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Blog Nutrition Diets Olive Oil Diet For Weight Loss And Other Health Benefits

Olive Oil Diet For Weight Loss And Other Health Benefits

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The presence of fat in food doesn’t always mean it’s bad for you, nutritionists say. In fact, certain types of fats may actually contribute to weight loss or prevent diseases such as heart disease and cancer. Olive oil, for example, has been a staple of the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern diets for centuries, and research is showing that it’s not just good for your taste buds: it’s also good for your overall health. In this article, we’ll review the olive oil diet.  We’ll also take a look at the potential health benefits of olive oil, including its ability to promote weight loss.

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What Is The Olive Oil Diet?

The olive oil diet has several different names, all referring to eating foods that naturally contain or are high in monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) like olive oil. The Mediterranean diet is probably the best-known example of a MUFA-rich eating plan; it calls for consuming whole grains, beans, vegetables, fruits, and healthy fats like those found in fish and nuts. Research suggests that following a MUFA-rich diet may help prevent heart disease and cancer, causing many people to incorporate more foods with this type of fat into their diets (10).

Some versions of the olive oil diet recommend eating at least 25% of your daily calories in MUFA-rich foods like olive oil. Others call for consuming half of your daily calories (50%) in this form. Unlike other diets, the olive oil diet doesn’t exclude certain foods; but it does make recommendations about eating more or less of certain kinds of foods to promote weight loss or better overall health. Here’s how it works:

How Does The Olive Oil Diet Work?

The olive oil diet is similar to low-carb diets like Atkins and South Beach because it takes aim at carbohydrates, which are blamed for causing hunger pangs and weight gain (11). Low-carb diets all work by reducing carbohydrate intake so that the body turns instead to stored fat for fuel resulting in weight loss and reduced fat tissue.

To follow the olive oil diet, you need to cut back on foods high in carbohydrates like breads, pastas, potatoes, and snack foods. That means saying goodbye to most sugars too – sweet treats are off-limits during the diet. But don’t worry: Research suggests that low-carb diets may help people lose weight by reducing insulin levels, which can prevent or reverse diabetes and offer a host of other benefits (5).

The idea behind the olive oil diet is simple: By replacing caloric, carbohydrate-rich foods with MUFA-rich ones, you can achieve a calorie deficit, leading to weight loss. The diet doesn’t call for any complicated calorie counting or tracking, and there’s no limit on portion sizes as long as you’re sticking to MUFA rich foods like olive oil.

Read More: Does Coconut Oil Break a Fast or Help Secure Your Fasting Success?

olive oil diet for weight loss
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How Much Olive Oil Can I Add To My Diet?

In general, you want to add olive oil to your diet in moderation. That means more is not always better: In fact, too much olive oil on a regular basis can lead to weight gain and other health problems like heart disease (8).

The more active you are, the more calories you’ll need, including from healthy fats like olive oil. For example, if you’re going for a run after work, adding a tablespoon of olive oil to a salad for dinner probably won’t make a big difference in terms of calorie intake since it only adds about 120 calories.  But if you’re not particularly active, those 120 calories could make a big difference.

On the other hand, some people may benefit from adding more olive oil to their diets and cutting back on carbohydrates and sugars. Doing so can help reduce insulin levels and promote weight loss, especially for those with diabetes or prediabetes (9). Consult your doctor before making any dietary changes, including for the olive oil diet.

Just adding olive oil to your diet isn’t enough to make you lose weight. You’ll still need to eat fewer calories than the number of calories you burn every day. Over time, this deficit results in weight loss – just as it does with low-carb diets.

olive oil plant based diet
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What Are Some Healthy Ways To Use Olive Oil?

As with any type of fat, it’s important to choose your cooking oils wisely when following the olive oil diet. When heated over high heat, oils like corn and peanut can release harmful free radicals that promote chronic diseases like cancer; extra virgin olive oil is lower in these kinds of free radicals, but it’s still best to cook with low heat if possible (2).

To follow the diet correctly, use olive oil in place of butter or canola oil whenever possible. Try these simple swaps:

  • Swap out your vegetable or seed cooking oil of choice for extra virgin olive oil.
  • Instead of butter, use olive oil to saute vegetables. 
  • Use olive oil as a base for dips instead of mayo.
  • Mix with lemon juice and herbs for a tasty salad dressing.
  • Try adding some lemon juice and garlic, then drizzle it over fish before baking.
  • Add just one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil per day to your diet. 
  • Replace fatty spreads with hummus made from olive oil.

