Blog Diets Fasting Mediterranean Diet and Intermittent Fasting: How to Get the Best of Both Worlds

Mediterranean Diet and Intermittent Fasting: How to Get the Best of Both Worlds

The Mediterranean diet is ranked among the healthiest eating patterns in the world. Evidence suggests that it enhances overall wellness, improves cardiovascular health, and even supports longevity (15). It isn’t primarily a weight-loss diet as the number of calories isn’t strictly regulated, but changing to a Mediterranean eating pattern from a typical Western diet is likely to result in a reduced calorie intake.

Intermittent fasting, on the other hand, is focused on the timing of meals instead of specific food choices. By limiting your eating intervals, typically to a window of 6-8 hours a day, you’re more likely to create a caloric deficit and therefore, lose weight.

Combining the Mediterranean diet’s nutrient-rich, whole-food-based approach with the potential weight management benefits of intermittent fasting (IF) could yield superior outcomes.

Here’s how (and why) to do it:

What Is the Mediterranean Diet?

The traditional Mediterranean diet is based on the dietary patterns of countries that border the Mediterranean Sea, including Spain, Italy, Greece, and Morocco. 

The diet emphasizes plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. Olive oil is also a key part of this diet, together with moderate amounts of fish, poultry, and dairy. Red meat and sweets are limited, while water is the preferred beverage (15).

The Mediterranean diet isn’t just about what you eat, but also how you eat. Meals are typically shared with family or friends, eaten slowly and mindfully, and without distractions such as TV or smartphones. This promotes a healthy relationship with food and reduces overeating.

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Can You Lose Weight Fast on a Mediterranean Diet?

Losing weight on a Mediterranean diet meal plan is solely dependent on creating a calorie deficit (10). This means burning more calories than you consume. As mentioned earlier, the Mediterranean diet isn’t primarily a weight-loss diet as it doesn’t restrict calorie intake.

However, research has shown that people who follow a Mediterranean-style eating pattern often lose weight over time due to its emphasis on whole, nutrient-rich foods and portion control. 

See also
What to Eat After Fasting and What to Avoid to Reap the Benefits

If your choice of Mediterranean diet recipes is more energy-dense (think: fat-rich foods such as avocados and nuts, or whole-grain pasta dishes with a generous drizzle of olive oil), intermittent fasting can help create the calorie deficit that is needed for weight loss.

Read more about the Health Benefits of Olives, a staple in the Mediterranean diet.

mediterranean diet and intermittent fasting  

Can I Fast on the Mediterranean Diet?

A Mediterranean diet intermittent fasting meal plan combines the healthy eating patterns of the Mediterranean diet with an intermittent fasting schedule. In this way, you’re choosing healthier foods while also controlling your calorie intake in a specific time frame.

Fasting on the Mediterranean diet can be as simple as following the 16/8 method, which means fasting for 16 hours and eating within an 8-hour window. During your eating period, you’ll consume the same types of foods that are recommended in the traditional Mediterranean diet.

Not only will this help with weight loss, it may also offer additional health benefits including:

Improved Insulin Sensitivity

By following intermittent fasting on the Mediterranean diet, you may enhance your body’s ability to regulate blood sugar.

The Mediterranean diet has been found to have benefits for the prevention and management of type 2 diabetes (9). The periods of fasting may also increase insulin sensitivity, meaning that your cells can better respond to insulin, which reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes and makes it easier to manage your weight (4).

Enhanced Heart Health

You’ll benefit from the heart-healthy fats in foods such as olive oil and fish. Intermittent fasting combined with these nutrient-rich foods may help improve cardiovascular risk factors such as blood pressure and cholesterol levels, which contributes to overall improved heart health (3) (18).

Increased Longevity

Research has suggested that the Mediterranean diet may contribute to a longer life (7). The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects of the diet’s components, in addition to the disease prevention potential of the diet as a whole and the cellular repair processes that may occur during fasting, may help promote longevity (13) (16).

