One of the beautiful side effects of following a Mediterranean diet is weight loss or healthy weight maintenance. Consider it a “side effect” because this type of diet is not your typical restrictive meal plan you may hear about in the media. It’s not a quick fix (that doesn’t exist, by the way), nor will you feel deprived when eating like the people in the Mediterranean do.

Instead, you’ll reap all the benefits of nutritious foods and enjoy your meals and your lifestyle, all while reducing your risk for obesity and promoting, as research also shows, a smaller waistline. Here’s why the Mediterranean diet helps with weight loss and healthy-weight maintenance:

1

The Mediterranean diet focuses on real foods.

When you swap out less processed and packaged foods and swap in whole, nutritious, real foods in your diet, you get better nutrition without the junk. The Mediterranean diet is a plant-based diet with a strong focus on fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds — the good stuff!

These foods are chockfull of fiber, vitamins, and minerals, all of which help keep you satisfied on fewer calories than the processed stuff has and are correlated with lower weight. That way, you’re better able to keep your portions and calories in check. At the same time, you’re ditching fast foods, foods high in sugar, and high fat meats and dairy, which contribute to obesity.

2

The Mediterranean diet focuses on healthy fats.

The use of olive oil as the main source of fat, paired with omega-3 fatty acids from fish, nuts, and seeds, has been shown to have a protective effect on weight gain. Fat, in general, ensures you feel satisfied from the foods you’re eating instead of feeling deprived. And that deprived feeling is the main reason why many “diets” fail in the first place.

3

The Mediterranean diet focuses on activity.

Although not technically part of the diet, activity is a huge part of the Mediterranean lifestyle. Instead of mass transit, the people of the Mediterranean walk and cycle more to get to where they need to be. Any amount of activity you do is better than nothing, but aim to be moderately active at least 30 minutes per day.

Doing so not only helps your weight but also helps you avoid or reduce abdominal fat, which is correlated with a higher risk for disease. Getting active also clears your head and reduces stress, which may make it easier for you to stick to healthy habits all around!