Fad diets are much the same way; they’re branded, commercialized, and people find quick success using them. Over time they either quit or stay in the same routine following this diet and eventually lose all the progress they’ve made. The problem with fad diets is that they don’t teach you how to eat. They just tell you to “eat this” and expect you to take it upon yourself to make it right.
Look no further; here’s the one fad-diet that I actually support.
The Mediterranean diet is modeled after local food staples in countries bordering the Mediterranean. It’s highlighted by high fiber vegetables, fruit, healthy fats, fish/poultry proteins, and wines.
First off, let’s cut the crap here; calling it a Mediterranean Diet and following it as if it’s a “fad diet” is nonsense. The only reason this kind of eating habit even becomes a “fad diet” is because people in America find some other un-American way of eating and label it as “the new big thing.” It’s not really a “new big thing” because it’s just an every-day way of life for folks living in those regions. That’s like following a “Sentinelese Diet” because you heard some isolated tribe somewhere has small waistlines. Just because they eat wild rat and swamp-beans doesn’t mean you should do it, too. (I don’t know if the Sentinelese eat wild-rat and swamp-beans. They’re probably very nice people who eat fish and fruit. But you get the idea.)
So, if you choose to change your eating habits and want to model your diet after the eating habits of Mediterranean folks, I support that. Any change from McDonald’s, Coke, and Budweiser is a great day.
This eating habit isn’t too complicated and doesn’t involve counting numbers, reducing portions, drinking “meal replacement” shakes, or standing upside down on your head while you drink a gallon of water. It strays away from processed foods, incorporates healthy fats, relies on vegetables and fruits as your main carbohydrate sources, and avoids excessive amounts of red-meat. It even lets you drink wine. So as it stands, it’s not too restrictive and promotes eating great tasting food. This model is great for maintaining heart health, maintain brain function over time, it’s good for your hair, skin, and joint health, muscle recovery, sex-drive (oh yeah!) and keeps you avoiding processed junk. If I didn’t know what I know about food and had to pick a “mainstream diet,” this would be the one to take.
If you take this route, be aware that it’s easy to take it too far. This eating style is low in protein, high in carbs and fats, and allows whole-grain breads and dairy products. If you don’t know what’s in food, this can be detrimental. Whole-grain bread sources are still a processed food and can be very calorie /carbohydrate dense. It’s easy to go overboard pairing these foods with wine. Hell, I love good bread and tons of butter just like the next guy, but I know too much of a good thing is a bad thing.
Be aware that oils, legumes, dairy products, and butters are high fat. They’re high in good fats (unsaturated fats) and can also be high in bad fats (saturated fats). The fish and oil fats are good, and the bad fats are in butters and dairies. Know that this diet is high carb and high fat and can get out of control.
With this said, my summary is this: add protein to every meal, decrease the processed grains, decrease the dairy sources, and you’ll be good to go. You’ll have a good balance of the right energy sources to keep you from gaining unnecessary fat and will also have good, lean calorie choices. If you’re an athlete, feel free to hike up your carb intake on workout days. If you’re going to drink wine, try your best to keep most of your carbs earlier in the day before you work out (if you do work out).
And remember kids, a glass of wine a day shows sophistication and is good for the heart; a bottle a day will kill you. Enjoy!