Intermittent Fasting and the Mediterranean Diet - A Match Made in Health Heaven

By Janet Bond Brill, PhD, RDN, FAND, LDN


What is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting (IF) is not a conventional diet plan but an eating pattern that rotates between periods of fasting and eating and is repeated day after day. New and exciting scientific research is building, suggesting that IF cannot only support weight loss but also promote numerous additional health benefits including preventing and treating diseases like fatty liver disease (NASH and NAFLD), Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, Alzheimer’s disease and even certain types of cancers. 

There are myriad methods of intermittent fasting circulating, all of which split the day or week into eating periods and fasting periods. The most popular method of intermittent fasting—and some say the easiest to follow—is called the “16:8 method.” With this method, you restrict all your daily calorie consumption to an 8-hour window. For example, you begin your eating window at 11 AM and consume all your calories from 11AM until 7PM. From 7PM until 11AM the next day, you consume only calorie-free liquids. 

All the intermittent fasting programs do not specify which foods you should eat but rather when you should eat them. In this respect, the intermittent fasting programs fail to dictate the healthiest diet one should combine with a program of intermittent fasting for optimal health. Many may wonder what the best diet is for combining with intermittent fasting. The answer is a resounding Mediterranean diet meal plan! 

Typical American Diet 

The typical American diet contains fried foods, unsaturated fats, highly processed foods, and high sugar intake, which can promote weight gain and lead to chronic conditions. 

What is the Mediterranean Diet? 

The Mediterranean diet is a recommended way of eating that is primarily plant-based with an emphasis on healthy foods like vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, whole-grains, extra virgin olive oil, fish and limited animal protein.  

This diet contains antioxidants and anti- inflammatory nutrients including polyphenols, fiber, healthy fats and Omega-3 fatty acids which are likely responsible for the countless health benefits and heart health. The Mediterranean lifestyle is not only centered around delicious, rich-tasting, fresh foods, but also embraces an active lifestyle with regular exercise. 

Like intermittent fasting, The Mediterranean Diet has many health benefits and has been shown to promote general wellness and has been proven to benefit many chronic conditions such as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease (heart disease) and obesity. Heart disease is the number one chronic condition that Americans suffer from today. 


Cardiovascular Disease 

The Mediterranean Diet is one of the first suggestions that a doctor will make to someone who needs to improve their cardiovascular health or blood pressure. Cardiovascular disease is the number one chronic condition that Americans suffer from today. 

The Mediterranean Diet is perfect for avoiding heart disease because it is rich in polyphenols, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients which are all necessary for optimal cardiovascular health.  

The Mediterranean Diet can also help people who suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, and Coronary Artery Disease. For people who suffer from extreme cases of IBS or IBD, the Low FODMAP might benefit them more. For more information on the Low FODMAP diet, click here: Low FODMAP Diet 

Intermittent Fasting (IF) and Mediterranean are great in combination. 

Here are 6 tips for combining your intermittent fasting program of choice with the superbly healthful Mediterranean diet: 

  1. Make extra virgin olive oil your main fat ~ Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), rich in monounsaturated fatty acids and disease-fighting plant polyphenols is a major component of the Mediterranean diet. Make sure the bottle of EVOO you purchase is authentic as there are many scams circulating. The EVOO should come from a single source, have a harvest or crush date listed (you want the most recent) and preferably have some seal of authenticity such as when you purchase a California olive oil, look for the California Olive Oil COOC Seal of Certification. 
  2. Make most of your protein choices plant protein or seafood ~ Use the earth and sea approach to protein. Make most of your daily protein choices, plant proteins such as: beans, peas, lentils, nuts and whole grains such as quinoa. Add in small amounts of fatty fish such as salmon a couple days a week. 
  3. Make most of the food you eat whole grains, fruits and vegetables ~ If you eat breakfast, try the spectacularly healthy whole grain, oats (or consider skipping breakfast entirely as part of your intermittent fast). Oats are a superb cholesterol-lowering whole grain that should be incorporated in a healthy diet. Fresh berries sprinkled over oatmeal or yogurt is an easy way to get heart-healthy, fiber-rich fruit in. No day should go by without eating some green leafy plants. A salad or a sautéed side dish or a smoothie are some simple tips for getting in your greens. 
  4. Season your food with salt-free seasonings ~ A delicious and nutritious way to get all the flavor and none of the blood-pressure-raising salt into your body is to routinely season you whole foods with EVOO, vinegars, citrus and disease-fighting herbs and spices. 
  5. Eat some calcium-rich foods everyday ~ The Mediterranean diet recommends daily intake of calcium-rich foods such as fat-free, protein-rich yogurt. You might also consider a soy yogurt to get in more plants and less animal foods-the Mediterranean diet mantra! 
  6. Try a Mediterranean diet meal delivery service like ModifyHealth. Mediterranean meal delivery can make adhering to a Mediterranean diet much easier. With ModifyHealth, the meals come freshly prepared and ready to eat – just heat and enjoy. Visit modifyhealth.com to learn more. 

Voted Best Diet by U.S. News Best Diet Rankings 

Adhere to the Mediterranean diet to lose weight and live longer as the Mediterranean diet has been voted by the U.S. News Best Diet Rankings 2021 as: 

  • #1 in best diets overall 
  • #1 in best plant-based diets 
  • #1 in best heart health diets 
  • #1 in best diabetes diets 
  • #1 in best diets for healthy eating 
  • #1 in easiest diets to follow 

The combination of intermittent fasting and the Mediterranean diet is clearly a match made in health heaven! This combination can also help people improve their cardiovascular health and achieve weight loss without resorting to difficult, unhealthy diets and eating disorders. 

Are you looking to start a Mediterranean diet plan or Mediterranean diet meal plan? 

If so, you should highly consider ModifyHealth. ModifyHealth is a Mediterranean diet meal delivery service that provides fresh, home-delivered meals and optional dietitian coaching and support. Their Mediterranean meal delivery makes getting started very easy and also helps people stay on track. They make Mediterranean diet food delivery easy - you can simply heat and eat in 2 minutes or less. To learn more, visit www.modifyhealth.com   




Dr. Janet is a nationally recognized expert in the field of health, wellness and cardiovascular disease prevention and is frequently sought after by the media as a trusted source of nutrition and fitness information. Janet holds master's degrees in both nutrition and exercise physiology and a doctorate in exercise physiology.

She is a registered dietitian and certified by:
  • American College of Sports Medicine
  • National Strength and Conditioning Association
  • Wellcoaches, Inc.
  • Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics