Olives on Vine

How to Do the Mediterranean Diet Properly and Successfully

It doesn’t take much of a search to find a plethora of websites out there that make all kinds of claims about the Mediterranean diet, and its virtues for our health. It doesn’t take much to extoll the virtues of this program, and boy! they sure are virtues. Who doesn’t dream about moving to Italy, having their vineyard, eating olives freshly picked from their own trees during the midday summer sun. However, for the rest of us not blessed enough to live in this world, this diet purports to take the best parts of this lifestyle and concentrate them down for our own use without needing to leave our kitchens.

Natural Mediterranean FoodsThis diet actually originated from a period of time that British middle class people dreamed of retiring to their vineyards in Tuscany. Yet, this is hardly the reality we all get to enjoy. There are numerous studies, articles and reports that continue to surface about all of the fantastic benefits of a more Mediterranean diet, and this diet in fact is quite similar to the Paleo Diet. Dr. Oz touched on this recently as well, causing a huge spike in interest in this diet. It’s no surprise, a lot of the foods recommended on this diet such as kale, canola oil, chili powders and whole what pasta. Yet, how does this diet work and what are scientists saying about its use for weight loss?

The Down and Dirty on the Mediterranean Lifestyle

The foundation of this diet rests upon what people from the Mediterranean area eat, hence the name. The benefits promised by this diet, and supported by science, are things such as reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and even Parkinson’s. This diet was designed after it was noticed by researchers that after the Second World War, the Italian/Greece region had some of the lowest risks of cardiovascular disease in the world, and one of the longest average life spans.

If you are like a lot of Americans, you probably wouldn’t think this is so. They do eat a lot of olive oil afterall, and pasta, and we all know that fats and carbohydrates are bad for us. We often think of things like moussaka from Greece we we think of food from this region. How can this be healthier for our bodies? The daily diet of someone from the Mediterranean actually isn’t just pasta, olive oil, and other less than healthy foods. They eat a lot of fruit, seafood freshly caught, whole grains, olive oil and lots of vegetables. As a result, they are much healthier the their other Western counterparts, with many vitamins and minerals like Omega-3 and good fats in their diet.

What exactly do you eat on the Mediterranean Diet

There are some major differences present between the Mediterranean diet and other similarly popular and common weight loss plans. Beyond the foods that are selected, and how they lowered the risk of illness and weight gain, there was also the finding that people who were on this diet typically also exercised and maintained health through daily fitness. This active lifestyle is also at least partially responsible for the great results that are seen with this method.  Even so, there are still some major things to consider on this program.  There are in fact some food selections that you simply must follow in order to be successful in losing weight.

Several major foods should be eaten on this diet. You want to eat a lot of vegetables, primarily those low in starches. This includes things like tomatoes, cucumbers, legumes of all types, kale and other ingredients. You want to avoid skipping breakfast as having at least a small roll or similar is common in the region. Meat should be lean cuts, such as fish or very lean beef, lamb, or other foods commonly found in this regimen. Eat fish at least twice per week for the best results. The fats you have in your diet should come from wholesome and natural places, nuts, olive oil, or avocados for example.

The heart of the Mediterranean Diet rests in its scientific support. It has a long history of providing outstanding results to users, but also, has been well studied for its benefits to an entire group of people who practice it daily. Its no surprise, given this, that the diet has grown to be so popular.

Fresh Cup of Green Tea

Daily Green Tea Drinking – An Effective Weight Loss Method?

Growing Green TeaGreen tea has been a popular staple for those looking to have a healthier diet for many years.  New evidence has demonstrated the use of green tea extracts, which are purified compounds taken directly from the leaves of the tea, are particularly effective for those seeking weight control and also help to regulate glucose production in diabetics.  Part of the goal in researching this has been to test the potential of the simple treatment.  Keimyung University School of Medicine recently conducted a study looking for just this.  They found several interesting compounds that are naturally in green tea which show great promise in this area.

There are several active compounds found in green tea, several of which have been demonstrated to inhibit lipid uptake and glucose levels in the intestines.  The major compound is a certain type of flavonoid known as gallated catechins.  The amount of these gallated catechins that are required to reduce glucose concentrations in the blood her and she achieved with only a single daily serving of green tea.  Yet the level of green tea necessary to decrease lipid uptake in the intestine is slightly higher, having been shown to be too high to feasibly get from green tea directly.  These gallated catechins actually were shown to increase insulin resistance, which is a negative consequence for diabetic patients.

Researchers in the study found that green tea extract on factors such as bodyweight or glucose tolerance in mice or diabetic mice were noteworthy.  Through the use of a non-toxic resin called polyethylene glycol, the mice who were fed a high-fat diet and significantly improved results from the normal extract.  This was thought to have prevented the uptake of gallated catechins at a level which would be harmful, which prevented problems in controlling lipid absorption. They then compared the results to the results often seen from two other drugs which are typically prescribed to people trying to lose weight, or to diabetic patients.

