In today’s health-conscious world, we hear many different diets people follow. People are leading routine lives while also pursuing a planned diet. Planning your meals can be very beneficial. In addition, when you plan your meals, it becomes easier to track how much you consume. By sticking to a healthy meal plan, you can make sure you’re eating the appropriate foods in the right amounts. Out of the various meal plans, a Mediterranean Meal Plan is one of the best low-carb meal plans you can follow. It is based on a Mediterranean diet.
It contains food groups from a traditional diet that evolved over thousands of years through people living around the Mediterranean Sea. In 2022 the Mediterranean diet ranked as the supreme diet after being reviewed by the U.S. News’ team of expert panellists. A low carb Mediterranean meal plan is like a cherry on top of all the benefits. Weight loss, heart and brain health, cancer prevention, and diabetes prevention and control are all possible health benefits of the Mediterranean diet. In addition, you can lose weight while avoiding chronic illness if you stick to it.
Starting with the Mediterranean Meal Plan
Even though Mediterranean diets differ from nation to nation, they have a few things in common. For example, they all emphasise fresh, locally sourced, minimally processed meals. It is important to note that there are several different Mediterranean meal plans. However, most of them contain a lot of fresh seafood, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, and olive oil.
It is simple to convert a regular Mediterranean meal to a low-carb one. For example, Bread, cereals, and starchy vegetables are not often available in the low-carb version of the meal. In addition, a low carb version contains only low-sugar fruits like berries.
A low-carb Mediterranean meal integrates two prominent dietary patterns. The first one is carb restriction, and the second is Mediterranean-style fresh meals. While you must avoid higher-carb foods like bread, rice, potatoes and high-sugar fruit, you may still eat plenty of tasty proteins, vegetables, and healthy fats at every meal.
Let’s explore an elaborate, easy-to-follow, low-carb Mediterranean meal plan that will keep you healthy and satisfy your taste buds!
Foods To Include in Mediterranean Meal Plans
The Mediterranean diet is high in nutritious plant foods and low in meat and dairy products. However, consuming fish, seafood, and poultry at least twice a week is recommended. Here are some of the many foods that you can consume.
- Fruits: Blueberries, cranberries, strawberries, apples, pears, fresh dates, figs, grapes, melons, and peaches
- Vegetables: Cauliflowers, tomatoes, spinach, onions, carrots, broccoli, kale, cucumbers, brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, and turnips
- Legumes: Kidney beans, cannellini beans, chickpeas, beans, peas, lentils, fava beans, pulses, and peanuts
- Nuts and Seeds: Pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, almond, walnuts, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, cashews, unsweetened peanut butter, pine nuts, pistachios, chestnuts, sesame seeds, and chia seeds
- Seafood: Mackerel, crab, sea bass, shellfish, mussels, salmon, sardines, trout, tuna, shrimp, oysters, clams, trout, tuna, and lobster
- Whole Grains: Quinoa, oatmeal, brown rice, rye, barley, corn, and buckwheat
- Poultry: Chicken, duck, turkey, geese, and eggs
- Dairy: Yoghurt, Greek yoghurt, cheese, and milk
Read more Keto Rules: A Simple Guide for Beginners
One of the benefits of eating Mediterranean-style is that you can layer flavours with all-natural herbs and spices, elevating your meals. At the same time, you can provide nourishment. For example, you can give delectable flavours to your dishes by adding pepper, rosemary, garlic, basil, mint, sage, nutmeg or cinnamon. In addition, it is best to use healthy fats like extra virgin oil, olive oil or avocado oil for cooking purposes.
But there are some foods that you should limit in your meals. Eating the right stuff and the correct quantity is very important to obtain positive results from this meal plan.
Drinks and Beverages that You can Include in Your Meal Plan
You should avoid sugar-sweetened beverages, such as soda or sweet tea, as they are rich in added sugar. Fruit juice is acceptable in moderation, but you’re better off eating entire fruits to benefit from fibre. So try to squeeze out as much fresh fruit juice as possible and consume it without adding sugar or ice cream.
