The Mediterranean Diet

With the plethora of diets so acutely focused on carbohydrate intake, you may be wondering why the Mediterranean diet beat out a low-carbohydrate approach. After all, LC diets not only work for some people, studies also show that low- and very low-carbohydrate diets have helped obese individuals decrease insulin resistance, lower triglycerides, favorably change blood cholesterol levels and lose weight. Yet they aren’t for everyone.

First, LC diets may be tough to stick with over the long term. And, one solution to that issue may involve transitioning from low carbohydrate to “controlled” carbohydrate, eating a specific amount of carbohydrate per sitting and making healthier carbohydrate per sitting and making healthier carbohydrate choices (fiber rich whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables).

Secondly, recent research out of the University of Alabama Birmingham found that high-fat; low-carbohydrate diets may be detrimental to those with ischemic cardiovascular disease or a predisposition to heart attacks. In their study, obese and normal weight rats fed a high-fat, LC diet had larger, more damaging heart attacks compared to rats on a low-fat control diet.

In addition, the rats on the high-fat, LC diet had greater risk of death from pump failures and arrhythmias. Altering dietary macronutrient composition seems to affect the type of fuel the heart uses to function, when in fact carbohydrate is the most efficient source of fuel for our bodies when recovering from a heart attack. Though these results do not suggest that high-fat, low-carbohydrate diets cause heart attacks or that they are harmful, it does raise some red flags that should be taken into consideration prior to going on a similar diet.

Take a close look at your lifestyle and choose the plan that will best meet your needs. And, why go on a low-carbohydrate diet, or at least why stay on one if a Mediterranean diet may be just as effective?

THE BOTTOM LINE: If you talk to your co-workers, neighbors and friends, you’ll likely meet at least one person who has been successful on just about every popular diet out there. And according to the POUNDS LOST trial, the actual parameters of the diet (carbohydrate, fat and protein content) may matter less than your ability to stick with it.

After all, if you can’t follow a diet plan, you won’t lose weight. So, take a close, realistic look at your lifestyle and choose the plan that will best meet your needs. And remember, though diets work in the short term, the best way to keep weight off forever is by making healthy foods a permanent part of your diet and incorporating lifestyle changes you can live with.