A Pesco-Mediterranean Diet With Intermittent Fasting Might Be The Ideal Heart Healthy Weight Loss Diet
Health experts believe that this one-two punch of proven weight loss methods taken together just might be the ideal weight loss diet for you while insuring a healthy heart.
Review Reveals Certain Diet Style Limitations and Problems
According to a recent review published Sept.14 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, researchers focused on reviewing the evidence on what works in weight loss and a healthy dietary lifestyle, have dug into data from past studies and clinical trials regarding the Mediterranean Diet and intermittent fasting.
The authors of the study explain that one of the problems with diets is that some are too restrictive or limiting when considering that humans are omnivores that have evolved to obtain calories and nutrients from both plant and animal food sources. In other words, consuming either a strict vegetarian diet or a primarily protein diet may result in weight loss for some dieters; it is often temporary; and, can lead to health complications.
They write that, “…strict veganism can cause nutritional deficiencies and predispose to osteopenia, sarcopenia, and anemia,” whereas, people whose diet is largely meat-based, “…overconsume meat, particularly highly processed meat from animals raised in inhumane conditions, fed unnatural foods, and often treated with hormones and antibiotics. This predisposes to a wide range of chronic illnesses prevalent in our society including CVD, diabetes, and cancers of the gastrointestinal tract.”
Proposed Mediterranean Style Diet is Best
A news release from the American College of Cardiology reports that the authors of the review have concluded that a Pesco-Mediterranean style diet combined with daily time-restricted eating (i.e. fasting) can do more for the heart and the body than other diets.
"For millennia, the traditional Mediterranean diet has been based predominantly on fresh whole foods, such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, and olive, with fish from the sea," write the authors of the review.
"This style of eating bestows a range of health benefits, especially with respect to long-term cardiovascular health and longevity. The Pesco-Mediterranean diet with daily time-restricted eating (window of 8- to 12-hours) and emphasis on consuming fish and seafood as the principle source of animal protein, is proposed as an ideal cardioprotective diet."
The Pesco-Mediterranean Diet With Daily Time-Restricted Eating
The Food Part—So, just what is a Pesco-Mediterranean Diet with daily time-restricted eating? Basically it’s a merging of a vegetarian and Mediterranean diet of plants, nuts, extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) that allows seafood, combined with intermittent fasting.
In the review, the authors point out that foundation of a Pesco-Mediterranean Diet is that it consists primarily of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains, and extra-virgin olive oil with moderate amounts of fish/seafood and limited amounts of fermented dairy products. Beverages of choice are water, coffee, and tea are recommended and encouraged for their cardiac health benefits, but should be unsweetened.
If you have to have alcohol, the authors recommend dry red wine, with the ideal amount being a single glass (≤6 oz) for women and 1 or 2 glasses/day for men (6 to 12 oz) consumed with meals.
The Fasting Part—Intermittent fasting generally allows a person to eat what they normally want five days a week after drastically slashing your calories the other two days a week by either avoiding all foods or at the very least limiting your calorie intake to just 500 calories or less during each of the two days.
One of the ideas behind this is that it overcomes the hurdle of food restriction common in many diets that build up uncontrollable cravings and backsliding on a diet. Another idea supporting intermittent fasting is that the body needs a true fasting period to reduce blood glucose levels rather than maintain constant levels of glucose that are usually too high and thereby add to weight gain.
As such, fasting typically comes in two types: The 24-hour fast and the 16/8 fast. The 24 hour fast is one where all you do is choose 2 days of the week that are non-consecutive and simply avoid all foods and stick to just water or some cleansing tonic recommended for weight loss.
The 16/8 fast is one in which you gradually shorten your eating period to an 8-hour time slot while leaving the remaining consecutive 16 hours as a time for fasting. And then you do this every day until you’ve reached your weight loss goal.
More recently, however, a recent study tested the limits of the 16/8 fasting style a little bit by trying a 20/4 and 18/6 fasting split to see if pushing the envelope can make a difference. What they found was that both performed equally when dieting.
The authors of the review recommend choosing a daily time-restricted eating window of 8 to 12 hours as a central component of the Pesco-Mediterranean Diet.
The authors note that their recommended Pesco-Mediterranean Diet with intermittent fasting remains to be tested in clinical studies to verify its efficacy toward weight loss and toward improving hour cardiovascular health. However, based on past scientific evidence, the authors believe that their recommendations are a direct application of the multitude of benefits expected with accepting such a diet.
"Many epidemiological studies and randomized clinical trials indicate this traditional Mediterranean diet is associated with lower risks for all-cause and [cardiovascular disease] mortality, coronary heart disease, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, cognitive decline, neurodegenerative diseases (including Alzheimer's disease), depression, overall cancer mortality, and breast and colorectal cancers," wrote the authors of the review.
Timothy Boyer has a Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Arizona. For 20+ years he has been employed as a freelance health and science writer. Today, with an eye on the latest news, Timothy continues writing about science with a focus on what you need to know for healthier living. For continual updates about health, you can also follow Timothy on Twitter at TimBoyerWrites.
Image Source: Courtesy of Louis Hansel @shotsoflouis on Unsplash.
“Pesco-Mediterranean Diet Along With Intermittent Fasting Ideal For Optimizing CV Health” American College of Cardiology news release September 14, 2020.
“A Pesco-Mediterranean Diet With Intermittent Fasting” James H. O’Keefe et al. Journal of the American College of Cardiology Volume 76, Issue 12, September 2020.