How To Get Enough Protein On Mediterranean Diet

Prioritize Fresh Fruits And Vegetables

Plant-based Protein – How to get enough protein on a plant-based diet

Fruits and veggies are fundamental to the Mediterranean diet. Fruits and veggies are filled with micronutrients like fiber, vitamins, minerals, and polyphenols. The fiber in fruits in vegetables is crucial for promoting gut health, as well as liver and brain health. Vitamin E and vitamin C are potent antioxidant vitamins found in a variety of fruits and veggies that support optimal immune system function as well as liver repair. Polyphenols in fruits and vegetables like flavonoids help protect against oxidative stress in all the cells throughout the body, including the liver. Liver cells affected by the fatty liver disease are particularly prone to oxidative stress, which inhibits normal cellular functions.

Vegetarian Mediterranean Diet: Is It Healthy

The vegetarian Mediterranean is completely healthy because it encourages the consumption of all plant food sources, as well as small to moderate amounts of low-fat dairy. When consuming a vegetarian or vegan diet, it is critical not to eliminate any key sources of nutrients. For example, a vegetarian Paleo diet wouldnt supply ideal quantities of nutrients, since it essentially eliminates all whole grains.

To follow a vegetarian Mediterranean diet for optimal health, its important to make sure you get enough essential amino acids from the foods you eat. Our bodies require a dietary intake of nine essential amino acids since we are unable to synthesize them. If you are cutting out fish and chicken as protein sources, it may be necessary to slightly increase your intake of high-quality dairy. Low-fat and nonfat dairy products are complete sources of protein that provide all essential amino acids that we need in optimal ratios. Excellent sources of protein from dairy include low-fat, low-sodium mozzarella cheese, Greek yogurt, milk, and whey protein.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Not all liquid oils are the same. Many nutritionists and health experts recommend that your first choice be extra virgin olive oil.

Extra virgin olive oil contains mainly monounsaturated fat in the form of oleic acid, along with high amounts of antioxidants both of which researchers say can help reduce biomarkers of inflammation.

A 2020 study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that individuals who consumed half a tablespoon or more of extra virgin olive oil per day had a 14% lower risk of cardiovascular disease and an 18% decrease in coronary heart disease risk. Replacing five grams per day of other fats with olive oil also lowered the risk of total cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease by 5% to 7%.

My favorite way to incorporate extra virgin olive oil is to drizzle a small amount over vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower or carrots before roasting them in the oven.

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What Fully Mediterranean Is All About

Its pretty simple: the more you cook, the healthier you live.

At Fully Mediterranean, our mission is to get people back into the kitchen to achieve lifelong health and to have fun while doing it!

It is time to think fully about wellness. The Mediterranean diet is a sustainable and holistic way of eating that incorporates healthy food, quality time with friends & family, regular movement and mindful living. We encourage and empower you to nourish each of these areas of your life.

What Is The Mediterranean Diet

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The Mediterranean diet is based on how people in several countries in the Mediterranean Basin eat, particularly Italy and Greece.

Keys gathered data from both of these countries for the Seven Countries Study, and found that their diets largely revolved around whole grains, olive oil, and wine, with varying amounts and types of seafood, beans, fruits, and vegetables.

In 1993, the Harvard School of Public Health and a nonprofit organization called Oldways endorsed Keys work by publishing a Mediterranean-style food pyramid:

As you can see, the Mediterranean diet involves eating a lot of . . .

  • Fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel, tilapia, cod, etc.
  • Fresh and cooked vegetables like bell peppers, cucumbers, leafy greens, carrots, etc.
  • Whole grains such as barley, oats, quinoa, and whole grain bread
  • Legumes such as chickpeas, lentils, and kidney, black, and pinto beans
  • Nuts like almonds, cashews, pistachios, and walnuts
  • Seeds like flax, sesame, and pumpkin
  • Fresh fruits like strawberries, apples, grapes, oranges, cherries, and berries
  • Olive oil and other sources of monounsaturated fats like olives and avocado
  • Herbs and spices like garlic, oregano, basil, rosemary, sage, mint, etc.

Eating some . . .

  • Refined grains like breakfast cereal, energy bars, and pastries
  • Trans fat of any kind

Mindful eating might sound a bit woo-woo to you, but it was a common denominator among all of the cultures that enjoyed long lives and robust health into old age in the Seven Countries Study.

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Protein On A Vegetarian Diet

The Spruce / Madelyn Goodnight

A genuine deficit of protein is difficult to achieve so although vegetarians and vegans generally dont have anything to worry about in this regard, its still good to know what your best sources of protein are. This is especially true because these foods also pack many vital micronutrients. Infact, research shows that this may be a more relevant question in regards to maintaining good health on a vegetarian or vegan diet. For example, iron is abundant in spinach but its far less easily absorbed by the body than if it were to come from meat. From a strictly culinary perspective, high protein plant foods can also fill the texture and flavor gap we often crave from meat and animal products. Expand both your knowledge and palate by incorporating any of these foods into your diet.

