U.S news has recently ranked the Mediterranean diet as the best overall diet in the United States. And their criteria included the relative ease of following the diet, the diet’s nutritious value, the diet’s effectiveness for weight loss, and how well the diet protects against diabetes and heart disease. Moreover, in addition to all this good news, the Mediterranean diet has, also, recently been found to boost your cardio performance.
The Mediterranean Diet
Briefly, the Mediterranean diet is based on eating habits of people living in the Mediterranean countries of Portugal, Spain, southern France, Italy, Greece, and Crete. Above all, the Mediterranean diet emphasizes fruits, vegetables, olive oil, beans, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. In addition, the Mediterranean diet allows moderate consumption of poultry, fish, dairy, and red wine. Finally, the Mediterranean diet is known to be low in trans fats, and free from refined oils, highly processed meats and highly processed foods.
Especially relevant, the Mediterranean diet contains various compounds that boosts cardio performance. For example, the Mediterranean diet contains antioxidants, dietary nitrates, more alkaline pH, and has anti-inflammatory properties.
The Mediterranean diet provides the following benefits:
- Boosts brain power
- Helps prevent dementia and cognitive decline
- Reduces risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease
- Halves your risk of developing Parkinson’s disease
- Preserves memory
- Reduces your risk of cardiovascular disease, including coronary heart disease, heart attack, and stroke
- Strengthens bones by preserving bone density
- Reduces risk of diabetes. Might be able to prevent type 2 diabetes.
- Reduces risk of depression
- Reduces risk of cancer
- Fights inflammation
- Helps healthy weight loss
Boost Cardio Performance
Most noteworthy, research published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, recently reported that just four days of going on the Mediterranean diet boost cardio performance. In fact, researchers from Saint Louis University in Missouri studied seven women and four men who were physically active. And, after four days of being on the Mediterranean diet, these participants ran 5 kilometers on a treadmill. In addition, to measure their muscular performance, the participants took a cycle test, a vertical jump test, and a handgrip test.
Next, after a period of 9 to 16 days, these participants went on a Western diet for four days. Most noteworthy, the Western diet featured low intake of fruits and vegetables, unrefined or minimally processed oils and high intakes of trans and saturated fats, dairy, refined sugars, refined and highly processed vegetable oils, sodium, and processed foods. And, after four days of being on the Western diet, the participants, again ran 5 kilometers on a treadmill. In addition, the participants took tests to measure their muscular performance.
The researchers reported that participants were six percent faster on the treadmill test with the Mediterranean diet compared with the Western diet. However, the diets had no effect on their muscular performance. Most noteworthy, the study found that the boost in cardio performance dissipated when the participants went off the diet. Consequently, to continue to get cardio benefits, it’s necessary to stay on the Mediterranean diet.
Indeed, the six percent boost in cardio performance over a four-day period is impressive. So, does that mean over an eight-day period the cardio performance may boost by 12 percent? To answer this and other questions, more research is needed. Or, you can experience it on your own and find out if your cardio performance increases the longer you stay on the diet.
Also, a study with only 11 participants isn’t statistically large enough to warrant complete confidence. So, more research is needed with a larger number of both male and female participants and over an extended period of being on the diet.
In the meantime, the Mediterranean diet is the number one diet with many health benefits and with the potential to help boost your cardio workouts.