Q & A

Frequently Asked Questions:

What exactly is the Mediterranean diet?

The Mediterranean diet is not only a weight loss and maintenance diet, it’s also one of the healthiest way of eating in the world. It’s also called “Mediterranean cuisine” as it is the traditional eating lifestyle of the Mediterranean people. By following the Mediterranean Diet you will be able to avoid the frequent hunger pangs and increase your metabolism.

What is the easiest way to start the Mediterranean diet?

Choosing natural, unprocessed foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, seafood, olive oil, nuts, avocadoes, yogurt, and cheese to make up the bulk of your diet is the easiest way to make your diet more like the Mediterranean Diet.

  • Cook “Unique plates” (Plates that mix carbs and proteins together)
  • Make olive oil your primary source of dietary fat
  • Incorporate an abundance of food from plant sources, including fruits and vegetables, breads, grains, beans, nuts, and seeds
  • Reduce the consumption of red meat
  • Eat low to moderate amounts of fish and poultry weekly
  • Eat low to moderate amounts of cheese and yogurt daily
  • Drink a moderate amount of wine (up to one to two glasses per day for men and up to one glass per day for women)

Why the Mediterranean Diet is so Healthy ?

The healthy traditional Mediterranean Diet is consistently judged to be the gold standard in healthy eating. New confirming studies appear regularly in leading scientific journals, and this accumulation strengthens the overwhelming evidence supporting the healthfulness of the dietary pattern of the Mediterranean Diet.

Most recently we’ve seen studies linking the Mediterranean Diet and decreased risk of illnesses such as lung disease and Alzheimer’s disease, as well as protection against allergies and asthma. Besides these amazing health benefits, the Mediterranean Diet is a great way for people to eat healthy food that tastes great. It’s easy to follow the Mediterranean Diet because…

  • It’s Rich in anti-oxidants
  • Lowers your risk for heart disease along with your blood pressure and “bad” cholesterol levels
  • Helps people who want to lose weight
  • Fights cancer
  • Protects you from diabetes type 2
  • Has anti-inflammatory properties and defends you from chronic diseases
  • It’s convenient, tasty and quick!

The Mediterranean Diet Pyramid

The Mediterranean diet (or Mediteranian diet) can be represented through the food chart above. A typical meal contains in proportion: 20% proteins, 30% Fats and 50% Carbohydrates. You should eat 5 times a day: Breakfast, lunch and dinner and 2 snacks (11:00 AM and 18:00 PM).

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What’s a sample of an easy mediterranean diet daily meal plan ?

There are so many delicious options in the Mediterranean Diet, it’s hard to choose just one menu, but here’s what a day’s worth of meals might look like:
Breakfast: Greek yogurt topped with berries and walnuts; Coffee or tea
Lunch: Lentil soup with swish chard topped with taziki sauce; Hummus and pita
Snack: Whole grain crackers and cheese
Dinner: Roasted cod paired with a wheat berry salad consisting of olive oil vinaigrette, feta, parsley, and tomatoes and a glass of red wine
Dessert: Fresh fruit drizzled with honey

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What is a Greek Mediterranean diet plan?

A Greek Mediterranean diet plan is a heart healthy plan based on foods traditionally eaten in Greece, Crete and Southern Italy. Plant based foods make up the bulk of the diet, with the primary fat source coming from olive oil. Fish, seafood and poultry are eaten a few times per week. Wine is permitted in moderation. Red meat is only eaten occasionally, once a week or less.

Carbohydrates in the form of grains and potatoes make up a large part of the Mediterranean diet. Whole grain breads are common, though they are usually served without butter. Other grains are served as well. Corn can be eaten as kernels or polenta. Whole grain pasta is used in main and side dishes. Fresh fruits and vegetables, potatoes and sweet potatoes are additional carbohydrate sources.

The primary protein source in the Mediterranean diet comes from low fat sources like beans and seafood. One half cup of beans has about the same protein content as an ounce of meat with no saturated fat. Lower fat dairy sources are also included. Eggs, poultry and seafood are recommended in a limited amount each week. Red meat is limited to once per week or less.