Water is going to be your best friend while following this meal plan. So drink plenty of water and keep yourself hydrated all day long. You can make it even healthier with a touch of fresh lemon, drink still or sparkling water. You can also add a dash of milk or cream to your coffee or tea. But be wary of using a lot of extra sugar or cream.
A Mediterranean diet also includes moderate alcohol, mainly red wine. As part of Mediterranean culture, many individuals drink red wine with their meals. Choose dry red wine over sweet red wine if you wish to drink alcohol on a low-carb Mediterranean diet. However, it is entirely optional, and certain people should avoid wine, such as pregnant women and those who have trouble drinking in moderation.
Evidence suggests that red wine may also lessen various health risk factors. However, you need to consume it in moderation to reap its benefits. It especially helps with cardiovascular health. However, for a healthy life, you should avoid consuming alcohol.
Routine Foods in a Low-Carb Mediterranean Meal
A wholesome low-carb Mediterranean diet should have the following routine:
- Fish and seafood: 2-3 times a week
- Vegetarian dinners: 2-3 times a week
- Poultry and lean meat: 1-2 times a week
- Red meat: On occasion and maximum once 8- 10 days
Low-Carb Mediterranean Meal Plan
Now coming to a sample meal plan, the following are some of the dishes that you could try:
Berry-Almond Smoothie Bowl.
Combine berries, frozen pear, and almonds in a blender. To make it crunchier, top it with toasted nuts or oats. Or Date and Nut Oatmeal. You can naturally sweeten these overnight oats with chopped dates, cinnamon and balance with mixed nuts. Or Egg Muffins, scramble or Omelette (gluten-free and low carb). You can also add vegetables like spinach, broccoli, and other greens.
Baked Chicken with Mushroom, Spinach and Brussels Sprouts Or Parsley-Garlic Salmon with Roasted Broccoli/Cauliflower and Onions. Serve it with couscous as a side dish for a complete meal. Or Sweet-Potato Hash with Asparagus, Chickpeas, Feta, and Poached Eggs. Add spices like paprika and parsley to make it more delicious. Or Cauliflower Pizza with Pesto and Grilled Veggies. Top with nutrient-dense grilled vegetables, eggs, Greek yogurt, and savory herbs and spices over an almond flour pizza crust.
Herby Mediterranean Fish with Spinach & Mushrooms. Baked marinated Fish tossed with spinach and mushroom sauce will stir your taste buds and fill your tummy. Or Mediterranean Salad with Balsamic Chicken. Fresh bread, balsamic chicken, chickpeas, and an abundance of crisp, high-fiber peppers, zucchini, and tomatoes will satisfy you completely. Or Greek Salad Tacos.
Berries with nuts OR Milk or yogurt with chia seeds OR Yoghurt with Apple/Pear
Foods that You Should Avoid
- Processed and Canned Foods: Fast foods, flavoured breakfast cereals, noodles, chips, sausage rolls, pastries, and microwave meals or ready to eat meals
- Trans Fat: Fried foods, cream, pies, doughnuts, and margarine spreads
- Sugar: Refined white sugar, soda, cold drinks, candies, ice cream, sugar syrup, and baked goods
- Refined Grains: White bread, pasta, chips, tortillas, and crackers
- Refined Oils: refined Palm oil, coconut oil, grapeseed oil, cottonseed oil, canola oil, and soybean oil
Mediterranean Diet vs Other Diets
You may have come across several diets while investigating an optimal and healthy diet for yourself, such as the Keto diet, Mediterranean diet, and Flexitarian diet. People, geographical region, and food availability may influence choosing a proper diet. Selecting an eating plan that fits your lifestyle, promotes good health, is long-term sustainable, and encourages you to pay attention to your body is vital. It is also crucial to have a strategy that allows you to maintain your enjoyment of eating while also consuming ethnic foods.
