What Is The Mediterranean Diet – Is It Good For Runners?

First of all, what is the Mediterranean diet?

This is the food generally eaten by people in the Mediterranean region, and it consists of lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and plenty of olive oil. While meat and dairy are still usually eaten, they are reduced compared with the standard Western diet. Fish is eaten regularly.

So, is the Mediterranean diet food for runners?

Yes, it is. The omega-3 fatty acids may help to boost your endurance. It is also anti-inflammatory, which is great for runners, and the antioxidants in the food may help to promote healing and improve your overall health and wellness.

When Was The Mediterranean Diet Invented?

This diet was not really “invented” in the way that some diets are. It is more a style of eating that is popular in the Mediterranean countries, such as Greece, Italy, and Spain. It has developed over many years, and of course, differs from country to country.

The health benefits were recognized in 1952 by a physiologist and biochemist husband and wife team, Ancel and Margaret Keys. They undertook some surveys that showed the health benefits such as reduced cholesterol and blood pressure.

The diet has been recognized as one of the best modern diets, although it is more of a lifestyle than just about what you eat.

Is The Mediterranean Diet Good For Runners?

Yes, it is thought that this diet can benefit runners. The diet involves eating healthy food, with a strong focus on fruits and vegetables of all kinds – and this is beneficial for anyone, but especially people who exercise regularly.

The diet may also have some specific benefits, rather than just improving your overall health, that helps you to become a better runner. It has a focus on simple carbohydrates and small amounts of protein, which is an excellent balance for runners and is particularly valuable for endurance runners.

Benefits Of The Mediterranean Diet

The diet has many benefits, including reduced blood pressure. Because it cuts down on red meats, you may also find that it improves your heart health. Furthermore, the diet encourages followers to majorly cut back on sugar, which can reduce the risk of many kinds of diseases, including diabetes.

You will also find that you decrease the number of processed foods you eat, as the Mediterranean diet focuses on freshly cooked vegetables and simple, wholegrain foods. Eating in this way doesn’t have to be complex, but it can help you to reduce your intake of salt, unnatural chemicals, and unhealthy fats.

Related: Best Protein Recovery Snacks/Drinks For Runners

Drawbacks Of The Mediterranean Diet

Of course, no diet is perfect, and there are a few drawbacks associated with the Mediterranean diet. Knowing them in advance will help you to balance your diet and know what to expect, so let’s look at what issues this diet could cause.

Firstly, the use of fats like olive oil could contribute to weight gain. This depends a bit on what you already eat, but it’s important to be aware of this. While olive oil is very beneficial, you don’t want to over-indulge.

You may also find that your iron levels drop, so take a supplement or choose foods that are high in iron. Take vitamin C so you can better absorb the iron. You also need to make sure you keep your calcium levels up if you are cutting down on dairy.

Will A Mediterranean Diet Help Me Lose Weight?

Potentially, yes, but this will depend on what you already eat. You might find that you gain weight if you are a salads-with-no-dressing sort of person because the diet uses a lot of olive oil and encourages you to eat nuts (which are quite fatty). However, with the focus on vegetables, you may have no issue.

Related: How To Fortify Your Mind To Help You Lose Weight!

Is The Mediterranean Diet Hard To Adhere To Long-Term?

No. Once you have learned some basic recipes, you will probably find this flexible diet very easy to follow.

What Is The Biggest Macronutrient I Have To Minimize While On The Mediterranean Diet?

Protein is the macronutrient you will probably cut back on the most. You will find that protein only makes up between fifteen and twenty percent of your diet, so that means you’re likely to be cutting back a bit.

Related: What Is Meal Prepping? What are the best meal preparations for runners?

Are There Any Side Effects To The Mediterranean Diet?

Provided you are making efforts to get enough iron and calcium, you shouldn’t notice any side effects, although if you eat more than the recommended amount of fat, you might notice some weight gain.

What Other Diets Are Popular For Runners Besides The Mediterranean Diet?

So, what else do runners eat? There are some other popular diets, including the keto and paleo diets, or becoming a vegetarian. These all offer different benefits, so you may want to look into each by turn.

Related: Does Intermittent Fasting Actually Work To Help You Lose Weight?

What Are The Key Differences Between The Vegetarian, Keto, Paleo, And Mediterranean Diets?

The keto diet is high fat, medium protein, and low carbohydrate, so it’s very different from the Mediterranean diet, which focuses on high carbohydrates, medium fats, and low protein.

The paleo diet is interested in trying to copy the foods that humans adapted to eat about ten thousand years ago. It is made up of lean meats, fish, nut-based oils, and fruits and vegetables. It is generally more restrictive than the Mediterranean diet and possibly the keto diet, depending on your position.

You are probably already familiar with a vegetarian diet, but this involves cutting out meat products entirely, including poultry and fish. The diet is less focused on the balance of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates; it’s often as much about ethics as health, so you might find it easier to follow, but harder to judge if you’re eating healthily.

The diets are very different, so you’ll need to weigh up which one suits your lifestyle, and look at the specific foods you wish to consume, as well as how healthy they are.

Related: Which Diets Are Best For Runners? Paleo, Mediterranean, Whole 30 Diet, or Keto?

Related: Why Am I Struggling To Lose Weight While Running


The Mediterranean diet is great for runners because it provides carbohydrates, which can be burnt off on endurance runs, and will give you the energy to keep going. It also has omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants, which will keep you fit and help you recover from runs. What is my favorite energy gel for running long-distance races? Click here to find out.

Related: Which Exercise Machine Is The Best At Helping You Lose Weight?

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What Is The Mediterranean Diet - Is It Good For Runners?

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