Losing weight seems to be a headache for a large percentage of the population. Very often people trying to lose weight quickly are desperate and turn to alternatives that are very likely to cause problems.
At first it must be diagnosed by a specialist if there is indeed a weight problem/issue.
The most popular tool used by dieticians is the body mass index (BMI), which can assess the size of the problem. Normal limits on values for healthy adults are 18.5 to 25.0 kg/m2. People with a BMI between 25-30 kg/m2 are categorized as overweight, with a BMI between 30-35 kg/m2 are in the obese category, while values > 35 kg/m2 define the category of morbid obesity. BMI is easy to calculate by everyone as follows: BMI = weight / height2. Weight must be calculated in kilograms while height in metres. Depending on the category we belong to, we can set an achievable weight goal.
Having already talked about the value of the Mediterranean diet and its effectiveness in weight loss, we can focus on some key points that can help with weight loss effort.
1. Check out your portions. Mediterranean diet always suggests variety of foods without excluding any food group from your diet. However it states to be vigilant in the quantity and frequency of food we consume. Therefore start serving 2/3 of the portion that you use to serve.
Extra tip: change the size of the dishes you use. A smaller dish seems fuller even with a smaller portion of food Instead of a huge dish which needs two servings of food to fill it. And of course we always feel more satisfied with the picture of a full dish.
2. Put vegetables in your plate. A key feature of the Mediterranean diet is the increased consumption of vegetables. Always prefer fresh seasonal vegetables, which are rich source of vitamins, minerals and fiber. Raw, cooked or roasted should always be an indispensable part of your meal. Try to serve vegetables at every meal and ideally they should cover half the plate.
Extra tip: start your meal by eating your salad first and then go to the main meal. This way you will feel saturation sooner and will be easier to sate with a smaller portion of food.
3. Use olive oil. Mediterranean diet is known for recommending the use of olive oil instead of other fats like butter and margarine. Olive oil is very rich in monounsaturated fat and has proven positive effects in our health, while simultaneously enhances the flavour of food.
Extra tip: use it in small quantities because a teaspoon gives us 45 calories. Ideal for cooking, use a 1 tablespoon for each portion of food you are preparing.
4. Get to know fruits. Fruits are an essential part of our daily diet. Mediterranean diet suggests consuming 3-4 servings of fruit per day. Fruits may be fresh or dried. They are usually used as an intermediate snack, because the absorption of their vitamins is better when consumed on an empty stomach.
Extra tip: if you are among people who are bored or neglect fruits, put a little imagination and try some alternatives. Prepare a freshly squeezed juice, a fruit salad, combine them with yogurt, with honey and cinnamon, with nuts, combine them with milk for a milkshake, add them to your salad or even food.
5. Prefer fish. Fish is an important source of protein, but unlike red meat does not contain “bad” animal fat. In contrast it is very rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are beneficial to the cardiovascular system. People of Mediterranean clearly have the advantage of easy access to seafood, but it is worth following their example, even if it seems a little hard to find the fish you like. Mediterranean diet defines to consume fish 2-3 times per week and preferably the so-called fatty fish such as salmon, sardines, and mackerel.
Extra tip: omega-3 fatty acids contained in fish have a mild antidepressant effect; therefore fish consumption can help you improve your mood.
6. Hydrate yourself. All recommendations for food and portions are substantial, but do not forget the importance of drinking adequate fluids during the day. The recommendations of Mediterranean diet indicate to consume 8-10 glasses of water per day. But beware of liquids that have “hidden” calories. Very often people drink juices, milk, soft drinks assuming that because they are liquids they do not have calories. However one glass of juice equals 120 calories and clearly much more in case it contains sugar. Therefore, prefer water that will quench your thirst without adding any unnecessary calories.
Extra tip:if a glass of water seems a large amount to drink at once, try using a bottle of water. It has been proven easier to consume a bottle of water compared to two glasses of water. Therefore it is a good idea to always carry with you a bottle of water. Drinking even a sip each time it will empty before you realize it.
7. Exercise. Mediterranean diet can help us achieve very significant results. An achievable goal is the loss of about 1 kilogram (2,2 lb) per week by having adherence to the Mediterranean diet, therefore a loss of about 4 kilograms (~9 lb) per month, on average. However, if some kind of exercise is added to your daily programme in addition to Mediterranean diet, you can achieve even better results and more obvious changes in your body.
Extra tip: if the gym does not fit into your mindset, do not use it as an excuse, there many other alternatives, swimming, dancing, bicycle, tennis and many other sports. If you don’t have free time, don’t worry. There is always a solution. Even a moderate intensity walking for 40-60′, three or four times per week is beneficial for the body.
8. Schedule your meals. Try not to let your stomach empty for many hours. Use even a small snack between meals and try not to stay more than three hours on an empty stomach. This will activate your metabolism to work faster and you will be able to regulate your hunger easier at subsequent meals.
Extra tip: make sure you always have available some healthy snacks, in order to avoid other options high in calories at the difficult time that hunger starts. Unsalted nuts, cereal bars, dried fruit, unsweetened crackers are options that you may have in the car, in a desk drawer or even carry with you.