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Healthy fats like olives feature heavily in the Mediterranean diet.
Low-carb and Mediterranean diets are both often touted for their health and weight-loss benefits. The Mediterranean diet is thought to reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes, though a study published in a 2013 edition of "Diabetologia" found that this is unrelated to a reduction in body weight. Low-carb diets aid weight loss and could help you lose fat faster than low-fat diets, notes the Harvard School of Public Health. You can get all these benefits by combining the two diets.
Moving to the Med
The Mediterranean diet is based on the eating habits of natives of countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. While these diets vary from region to region, several aspects are similar among these countries. These include a high reliance on fish for protein, plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, beans, whole grains and healthy fats like olives and olive oil. Mediterranean diets tend to be low in saturated fat, processed foods and refined grains.
The main rule when following a low-carb diet is to restrict your intake of carbohydrates. These are your body's main source of energy and include the obvious culprits like bread, potatoes, pasta, candy and fruit, but there's also carbohydrate in other foods too, like dairy products, nuts and vegetables. A low-carb diet is generally thought to be one that contains less than 130 grams of carbs per day, while a very-low-carb diet contains less than 30 grams per day. Like Mediterranean diets, low-carb diets have also been linked with protecting against heart disease.
Two Diets at War
While both diets have many similarities, there are certain distinct differences. The Mediterranean diet contains more carb-dense foods in the form of grains and fruits than you'd typically include on a low-carb plan. Most low-carb plans don't differentiate between types of fat. The fats in a Mediterranean diet are mainly mono- and polyunsaturated, while the reliance on animal products like meat, butter and cream in a low-carb diet can make it higher in saturated and lower in mono- and polyunsaturated fats.
The Best of Both Worlds
Combining the two dieting approaches is remarkably simple. You could approach it in one of two ways: Either reduce your grain and high-sugar fruit consumption on a Mediterranean plan, or eat more fish, olive oil and nuts and less red meat and animal fats on a low-carb regime. A sample day might be boiled eggs with fresh fruits like apples and peaches for breakfast, a mixed salad with greens, tomatoes, cucumber, celery, olives, chicken breast and toasted pine nuts for lunch, and a piece of salmon sauteed in olive oil with broccoli, spinach and green beans for dinner. Snack on different types of nuts or seed, canned fish or fruits like berries.