High Protein Mediterranean Salad

Usually, we don’t put high protein next to the word salad, seems a bit of a contradiction. But sometimes, even though we need a good amount of protein, all we want is a full meal made with fresh veggies and that’s it. That’s why I came up with this Mediterranean salad to have all your needs and wants fully covered.

As we know, Mediterranean cuisine is popular for having a bunch of fresh ingredients in every meal and a whole lot of flavour. For this reason, I decided to create a salad inspired in this cuisine to help us reach our protein quota without much effort. All this while having a healthy and delicious meal.

This is not your typical salad. We have a few different elements that make this Mediterranean salad pretty unique. First of all, we are mixing fresh lettuce with pan roasted veggies. This will not only bring out some beautiful aromas, but it will also make it more of a full meal than just a plain salad.

Aside from that, we are using one of the Mediterranean cuisine’s main ingredients, chickpeas. To make it interesting and get the most out of this creamy legume, we are adding whole chickpeas and hummus. This is what will bump up the amount of protein in this salad.

But protein is not all we are getting from chickpeas. They contain an incredible amount of nutrients we can benefit from. Chickpeas are loaded with iron, magnesium, folate, Vitamin C, A, K and complex B vitamins, to name a few. They’re also are a great source of carbs, fibre, antioxidants and Omega-6.

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Struggling To Cook Healthy We’ll Help You Prep

Dont get me wrong those other diets work. When I went veg 20 years ago, I subsisted on pasta, bread, eggs, and cheese. Thirty pounds later, I caved and spent a spring following the new low-carb, high-protein South Beach Diet. My cholesterol went up as the pounds came off, and I remember feeling sad and annoyed that I couldnt stick to the diet without eating meat.

Once those pounds came off, however, I returned to my veggie-exclusive waysbut in a much smarter way .

I cooked almost exclusively with olive oil and ate lots of fresh produce, herbs, beans, and whole grains. I snacked on nuts, dried fruit, yogurt, and cheese, but limited my intake of sugar and processed foods. I also enjoyed the occasional glass of wine and embraced eating as a social activity.

Sounds like a pretty great diet, doesnt it? But as with most things d-i-e-t, my adherence to it has been a little lax from time to time. I turned to the book Prevention Mediterranean Table to see where I could improve the way I eat. But what I found surprised me: I wasnt eating as Mediterranean as I thought.

How To Start The Mediterranean Diet Meal By Meal

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Text by Sandee LaMotte, CNNPhotographs by Heather Fulbright, CNN

Considered one of the healthiest diets in the world, the Mediterranean way of eating cuts processed foods and red meats, focusing instead on fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, healthy whole grains and extra-virgin olive oil.

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Things To Be Mindful Of While Eating Mediterranean

As theres less red meat, you might need more iron supplementation, says Board Certified Endocrinologist Maria Olga Cardenas MD, MSCI. Also, youll want to watch portion sizes, especially if you’re struggling with your weight as a symptom of an endocrine disorder.

Ginn-Meadow says that seafood can be quite salty, particularly if it is tinned, and high in iodine. Practitioners of this diet should be cautious of excessive intake of iodine, which is found in fish and seafood, and regularly monitor your thyroid labs. While iodine deficiency can cause thyroid problems, so too can high levels of iodine, which may result in goiters , thyroid inflammation, and thyroid cancer.

The Mediterranean diet is very safe and flexible, so dont be afraid to give it a try to see if it works for you.

Signs You’re Not Eating Enough Protein

Even if you don’t have a true deficiency, you could be running a little low, and that can affect your health in sneaky ways.

They dont call protein one of the building blocks of life for nothing.This macronutrient makes up the major component of all our cells and provides the essential amino acids that keep our bodies up and running.Problem is, some of us aren’t getting as much of it as we should be.

A true protein deficiency is very rare in the United Statesthough it can be seen in people who have anorexia, cancer, or, in the case of severe malnutrition, undiagnosed Crohns disease. But sometimes, vegans or people who follow a raw food diet could find themselves running a little low, Leslie Bonci, MPH, a nutritionist, owner of Active Eating Advice, and nutrition consultant for the Kansas City Chiefs, tells Health.

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“We have all these new plant-based foods in the marketplace, but , theyre not all created equal,” explains Bonci. Take milk, for example: One cup of 1% cows milk contains about 8.5 grams of protein, while a cup of almond milk only contains just 1 gram.

Plus, most plant-based proteins aren’t complete proteinsmeaning theyre short on at least one of the nine essential amino acids that can be found in animal foods like meat, seafood, and eggs.

“I think that when people are opting for a plant-focused lifestyle, they have to make sure they aren’t short-changing themselves,” says Bonci.

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Slowly Cutting Out Different Foods Probably Would’ve Been Better Than Overhauling My Diet All At Once

I underwent a rather extreme dietary change when I started the diet. From one day to the next, I cut red meat, white meat, and processed junk food.

For the first few days, I felt great, but then I had a craving for some store-bought cake and I gave in.

On the whole, I was eating far healthier than I had a week prior, but I felt like I had failed.

