Mediterranean Low Carb Diet | How Does It Work?

Mediterranean low carb diet

The Mediterranean low carb diet is becoming one of the most popular types of low carb diets these days. It provides lots of health benefits, including managing diabetes. The diet might also offer even more benefits for weight loss.

But what exactly is a Mediterranean low carb diet, and how does it differ from the other types of low carb diet, like the keto diet? Is it really effective in helping you to lose weight? So, in this article, we’ll talk about the diet and how it works.

What is the Mediterranean Diet?

The Mediterranean low carb diet is based upon the diet of people living in countries along the Mediterranean Sea, such as Greece, France, Spain, and Italy.

People living in these regions have been found to have a lower risk of suffering from heart diseases and cancer compared to Americans. Therefore, many believe that their diet is healthy. Above all, the Mediterranean diet may also help people trying to lose weight.

The American Journal of Medicine has found the diet just as effective as the other low carb diets for weight loss.

If you are trying to lose weight, the Mediterranean diet is a good option, even more so if you choose the low carb version.

In a review that compares different clinical trials in adults with Type 2 diabetes, people who followed the Mediterranean diet for a year lost an average of 13.5 pounds (6.2 kilos).

Related reading: How To Reverse Metabolic Syndrome with Keto

People who follow the diet fill up on veggies, fruits, nuts, and healthy fats, which is somewhat similar to the keto diet.

According to Cory Ruth, RN, a registered dietitian nutritionist,

“The Mediterranean diet emphasizes fats that are good for your heart, whole grains, nuts or seeds, fruits or vegetables, legumes, and seafood. It discourages refined grains, added sugar, trans fats, and processed foods.”

The popularity of the Mediterranean low carb diet can be traced back to nutritionist Ansel Keys’ Seven Countries Study in 1967. The study was motivated by the alarming incidence of heart diseases among middle-aged American men.

Keys, along with a team of international researchers, has looked into men’s diets from the Mediterranean region. They found that these men had the lowest incidence rates of heart diseases.

The team correlated their findings with the Mediterranean Diet’s focus on eating an abundance of fresh vegetables, fruits, fish, and beans, which is different than the standard American diet consisting mainly of processed foods and animal fats.

Dr Michael Mosely and the Mediterranean Diet

Dr Michael Mosley, a British television journalist, producer, presenter, and former medical doctor based his very successful weight loss and diabetes books after researching extensively into diets the world over.

He came to the conclusion that the Mediterranean diet, a relatively high fat, low carb and low glycemic way of eating kept blood sugar levels stable and resulted in weight loss. His highly successful Fast 800 diet book was published as a result.

In fact, in spite of not being particularly overweight, he was diagnosed with diabetes himself some years ago. He managed to turn this around with a low carb diet.

Related reading: Low Carb Diet for Diabetics | Does it Work?

A six year trial that followed 3 sets of participants assigned a low fat diet, an Atkins style low carb diet or the low carb Mediterranean showed that those following the Mediterranean diet lost weight and had the biggest improvement in their insulin levels.

Interestingly, the group following the low carb Mediterranean type diet were able to keep the weight off whereas the others had put the weight they lost back on by the end of the 6 years.

Related reading: Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet: Better than Keto for Fat Loss?

How Does the Mediterranean Low Carb Diet Work?

The Mediterranean low carb diet was not developed to be a weight loss plan. In fact, it is not designed as a diet plan at all. The diet is merely based on the eating plan of people living in the Mediterranean that evolved naturally over the centuries. Therefore, there is really no official way to follow the diet.

The Mediterranean diet’s popularity is mainly because of its well-rounded approach to eating healthy that is not too restrictive. If you want to follow this diet, you should design your meal plans according to what the people from the Mediterranean eats.

Think of a typical Greek salad. It consists of cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, feta cheese, and olive oil. Add in a couple of anchovies, and that’s it!

Cory Ruth further stated,

“While there are no set-in-stone rules to follow when adhering to the Mediterranean diet, there are some more basic guidelines to stick to so that you can ensure your best success at reaping all the health benefits.”

What to eat on a Mediterranean Low Carb Diet?

The Mediterranean low carb diet combines two popular eating patterns – carb reduction and eating healthy foods from the Mediterranean. To follow the diet, you need to avoid higher-carb foods, like rice, potatoes, bread, and fruits containing high sugar.

Related reading: Low Carb Meals for Weight Loss

The great thing about the Mediterranean low carb diet is that you can still enjoy generous portions of delicious proteins. You can also add olive oil and veggies to your every meal.

Foods to eat at most meals

  • Protein – poultry, seafood, eggs, cheese, yogurt.
  • Low-carb vegetables – leafy greens, bell peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, cucumbers, artichokes, etc.
  • Olive oil, olives, seeds, and nuts
  • Herbs and spices

Foods to eat in moderation

  • Red meat (twice a week)
  • Processed or cured meat, including prosciutto and ham. (once a week)
  • Below-ground veggies such as carrots ( half a cup a few times each week)
  • Legumes ( half a cup a few times each week )
  • Lemons and limes (small amount for cooking or as a flavor to beverages)

Foods to avoid

  • Potatoes
  • Whole grains like pasta, bread, cereal, couscous, quinoa, etc.
  • Foods with added sugar, including ice cream, cakes, cookies, and other sweets.
  • Sugar, syrup, and honey
  • Foods made from white flour, such as pasta, bread, cereal
  • Fruit juices
  • Sweetened beverages
  • High-carb fruits, such as bananas

What to drink

While on the Mediterranean low carb diet, you can drink still or sparkling water with a squeeze of lime or lemon. You can also enjoy tea or coffee with a splash of cream or milk.

Related reading: Low Carb Drinks – Tasty Alcoholic & Non Alcoholic Recipes

Some people would include red wine with their dinner meals, although this is not necessarily required. If you want to include alcohol in the diet, make sure you choose something low carb.

Related reading: What Are The Best Low Carb Alcoholic Drinks?

Go for dry instead of the usual sweet red wine. When drinking wine, aim for a maximum of two glasses per day.

Final Thoughts

The Mediterranean low carb diet includes a wide variety of fresh and flavorful foods, so it’s not as restricted as the other diets for weight loss. You can eat seafood, meat, veggies, cheese, olive oil, berries, and nuts when you follow this diet.

If you want to lose weight and manage your diabetes, you will likely get favorable results when you follow the Mediterranean low carb eating plan.

Related reading: Is Keto the Best Diet for Quick Weight Loss?

Both the low carb and Mediterranean diets have been linked to many health benefits. So, if you want to lose weight while also reaping some health benefits, the Mediterranean low carb diet is a great diet to try. If you cannot tolerate an extremely low-carb diet, feel free to add moderate amounts of healthy grains, starches, and some fruits containing sugar.

Image by Travis Yewell on Unsplash


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