• Kate

Best Diets of 2020 - Mediterranean Diet

Recently, I was asked to comment on the US News & World Reports Best Diet 2020 rankings for Fit & Well Magazine, and which diet I thought was the “best” in terms of overall health.

To be rated top, a diet had to be easy to follow, safe, effective for weight loss and protective against type 2 diabetes and heart disease. There were some diets on the list that most people I have asked have never heard of, and other diets they had heard of, but weren’t sure what they actually entailed. So, I decided over the next few weekly blogs to run through the top three diets, and also cover the two diets that came bottom out of the 35 diets and you may wish to give a wide berth!

The Mediterranean Diet was awarded first place in the US News & World Report rankings for Best Diet 2020 and achieved the following rankings:

#1 in Best Diets Overall

#2 in Best Heart-Healthy Diets

#1 in Best Diabetes Diets

#1 in Best Diets for Healthy Eating (tie)

#1 in Easiest Diets to Follow

This diet offers a host of health benefits, including weight loss, heart and brain health, cancer prevention, diabetes prevention and control. Additionally, by following the Mediterranean Diet, you could also keep that weight off and avoid chronic disease.

This is an eating pattern and not a structured diet as such. So when following the Mediterranean Diet you want to concentrate on eating fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, beans, legumes, nuts, olive oil. The diet also includes eating fish and seafood at least a couple of times a week, and consuming poultry, eggs, cheese and yogurt in moderation. And, of course, you are able to enjoy that glass of red wine once a day (my favourite part of the diet), with cakes, chocolate, and red meat reserved for special occasions.

Will the Mediterranean Diet help with weight loss?

The Mediterranean diet can help you lose weight. While some people worry that eating a diet like the Mediterranean diet, which is quite rich in fats (think the good fats like olive oil, olives, and avocado) will prevent them losing weight, increasing research demonstrates this is not the case. Of course, it depends on which aspects you adopt, and how it compares to your current diet. But, if you include a "calorie deficit" into your plan, by consuming fewer calories than your daily recommended max, or burning off extra by exercising, you will lose body fat and weight.

Here's a look at a few studies which consider weight loss on the Mediterranean diet:

  • A 2010 study in Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism assigned 259 overweight diabetics to one of three diets: a low-carbohydrate Mediterranean diet, a traditional Mediterranean diet or a diet based on recommendations from the American Diabetes Association. All three diet groups were advised to exercise 30 to 45 minutes at least three times per week. After a year, all groups had lost weight; the traditional group lost an average of approximately 16 pounds while the group following the diet recommended by the American Diabetes Association lost 17 pounds, but the low-carb Mediterranean Diet group lost a whopping 22 pounds.

  • A 2018 study published in Nutrition & Diabetes analysed dietary habits of 32,119 Italians over 12 years. The findings concluded that following a Mediterranean diet is associated with lower weight gain and a lower increase in waist circumference.

  • In 2019, The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology journal republished an updated analysis of data from Predimed – a five-year trial including 5,859 adults (1,588 participants were omitted when the study was retracted and republished in 2017) with Type 2 diabetes or at risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD) who were allocated to either a Mediterranean diet supplemented with olive oil, the same diet supplemented with nuts, or a control diet. Though the group with olive oil didn’t experience a statistically different outcome, the group following the Mediterranean diet with nuts saw a difference in waistline over a five-year period.

The cost of the Mediterranean diet, with ingredients such as fish, olive oil and nuts can be expensive, but there are ways to keep the cost affordable, particularly if you replacing red meat with plant-based meals using legumes such as chickpeas (have a peek at my 60-second quick Chickpea and Sweet Potato Stew recipe video).

Also, buy fruit and vegetables that are in season, as these are usually very well-priced.

So, if you are keen to give the Mediterranean Diet a whirl, focus on following the below suggestions:

· Eat plenty of fruit and veg

· Include a variety of different wholegrains

· Enjoy fish and seafood a couple of times a week

· Limit red meat

· Opt for healthy-fat foods, such as olive oil and avocado.

In next week’s blog, I will bring you the diet that came in joint second place, which is also the diet I highly recommend in the Spring Diet Report for Fit & Well Magazine –

The Flexitarian Diet.

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