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See also  6 Food Elimination Diet: How To Do It Correctly And Identify Your Triggers
olive oil mediterranean diet
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What Can I Eat On The Olive Oil Diet?

The olive oil diet is relatively simple because there are no limits on portion sizes or specific types of foods to eat. As a result, you could technically follow the diet for a day, or a month!

In general, stick to low-carbohydrate foods like meat and veggies when following the diet. But remember: Not all carbs are created equal! Choose carbohydrates that are high in fiber instead of those that are rapidly digested; they will have less of an impact on your blood sugar levels throughout the day (1). Healthy options include vegetables, whole grains, fruits with seeds (like strawberries), and beans. Here are some sample meals you could eat on the diet:

Breakfast

  • Whole wheat toast with jam (limit to 2 slices)  
  • Oatmeal made with skim milk  
  • Fresh fruit salad

Lunch

  • Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to any lunchtime salad. 
  • Stir fry veggies like broccoli in olive oil and serve over brown rice.

Dinner

  • Grilled salmon served over roasted Brussels sprouts and carrots  
  • Cauliflower mash mixed with Greek yogurt instead of butter or cream sauces  
  • Baked chicken seasoned with rosemary, thyme, and oregano

Remember that although there are no dietary restrictions while following the olive oil diet, it’s important to focus on fruits, veggies, and lean proteins—not processed foods.

mediterranean diet olive oil
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What Can I Drink On The Olive Oil Diet?

In addition to eating a low-carb diet with a daily tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, you can also drink any kind of milk that is fat-free or low in fat. Water, tea and coffee are all allowed as well. Avoid drinking fruit juices because they’re high in sugar and calories. And limit your alcohol consumption since it’s high in calories but provides no nutritional benefits at all.

Read More: What Happens When You Stop Eating Gluten? Here Are The Side Effects Of A Gluten-Free Diet

What Are The Health Benefits Of Olive Oil?

So far research suggests that olive oil has the following benefits: 

Rich In Healthy Monounsaturated Fats

Olive oil is high in monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA), which are believed to promote weight loss and reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and high blood pressure (9). Olive oil contains about 73% MUFA, making it one of the best sources for this type of fat (7). 

Contains Large Amounts Of Antioxidants

Using olive oil in cooking and at the table allows you to take advantage of its high concentrations of antioxidants like vitamin E and polyphenols – natural chemicals that fight free radicals. Free radicals damage cells in your body, leading to chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease. Antioxidants may also be effective against conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease (9). 

Anti-Inflammatory Properties

Olive oil is rich in the antioxidant hydroxytyrosol. According to some studies, this compound has anti-inflammatory properties that may help fight inflammation associated with several diseases (9).

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May Reduce Risk Of Strokes

Research suggests that olive oil, especially extra virgin, may reduce your risk of stroke. One study found that people who consumed about two tablespoons of olive oil per day were 55% less likely to have a stroke than those who didn’t use olive oil or ate much less of it. Another report revealed that people who consumed the most olive oil had a 38% lower risk for stroke compared to those who did not regularly include MUFA-rich foods in their diets (12). 

Protects Against Heart Disease

A heart-healthy diet that includes lots of MUFA-rich foods like olive oil may reduce your risk for heart disease. The monounsaturated fats in olive oil are linked with improved blood sugar control, lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, and reduced inflammation, all of which help protect against heart disease (12). 

Aids Weight Loss

Many people believe that MUFA-rich foods like olive oil can help you lose weight. You may be able to lose more pounds on this type of diet because it’s low in calories and carbs, which some studies suggest makes you feel less hungry. One study suggests that consuming MUFA-rich meals with fewer carbohydrates may actually boost metabolism and promote fat loss over time (12). 

May Fight Alzheimer’s Disease

A diet high in MUFA may help reduce your risk for Alzheimer’s disease, according to research. One study showed that people who consumed at least five percent of their total daily calories from MUFA were 49% less likely to develop Alzheimer’s than those whose diets contained only two percent of MUFA (6). Other studies suggest that monounsaturated fatty acids can slow memory decline and protect brain cells from damage by free radicals (4).

When it comes to weight loss, progress is made by inches, not miles, so it’s much harder to track and a lot easier to give up. BetterMe app is your personal trainer, nutritionist and support system all in one. Start using our app to stay on track and hold yourself accountable!

See also  The 90-Day Diet Plan: The Simplest Way To Lose Weight And Form Life-Long Healthy Eating Habits
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May Reduce Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes

Extra virgin olive oil has been found to improve insulin sensitivity, which helps regulate blood sugar levels and reduces your risk for type 2 diabetes. This study revealed that people who consumed high amounts of MUFA-rich foods, including olive oil, had the lowest risk for diabetes compared to those whose diets contained low amounts of these healthy fats (3). 