Looking back, I wish I’d taken things slower at first, cutting out junk for a few weeks or months, then giving up red meat, then white. I also feel ridiculous for beating myself up over a slice of cake because it was completely natural to be craving it.

One of the best things about the Mediterranean diet is that after I followed it for a while, I stopped craving sugar so much. But that took time, and it doesn’t mean I never treat myself to something more sugary or processed.

Moving To The Mediterranean One Step At A Time

Vegetarian or Vegan? How to Get Enough Protein

Take your diet to the Mediterranean with a few simple changes.

  • Try oatmeal with fresh fruit and a splash of fat-free milk for breakfast instead of bacon and eggs or pancakes.
  • Start lunch with a vegetable salad, dressed with a drizzle of olive oil.
  • Have fruit for dessert after dinner.

Add one healthy item to replace an unhealthy item, Ahmed recommends. Stick with it for three weeks, then make two more changes. Slow and steady wins the race.

Fit Facts: Benefits of a Mediterranean Diet

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Mediterranean Diet Lunch Ideas

You can create light and refreshing lunchtime meals when following the Mediterranean diet.

  • Quinoa and white bean salad: Try making a Mediterranean-inspired salad by mixing together quinoa and white beans chopped tomato, cucumber, parsley, and mint. Season with a simple dressing of lemon juice, olive oil, pepper, and a dash of salt.
  • Falafel over salad: On Sunday, prepare falafel using your favorite falafel recipe and store in the fridge or freezer to use throughout the week. In a pinch, you can have packaged falafel on hand as long as the ingredients are free of added sugar and contain mainly chickpeas and seasoning. On a bed of kale or arugula, add falafel as well as red pepper, tomatoes, mint, and avocado. Top with a low-fat tzatziki dressing and serve with a side of whole-grain pita bread.
  • Lentils: Lentils might be tiny, but they are mighty beans filled with protein and fiber. Try making a large batch of lentils on one day to use throughout the week. First, cook lentils in a pot using vegetable broth, and season with cumin, coriander, salt, pepper, and turmeric. In a separate pan, saut√© onions, garlic, tomato, and spinach, and mix with the cooked lentils. Top with lemon juice and fresh chopped cilantro and allow to cool. Store in the fridge for a cold, refreshing lentil salad that can be used as a tasty side dish or add flavor and nutrients to salads and whole-grain pasta dishes.

Meals Don’t Have To Be Complicated Some Of My Best Creations Have Been Ridiculously Simple

Now that I’ve spent months and months following a Mediterranean diet, I realize I put too much pressure on myself to be inventive and exciting with every meal in the early days which was exhausting and totally unnecessary.

Last week, I could find only spinach, tomatoes, and mozzarella in my fridge, and it took me about two minutes to throw them all in a bowl and toss them with a drizzle of olive oil and some basil.

It was an ideal lunch, totally basic and delicious.

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Can You Build Muscle On The Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean diet is not the ideal diet for building muscle and gaining more mass. The overall design of it is to help dieters trim down and stay lean.

So if your a bodybuilder looking for the perfect bulking diet, this is probably not the best option for you.

You CAN build muscles with the Mediterranean diet, but you need to temper your expectations. With the right workout program and Mediterranean diet macros, you can build lean muscle over time.

It wont be as fast as some other diets, and you wont get as big. But the potential is there.

Sprinkle In Healthy Fats Found In Nuts Seeds And Extra Virgin Olive Oil

How To Get Enough Protein on a Vegan or Vegetarian Diet

Nuts, seeds, and olive oil provide healthy sources of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. Healthy nuts and seeds to add to your diet include almonds, walnuts, pecans, flaxseeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, and pumpkin seeds. Flaxseeds and chia seeds, in particular, are rich in plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids that are particularly important for reducing oxidative stress and inflammation throughout the body.

Use extra virgin olive oil sparingly. Even though its a healthy fat, it is also pure fat, so its easier to consume vast quantities of fat from oil than from nuts.

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The Power Of Your Mediterranean Plate

Our study shows us that you have the control and power to change the trajectory of your health and life, says lead study author and Johns Hopkins expert Haitham Ahmed, M.D., M.P.H. With a healthier diet, exercise, weight maintenance and smoking avoidance, thousands of our participants were able to live longer and free of cardiovascular disease. You can too!

Mediterranean-style eating aids your heart in four ways, according to Ahmed:

  • It helps keep cholesterol levels healthy.
  • It enhances your bodys ability to absorb blood sugar .
  • It cools off damaging inflammation, an immune system response triggered when the body fights perceived intruders. Acute, or one-time, inflammation is helpful in fighting viruses and bacteria, but people who are overweight, consume high levels of refined foods, and lead a sedentary lifestyle have chronic, or ongoing, inflammation, which may lead to diabetes and liver and heart disease.
  • It helps arteries stay flexible and resist plaque buildups.
  • Nutrients in this plan work as a team to produce these benefits. These include good monounsaturated fat from nuts and olive oil beneficial omega-3 fatty acids from fatty fish like salmon and fiber, vitamins, minerals, and protective phytochemicals from whole grains and produce.

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