See also
What Can You Drink During Intermittent Fasting?

Boosted Brain Health

Give your brain a boost with this lifestyle. The Mediterranean diet has been linked to improved cognitive function and a lower risk of neurodegenerative diseases (17). 

Intermittent fasting may further enhance this benefit by promoting neurogenesis and the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) (5).

Better Digestive Health

You may notice improvements in your digestive system thanks to the high fiber content in the Mediterranean diet, which promotes regular bowel movements and gut health (14). 

Intermittent fasting gives your digestive system rest periods, which is believed to help reduce inflammation and improve gastrointestinal health (12).

Sustainable Weight Management

You can manage your weight effectively with this approach and intermittent fasting can help promote weight loss (6).

Together with the Mediterranean diet, which is rich in nutrients and low in high-calorie foods, you will create a sustainable way of eating that can lead to lasting weight management (1).

Read more: Green Tea Intermittent Fasting: Benefits and Side Effects

How to Get Started with Mediterranean Diet Intermittent Fasting

You’ll need to choose a schedule that works for you, stock up on Mediterranean diet foods, and plan your meals within your eating window.

Choosing Your Fasting Schedule

The 16/8 method is the most popular intermittent fasting schedule, so Mediterranean diet 16:8 may be the easiest option.

Fasting for 16 hours, and eating during an 8-hour window  is popular because:

  • It’s Simple to Follow: The 16/8 method doesn’t require complicated meal plans or calorie counting, which makes it an accessible starting point for many people who are new to intermittent fasting.
  • Flexibility: This schedule allows for flexibility in choosing an 8-hour eating window that suits individual lifestyles, such as noon to 8 p.m. or 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Alignment with Social and Family Meals: Most people find their eating window can accommodate social lunches or dinners, which helps them maintain their social life while following the diet.
  • Sustainability: Eating only during an 8-hour window naturally reduces calorie intake without the need to overly restrict what you eat, which promotes longer-term adherence and sustainability.
  • Improved Energy Levels: Many individuals have reported higher energy levels during fasting as their body adapts to the intermittent fasting protocol.
  • Potential for Better Sleep: Some people find that not eating late in the evening improves their sleep quality, thanks to having a lighter stomach at bedtime.
  • Doesn’t Disrupt Daily Activities: As most people sleep for approximately 6-8 hours of the fasting period, the 16-hour fast does not severely disrupt daily activities or require any significant changes to your routine.
  • Encourages Mindful Eating: The restricted window tends to make individuals more mindful of their food choices during the allotted time and prioritize nutrient-dense foods.
  • Adaptable to Workout Schedules: Those who are physically active find it easy to schedule workouts before, during, or shortly after the feeding period, which caters to their individual energy needs and preferences.
See also
Intermittent Fasting 19/5: What Is It, How To Do It, Benefits & More

That being said, there are also other options:

  • 5:2 Diet: This method involves eating normally for five days of the week and restricting calorie intake to 500-600 kcal on two non-consecutive days.
  • Alternate-Day Fasting (ADF): ADF means fasting every other day and consuming no more than 500 calories on fasting days.
  • One Meal a Day (OMAD) or 23:1 Method: With OMAD, you eat one big meal in a single 60-minute window.

mediterranean diet and intermittent fasting  

Stocking up on Mediterranean Diet Foods

To get started with the Mediterranean diet, you must stock up on the following staples on your next grocery run:

  • Fruits and Vegetables: Aim to fill half of your plate with colorful fruits and vegetables, including leafy greens, tomatoes, peppers, and berries.
  • Whole Grains: Choose whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, and whole-wheat bread or pasta over refined grain products.
  • Healthy Fats: Opt for monounsaturated fats found in olive oil, avocados, nuts, and seeds.
  • Legumes: Beans, lentils, and chickpeas are rich sources of plant-based protein and fiber.
  • Fish and Poultry: Stick to fish and lean cuts of poultry, choosing baked or grilled over fried options.
  • Red Wine: Enjoy in moderation (one glass per day for women, two for men) if desired, as part of the Mediterranean diet.

