The low carb Mediterranean diet is much more than just a way of eating: it is the healthy eating habits of people living in the Mediterranean region.
Today, the Mediterranean diet is considered one of the healthiest in the world and is characterized by the traditional flavors and cooking methods of the Mediterranean region. Find out everything you need to know about this form of eating and the principles on which it is based.
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What is the Low Carb Mediterranean Diet?
If when you hear the word diet you think of weight loss and calorie counting, we can reassure you right away. The word “diet” was originally used to designate a lifestyle and a way of eating, and it is still a synonym today. The Mediterranean diet is, therefore, also a specific way of eating AND living.
The secret to this longevity would be a healthy lifestyle, plenty of exercise, and a healthy Mediterranean low carb diet. Pizza, paella and gyros? Not really. Traditional Mediterranean cuisine contains virtually no processed foods, sugar, and unhealthy fats. On the contrary, it is characterized by a large number of vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, and fresh fish. These foods are rich in important nutrients and antioxidants. Thanks to these healthy food choices, the Mediterranean diet offers many health benefits and supports healthy aging.
What exactly does the Mediterranean diet look like? Typical meals contain the following:
- 55-60% complex carbohydrates – mainly fresh sun-ripened vegetables and regional fruits, as well as whole grains, potatoes, and pseudo-grains like quinoa.
- 25-30% fat – mainly vegetable fats from avocados, nuts, and seeds, as well as olive oil and fresh fish, which provides valuable omega-3 fatty acids.
- 10-15% protein – from white meat, fish, eggs, legumes, and dairy products made from sheep and goat’s milk.
The basic principles of the Mediterranean diet are generally as follows:
- Higher consumption of complex carbohydrates compared to simple carbohydrates (such as white flour and sugar).
- More plant proteins and fewer animal proteins.
- A high proportion of dietary fiber.
- A preference for certain vegetable fats (olives, avocado, nuts).
Moderate consumption of wine during meals is permitted. Strong alcohol, sweets, fried foods, red meat, and cold cuts are rarely consumed.
Foods of the Mediterranean Diet
For a better understanding, we have presented the most important foods of the Mediterranean diet in the form of a pyramid. The base of the pyramid, the widest part, is made up of foods that can be eaten several times a day. Moving up, you’ll find foods that you should eat several times a week or rarely. As you can see, it’s not just about choosing a single food but rather categories of foods.
Here is how the Mediterranean food pyramid works in detail:
- At the base of the pyramid are regular physical activity, adequate rest and adequate fluid intake – around ten glasses of water per day, which equates to around two liters.
- Additionally, five servings of vegetables, some fruit, complex carbohydrates like potatoes and rice, fresh herbs and spices as well as high-quality fats in the form of olive oil, avocado and Nuts should be on your plate every day.
- Add one to two servings of white meat, more than two servings of fish, shellfish or mollusks, two to four servings of eggs, and more than two servings of pulses per week.
- Dairy products are on the menu about two to three times a week, with a preference for those made from sheep and goat’s milk.
- Finally, at the top of the Mediterranean diet pyramid are sweets and red meat, which should be consumed as little as possible and always in small portions.
Also read our blog about “6 Foods That Might Be Lowering Your Testosterone.“
A day of Low Carb Mediterranean Eating
Does the low carb Mediterranean diet now convince you? We have created for you a typical one-day meal program with Mediterranean foods. The program consists of three main meals and two snacks. These are also perfect as desserts or even appetizers, which are more popular in the Mediterranean region than afternoon snacks.
Start your day with a balanced breakfast. For example, a natural yogurt with fresh fruit, a little honey and some nuts is ideal. If you prefer a savory breakfast, a combination of scrambled eggs and fresh tomatoes, cucumbers and a few olives is a good idea. You see, the Mediterranean diet is easy to implement.
Fresh berries, vegetable sticks with homemade sauce, or a handful of nuts are ideal.
Treat yourself to a pasta dish and a large portion of vegetables for lunch. While the wholemeal pasta is cooking, dice the zucchini, carrots, and tomatoes and mix them with two tablespoons of organic hemp oil, basil, and oregano. Then add the vegetables to the cooked pasta and top your Mediterranean lunch with a tablespoon of organic hemp seeds.
