Throughout my career, my overweight patients not infrequently asked me the best way to lose weight. I had seen them try all kinds of diets, such as Atkins, The Zone, Sugar Busters, South Beach, the grapefruit diet, the cabbage soup diet, Dr. Ornish's Eat More-Weigh Less, NutriSystem, Jenny Craig, low-fat diets, low-carb diets, among many others.
Many of these diets didn't have any scientific evidence that they were safe and healthy, although it was clear that acute medical complications were uncommon. Many dieters indeed lost weight. Rarely, a diet had scientific studies demonstrating long-term effectiveness as well as evidence that the diet actually improved health and underlying chronic diseases. Dr. Ornish's diet is a prime example. But his diet is vegetarian, and therefore, unacceptable to many people. No matter how healthy it is, they just aren't going to do it. Most of my patients who tried various diets did indeed lose weight, only to regain it after they got tired of the restrictions. Atkins is a good example.
"This one's just right."
Around the turn of the century, I began to see a trickle of scientific journal articles that pointed me in the right direction in terms of what we should be eating if our goals are improved health and longevity, forgetting about weight loss. The eating pattern that eventually emerged included whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes, fish, olive oil and other beneficial fats, and judicious amounts of wine.
This dietary pattern had been in place in much of the Mediterranean region in the mid-20th century. The health and longevity benefits of this traditional Mediterranean diet and active lifestyle had been extensively documented by researcher Ancel Keys in the 1950s and 1960s. No one knew exactly which components of the Mediterranean diet led to the health benefits. This plant-based diet was relatively low in saturated fat; many experts thought that was one reason it was healthier. It made sense to me that I should recommend a Mediterranean-style diet to my overweight patients. Why not lose weight and improve your health and chances for a longer life at the same time?
By 2005, scientific breakthroughs had identified which components of the Mediterranean diet, and in what amounts, led to the health and longevity benefits. I looked around for a Mediterranean-style eating plan to which I could refer my overweight patients…and found none. So in 2007 I wrote the book on it: The Advanced Mediterranean Diet: Lose Weight, Feel Better, Live Longer.
By 2009, additional scientific studies established that dietary saturated and total fat did not contribute to heart attacks and strokes. This reversal of forty years of conventional wisdom opened up the use of very-low-carbohydrate diets for folks wanting to lose excess weight. Not only that, physicians learned that low-carb dieters often had better success than traditional calorie-controlled, low-fat eating. The second edition of Advance Mediterranean Diet (2012) takes all this into account, offering both calorie-restricted and low-carb ways of eating.
All matters regarding your health require supervision by a personal physician or other appropriate health professional familiar with your current health status. Always consult your personal physician before making any dietary or exercise changes.