Planning Your Meals

To make it easier to stick to your fasting schedule, plan your meals within your eating window to ensure you consume all the necessary nutrients and stay satiated. 

See also
15/9 Intermittent Fasting: Is it the Right Approach for You?

Here are a few ideas for your Mediterranean diet meal plan:

Breakfast Options:

  • Greek yogurt with honey, walnuts, and a sprinkle of cinnamon.
  • Whole-grain toast with avocado and poached eggs, topped with fresh salsa.
  • A smoothie bowl with spinach, banana, mixed berries, and a scoop of almond butter.
  • Oatmeal cooked with almond milk, topped with sliced figs and a drizzle of tahini.

Lunch Options:

  • A Mediterranean salad with chickpeas, cucumber, tomatoes, feta cheese, and olives, tossed in olive oil and lemon dressing.
  • Quinoa tabbouleh with grilled chicken breast and a side of hummus.
  • Whole-wheat pita stuffed with falafel, mixed greens, and tzatziki sauce.
  • Lentil soup with a side of whole-grain bread and a mixed greens salad.

Dinner Options:

  • Grilled salmon with a side of roasted Mediterranean vegetables and a quinoa salad.
  • Baked chicken with a side of farro, roasted red peppers, and Kalamata olives.
  • Eggplant parmesan with a side of whole-wheat spaghetti and marinara sauce.
  • Vegetable paella with brown rice, artichokes, bell peppers, peas, and a lemon-garlic aioli.

Snack Options:

  • A handful of almonds or walnuts with a piece of fruit.
  • Carrot and cucumber sticks with baba ganoush.
  • A small bowl of olives with slices of manchego cheese.
  • Homemade pita chips with tzatziki dip.

Hydration Options (during the fasting period):

  • Water with lemon, cucumber, or berries for added flavor.
  • Herbal teas such as chamomile, peppermint, or ginger.
  • Black coffee or unsweetened tea for a caffeine boost.

In this Keto Lasagna recipe guide, you’ll find easy instructions for a hearty and flavorful meal that’s perfect for those who are following the Mediterranean diet.

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What Foods Should You Avoid While Fasting?

While fasting, you should avoid the consumption of any solid foods or beverages with calories, including:

  • Calorie-dense snacks such as chips, cookies, and candy.
  • Ultra-processed or fried foods that are high in unhealthy fats.
  • Sugar-sweetened beverages such as soda, energy drinks, and sweetened coffee or tea.
  • Alcohol (outside of your designated glass of red wine).
  • Whole milk or creamer in your coffee or tea.
See also
The 30-Day Fasting Challenge Explained: How to Kickstart Your Journey The Right Way

After fasting, you should avoid overindulging too often in unhealthy foods as this can negate the benefits of intermittent fasting. The Mediterranean diet encourages to limit or avoid the following foods altogether:

  • Highly processed and refined foods such as white bread, pasta, and rice.
  • Red meat such as beef, pork, and lamb.
  • Butter or margarine.
  • High-fat dairy products such as cheese and cream.

If you’re following a specific protocol, such as a pesco-Mediterranean diet with intermittent fasting, you should avoid red meat and dairy altogether. Otherwise, you can enjoy these foods in moderation as part of a balanced Mediterranean diet.

In our blog, Carb Cycling and Intermittent Fasting, we show how other diet protocols can be combined with intermittent fasting to provide a more personalized approach.

Which Is Better: Intermittent Fasting or Mediterranean Diet?

Both intermittent fasting and the Mediterranean diet have their unique benefits, so a comparison may not be entirely fair. While the former is focused on when to eat, the latter emphasizes what you should eat.