How about some macadamia nuts or other nuts as an energizing Mediterranean snack?
In the evening, stock up on vegetables again. They are super easy to bake in the oven. Cut the vegetables of your choice (e.g., mushrooms, fennel, squash, zucchini, celery) into pieces and place them on a baking tray with a piece of fish (e.g., salmon). Spread a drizzle of olive oil on top, sprinkle with suitable herbs and spices like rosemary, oregano, pepper, and paprika powder, and put the tray in the oven for around 35 minutes at 180 degrees. Here’s a perfect Mediterranean low-carb diet dinner without much effort.
The Benefits of the Low Carb Mediterranean Diet
Balanced, Healthy and Nutritious
The foods recommended for the Cretan diet are rich in vitamins and minerals, so your daily needs can be easily covered. In addition, the Mediterranean diet contains all the good mood foods that affect our mood and foods that positively affect female hormonal balance.
Weight Loss is Possible
consumption of vegetables in large quantities, combined with high-quality protein sources and good lipids, all combined with physical activity, promotes healthy weight loss.
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Seasonal and Regional
The low carb Mediterranean diet relies on foods that benefit from the best conditions to grow and ripen locally. The quality and nutrient content are significantly improved. Don’t worry, you don’t have to move. In the USA, we also grow many types of fruits and vegetables, allowing us to eat healthily while paying attention to regionality. These include leeks, carrots, cucumber, zucchini, white cabbage, apples, peaches and melon.
The Mediterranean diet stands out for its high proportion of dietary fiber, which is considered food for good intestinal bacteria. The Mediterranean diet would thus have a positive effect on the intestinal flora. Besides, dietary fiber ensures a longer feeling of satiety.
Tips for Starting the Mediterranean Diet
Here are some tips to help you get started on this diet and healthy lifestyle:
All Fats are Not Equal
While we used to think that “the less fat, the better,” we now know that the quality of the fat we consume matters most. A general rule is to avoid highly processed fats, such as cured meats, refined oils such as sunflower or soybean oil, and fried foods. Conversely, the key to healthy fat consumption lies in eating unprocessed foods: avocados, virgin olive oil, nuts, and fatty fish, for example.
Less Salt – More Herbs and Spices
Our modern Western diet is often very rich in table salt. Aromatic herbs are a good alternative to replace some of the salt in your diet. Basil, mint, sage, thyme, coriander, and many other aromatic herbs give your dishes an irresistible aroma and taste. If you can’t do without salt and shouldn’t, still pay attention to the quality and choose sea or desert salt.
Choose Products Made From Whole Grains and Complex Carbohydrates
In Mediterranean dishes and recipes, cereals play an essential role alongside fruits and vegetables. However, they should be whole grains and as little processed as possible.
Bread, pasta, and rice can be eaten in moderation. Starchy vegetables such as (sweet) potatoes and pumpkin are also a good source of complex carbohydrates.
Fish – THE Mediterranean Food
Fresh fish and seafood occupy a special place in Mediterranean cuisine. And there’s a reason: Fish gives you plenty of omega-3 fatty acids, including DHA and EPA. These two polyunsaturated fatty acids perform important functions in your body – for example, they help maintain normal heart function.
They provided that your daily intake is at least 250 milligrams. Fish has a long tradition in Mediterranean cuisine. This may be one of the reasons why Mediterranean cuisine is said to have a positive influence on heart health.
The Right Choice When It Comes to Meat, Eggs and Dairy Products
Meat is a fundamental part of the Mediterranean diet: it is a source of high-quality protein and contains vitamins and minerals. In Mediterranean dishes, beef and pork are rarely used and low-fat poultry is preferred.
Dairy products such as cheese and yogurt are made from sheep and goat’s milk. Additionally, you should pay attention to all animal products and avoid products from factory farming.
Take Time to Eat
Finally, one of the most important rules: a healthy meal requires calm and attention. Sit at the table to eat and enjoy your meals mindfully so you can fully perceive the flavors and aromas.
In the Mediterranean, the whole family comes together to eat, and it is not uncommon for all friends and acquaintances to eat together in a large group, laughing and exchanging ideas. These are also elements that have a direct impact on our diet and our health.