What This Says About the Use of Green Tea for Dieting

Green tea is known for providing energy and also antioxidants into the body, which helps keep a person healthy in ways ranging from reduction in cancer risk to helping them to shed pounds.  Yet, the results the study suggest that there are other benefits which we do not know about previously.  If a person is taking green tea extract along with polyethylene glycol, they saw significant drop in overall body mass, insulin resistance and improved tolerance for glucose, regardless of whether they had a high fat diet or a more diabetic diet.  The polyethylene glycol contained in the extract was found to have an impact on the amount of time the gallated catechins remained in the body, which as a result, limited the glucose absorption therein.

The effect of green tea extract was found to be of a measurable value just by drinking it daily, yet the results were significantly improved if taken as an extract instead.  In addition to this information, it was also found that the effects of green tea extract the body are comparable to the same results found if a person was taking two different drugs that are typically prescribed for non-insulin dependent diabetics.

It’s our conclusion from this information that the use of “green tea extract for dietary purposes and polyethylene glycol help to alleviate weight gain and insulin resistance in overweight and diabetic mice.” What this means is that green tea extracts have some preventative and therapeutic properties which can help with obesity-related illnesses as well as the risk of diabetes.  The side effects are still being studied but the use of polyethylene glycol significantly improves the extracts benefits and the behavior in patients.

Healthy Meal Plan

Planning is the Essential Spice for Any Successful Weight Loss

People are always searching endlessly for that one magic pill or a potion that is going to make them lose all the weight they’ve ever wanted to lose.  What if someone told you that in reality, it’s not just one thing that’s holding up your weight loss?  There is one thing that can fix this issue for good, but it’s not going to be found at the bottom of a bottle or in a pill container.  The one thing that truly makes your weight loss goals is much “simpler”: planning.

Designing a Health Meal PlanNumber crunching or counting your calories can be quite frustrating.  Concentrating on designing healthy meals is what we should be concentrating on, not these accounting tasks.  The US Department of Agriculture has a pretty useful tool known as “MyPlate” which is designed to help people manage their food choices, and design a balanced meal with relative ease.  The design of this program asks you to fill up your plate half full with fruits or vegetables (or both), a quarter with whole grains, and the last quarter with lean meats (chicken breasts, fish, or lean beef).  This is a great way to get a “visual basis” for your meals, what foods you need to eat, and help the calories you need each day fall right into place.  You really don’t even have to count them, you just have to ensure that you’re eating the right portions.  This makes it a lot easier, and makes sure you’re getting proper nutrients your body needs.

It may take a bit of planning and some organization to fill up your plate with foods that are healthy, but you may be surprised when it winds up not taking much of your time to do so.  Sarah Bedwell is a noted dietitian who recently wrote a book on just how to do this, in as little as 30 minutes a week.  By planning out your meals ahead of time, throughout the week, you need to devote only around 30 minutes to the task and will see major transformation in your body.  Making a grocery list (around five minutes of time), designing a meal plan (maybe 10 minutes) and then prepare the food for the week (15 minutes).  The last step may be difficult to only do in 15 minutes, but it’s possible and even reasonable to design an entire week’s worth of meals, and cook them, in just an hour or so.  Once you do this for a few weeks, it will slowly evolve into a life long habit, one which you can take with you anywhere and easily maintain.

Designing a Meal Plan

There are a few thing that help keep your meal plan on target when you’re designing your meal plan for any weight loss or diet.

  • Take in Visual Cues – You want to make a visual “board” (like a calendar) of your meals throughout the week.  Somewhere easily accessible like a door or refrigerator.
  • Keep Looking Ahead – You always want to be aware of the things you have planned throughout the week.  Some days you may need more time to cook than others, and some days you may have to switch over to a frozen meal you prepared already.
  • If You Dine Out: Plan Ahead – Dining out is an important part of your social life, to be sure, however there are also risks of overeating.  Many people take this as a chance to “indulge” which can often result in feelings of guilt afterwards.  Avoiding this is very important.

A Good Strategy for Grocery Shopping

  • Getting Coupons Makes A Difference – Many people think that eating healthy can be expensive.  Fortunately this isn’t exactly true, and people can actually follow a healthier diet with relative ease on their wallet just by using manufacturer coupons.  There are many readily available out there.
  • Keep Track of Your Food Inventories – You want to check your refrigerator, your pantry and your freezer for all of the staples you need to make healthy foods often.  You want to be proactive with the foods you need to get from the store to prevent forgetting important things.
  • Eat Before Going Shopping for Groceries – If you shop when you’re hungry, this is one of the surest ways to buy foods that you really shouldn’t be eating.  Oftentimes people who shop when hungry will buy quick, accessible and high carb foods.  Have a snack at the very least before you go.

Prepping Your Weekly Meals

  • Try to Precook Your Meals – Taking time the weekend before to go through your meals and plan them out for the week can go a long way.  Many things like chicken, pasta and brown rice can be prepared in bulk quickly and then frozen for use throughout the week.
  • Do Preparation of Produce Early – You can help cut down on the time you spend prepping every meal throughout the week just by chopping and storing vegetables ahead of time.  If you prep your food for the next day the night before it makes you life a lot easier.
  • Freeze Foods for Later – If you’re running out of time and aren’t sure if you will have time to make food every day, or you find yourself not eating properly, the way to deal with this is to freeze foods and thaw them for meals later.  This helps you stay healthy and cuts down on the time you spend preparing meals.