Mediterranean Diet for Women
Mediterranean Diet is diet suitable for women of any age due to many benefits of such nutrition - rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, healthy fats (omega-3, CLA etc.), complex carbohydrates, animal and plant based protein...
Mediterranean Diet is not a vegan or vegetarian diet. When compared with some 'meat' and similar diets, meat is not eaten so often, but other protein rich food sources are eaten in practically every meal:
- organic (omega-3) eggs,
- low fat and cottage cheese,
- yogurt and Greek yogurt,
- fish and poultry,
- fruits, vegetables and grains.
Vegetables, fruits, whole grain products are great sources of complex carbohydrates. In classic Mediterranean Diet, carbohydrates are consumed in larger quantities than it is recommended today due to less physical activities in modern lifestyle. Nonetheless, carb sources like whole grain pasta, couscous, potatoes and similar are not excluded, just the amounts are reduced. If you have desk job, endomorph body type, these types of foods are very very limited - even excluded.
Plants as protein sources
Plants as protein sources are often neglected (except by vegans, of course), but on Mediterranean Diet you are going to consume at least 30-40g of protein from plants per day. And this protein is going to be consumed in 4-7 meals, always combined with protein from animal foods. If your goal is, for example, to consume 2g of protein per 1kg of your bodyweight (1g per 1 pound of your bodyweight) and you are 60kg heavy person, than 40g of plant protein is around one third of your aimed daily protein intake. And that is not something to neglect.
Consuming leafy and green vegetables combined with various beans, one creates meals that are very voluminous, provide constant flow of nutrients and energy when digested and keep you satiated for long period of time. If you are on a diet and want to lose some weight (body fats not just body weight!), consume foods that are both very voluminous and very low in calories - in order to lose weight, you have to burn more calories than you consume..
Energy needs vary from day to day. It is not the same to have gym workout combined with 1h walking and not having any kind of physical activity - thus calories vary from day to day. Best way to organize your nutrition is to increase your carbohydrates on days when physical activities are high and decrease them when you are not physically active. Good starting point on low calorie and low carbohydrate days is around 50g of carbs per day. This amount will enable you to organize your nutrition with ease - all carbs will come from vegetables and from some fruits, while you will stay away from ketosis. On high(er) carbohydrates days, you will consume more carbs around your workouts, in order to have plenty of energy for planned workouts and to promote body repair and regeneration after workouts.
For more information about cycling carbs (recommended even on Mediterranean Diet), please check Carbohydrate Cycling.
Best Diet For Women?
What is the best diet for women? Well, it is like asking what is the best exercise to lose weight. There are many answers and all of them could be equally both right and wrong.
We are all different, not only in terms of gender - we differ in age, weight, body type, body composition, eating and other habits, religion, culture, goals, job/school etc. So, what is good for you, doesn't have to be good for me. Anyway, it is shown in many examples that Mediterranean Diet, cycling carbs or not, promote overall health and well being. If you are careful about your calories, this type of diet will even help you lose fat and lower your body weight healthy way. Mediterranean Diet is also recommended for women trying to conceive, are pregnant or are trying to get in shape after pregnancy. Why is Mediterranean Diet 'so good'? Because:
- one consumes plenty of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals,
- plenty of fibers promote health of not only digestive system, but also lowers LDL cholesterol and improves LDL/HDL cholesterol ratio,
- complex carbs provide constant energy, without leaving you 'burned out'
- protein help your body repair and regenerate (to simplify things, of course)
- healthy fats from fish, fish oils, organic eggs, nuts, olive oil etc improves health of skin, hair, nails, joints, arteries, various organs etc.
Mediterranean Diet is not a spartan kind of diet, nor you are eating fish soaked in olive oil all day long. You are advised to be careful about foods you are eating and the amounts you are eating. Cheat meal here and there can only help you in achieving your goals and having Mediterranean Diet as a lifestyle. Want some wine for dinner? OK, have a glass of wine here and there - but that 'glass of wine here and there' means 0.2 - 0.3l of white or red wine once or twice per week, preferably with some fish, lemon, extra virgin olive oil and plenty of green and leafy vegetables ... If you are trying to lose weight, OK, have that glass of wine, but forget everything that contain carbs except vegetables. That means that for that meal you are not going to eat whole grain bread, whole grain pasta, potatoes etc.
Everything should be balanced. And if you like wines like blackberry wine (try to find one from wild blackberries), you will do yourself much more good than bad consuming such wines - occasionally.
Supplements for Women
I have said it many times - real food is real food. Same goes about supplements when eating according to Mediterranean Diet. Unfortunately, we don't have luxury of eating always on time and always eating what we want.
So, to stay away from fast foods and similar unhealthy foods, feel free to have Meal Replacement Powder (MRP) shake here and there. Be careful about your macros and you will do fine. On the other hand, whatever supplement companies say, MRPs are great, but they can't replace proper meal entirely - even if you take MRP with 'greens', with multivitamin and/or multimineral tablet, with omega-3 pill, with CLA pill etc. Again, MRPs are great, but instead of powder with some pills, I prefer to eat, for example, few grilled sardines with spinach and some olive oil and few drops of lemon ...
Whey protein is great source of fast digesting protein with high BV and PDCAAS. It should be used only around workouts and maybe in various smoothies mixed with foods that will slow it's digestion rate - mix it with fruits, cottage cheese, peanut butter and similar foods.
Take other supplements only if you need them. For example, Joint Support Supplements promote repair and regeneration of injured joints and help healthy joints stay healthy. But, Mediterranean Diet contain plenty of the same ingredients that are also very beneficial for joint health (among many other benefits).
