Mediterranean-Style Diet: A Heart-Healthy Way for Athletes to Eat | STACK Fitness

Become a Better Athlete. Sign Up for our FREE Newsletter.

Mediterranean-Style Diet: A Heart-Healthy Way for Athletes to Eat

September 21, 2012 | Kait Fortunato

Must See Nutrition Videos

As a dietitian, I don't love the term "diet," nor do I encourage athletes to follow a strict diet. However, adopting principles of healthy eating can be beneficial by helping people feel confident when making proper food choices. Based on extensive research results, its heart-healthy focus, and its well-rounded base, the Mediterranean-style diet is one eating guide I can get behind.

Mediterranean-style eating is far from the Italian stereotype of a heavy pasta load. The plan emphasizes:

  1. Getting plenty of exercise
  2. Eating primarily plant-based foods, like fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts
  3. Replacing butter with healthy fats such as olive oil and canola oil
  4. Using herbs and spices instead of salt to flavor foods
  5. Limiting red meat to no more than a few times a month
  6. Eating fish and poultry at least twice a week
  7. Drinking red wine in moderation (optional)

Whereas many eating plans are quite strict, the Mediterranean-style diet allows you to adapt its guidelines to fit your specific needs. Research shows that following this way of eating can help lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Considering the important role the heart plays during intense exercise, this style of eating is ideal for athletes.

Due to its emphasis on unsaturated omega-3 fats, the Mediterranean style diet can also help athletes reduce inflammation and alleviate muscle and joint pain. Its complex carbohydrates break down more slowly to sustain energy levels.

I would recommend this way of eating for athletes, because it is not a strict diet and it includes everything the athlete needs—healthy fats, whole grains and lean protein.

Topics: DIET
Kait Fortunato
- Kait Fortunato is a registered dietitian at Rebecca Bitzer & Associates, a large and experienced nutrition practice in Maryland. She focuses on individualized nutritional recommendations...
Kait Fortunato
- Kait Fortunato is a registered dietitian at Rebecca Bitzer & Associates, a large and experienced nutrition practice in Maryland. She focuses on individualized nutritional recommendations...
Must See
Michael Jordan: Mind of a Champion
Views: 545,210
Dwyane Wade Leads by Example
Views: 4,371,778
Evan Longoria's Hitting Drills
Views: 9,798,295

Featured Videos

Dwight Howard Ab Workout Views: 62,466
John Wall Elbow-to-Elbow Shooting Drill Views: 186,478
Elite Performance with Mike Boyle: Build Explosive Power With Contrast Training Views: 17,723
Load More


STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers


Latest issues of STACK Magazine


Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice


Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes


Find the latest news relevant to athletes

Most Popular Videos

Colby Lewis's Post-Game Band Splitter Routine
Views: 8,349,368
Dwight Howard Stays in the Gym All Night
Views: 3,988,602
Allyson Felix Explains How To Choose a Coach
Views: 8,690,610
Charging Ground Balls With Skip Schumaker
Views: 29,505
Antonio Brown Juggles 3 Footballs
Views: 1,175,033

Load More
More Cool Stuff You'll Like

How to Deal With Your Sugar Cravings

One of the most common things that can easily cause people to get off track is not knowing how to manage cravings. Despite all your attempts to be a...

5 Ways Junk Food Can Mess With Your Head

Spice Up Your Healthy Cooking With These Lively Combos

12 Foods Every Athlete Should Eat

Healthy Eating at Restaurants: Decoding a Diner Menu

5 'Good Foods' That Might Be Bad for You

The Boston Cannons'

A Sneaky Food Additive Athletes Should Avoid

You Should Eat the Peel of These 12 Fruits and Vegetables

5 Healthy Foods That Got a Bad Rap

How Friends and Family Affect Your Food Choices

How to Eat Organic Without Breaking the Bank

4 'Bad Foods' That Might be Good for You

Why You Need Dietary Fiber

Brown Rice vs. White Rice: Does It Really Matter?

5 Delicious Ways to Make Junk Food Less Junky

11 Food Services That Deliver Ready-Made Nutritious Meals

Load Up on These Foods at Your Backyard Barbecue

Vegetarian Athlete Tips: Olympic Swimmer Kate Ziegler

How Undereating Can Make You Gain Weight

The Best Foods for Digestive Health

7 Foods That Are Ruining Your Workouts

3 Fruits and 3 Vegetables Athletes Must Eat

6 Eating Mistakes That Undo Your Workouts

5 Nutritional Power Combos for Athletes

The 6 Worst Foods for Athletes

9 Athlete-Approved Peanut Butter Sandwiches

Fuel Up Fast With 4 Smoothies From the New York Giants

Salad Showdown: Which Greens Are the Healthiest?

Are You Eating Too Much Protein?

5 'Healthy' Side Dishes That Are Worse Than French Fries

The Case for Red Meat

5 Foods That Are Stunningly High in Sodium

5 Protein-Packed Recovery Shakes

Small Change, Big Difference: 5 Foods You Should Buy Organic

Healthy (and Unhealthy) BBQ Ideas For Athletes

10 Athlete-Approved, High-Protein Healthy Cereals

STUDY: Eat More Fruits and Veggies, Live (Almost) Forever

6 Healthy Foods You're Overeating

The Healthiest (And Unhealthiest) Ways to Eat Chicken

10 Easy Ways to Eat Real Food

Living Near Fast Food Could Increase Your Odds of Obesity

Where the Paleo Diet Falls Short

Healthy Makeovers for 3 Classic Meals

The Cheat Meal Day: Why It's Not So Smart

Terrible Toppings: The 5 Worst Things We Put on Food

5 Ways to Fuel Your Early Morning Workout

The Grain Guide: How and Why to Use 8 Healthy Whole Grains

5 Non-Boring Ways To Eat Chicken