World’s Best Diet Part 8–The Mediterranean Diet
If you google the word diet, you will come up with over 200,000 results. Every week, month, year, and decade a new study or article comes out claiming certain foods are killing us, or that some other food or nutritional approach will lead us to the promised land. Unfortunately, articles are written to create traffic, so scientific research is often misreported or spun to sell magazines or generate website traffic. The truth is, there are many ways to skin a cat. All of the evidence on nutrition (in regards to weight loss) points to two undeniable truths. First, that dietary adherence is king. It doesn’t matter how perfect or evidence based a nutrition plan is, if you can’t follow it, it doesn’t matter. Before starting any eating plan, you must ask yourself how easy it will be to maintain long term. Second, you must achieve an energy deficit to lose weight (eat less energy than you expend each day). Though “calories in, calories out” may be slightly over simplified, it is still the underlying rule to any weight loss success. For any weight loss plan to work, you must consistently follow the pla, and you must be in a caloric deficit. This series will highlight the nine most popular current nutrition approaches, and the pros and cons of each.
Claims: This diet emphasizes plant based foods such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts. You are encouraged to use oils instead of butter, spices/herbs instead of salt, limiting red meat to 2x/month, and moderate to low red wine consumption. The claims are that you will see reduced mortality rates, lower many cancer risks, and improved heart health.
Reality: This is another sensible eating plan that has been around for a long time. Emphasizing whole foods such as fruits, veggies, whole grains, nuts, and beans should be a no brainer. There is a body of literature (albeit correlative in nature) that shows majority of health markers improve on this style of eating plan.
Pros: Fiber rich diet focusing on veggies, fruits, grains, olive oil, nuts/seeds, and legumes. Encourages the social aspect of eating, and doesn’t directly forbid any food.
Cons: de-emphasizes lean protein consumption by recommending fish/poultry only be eaten 2x/week, and read meat less than 2x/month. Following this approach could lead to inadequate protein intakes. No emphasis on food quantities, which may lead to some people over eating these “healthy” foods.
Jeff Tirrell, CSCS, CFSC, Pn1