Fat is not restricted in a Mediterranean diet, though the primary sources are all plant based. Olive oil is the primary fat used for cooking and salad dressing. Other fat sources come from nuts and seeds, with minimal fat coming from animal sources. Unlike animal fats, olive oil is a monounsaturated fat, thus is less likely to cause heart disease.

The Greek Mediterranean diet differs from some of the traditional diets in the Mediterranean area. Northern Italian and Moroccan diets incorporate butter, lard and other animal fats as primary fats in the diet. Many traditional diets in Northern Africa forbid alcohol consumption.

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What would a 1200 calorie Mediterranean diet plan look like?

A Mediterranean diet in the 1200 calorie range, would consist of three meals and one optional low calorie afternoon snack. All foods should be fresh and unprocessed. Breakfast and snack combined would make up about one third of the calories, while lunch and dinner would make up the balance of the calories.

Breakfast would consist of approximately 250 calories. The key to this breakfast is to find nutritious foods that are filling and flavorful and will satisfy the appetite until lunchtime. Breakfast ideas would include a 1/2 cup serving of oats with fruit or granola with milk. Greek style yogurt with fruit and nuts is great choice for yogurt as it contains more protein than regular yogurt. An even higher protein choice might include a vegetable filled egg white omelet with whole grain toast.

In a 1200 calorie Mediterranean diet, lunch would account for 350 to 400 calories. As always, fresh and minimally processed food are emphasized. Lunches would be made up of bean based soups, salads with beans and an olive oil dressing, light seafood or poultry dishes and whole grains. Hummus and vegetables in a whole wheat pita is and example of a plant based sandwich that would make a good lunch selection. Ideally lunch should include at least three fruit or vegetable servings.

Dinner would be in the 400 calorie range. Dinner options are virtually identical to lunch, with an emphasis on fresh vegetables, legumes and whole grains. For variety, grains like quinoa, though not traditionally Mediterranean, can be used in salads or as a side dish. Again, dinner should include at least three fruit and vegetable servings. Grilled fish and vegetables make a good dinner choice.

A 50 to 100 calorie snack of a few nuts, vegetables or fresh fruit would complete the daily calorie intake.

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What would a 1500 calorie Mediterranean diet plan look like?

A 1500 calorie Mediterranean diet would be made up whole foods and focused on nutritious choices. Daily calories would be distributed in three meals and two snacks. Breakfast and the two snacks will make up about 500 calories, while lunch and dinner combined will round out the other 1,000 calories.

Breakfast in a Mediterranean diet would be in the 300 calorie range. As with any breakfast choice, it should achieve satiety until the mid-morning snack. Some tasty breakfast options would be a high protein Greek style yogurt with granola and fruit topping, a spinach and tomato omelet made with a combination of a whole egg and egg whites accompanied by fresh fruit. Steel cut oats or other whole grain hot cereal with fruit is also a good choice.

Lunch would be approximately 500 calories and focus on fresh foods and legumes or lean protein. An example of a lunch that would fit the Mediterranean diet is a grilled vegetable medley served over polenta, accompanied by a side salad with feta. Both lunch and dinner should include a minimum of three vegetable servings. Dinner leftovers make an easy lunch the next day.

A 500 calorie dinner would complete the calorie distribution in a 1500 calorie Mediterranean diet. Dinner options are the same as lunch, with the focus on nutritious, unprocessed foods and at least three vegetable servings. Fish or chicken with rice, vegetables and a salad makes a simple but elegant dinner. For busy nights, bean soups can be made ahead and easily reheated. Serve the soup with salad and whole grain bread for a quick comforting meal. A single glass of red wine can accompany dinner.

The rest of the calories would be made up by two 100 calorie snacks. Yogurt, whole grain crackers or fruit make good snack choices.

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What would a 28 day Mediterranean diet plan look like?

A 28 day Mediterranean diet plan would introduce changes gradually to help create healthy eating habits. Each week new principles would be introduced, with simple guidelines to help make a shift in eating patterns. Studies have shown that small changes over time are an effective way to build lifelong habits.

