With its emphasis on fresh produce, lean protein, whole grains, and healthy fats, the Mediterranean diet consistently ranks as one of the healthiest diets out there. And while not inherently low-carb, the Mediterranean diet can fit into a low-carb framework if you know how to go about it. To get the details, POPSUGAR spoke with experts Brynn McDowell, RD, and Jessica Cording, MS, RD, CDN, INHC. You’ll be shocked at how simple a low-carb Mediterranean diet can be.
“In general, the Mediterranean diet focuses on adding healthy foods to your diet instead of eliminating certain food groups,” Brynn said. A traditional Mediterranean diet prioritizes “fresh fruits, whole grains, legumes, and dairy – all of which are considered carbohydrates,” she explained. Still, she feels that “the Mediterranean diet can be adapted to fit a low-carbohydrate diet.”
Jessica agreed, adding, “While it may take some extra planning, it can be done. It really just depends on how low-carb you intend to go. For example, if your goal is 100 grams of carbs per day (or about 400 calories), that actually gives you a good amount of leeway. You just need to prioritize which carbs you most want to include to feel satisfied.”
If you are watching your carb intake but still want to follow a Mediterranean approach, Brynn suggests filling your plate with lots of vegetables, fish, lean proteins, and heart-healthy fats like olive oil, seeds, nuts, and avocado. “These foods still fall within the principles of the Mediterranean diet but are also considered low-carb. You can round this out with moderate portions of fresh fruit, legumes, and dairy.”
Jessica also recommends getting plenty of variety to “make sure you’re covering all of your nutritional bases.” She places particular importance on fiber. “On a low-carb diet, in particular, you want to make sure you’re getting enough fiber from foods like nuts and nonstarchy vegetables. You can also include smaller amounts of whole grains, berries, and legumes to hit the recommended 25 to 35 daily grams of fiber.”
Initially, you may want to track your carb intake and portion out your meals to be sure you are hitting your macronutrient goals. With a little practice, though, you should be able to eyeball it.