diets for weight loss

Does the Mediterranean diet make you fat?

The Mediterranean diet

The Mediterranean diet is a diet that should be based on the consumption of typical products from the neighboring areas of the Mediterranean Sea basin; the quality of the food contained in the Mediterranean diet is not fattening, let alone lose weight; however, from a nutritional point of view it is certainly a healthy and sufficiently balanced diet. Not surprisingly, in 2010 the Mediterranean diet was proclaimed by UNESCO as an intangible cultural heritage of humanity.

The Mediterranean diet should not make you fat, as it is based on the consumption of extremely simple and inexact products. The foods that characterize the Mediterranean diet are:

  • Raw grains and derivatives
  • legumes
  • Seasonal vegetables
  • Seasonal fruit
  • Fishery products, especially fish
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Red wine
  • Sea salt

Less frequent:

  • Meats
  • eggs
  • Milk and derivatives

Almost absent:

  • Saturated fats for seasoning
  • Highly sugary foods
  • Fat meats

The strength of the Mediterranean diet is the high nutritional content of molecules useful for the correct functioning of the organism; these include: dietary fiber, lecithin, vitamins (all), mineral salts (all, even iodine), antioxidants (polyphenols, lycopene, anthocyanins, etc.), polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids (omega 3, 6 and 9) etc. It is therefore possible to define the TRUE Mediterranean diet a healthy and balanced regime.

Many of the contemporary eating styles have drawn inspiration from the dietary composition of the Mediterranean diet, adapting it in a questionable manner to the needs of the modern sedentary man, that is reducing or eliminating the most energetic foods of the diet: cereals. A striking example is the Zone diet, defined by Barry Sears himself (with general dismay of followers and antagonists): "the evolution of the Mediterranean diet" [Porta a Porta - 7.12.2011 - Title: Carne, pasta or herbal tea?] .


The origins of the Mediterranean diet

The Mediterranean diet is a food style based on the survival of the coastal populations, which drew sustenance above all from fishing, agriculture and in part from sheep farming; cattle breeding for the purpose of slaughtering was present, but not as predominantly as inland.

Contrary to what one might think, the Mediterranean diet is not applied in all areas of the basin; some regions (such as those of the upper Adriatic) have never applied a similar diet, as the predominantly continental climate and the alluvial-marshy terrain did not allow it. To date, the REAL Mediterranean diet has almost disappeared ; the variability of cereals (spelled, barley, rye, oats, buckwheat, sorghum ... etc.) is no longer dependent on geographical areas and their consumption is mainly in the form of flours (and derivatives) purified and obtained from human selections of wheat ; the re-crossing was carried out by preferring 3 characteristics: cultivation yield, resistance to pests and high gluten content. The portions of pasta and bread consumed up to 60 years ago, typical of fishermen and shepherds who worked from dawn to dusk, remained the same despite the collective caloric expenditure being halved. Legumes were consumed with very high frequency, contributing along with cereals to the achievement of the biological protein value necessary for survival, especially where the economic conditions did not allow the regular consumption of meat and / or fish. Fruits and vegetables were of local origin and were consumed mainly fresh at the seasonal discretion; the sun and the fattened earth naturally conferred nutritional properties far greater than today's plants. Olive oil, red wine and sea salt provided essential molecules such as: poly and mono-unsaturated fatty acids, polyphenols and iodine. The Mediterranean diet was not expensive and based on the survival of man, undoubtedly involved a good caloric density but above all it guaranteed a food quality to say the least sublime.

The Mediterranean diet today

Currently, what remains of the Mediterranean diet is a set of inappropriate food behaviors and most often not proportionate to the caloric expenditure. Abuse of pasta and bread is frequent, both in terms of quantity and frequency; vegetables and fruit are consumed little and badly, preferring tastes to food quality without respecting the seasonality of the products. Fish has become a luxury item even for coastal populations and its consumption is limited to a few fish species, most of which come from abroad; in parallel, the consumption of meat (especially fat) has increased dramatically. The result is an excessive caloric intake, a low mineral-vitamins-antioxidant intake and an unsaturated / saturated fat ratio in favor of the latter.

The Mediterranean diet, in itself, is NOT absolutely fattening, but what remains is certainly not the same diet thanks to which the populations of the basin could boast health and longevity recognized and envied by most of the world's populations.