Mediterranean diet

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Posted by Linda O'Byrne (Atkins Nutritionist)

This article tells you all about the Cambridge Diet, what it is, how it works, what are the advantages and disadvantages, is the Cambridge Diet dangerous and the Cambridge diet experiences.

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What is the Mediterranean Diet?

The name says it all, named after the surrounding Mediterranean sea, the Mediterranean diet originated in countries like Italy and Greece. In the 60s they often ate traditional foods. Researchers found that these people lived very healthy lives, compared to many Westerners, so they were less likely to develop diseases. Mind you, even in these countries, a lot has changed and there are nowadays more unhealthy than traditional foods eaten, as in the Western world.

Mediterranean diet



Did you know that the Mediterranean diet and Atkins have much in common? Atkins works with clear guidelines and has four phases. Learn about the Atkins phases.


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Blue Zones

Worldwide, there are certain places where people are aging slower than average and sometimes even living to 100 years old. These places are called the blue zones. These are not only the countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, but also areas in Japan, California and Costa Rica are among the blue zones. The confusing part is that they are not all exactly eating the same kinds of foods. However, you can see similarities in locally grown fresh fruit and good quality products. There are also other factors that play a part in healthy aging:

  • They naturally have more exercise
  • It is normal to have a daily nap
  • People eat beans and legumes
  • They eat little meat
  • They drink occasionally and usually just wine with meals
  • Often they have religious beliefs
  • Family is considered to be very important
  • People are part of social networks

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The basis of the Mediterranean diet

The Mediterranean diet is very different from country to country or region. Therefore, it is difficult to find a concrete outline of the diet. Below are the most common attributes of a Mediterranean diet:

  • Fresh, local produce of high quality
  • Cooking with olive oil
  • Use commodities such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains, cereals, fish
  • Little processed meat
  • Limiting sugar and processed foods

 Mediterranean diet

What do you mainly eat

  • Vegetables such as broccoli, onions, cauliflower, carrots, sprouts, spinach, cucumber, tomatos
  • Fruits such as avocado, apple, orange, pear, strawberry, grapes, banana, melon, peach, dates and figs
  • Nuts such as walnuts, almonds, macadamia nuts and cashews
  • Seeds such as sunflower, linseed and pumpkin
  • Legumes, such as all kinds of beans, lentils, chickpeas, peanuts
  • Potatoes, like regular potatoes, sweet potatoes and swedes
  • Herbs such as garlic, thyme, oregano, rosemary, basil, mint, cinnamon and pepper
  • Fish, such as salmon, tuna, whitefish, sardines, trout, oysters, mussels and prawns
  • Extra virgin olive oil


Eat less of these foods

  • Poultry, such as chicken, turkey and duck
  • Eggs
  • Cheese, such as mozzarella, blue cheese, brie and parmesan
  • Dairy products such as buttermilk, milk, and yogurt Greek

Occasionally you may also eat red meat such as beef, pork and lamb.

Avoiding eating

  • Products with added sugars, such as soft drinks, juices, candy, cake and icecream
  • Refined grain products such as white bread, white pasta and other fast digesting carbs
  • Trans fats, it can mostly be found in processed foods such as cakes, pasta, ready meals, margarine spreads
  • Processed meats, such as frankfurters, sausage rolls, spare ribs, hamburgers, salami etc.
  • Highly processed foods like diet products or nonfat products

As you can understand from this the focus is on natural and unprocessed products from natural sources.


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What you should drink

As with many diets is also recommended to drink water, tea and black coffee. In addition, followers of the Mediterranean diet often have one glass of red wine per day also promotes health. Keep in mind that you do not drink more than this. If you find it difficult to stick to one glass, it is sensible to completely avoid alcohol. Avoid sugary drinks.


Many of the above foods are also popular on the Atkins diet. Curious about the Atkins food list? Here's everything you can eat on phase one of Atkins.

