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Is the Mediterranean Diet best

Pesto Pasta with Veggies
Pesto Pasta with Veggies

The Mediterranean Diet (MedDiet) is based on the traditional foods of European countries along the shoreline of the Mediterranean Sea, particularly parts of Spain, France, Italy and Greece. The original Greek/Cypriot version of the diet is based upon healthy fats, low saturated fat, quality protein, whole grains, nutrient-dense foods and fewer calories than typical Western diets.

Studies suggest, and many nutritionists believe, that the MedDiet is the healthiest way to eat. Since it is brimming with vegetables, fruit, whole grains, fish, chicken, dairy and olive oil, along with good portions of legumes, nuts, seeds and eggs, there is a lot to be said for this diet.

Initially popular in the 1960s, it wasn’t until a big, new study came out in 2013 that the diet hit the headlines again. The study showed a massive 30 percent reduction in cardiovascular disease. Understandably, the press went crazy and scientists and nutritionist piled onto the MedDiet bandwagon, and it became the go-to diet for optimum health. There was only one problem, this study was flawed.

When scrutinised, the study was shown to have split up many of the participants incorrectly, which meant that the results were no longer reliable and, in 2018, the study was retracted.

So, does this mean the MedDiet is useless? As you probably suspect, no. Upping your veggies and fruit and consuming less saturated fat is a good idea. In fact, a few of our favourite recipes are MedDiet approved. My favourite is our Greek Lamb Burgers but we also have a Chicken Cauliflower Rice Salad that’s excellent. Now some people may say that these aren’t quite ‘Med-friendly’, however, one other issue with the MedDiet is that it is poorly defined. For example, the difference between the highest and the lowest intakes of fruit, veggies, olive oil, etc. in the studies is very large. For instance, one study recorded people eating 144 calories from olive oil per day and another found them eating over 560!

As you can see, there are some important takeaways from the MedDiet story. Firstly, once we remove this infamous study from those that support the MedDiet, the evidence no longer supports quite the amount of hype it has enjoyed. Secondly, one version of a MedDiet can have very different nutrition than another. Thirdly, it must be pointed out that studies on the diet reported an average of just over 2200 calories of food eaten per day. This alone would bring health benefits and weight loss to a typical person. In fact, in the West, where the majority of people are overweight, there is a great deal more evidence that calorie-restriction and significant weight loss is the key to delivering the most benefit from diets.

So, it’s probably healthy to get yourself on a MedDiet but there’s no compelling evidence that it is particularly useful for weight loss. In fact, in the most recent review, conducted by 20 separate medical departments around the world, the MedDiet caused the third least weight loss of 14 diets reviewed. So if you want effective weight loss, The 1:1 Diet of meal replacement shakes and other foods is not only nutritionally complete (nutrient dense, with a full day’s requirement of vitamins and minerals), low in saturated fat and high in quality protein, but multiple studies on our diet show a minimum of over 1 ½ stone weight loss. And, as an added bonus, for those who were craving a bit of Mediterranean cuisine, we have meals on Plan to suit! Check them out here:

Visit the Steps page to find out more about the Plan or contact a Consultant to start your weight loss journey today.

References

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  2. Davis C, Bryan J, Hodgson J, Murphy K. Definition of the Mediterranean Diet; a Literature Review. Nutrients. 2015;7(11):9139-9153.
  3. Ge L, Sadeghirad B, Ball GDC, et al. Comparison of dietary macronutrient patterns of 14 popular named dietary programmes for weight and cardiovascular risk factor reduction in adults: systematic review and network meta-analysis of randomised trials [published correction appears in BMJ. 2020 Aug 5;370:m3095]. BMJ. 2020;369:m696.
  4. Shahrad Taheri. S. et al. Effect of intensive lifestyle intervention on bodyweight and glycaemia in early type 2 diabetes (DIADEM-I): an open-label, parallel-group, randomised controlled trial. The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, 2020. 8(6), 477-89
  5. Lean, M. E. et al. Primary Care-Led Weight Management for Remission of Type 2 Diabetes (DiRECT): An Open-Label, Cluster-Randomised Trial. Lancet. 2018 Feb 10;391(10120):541-551.
  6. Christensen, P. et al. Men and women respond differently to rapid weight loss: Metabolic outcomes of a multi‐centre intervention study after a low‐energy diet in 2500 overweight, individuals with pre‐diabetes (PREVIEW). Diabetes Obes Metab. 2018 Dec; 20(12): 2840–2851.
  7. Astbury, N.M. et al. Doctor Referral of Overweight People to Low Energy Total Diet Replacement Treatment (DROPLET): Pragmatic Randomised Controlled Trial. BMJ. 2018 Sep 26;362
  8. Christensen, P. et al. Long-term Weight-Loss Maintenance in Obese Patients With Knee Osteoarthritis: A Randomized Trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2017 Sep;106(3):755-763
  9. Nielsen, L.v. et al. Efficacy of a Liquid Low-Energy Formula Diet in Achieving Preoperative Target Weight Loss Before Bariatric Surgery. J Nutr Sci. 2016 May 30;5:e22.
  10. Olsen, R.H. et al. A Randomised Trial Comparing the Effect of Exercise Training and Weight Loss on Microvascular Function in Coronary Artery Disease. Int J Cardiol. 2015 Apr 15;185:229-35
  11. Pedersen, L.R. et al. A Randomized Trial Comparing the Effect of Weight Loss and Exercise Training on Insulin Sensitivity and Glucose Metabolism in Coronary Artery Disease. Metabolism. 2015 Oct;64(10):1298-307