`Mediterranean Diet Effective for Weight Loss, Study Finds - Olive Oil Times

Mediterranean Diet Effective for Weight Loss, Study Finds

Mar. 6, 2014
Sukhsatej Batra

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Obesity, preva­lent in 35.7 per­cent of adults in the United States, is a major health haz­ard because it increases risk of heart dis­ease, stroke, type 2 dia­betes, and some can­cers, accord­ing to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Although weight loss may help reduce risk of these chronic dis­eases, any­one who has tried to lose weight knows it is an uphill bat­tle that gets harder when lost weight is regained.

However, there is encour­ag­ing news from the world of sci­ence for those on the weight loss jour­ney. Investigators of a recent study found that 89 obese sub­jects who fol­lowed three vari­a­tions of the Mediterranean diet, repeated twice over a 12-month period, not only lost weight, but were suc­cess­ful in keep­ing it off.

In the first 20 days of the study, the sub­jects were on a keto­genic, or very low car­bo­hy­drate ver­sion, of the Mediterranean diet that pro­vided only 30 grams of car­bo­hy­drates, and 976 calo­ries, most of which came from pro­teins and fat.

During this weight loss phase, the diet excluded bread, rice, pasta, yogurt, milk, alco­hol, tea, and cof­fee; but included unlim­ited con­sump­tion of beef, veal, fish, cold cuts, poul­try, cooked and raw green veg­eta­bles, eggs, cheese, tea, cof­fee, and spe­cial pro­tein and fiber meals.

To counter the effects of such a low car­bo­hy­drate intake, the sub­jects also con­sumed an herbal extract that pre­vented the feel­ing of weak­ness and tired­ness, helped improve glycemic con­trol and increased secre­tion of bile.

In the sec­ond phase of the study, which also lasted 20 days, the sub­jects fol­lowed a low car­bo­hy­drate ver­sion of the Mediterranean diet that pro­vided 91 grams of car­bo­hy­drates and an aver­age of 1,111 calo­ries. At the end of these two phases, the sub­jects lost an aver­age of about 10 kilo­grams.
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For the next four months, the sub­jects were on a nor­mal Mediterranean diet, which pro­vided 261 grams of car­bo­hy­drates and 1,800 calo­ries. During this third, or main­te­nance, phase of the study, sub­jects included all foods that make up the Mediterranean diet: whole grain bread, pasta, whole wheat, rice, pota­toes, eggs, poul­try, fish, meat, veg­eta­bles, legumes, fruits, olive oil, whole milk and wine.

After com­ple­tion of four months on the Mediterranean diet, the sub­jects went through the three phases of the study once again — 20 days on the very low car­bo­hy­drate keto­genic diet; 20 days on the low car­bo­hy­drate diet; and six months on the nor­mal Mediterranean diet.

The researchers reported that at the end of the last six months of the study, the aver­age weight of the sub­jects was about 84 kilo­grams, down by 16 kilo­grams from their orig­i­nal start­ing aver­age of 100 kilo­grams. There was also a sig­nif­i­cant decrease in the per­cent body fat of the sub­jects at the end of the study.


Most of the weight and fat loss in the sub­jects occurred dur­ing the time on the very low and low car­bo­hy­drate ver­sions of the Mediterranean diet. The good news was that most sub­jects did not regain the weight lost dur­ing the weight loss phases while on the nor­mal Mediterranean diet.

An addi­tional ben­e­fit of the study was a decrease in blood lev­els of total cho­les­terol, LDL-cho­les­terol, triglyc­erides, and glu­cose at the end of 12-month period.

The promis­ing results of this study pro­vide hope to the 56 per­cent Americans try­ing to lose weight, and the addi­tional 27 per­cent who are try­ing to main­tain weight, accord­ing to num­bers reported by the International Food Information Council Foundation in 2013.

However, the authors of the study con­clude that high com­pli­ance to the diet plan by 88 per­cent of their sub­jects was respon­si­ble for the suc­cess of this study. The sub­jects who failed to fol­low the rec­om­mended diet and reverted back to their old dietary habits, regained their lost weight. Therefore, to attain and main­tain long-term weight loss using this treat­ment pat­tern requires a com­mit­ment to adopt­ing the Mediterranean diet as a lifestyle change.


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