Mediterranean diet benefits

Weight loss

One of the major benefits of the Mediterranean diet is that you can lose weight. It is a sustainable diet that you can maintain in the long term. The diet is very adaptable too so you can opt for more carbohydrates, less protein or something in between.

Reduces the risk of lifestyle diseases

Several studies have shown that the Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of several chronic diseases, including heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Cardiovascular disease is often caused by an unhealthy lifestyle and following the Mediterranean diet may reduce the risk of these diseases. The same is true for Type 2 diabetes. This form of diabetes is caused by eating too many sugary and refined carbohydrates over a period of time.This means your body makes much insulin to process it. Over a period of time your body can no longer respond to insulin so you get type 2 diabetes. Because in the Mediterranean diet advises to avoid these fast burning carbohydrates and sugars is less likely you will get type 2 diabetes.

It improves overall health

Because the Mediterranean diet includes lots of plant based foods such as vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, you get lots of antioxidants. These antioxidants are good for our bodies and have a positive effect on the body's cells and even have anti-carcinogenic effects.


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Mediterranean diet cons

Outdated information

Studies on the Mediterranean diet ,with positive results, are from the sixties and therefore very outdated. In the meantime, much has changed and the information is no longer completely up to date. Also around the Mediterranean Sea, there are many areas that have become more unhealthy and now eat more processed foods. This increases the number of people with obesity and diabetes even in these areas.

Wrong interpretation

Confusion has arisen because some countries, such as Italy and Greece, eat more carbohydrates in the form of pastas, pizzas, sandwiches and other products packed with sugar. This is partly due to tourism.

There is not one clear directive

Because there are many different branches within the Mediterranean diet, this may be this very confusing if you want to start this diet. If you plan to start it is important to read about the diet first. Because of the aspects to the diet, it makes it harder to follow.



Health Effects of the Mediterranean diet

The Mediterranean diet still provides a number of health benefits. Below we list them for you:

Valuable nutrients

As previously explained, you get many valuable nutrients. Because of the combination of healthy foods, you get a variety of antioxidants, minerals and vitamins to help keep diseases at bay.

Mediterranean diet transition

The Mediterranean diet can also help in reducing menopausal symptoms, as is the case with other diets where you lose weight. Women who follow this diet experience fewer hot flashes and sweats than women who eat a lot of saturated fats and sugars. The Mediterranean herb Sage helps also against hot flashes and excessive sweating.


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Mediterranean diet recipes (Atkins friendly too!)

To give you an idea of the kind of recipes you follow on the Mediterranean diet, you will find below several Mediterranean diet recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Mediterranean diet breakfast:

  • Breakfast kale shake
  • Nut bread


Mediterranean diet lunch:

  • Caesar Salad
  • Low carbohydrate salad bowl


Mediterranean diet dinner:

  • Pasta with courgette
  • Chicken dish

Mediterranean diet


More inspiration for breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner? 

Atkins recipes

Mediterranean diet weekly menu

Are you still curious about how a Mediterranean diet weekly menu looks? Below we have a weekly menu.

Basically , on the Mediterranean diet, you have three meals a day. If you are hungry between meals you can choose from the following snacks:

  • Handful of nuts
  • A piece of fruit
  • Handful of berries or grapes
  • Greek yoghurt
  • Sliced ​​apple with almond butter



Mediterranean diet and the Pioppi diet

The Mediterranean diet and the diet Pioppi have many similarities. Below we will show the differences. Within the Pioppi diet:

  • You will avoid refined carbohydrates
  • Eating saturated fat is allowed
  • Intermittent fasting is part of the diet



Mediterranean diet vs. Atkins

The Mediterranean Diet and the Atkins diet have many similarities. Why would you choose to do Atkins? Atkins gives more guidance regarding the quantities needed to achieve your target weight and maintain it over the long term. Because whole grains and legumes are allowed in large amounts on the Mediterranean diet, it still contains many carbohydrates may still have a negative effect on your blood sugar.