Weight Loss & Diet

Is a Mediterranean Diet Good for Weight Loss? (Sample Menu Included)

Is a Mediterranean Diet Good for Weight Loss?
Natalie Stein

Exercise, Fitness & Nutrition Expert | Lark Health

In this article:

  • A Mediterranean diet is a style of eating. It is not a single diet.
  • A Mediterranean diet is famous for being heart-healthy. It can also help with weight loss. Other health benefits are likely, too.
  • Olive oil may be responsible for some benefits of a Mediterranean diet. Other foods are vegetables, fruit, fish, nuts, and spices.
  • Lark’s weight loss coaching uses many principles of a Mediterranean diet to help establish healthy habits for lasting weight loss.

A Mediterranean diet always seems to be in the news. And the news is consistently good. Research studies find that the Mediterranean diet is healthy and good for weight loss. A review article in European Journal of Public Health points out some benefits of this diet.

US News and World Reports lists a Mediterranean diet as one of the top weight loss diets. It also ranks this eating pattern first for health benefits and being easy to follow.

Here is what we know about this type of eating pattern and how you can use the information for healthy weight loss.

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What Is a Mediterranean Diet?

Notice that we say “a” Mediterranean diet instead of “the” Mediterranean diet. That is because there is no single Mediterranean diet. Instead, the American Heart Association says it is a pattern of eating that is traditional in countries around the Mediterranean Sea. Greece, Italy, and Spain are some countries with components of a traditional Mediterranean diet. 

What Do You Eat on a Mediterranean Diet?

Olive oil is the most famous part of a Mediterranean diet pattern. An article published in Revista espanola publica says it may help with weight loss, not to mention preventing diabetes and cognitive decline. Plus, Mayo Clinic says it can lower heart disease risks. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says olive oil is one of many heart-healthy fats. These are others that you might include on a Mediterranean diet.

  • Nuts and peanuts
  • Canola oil and other non-tropical vegetable oils, such as corn and sesamel
  • Avocados’
  • Fatty fish, such as salmon, herring, tuna, and mackerel

Harvard Medical School shares tips on how to follow a Mediterranean diet.

Eat Regularly Limit
  • Extra-virgin olive oil and other healthy fats
  • Fish and skinless poultry
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Nuts
  • Legumes, or beans, split peas, and lentils
  • Red meat and processed meat
  • Sugar-sweetened beverages and foods
  • Saturated fats, such as from butter or tropical oils such as palm or coconut

These tips can also help.

  • Serving sizes are important. Servings sizes of fats and grains may be smaller than you think.
  • Cook with spices to add flavor to foods without using much salt.
  • Enjoy your meals. Eat slowly and notice the flavors, smells, and textures.
  • Include a salad at most meals to increase vegetables without adding many calories.
  • Most people with lactose intolerance can handle yogurt or cheese instead of milk.
  • Fruit is a healthier dessert than sugar-sweetened items.
  • Keep fresh fruits and vegetables in your home so they are easy to choose.

And finally, relax! Keep it simple! There is no need to make complicated recipes. A piece of salmon with brown rice and baked zucchini brushed with olive oil can be a great dinner.

Sample Meal Plan for a Mediterranean Diet

Ask your healthcare provider before trying a new meal plan.

Sample Day 1 Sample Day 2 Sample Day 3
Scrambled Egg on Toast

1 egg scrambled with mushrooms, spinach, and 1.5 ounces of feta cheese, on 1 slice of whole-grain toast, plus 2 slices of avocado
Plain non-fat Greek yogurt with ¾ cup of peach slices or berries and 1 ounces of chopped nuts
Oatmeal Bowl

½ cup of oats cooked with water, plus 1 sliced apple, 1 ounce of cheddar cheese, and ½ ounce of chopped walnuts
Caprese Salad

2 ounces of sliced mozzarella cheese, 2 teaspoons of olive oil, 1 large sliced tomato, and fresh basil

1 slice of whole-grain toast

1 small apple
Pasta Salad

⅓ cup of cooked whole-grain pasta mixed with 1 tablespoon of diced onion, 2 teaspoons of olive oil, ½ cup of garbanzo beans, 1 cup of chopped cooked vegetables (such as zucchini or broccoli florets), 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, thyme, oregano
Tuna Sandwich

3 ounces of canned tuna (optional mixed with 1 teaspoon of olive oil, diced celery and green onion, dijon mustard, and chopped tomatoes) on 2 slices of whole-grain bread with lettuce and tomato

1 cup of baby carrots with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter

1 orange

3 ounces of salmon roasted in foil with 2 teaspoons of olive oil, lemon juice, chopped basil, diced green onion, minced garlic (or garlic powder), 1 cup of sliced zucchini, bell pepper, or other vegetable, and ½ medium sweet potato in thin slices or strips

Whole-grain pita with tomato sauce, 1 ounce of mozzarella cheese, chopped vegetables, and 3 ounces of cooked fish or chicken.

Salad with mixed greens, 2 teaspoons of olive oil, vinegar, tomatoes, cucumber, and mushroom slices
Mediterranean Tossed Pasta

½ cup of mushrooms, ½ cup of chopped eggplant, 1 cup of spinach leaves, ½ cup of canned Italian tomatoes, oregano, garlic, cooked in 2 teaspoons of olive oil, and tossed with ½ cup of low-fat cottage cheese and ⅓ cup of cooked whole-grain pasta, topped with 1 ounce of parmesan cheese

You can add snacks if needed. You might consider these foods.

  • Fresh fruit
  • Low-fat cheese
  • Air-popped popcorn or brown rice cakes
  • Canned tuna
  • Raw vegetables
  • Nuts and seeds

There are tons of snack ideas here, too!

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A Mediterranean Diet can be a healthy choice for weight loss. And it can be an easy and delicious plan to follow. 

Losing weight can lower your risk for developing type 2 diabetes, and that’s not all. When you lose a few extra pounds, energy levels can increase, cholesterol and blood pressure can improve, and clothes fit better. Best of all is that Lark makes weight loss simple!

Lark doesn’t just know which choices can lead to weight loss. Lark coaches you on how to make good choices that can become habits. With small changes that fit right into your lifestyle, you can drop pounds and lower your risk for type 2 diabetes. Your personal coach is available 24/7 through your smartphone so you can get expert tips, track meals, physical activity, and weight loss. 

The entire program may be available at no cost to you if your health insurer covers it. Click here to find out if you may be eligible for Lark! You could be minutes away from taking the first steps to hitting your weight loss goals and improving health.

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