By promoting mindful and consistent eating habits, both methods can lead to sustainable weight loss, improved heart health, and better blood sugar management. Ultimately, the best approach is the one you can stick to in the long term that works best for your individual preferences and needs.

Read more: Intermittent Fasting and Running: A Winning Combination or a Terrible Mistake?

mediterranean diet and intermittent fasting  


  • Do you lose belly fat on the Mediterranean diet?

You may lose belly fat on the Mediterranean diet (8) as it involves limiting ultra-processed foods and emphasizes whole foods that are high in fiber and healthy fats that promote satiety (11). However, results may vary depending on individual factors such as calorie intake, physical activity levels, and genetics.

  • What is not allowed on the Mediterranean diet?

The Mediterranean diet discourages consuming ultra-processed foods, red meat, and high-fat dairy products. It also limits added sugars and refined grains such as white bread and pasta.

  • Do you lose weight faster on keto or the Mediterranean diet?

It’s difficult to compare weight loss speed between the keto and Mediterranean diets, as individual factors play a significant role. 

Both can lead to weight loss when a calorie deficit is created, but the Mediterranean diet may be more sustainable for long-term weight management due to the emphasis it places on balanced nutrition and lifestyle habits (2).

  • What is the 16/8 fasting Mediterranean diet?

The 16/8 fasting method involves limiting your daily eating window to 8 hours, followed by a 16-hour fast. During the 8-hour eating window, you’ll follow a Mediterranean diet that emphasizes whole, nutritious foods, and a balance of healthy fats, lean proteins, and complex carbohydrates. 

The Bottom Line

Intermittent fasting combined with the Mediterranean diet may offer numerous health benefits while also promoting sustainable weight loss and improved overall well-being.

With various intermittent fasting protocols to choose from, it’s important that you find the one that best suits your lifestyle and individual needs.

You should also remember to stock up on healthy Mediterranean diet staples, plan your meals within your eating window, and limit or avoid unhealthy foods during both fasting and non-fasting periods in order to see optimal results.


This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!


  1. Effects of Intermittent Energy Restriction Combined with a Mediterranean Diet on Reducing Visceral Adiposity: A Randomized Active Comparator Pilot Study (2019,
  2. Exploring the relationship between the Mediterranean diet and weight loss maintenance: the MedWeight study (2020,
  3. Intermittent Fasting: A Heart Healthy Dietary Pattern? (2020,
  4. Intermittent fasting: is there a role in the treatment of diabetes? A review of the literature and guide for primary care physicians (2021,
  5. Intermittent fasting and cognitive performance – Targeting BDNF as potential strategy to optimise brain health (2022,
  6. Intermittent fasting and weight loss (2020,
  7. Mediterranean diet and life expectancy; beyond olive oil, fruits and vegetables (2016,
  8. Mediterranean diet and weight loss: meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (2011,
  9. Mediterranean Diet Effects on Type 2 Diabetes Prevention, Disease Progression, and Related Mechanisms. A Review (2020,
  10. Optimal Diet Strategies for Weight Loss and Weight Loss Maintenance (2021,
  11. Optimising foods for satiety (2015,
  12. Short-Term, Intermittent Fasting Induces Long-Lasting Gut Health and TOR-Independent Lifespan Extension (2018,
  13. The effect of prolonged intermittent fasting on autophagy, inflammasome and senescence genes expressions: An exploratory study in healthy young males (2023,
  14. The Effects of the Mediterranean Diet on Health and Gut Microbiota (2023,
  15. The Mediterranean diet and health: a comprehensive overview (2021,
  16. The Mediterranean Diet Slows Down the Progression of Aging and Helps to Prevent the Onset of Frailty: A Narrative Review (2019,
  17. The role of nutrition and the Mediterranean diet on the trajectories of cognitive decline (2023,
  18. “The Mediterranean Diet, its Components, and Cardiovascular Disease” (2015,


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