Could the absolutely best weight loss diet keep you healthy and be easy to maintain for life? Yes it can and it does for me and many of my social media followers. The people that are interested in transforming their Way of Eating come to my Facebook Group for many reasons. Some are for urgent medical or health reasons on doctor’s orders; many more want to look better and have their clothes fit better; others want to lower their blood pressure, reduce acid reflux, or stop snoring; still others seek out the Mediterranean Diet and/or Intermittent Fasting as a key to healthy aging; while others just like healthy food and are there for the recipes.
Why would most physicians recommend adopting the Mediterranean Diet, and more and more frequently Intermittent Fasting as well? Quite possibly the most pressing and growing public health crises worldwide is obesity, with more people becoming more obese at younger ages. Part of this is due to the convenience and cost of fast food, people with less time and less money that others are often driven to eat fast food. While there are many social, financial and environmental factors driving this dangerous trend to obesity, the fact is that there are positive, effective steps to bucking that trend and regaining your healthy weight and health.
So before during and after the pandemic, people were putting on weight and searching for answers for how to control and lose weight. As with many things in our modern societies, the easy way out would be to take a pill, and as many of us know that has been tried and pharmaceutical appetite suppressants are poor solutions. Newer versions of pill diets include things like green coffee beans, Garcinia Cambogia, detox pills, and various other “fat burning” concoctions. While some of these may have some short term effect, they are generally not regulated by the FDA so the long term effects are not known.
The other popular diets can also help people lose weight in the short term. These include Weight Watchers, Nutrisystem, Ketogenic, South Beach, Atkins, Noom, and a slew of other, usually expensive diets. Yo-yo dieting where dieters lose and gain weight is very hard on the body, and none of these types of diets are effective long term solutions to obesity or being overweight. The packaged meals are expensive and not a reasonable substitute for a properly balanced diet. They all take a considerable amount of work, counting calories, following strict guidelines, eating often times bland tasteless meals.
For instance, many people joining our group are looking for alternatives to the ketogenic or “keto” diet which features low carbohydrate and high fat consumption. Some of the known side effects of this diet include: diarrhea, weight regain, decreased muscle mass and athletic performance, complications for diabetics and an increased risk of heart disease. This is according to the Mayo clinic. These are not what I am looking for in a diet
Cleanses or juice cleanses are another fad that has grown quite popular. Although on the face of it vegetable or fruit juice is healthier than soft drinks, juices with the pulp removed are pure sugar and will give a sugar boost to your blood system. Studies have consistently shown that one of the primary benefits of juice fasting is detoxification, which are the normal function of your liver and kidneys. Another down side is the boost in triglycerides that your body gets when juice fasting. Triglycerides are a form of fat that can impair liver function and increase arterial plaque. That is also not what I am looking for in a sustainable long term diet.
Although I did considerable research before settling on a lifelong Way of Eating that includes both Intermittent Fasting and the Mediterranean Diet, it was really quite clear from the wealth of studies that have found the Mediterranean Diet as traditionally practiced to be the healthiest for humans. Intermittent Fasting is a bit different. Although I had heard of studies with rats and calorie reduction lengthening life spans over the years, I also recall thinking that it is not something I would ever do. First of all I didn’t think I had the will power to miss meals regularly or eat smaller amounts of food. I also associated the restricted diet with juicing, macrobiotics, vegan only, and salad only foods. As I learned more through my adoption of the Mediterranean Diet and tried different fasting lengths I started to realize how easy both of these practices were to adopt.
Another misconception that is widespread due to the other diets is the word diet itself. People associate diet with deprivation, never eating the food you like, child’s portions, walking away from meals hungry, studying calorie counts, eating tasteless food, going hungry, and feeling guilty about break their diet or cheating. I have heard of people being kicked out of groups similar to mine for not complying with strict guidelines, also of intolerance of questioning the practice or results of various diets. It is no wonder diets have a bad name. That is why we call the Mediterranean Diet and Intermittent Fasting a Way of Eating to distinguish them from the ‘calorie counters”. While some discipline is necessary when first beginning either practice, the change tools I have in place help people work through common problems. By using the practices I use for effective change we support people through what can be difficult transitions. https://mediterraneandiet.global/change-strategies-for-adopting-the-mediterranean-diet/.
So the best diet comes down to two things for me and most people in my groups. The first criterion is “is it sustainable” and the second criteria is “is it healthy”. The Mediterranean Diet has been called by experts as the most sustainable known diet. This is due to several important factors. First it the healthiest diet so it makes us healthier the more we adhere to it. With no incentive to try other diets we can continue on the Mediterranean Diet knowing we our Way of Eating is the best for us. The second is that the wide variety of meal options means that there is no need to ever get bored or to crave something different. I would challenge anyone to not find appetizing, delicious, and nutritious food from the recipes on my website or Facebook group. There are just great recipes everywhere. So there is literally no other choice for most sustainable diet.
The crown for healthiest Way of Eating is as mentioned before, firmly planted on the head of the Mediterranean Diet. What about Intermittent Fasting? This Way of Eating also weighs in with an impressive number of health benefits. One of the top ones is that muscle building, fat burning growth hormones increase as much as 5 times when Intermittent Fasting. Another fat burner is a drop in insulin, and as discussed in other articles here after fasting for a longer period of time and state of autophagy which removes free radical cells and provides protection against cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. The fasting also reduces the oxidative stress which causes inflammation, and boosts metabolism while you are consuming less calories.
These two apex Ways of Eating meet in several different places. This means that both practices complement each other to help with a wide range of health problems. While all of the Mediterranean Diet benefits have been thoroughly researched, in most cases the Intermittent Fasting is based on observations from my personal experience, thee experience of people in my groups, non human studies, and reported benefits from other sources. One major area that both practices help with is controlling Type II diabetes. With the Mediterranean Diet the findings of the studies are overwhelming in reducing and in some cases eliminating the effects of this serious condition. Combining Intermittent Fasting with the Mediterranean Diet accelerates the benefits for reducing Type II diabetes.
The next health benefit is closely related to the reduction of Type II diabetes and is the prevention of heart disease and stroke for women. This benefit is well documented with the Mediterranean Diet and again accelerated with Intermittent Fasting. The reduction of saturated fats and substitution with unsaturated fats helps reduce then eliminate arterial fat. Lowering insulin level means you are burning fat at a higher rate, particularly when your body becomes fat adapted. Both practices combine together to burn visceral or belly fat. This fat is very difficult to reduce by any other means; High Intensity Interval Training, high levels of brown fat (BAT); and Intermittent Fasting are the only ways to eliminate this fat.
Another critical health benefit is brain health. Both of these practices improve brain health and cognitive decline, cognitive impairment, Alzheimer’s disease, and dementia. Given the justified level of anxiety and fear among the aging population and those who will care for them, adopting these two practices would seem to be an imperative. Clearly starting earlier rather than later with this process would also be helpful.
Mediterranean Diet specific benefits include halving the risk of having Parkinson’s disease. Other benefits attributed to this Way of Eating are reduction or elimination of rheumatoid arthritis and reduced risk of breast cancer and colorectal cancer.
Not to be outdone, Intermittent Fasting lowers blood pressures, reduces inflammation and insulin resistance, helps us sleep better, reduces menopause symptoms, lowers LDL cholesterol and cleanses free radicals and aging cells while we are autophagy.
Clearly each of these practices on their own have wonderful health results in numerous critical areas, heart, mind, and more. When taken together many of the positive effects are multiplied or build on each other. The Mediterranean Diet and Intermittent Fasting are two of the very best things to keep you and your loved ones healthy for now, and for the rest of your lives.