While many people associate the Mediterranean diet with being heavy in fat due to olive oil and nuts, the keto diet contains significantly more fat (approximately 70%). In addition, there is a severe limitation of carbohydrates on the keto diet. Thus, entire grains, legumes, and most fruits are off-limits. These stringent limits can make meeting nutritional demands challenging.
All food groups come into the flexitarian diet, a flexible vegetarian diet. However, animal proteins are limited. It’s pretty similar to the Mediterranean diet as it emphasises a lot of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats.
The best part is that you may customise Mediterranean meals to suit your needs. For example, if you don’t want to have seafood but enjoy starch-free bread, crusts and olive oil, start putting together great Mediterranean-inspired meals with foods you like. The scarcity of carb-rich fruits and vegetables is especially concerning, as these foods reduce the risk of stroke, dementia, and some malignancies. However, if you get the majority of your carbohydrates from vegetables and focus on eating healthier fats, this type of meal plan can work for many people in the long run.
There are ongoing studies on the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet, and the takeaway is that it is not a magic pill. It is not about a single food that has specific properties. It is all about eating a simple, plant-based diet rich in nutrients and based on regional, local cuisine. Altogether, it is all about relishing the flavours of foods and getting the most out of what you have.
A balanced diet should offer various options, few limits, and no lengthy grocery lists of sometimes costly speciality items. It should benefit your heart, bones, brain, and colon, benefiting your waistline. It should also be something you can do for a long time. This type of diet will not provide you with a quick remedy. They can, however, provide you with a lifetime of tasty, healthful options that are excellent for you as a whole.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. Can the Mediterranean diet be low carb?
A. Yes, you can easily modify a Mediterranean diet to a low carb diet. There is a restriction of grains, carbohydrate-rich fruits, bread, sweets, pasta, starchy vegetables, processed and fried meals on this diet. However, you may still eat plenty of tasty proteins, green vegetables, and healthy fats at every meal.
Q. Can you do Keto and Mediterranean diet together?
A. The keto diet appears to be more restrictive than the Mediterranean diet on paper. However, it has similar drop-out rates in dietary intervention trials as other diets. Therefore, it could mean that combining keto and the Mediterranean diet can lower LDL cholesterol levels, protecting us from heart disease even further.
Q. Can I lose weight on the Mediterranean diet?
A. The traditional Mediterranean diet is not a weight-loss regimen. However, it may be a realistic and long-term way to lose weight and keep it off. The diet emphasises healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and whole grains while avoiding processed foods and added sugar.
Q. What is the difference between a low carb and Mediterranean diet?
A. A low-carb diet concentrates on proteins and non-starchy veggies in general. Therefore, grain, legumes, fruits, bread, sweets, pasta, starchy vegetables, and nuts and seeds are often limited in a low-carb diet. On the other hand, the Mediterranean diet still encourages the intake of legumes, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and low-sugar fruits.
Q. Is the Mediterranean diet healthier than Keto?
A. The Mediterranean diet has been shown to improve heart health and general longevity. At the same time, the keto diet may help you lose weight quickly. However, it is not a healthy eating plan in the long run. The keto diet offers rapid weight loss, whereas the Mediterranean diet promotes a more gradual and healthy weight loss.
Q. Which is Better, Atkins or Mediterranean diet?
A. The Mediterranean diet is more beneficial than a low-fat diet in preventing heart disease. However, the Atkins diet is likely to be even more effective in some instances because it influences blood lipid levels better than both the Mediterranean and low-fat diets.
Q. What foods are not allowed on the Mediterranean diet?
A. Refined grains, such as white bread, white pasta, and white flour pizza dough, are restricted in the Mediterranean diet. Also, you should not have trans fats present in margarine and other processed meals. Furthermore, foods with added sugars, such as pastries, sodas, and candies, should be avoided.