019 at 8:31 am

    Can’t wait to try this diet

    • Reply Arlene May 17, 2019 at 8:33 pm

      Where is this diet menu?

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