Has Anti-Cancer Properties

A diet rich in monounsaturated fatty acids may help you protect yourself against several different types of cancer. One report links a diet rich in MUFA to lower incidences of colon cancer, another links it to reduced risk for breast cancer among postmenopausal women. Studies have also suggested that olive oil’s antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds may be effective against certain cancers by reducing oxidative damage and chronic inflammation (12).  

Can Help Treat Rheumatoid Arthritis

Regular consumption of monounsaturated fatty acids like those found in olive oil may help protect you against rheumatoid arthritis, according to research.  Many experts believe that inflammation and oxidative damage play a crucial role in the development of rheumatoid arthritis, and since olive oil may reduce both, it is thought that it helps prevent this disease (12). 

Has Antibacterial Properties

Studies suggest that monounsaturated fatty acids found in olive oil may help fight infection by making your skin more resistant to bacteria. This could be especially helpful for those who suffer from dermatitis or eczema, which may lead to infections with harmful bacteria (12).

olive oil diet
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What Are The Downsides?

Since MUFA-rich foods like olive oil are high in calories, they should only be eaten in limited amounts if you’re trying to lose weight. That means sticking within your daily caloric goal and limiting serving sizes since every tablespoon contains about 120 calories.

You should also keep an eye on how your body responds – especially if you have a history of disordered eating. When eaten in excess, MUFA-rich foods can lead to weight gain and health problems. Plus, since they don’t have any fiber or protein, they may leave you feeling hungry shortly after you eat them if you’re used to having carbs as part of the meal.

The Bottom Line

Olive oil is one of many healthy foods that can help slim your waistline – but eating too much can lead to weight gain. Just remember, the healthiest diet is one you’re likely to stick with for life. So focus on adding more nutritious foods like olive oil into your daily routine instead of trying quick-fix fad diets or weight-loss plans . If you want to trim down without sacrificing your favorite dishes, make small swaps like using a lighter spread like light butter or cooking spray instead of regular butter or oils (like olive oil).

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DISCLAIMER:

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!

SOURCES:

  1. Carbohydrates and Blood Sugar (2015, harvard.edu)
  2. Cooking with vegetable oil releases toxic chemicals linked to cancer (2015, smh.com.au)
  3. Dietary fats and prevention of type 2 diabetes (2010, nih.gov)
  4. Extra virgin oil improves learning and memory in SAMP8 Mice (2012, nih.gov)
  5. Low-carb diet: Can it help you lose weight? (n.d., mayoclinic.org)
  6. Mediterranean and MIND Diets Containing Olive Oil Biophenols Reduce the Prevalence of Alzheimer’s Disease (2019, nih.gov)
  7. Oil, olive, salad or cooking Nutrition Facts & Calories (n.d., self.com)
  8. Olive oil intake and risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality in the PREDIMED study (2014, biomedcentral.com)
  9. Potential Health Benefits of Olive Oil and Plant Polyphenols (2018, nih.gov)
  10. Role of cis-Monounsturated Fatty Acids in the Prevention of Coronary Heart Disease (2016, nih.gov)
  11. Starches, Sugars and Obesity (2011, nih.gov)
  12. Virgin Olive Oil and Health: Summary of the III International Conference on Olive Oil and Health Consensus Report JAEN, (Spain) 2018 (2019, nih.gov)
Jeremy Mukhwana

Jeremy is a writer and part-time soccer player who is keen on demystifying the matters of fitness, health, and weight loss. His articles are focused on providing factual information and helping readers enjoy their fitness journeys. He understands that wellness is an often misunderstood yet deeply rewarding avenue of improving one’s life, which is why he is so committed to encouraging people to live their healthiest lives through his work. When he’s not typing away at his keyboard, he’s indulging his passion for soccer. The motto that guides Jeremy through his life is  ‘Be the change that you wish to see in the world.’

J. Paul

Jovial is from Dubai, and is a Head EMS Instructor/Fitness Manager/Nutrition Consultant for REMS Fitness. He is certified by the Gold’s Gym Fitness Institute and Registered as a Gym Instructor.
Jovial specialises in HIIT training, Rehabilitation/injury recovery, Strength and Conditioning, Kickboxing, Body Weight Training and Weight Training, and practices each discipline himself. His approach is to focus on improving his clients’ lifestyle by motivating them and setting an example.

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