This topic has been brought up a few times within this article, so I figured it was time to tackle it head-on. While weight loss is not a goal of either the DASH or Mediterranean diets, it can still be the ultimate goal of your diet. This seems almost counter-intuitive since the Mediterranean diet is so high in fats, but remember, these are good fats you are ingesting. The amount of weight you lose depends on three things: which aspects of the Mediterranean diet you choose to follow, how different your new diet is from your regular diet, and your activity level.
It comes down to this: if you are taking in fewer calories with the new diet over your old habits or you choose to keep the same amount of calories but choose to work off some of them through exercise, then losing weight will not be an issue. Studies do support the assertion that the Mediterranean diet can help you lose weight: one study, in particular, showed that this diet is associated with lower levels of weight gain and less increase in waist circumference.
While we have spent an excruciating amount of time going over the food you can safely consume while sticking to this diet, we have not really touched upon what beverages are approved for ingestion. The most apparent acceptable drink is water. It is suitable for everyone and keeps you hydrated the best. What was previously mentioned was the fact that some amount of red wine is allowed but how much exactly? The recommended amount is one glass a day for women and two glasses a day for men unless there is some underlying health reason why you should not be consuming alcohol.
Other beverages that are safe to have while on the Mediterranean diet are coffee and tea. While high amounts of caffeine are never suitable for anyone, consuming moderate amounts of it causes little to no damage. Remember, you will want to stay away from any drinks that have been sweetened with sugar and also try to avoid fruit juices as they are usually full of sugar. This may seem almost impossible in today’s day and age, but there are plenty of sugar-free options on the shelves.
While exercise may not be a considerable component of the DASH diet, it is positively encouraged in the Mediterranean diet. Well, it is a significant component of the diet. Walking is an excellent place to start if you are not the most active person. In the Mediterranean area, people make walking a part of their everyday life. You will want to increase your activity level as your body sees fit gradually. As long as you are getting up, moving, and working up a sweat (albeit a small sweat), you are effectively burning calories and helping your body get healthy. Some examples of increased exercise activities include Jazzercise and Pilates.
Now that we know exercise is required to stay fit on the Mediterranean diet, it might be a good idea to discuss how much exercise you will need to engage. The end goal is to engage in moderate-intensity activity for two and a half hours each week. Some weeks may be more hectic than others, so try your best to reach this goal, even if you have to take baby steps. You will also want to participate in muscle-strengthening activities at least a few days out of the week. You will want to work out your major muscle groups, including your legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms.