Following a high-fat Mediterranean diet won't lead to any more weight gain than a restrictive low-fat diet.
The Mediterranean diet, with its focus on healthy fats, seafood, and lots of veggies and fruit, has long been praised for its ability to reduce your risk of cancer and heart disease. And according to a new The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology study, you don't even need to restrict calories if you're adopting the diet for weight loss.
Researchers divided more than 7,000 people from 11 Spanish hospitals into three groups. One group ate a Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil, another stuck to a version of the Mediterranean diet that was heavy on nuts, and the last group ate a low-fat diet. The two groups following the Mediterranean diets didn't restrict calories. After sticking to the diets for five years, researchers found that while people in each group lost weight, the olive oil group lost the most at nearly two pounds on average. Waist circumferences increased for participants in all three groups, though the largest increase—1.2 centimeters on average—was found among those in the low-fat-diet group.
Even if these numbers on their own aren't all that shocking, this means you shouldn't fear fat (well, not all fat—trans fats are still the bad guys). For proof, researchers point to the rise of the low-fat diet fad that we've seen during the last 40 years. During that same time span, obesity levels have continued to rise. (Grab these 11 High-Fat Foods a Healthy Diet Should Always Include the next time you're grocery shopping.)
So should you worry about calories if you're following this diet? Not according to this study. If you're getting most of your calories from foods like seeds, fish, and yogurt rather than from processed foods, you're in good shape.