Tag Archive for 'mediterranean diet'

Just when you think you know how to lose weight.


Whoever finds a single fool proof way to lose weight is guaranteed to become the richest person on earth. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, a one-size-fits-all super diet will probably never be discovered. If it is not enough that our bodies are so different, there are many, many other factors at play including cultural differences, lifestyle differences, socio-economic differences and taste preferences. The list of factors that can impact on weight loss success just goes on and on.

It’s really no wonder then that we are bombarded with conflicting and confusing scientific reports. It is very difficult to conduct an experiment that considers all of these variables. As a result, we are left with many reputable and conflicting scientific reports, each claiming that yet another dietary approach is the be-all and end-all for losing weight. Whether it is the Atkins or the Mediterranean Diet, the Low Fat or Low GI diet, or even Weight Watchers; the list is never-ending. It is just too easy to become a bit cynical after a while. How refreshing then, to come across a scientific study that found that most well balanced popular diets work well, irrespective of whether it is high in protein, low in fat, low in carbohydrates or any combination of these!

This study, called the “Comparison of Weight-Loss Diets with Different Compositions of Fat, Protein, and Carbohydrates” was published on February 26, 2009 in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). Its aim was to try and put an end to the age-old debate around the question “Which type of diet is most effective for weight loss”. The research team was of the opinion that many of the conflicting scientific reports on the weight loss topic published previously were based on populations too small to be representative, and that many studies did not track the progress of participants for a long enough period to provide sufficient information for assessment.
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Flat Belly…and eating chocolates?


This sounds just too good to be true. A cure for belly fat! Weight loss of up to 15 pounds in 32 days, without performing a single crunch! Hard to believe? But then, it is always important to keep an open mind…you never know. This is what all the fuss around the Flat Belly Diet is about….

The Flat Belly Diet has been one of the top selling diet books this year. It was written by Liz Vaccariello, editor in chief of Prevention, along with Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, nutrition director at Prevention. The main focus area of this book is well chosen. Who doesn’t want a flat stomach?

The Flat Belly diet is in essence nothing other than a calorie controlled Mediterranean style diet, which has long been known to provide health benefits. So what made it so successful?
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An overview of the Zone Diet

Dr Barry Sears, a biochemist, first popularized the Zone diet in his 1995 book, “The Zone”. While this diet has not been developed specifically for weight loss, it is probably more well-known for its weight loss benefits than for any of the other advantages it promises, all thanks to solid media exposure. The popularity of this diet reached its peak in the late 1990s, slipped a bit, and then made a comeback recently following the endorsements of Hollywood A-listers and models such as Jennifer Aniston, Sarah Jessica Parker, Sandra Bullock and Cindy Crawford.

The Zone diet is often classified as a low-carb diet, but Dr Sears describes it as a moderate carb, moderate fat, and moderate protein diet, and regards it as superior to low-carb diets due to the improved hormonal responses. He goes on to say that the Zone diet can not be regarded as a protein rich diet since you never consume more low-fat protein during any meal than you can fit on the palm of your hand.

Many scientific studies are finding that weight management is a lot more complex than simply balancing calorie intake and calorie usage. The Zone approach suggests that inflammation precedes obesity. If that is true, any obesity problem can only be addressed by resolving the underlying inflammation.
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Long live the Atkins Diet….

One cannot help but be astounded by how easily and effectively government agencies, large food corporations and the media succeeded in leading us to believe that a particular view of our nutritional needs is indeed a fact of life. This subtle “brain washing” was (and still is to a large extend) so effective that it subconsciously impacts all of our decision making regarding our family’s nutritional needs. It is, in fact, ingrained in our very fabric of being.

With many of us still finding it extremely difficult to even consider the idea that a diet high in fat can be good for you, it is interesting to remember that the idea of a low-fat diet only really took hold in the 70’s. Up until then, the generally accepted wisdom was that fat and protein were the foundations of good nutrition, and that carbohydrates were responsible for making you fat! Of course the low-fat dogma turned this age old wisdom on its head and carbohydrates suddenly became the most important source of food depicted at the base of the famous Food Guide Pyramid!

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The Mediterranean Diet?


So what exactly is all this fuss about the Mediterranean Diet? Everywhere you go, the topic comes up in discussions as the solution to all our weight problems. The name itself conjures up associations of lazy summer holidays, sumptuous food, wine and good friends. How can a diet like this not be extremely enjoyable?

In a recent study the Mediterranean type diet was compared head on to Low-Carb and Low-Fat type diets. It came out with flying colors. Average weight loss on the Mediterranean diet almost equaled that of Low-Carb diets, while most definitely offering a more varied and exciting menu. Most importantly; the range of implementation options and food groups this eating plan offers makes it much easier to permanently change to your everyday eating habits for sustained weight loss.

The study, published in The New England Journal of Medicine (17 July 2008), found that participants in the Low-Carb group lost the most weight with a two year sustained average loss of 10.4 lb (4.7 kg). The group on the Mediterranean diet followed close on their heels with an average weight loss of 9.7 lb (4.4 kg). Interestingly, the average weight loss of those on the Low-Fat Diet was considerably lower at only 6.4 lb (2.9 kg). Women did better than men on the Mediterranean Diet, and the diet was also found to have definite general health benefits such as the prevention of Type II Diabetes and heart problems, as well as improved longevity.

Now that we know the Mediterranean diet warrants a closer look; what is it exactly?


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