The Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean Diet

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It’s no secret that Americans as a whole are losing the battle of the bulge. According to information gathered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over one-third of the adult American population is classified as obese, and an even higher percentage is overweight. With the expanding waistlines of the population comes an expansion in diets promising to shed pounds of body fat. While healthy weight loss is only achieved by adopting a healthy diet and regular exercise program, it can be challenging as an overweight consumer to select the best and healthiest diet plan.

The Mediterranean diet is not only a diet plan, but an entire lifestyle approach to weight loss and health. The foundation of this diet program is based in the principles of Mediterranean living. Unlike other “diet plans” the Mediterranean diet doesn’t follow one single eating routine; however, all versions of this program rely primarily on plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, olives and beans as well as this meats such as poultry, fish and eggs. All food sources must be fresh and not processed. Along with the diet plan, this program requires regular physical activity and leisurely dining.

Benefits of the Diet

Perhaps some of the most notable benefits of the Mediterranean diet are the reduction of serious medical ailments. Kathleen M. Zelman writes on WebMD.com studies have found participants in this diet program have a reduced risk of developing conditions such as metabolic syndrome, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and obesity. In the realm of cardiovascular disease, a study published by the “Annals of Internal Medicine” found that when compared to low-fat diets, the Mediterranean diet had significant benefits on cardiovascular risk factors.

While reducing the risk of life-threatening diseases and conditions is a significant benefit of this diet program, most consumers are interested in the amount of weight they can expect to shed. A study featured in “The New England Journal of Medicine” found that over the span of the study participants who followed the Mediterranean diet lost an average of 9.7 pounds while participants on a low-fat diet plan lost an average of 6.39 pounds.

Drawbacks of the Diet

Although the Mediterranean diet has numerous benefits, there are several drawbacks one must consider before embarking on this lifestyle alteration. Perhaps one of the most poignant drawbacks of this diet program is its non-vegetarian meal requirements. While the diet actively promotes the consumption of plant-based foods, it also requires the intake of animal-based food sources such as cheese, eggs, poultry and fish. Those who are strictly vegetarian or vegan will find following this diet difficult to balance their beliefs and dietary requirements.

Self-control is another significant drawback to this diet plan. While the program offers basic guidelines, there are no specific portion sizes. The lack of designated portion control leaves room for over-eating, and due to the dense-caloric food source requirements such as nuts and olive oil it can be easy to exceed healthy caloric intake. This may result in weight gain, instead of weight loss.

The Mediterranean diet encourages its users to consume a low intake of red wine per day. While this moderate alcohol consumption does have several health benefits, it does pose a risk for individuals prone to alcoholism or amongst those taking medications.

Recommendations

The Mediterranean diet is not for those seeking a “get skinny quick” plan. This program is designated for dieters with a true desire to alter their lifestyle and live a truly healthy life. Although the plan offers excellent dietary alterations and physical activity, there is a large margin for error if precautions are not taken. However, when the drawbacks of this program are weighed against the benefits, it is clear the Mediterranean diet has potential to enhance your health, quality of life and self-image.

Resources

http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/the-mediterranean-diet

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/mediterranean-diet/CL00011

http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa0708681

http://health.usnews.com/best-diet/mediterranean-diet

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