If You Gain Weight On The Mediterranean Diet, Here's Why

You've probably heard of the Mediterranean diet. After all, it's been named No. 1 for Best Diet Overall, as well as Best Plant-Based Diet, Best Healthy-Eating Diet, and Best Diabetes diet — and the list goes on (via US News & World Report). The funny thing is, though, it's not really a 'diet' in the 'restrict your eating and lose-weight' sense of the word.

The Mediterranean diet is as much about a healthy lifestyle as it is about food. It's about being active and sociable and sharing food with family and friends, as much as about what you actually put in your mouth. And it's gained popularity in recent decades — and for excellent reason. Research shows that following a Mediterranean diet is a heart-healthy way to lower cholesterol, lower your risk of heart disease, and prevent or treat diabetes (via Penn Medicine).

One appealing aspect of the Mediterranean diet is that there are no foods that are strictly prohibited. Instead, it places an emphasis on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, seafood, and healthy fats, and limits (but not entirely) red meat, sweets, and dairy products. Within these parameters, there's a wide range of foods that can be enjoyed, that are as varied as the countries that border the Mediterranean. Even red wine is allowed (hooray!). Many people who adopt a Mediterranean diet enjoy it so much that they stick with it long-term.

Enjoy olive oil — just not too much

Ironically, even though many people lose or maintain their weight on the Mediterranean diet, some may actually gain weight. Clinical nutritionist Zoe Morosini told Insider, "The Mediterranean diet is a wonderfully healthy way to eat, but people can consume too many calories on almost any diet. Most successful weight-loss diets modify both the type of food eaten as well as the amount. If you're not doing both, you probably won't lose weight." The downside (if it can be called that?) of the Mediterranean diet is that it may be too delicious.

Since the main source of fat on the diet is olive oil, it's very possible to just use too much of it. The same goes for nuts, avocados, pasta, and wine. "Calorie-loaded foods... like avocado, nuts and excessive amounts of olive oil are very caloric dense and can pack fat quickly on your waistline," explained weight loss specialist and board-certified cardiologist Dr. Luiza Petre. Other culprits that can lead to weight gain are not exercising enough, eating too fast, and even not getting enough sleep. 

Remember, the Mediterranean diet is not just about food, but enjoying an active, social lifestyle as well.