The first week would see the elimination of processed foods and an increase in fruit and vegetable dishes on the plate. Minimally processed and fresh foods are a keystone of the Mediterranean diet. By excluding processed foods in the first week, the palate has time to adjust to a new way of eating. New flavors are introduced with the addition of more fruits and vegetables.

Week two adds more beans to the diet and makes the switch from other oils to olive oil. Beans are a fantastic source of fiber and are a staple of the Mediterranean diet. This week will introduce bean soups and spreads like hummus and white bean spread to the plate. Since heart healthy olive oil is the primary fat source in the diet, it replaces all other oils this week.

As new flavors are introduced and savored in weeks one and two, week three sees a reduction in meat and eggs. Seafood, poultry and eggs are limited to a few times per week each and red meat is reduced to no more than once a week.

By week four new habits will already be taking hold. Dairy products are the focus in the final week. Aside from yogurt and cheese, dairy products like milk, cream and butter will be gone. This week will be the final adjustment to a full Mediterranean diet lifestyle. Those old eating patterns should have been set aside and been replaced by heart healthy choices that fit the Mediterranean diet plan.

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What would a Mediterranean diet plan for weight loss look like?

While the Mediterranean diet features whole foods and heart healthy choices, it was not designed as a weight loss diet. As with any eating plan, to use the Mediterranean diet for weight loss, calories would be restricted until the weight loss goal is achieved.

A Mediterranean diet for weight loss would limit servings and portions to meet the required calorie level. Less oil and animal products would be consumed and more fruits, vegetables and legumes. With easy adjustments the Mediterranean diet can be used for healthy weight loss.

To use the diet for weight loss, a minimum of five servings of fruits and vegetables would be eaten daily. The fiber, vitamins and phytonutrients found in fruits and vegetables help promote overall good health and prevent disease. Legumes would be eaten a minimum of four servings per week. Legumes are a low fat, fiber filled source of protein and their consumption helps prevent coronary artery disease.

Grains would be limited to no more than three servings per day. While grains are also a good source of fiber, they can add calories quickly. Limiting grain allows more room on the plate for fruits and vegetables. Lower fat dairy options should replace full fat dairy products. The dietary benefits of the protein and calcium in dairy products are retained in lower fat products.

Olive oil would be limited to a tablespoon per day. The human body requires dietary fat, and plant based olive oil is a heart healthy choice. Fish, eggs and poultry would be limited to no more than two servings each, per week. These are good sources of protein, but contain more calories than legumes.
Wine should be limited to one glass per day. A four ounce glass of red wine is full of antioxidants, but contains 100 to 120 calories.

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What would a low carbohydrate Mediterranean diet plan look like?

The idea of a low carbohydrate Mediterranean diet may sound contradictory at first since the traditional Mediterranean diet incorporates a lot of whole grains, but finding low carb options is simple . The Mediterranean diet already encourages fish and chicken as lean meat choices. By choosing low carb vegetables like leafy greens and summer squashes, a low carb Mediterranean diet is a healthy choice. Because the diet is high in fiber, the net carbs are greatly reduced. When carbs are eaten, the focus is on low glycemic index carbohydrates, particularly berries, vegetables and legumes instead of whole grains and potatoes.

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What would a vegetarian Mediterranean diet plan look like?

With its emphasis on vegetables and whole grains, the Mediterranean diet is easy to adapt to a vegetarian lifestyle. The Mediterranean diet already allows for moderate amounts of dairy products, such as cheese and yogurt and up to four eggs per week. Beans, nuts and seeds can easily replace the traditional protein sources of fish and the occasional red meat. Breakfast ideas would include yogurt with fruit and nuts or whole grain and fruit combinations like steel cut oats with fruit and nuts. Lunch and dinner options could be salads with beans, or bean based soups or entrees with vegetables.

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Mediterranean diet food list

To have a healthy diet based on the diet people follow in Mediterranean countries, during the week we should include:

Fresh fruit. Have 3 or 4 pieces of fruit every day. Make one of these fruits an orange; they are very high in antioxidants and phytochemicals, substances that protect us against diseases. Berries, such as strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, etc. are also a must in our diet because of their antioxidants. Antioxidants are crucial in the fight against heart disease and cancer. If you really want to follow a Mediterranean diet, eat fruit for desert instead of cake. That’s how Mediterraneans eat their fruit most of the times.

Vegetables. Have a salad with your main meals. Use olive oil and lemon for dressing; you can’t beat this combination when it comes to antioxidants. Tomatoes and tomato products are a staple food in the Mediterranean diet; they contain lycopene, a must ingredient in the fight against heart disease and cancer. Cut a whole tomato and spread it with olive oil and some basil as part of your side dish o include them in your salads. Sauté green beans with olive oil and garlic and you will have a perfect Mediterranean side dish. Zucchini are also a wonderful complement for your main dish; sauté them with olive oil.

Bread. Have a piece of whole wheat or whole grain bread with your main meals except with pasta.

Pasta. Have pasta 2 or 3 times a week. Pasta made with semolina is a good choice; it is low in calories and the fiber leaves you full.

Legumes. Legumes are a staple food in the Mediterranean country. Eat dry beans, lentils, or garbanzo beans 2 or 3 times a week. Nutrition experts at the Michigan State University tell us that eating 2 to 4 cups of cooked legumes every week can protect us against heart disease. Dry beans have the type of fiber that eliminates cholesterol from our bodies. Eat legumes with a piece of whole grain bread and you will have the perfect protein. Vegetable protein does not put a load on our kidneys as animal protein does.

Nuts. Have a handful of nuts as a snack in your morning break. Nuts are also a staple food in Mediterranean countries and are high in monounsaturated fat, the one that does not get stuck in our arteries. Read the food label and be aware of portions because nuts are high in calories. Scientific studies have found that almonds and walnuts are the most beneficial for our health.

Olive oil. Use olive oil in your meals, both to cook and as condiment in your salads. Olive oil is the main source of fat in Mediterranean countries and has been connected to the low incidence of heart disease in those countries. Use olive oil and lemon as dressing in your salads.

Fish and sea food. Have fish and sea food two or three times a week. Salmon and sardines are good choices because they provide omega-3 oils, oils that our body needs but cannot produce or cannot produce in enough quantities.

Garlic and aromatic herbs. Use garlic and aromatic herbs as condiment. Garlic has been found to be a major contributor to the low incidence of high blood pressure in Mediterranean countries because it dilates the blood vessels walls.

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Simple Mediterranean Diet Recipes

The Mediterranean area is big. There are more than 13 countries and each country has its regional cuisine and traditions. The Mediterranean style recipes are mostly “Unique plates“. This means cooking healthy foods and mix different healthy nutriments together. You can view a small sample of Mediterranean Diet Recipes here.

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Will I lose weight with the Mediterranean diet?

Practical tips to get better results and lose at least 20 pounds in 3 months: Use fruits instead of sweets; Reduce the consumption of cheeses and butter; Consumes at least 4 eggs a week; Replace butter with olive oil; Use the honey instead of sugar; Only eat red meat once a month; Drink 1 glass of red wine (or grape juice) a day; Put in 30 min. of moderate physical activity each day; Drastic weight loss will do more harm than good, so choose a healthy diet.

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History of the Mediterranean diet

The history of the Mediterranean diet has millenarian origins. Its principles were already in use from the 4th century under the roman empire. The diet attracted international interest after a study conduced by Dr. Ancel keys at the end of the Second world war. Dr. Keys noticed how the population in the Cilento (southern Italy), was characterized by greater longevity, minor incidence of heart problems and cancer.

The Doctor understood that it was due to the alimentary regimen they followed. Then he decided to undertake a study “Study of the seven countries” in order to verify the health similarities of several Mediterranean populations. Ancel Keys lived in a small village of fishermen (Poplars) in the common of Pollica in province of Salerno,Italy for 40 years. It is passed away in November 2004 at 100 years age.

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Please note: It is advisable to consult a physician before taking up this or any weight loss plan. The content on this website can’t be treated as medical advice.