Organizing Nutrition on Mediterranean Diet
Losing fats (again, losing fats, not just losing weight) is a mind game. Before you change your body, you have to change your mind - and this doesn't happen over night. If you want to get from point A to point B, you have to use methods used on point B - if you don't change anything (your nutrition, your physical activities etc), don't expect any changes, at least not for better.
We have already said that nutrients vary from day to day - most often people cycle carbs, but also amounts of protein, fats and fibers vary.
During the day, it is important to know how to put together meals that are suitable for you and your needs. Generally:
- most carbs are eaten during the breakfast,
- as day goes by, carbohydrates are reduced and fats are increased,
- proteins (from both plant and animal protein sources) are eaten in every meal,
- every meal requires fibers for better digestion, except PWM,
- eat at least 4-5 (or more) small meals - this will accelerate your metabolism. Also, it is much easier to be hungry 4 times per day for maybe one hour, than twice per day but for two hours.
- if you have time, eat your fruits as snacks 30-60 minutes before mail meals. Fruits will make you feel less hungry, they are loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fibers etc. Just avoid fruits with plenty of carbohydrates (if you are trying to lose weight) or use moderation.
- when cooking, prepare several meals and keep them in the plastic hermetic pots in the fridge for later use.
Example of the Mediterranean Diet meal plan for working person - you can adjust amounts according to your own needs:
This is very simple smoothie to make: just put single banana in suitable plastic pot (shaker will do fine), a handful of strawberries and some low fat or cottage cheese. Add water and mix with hand blender.
If you want, you can eat few almonds after that to increase healthy fats content. This meal will make you satiated for long period of time.
For this snack you can have some kind of fruit or even better, if you have time, make yourself a fruit salad.
Kiwi and orange is just one of many possible combinations - when you make such salad, if you have around, add some berries too (for example, I like whole blackberries to mix in such salads).
These salads are loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fibers and complex carbs.
This sandwich is made at home or if you have a kitchen where your work, you can make it there.
Main ingredients are whole grain bread, canned tuna, some green olives - complex carbs, mix of animal and plant protein, healthy fats, plenty of fibers.
This snack should be consumed at the end of your working hours. It will help you 'reset' yourself and endure last 30-60 minutes at work :o)
In this example, I mentioned strawberries, but you can have any fruit you feel like it, except bananas or any similar fruit with plenty, relatively simple carbs.
This meal is combination of fish (animal protein, healthy fats, etc) with vegetable mix (complex carbs, fibers etc) and olive oil. When I make such meal, I always prepare food for several meals, especially:
- hake fillets - which I often prepare for lunch at home, dinner at home and for hake fillet sandwich next morning,
- mixed vegetables - which I often prepare for both lunch and dinner
Eat as much vegetables as you like - for lunch add single tablespoon of olive oil, but be careful about your fats intake. Feel free to use as much lemon juice as you like (fish, vegetables). No bread, no pasta, no rice, no potatoes etc. If you are ectomorph, or you have workout in the evening, have a slice of whole grain bread or potato salad or some kind of similar carbs source - again, watch out for your macro's intake.
Dinner at home, for example, at 20:30
Same as lunch, except you should lower amount of hake fillets (with one tablespoon of olive oil), add some 150 - 200g of cottage cheese, eat vegetables as much as you please and as dessert have few nuts (almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts etc.)
Plenty of cooking? Not really, just try to make several meals at once and use kitchen appliances that have timers, so that you don't have to be around while they are doing their job - steam cookers, microwaves etc.
Meal Replacement Powders (MRPs) can help, but again, real food is real food...
Working Out On Mediterranean Diet
Mediterranean Diet is a lifestyle, so one has to function properly eating this way, otherwise there is something wrong with your diet. One of the activities is, of course, working out. Great thing about Mediterranean Diet is, not only that you can workout even on low calorie Mediterranean Diet, but you will probably feel better and have more energy than on some other diet.
On Mediterranean Diet you consume more than enough protein, fats, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants etc to promote repair and regeneration of every tissue stressed during workouts, while complex carbs provide constant energy for proper workouts. And feeling lightheaded and week is really rare on Mediterranean Diet - if you do feel like that, check your macros and increase your carbs before workouts (carb cycling, carb cycling!).
In the long run, intake of fresh vegetables like various salads and fruits, especially various berries (strawberries, cranberries, blueberries, blackberries etc.) and citrus (lemon, orange etc.) will promote immune system health and generally, you will feel better and healthier.
Proper workouts should stimulate body to keep muscles even when lowering calories below maintenance levels and even stimulate body to increase muscle mass and lose fats. Smaller, more numerous meals send 'message' to the body that there are plenty of foods around and that there is no reason for body to store reserve energy (as fats) for 'rainy days' - this is, of course, simplification of processes in human body, but it describe in general what is going on under our skin ...
Workouts are not just gym workouts - you can/should walk, run, go cycling, play football/soccer, basketball etc. But, gym workouts are the best for planned stressing of your muscles and for sculpting of your body.
You should join the gym and start working out - if you are woman, avoid those 'girly' machines and train like guys do. Your hormonal picture is totally different when compared with guys and you will not gain 'bulky muscles' over night - it is very hard even for guys to do (with much higher testosterone levels), even when they try to.
Zsuzsanna Toldi is Hungarian fitness model. She lives in city of Debrecen and works as fitness model and trainer.
She speaks English, French and Italian.
More on Zsuzsanna Toldi and her accomplishments can be found on her Facebook Page.
All photos of Zsuzsanna Toldi were used with her explicit permission and can not be reused without her approval.