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Olive Oil Diet: Is It Effective for Reducing Belly Fat Long-Term?

olive oil

Olive Oil Diet - (Image Credit: Shutterstock)

Have you been looking for a way to lose weight, especially stubborn belly fat from around the mid-section? There are a lot of diets out there, but one, in particular, has been capturing some attention. It’s the Olive Oil Diet, and here’s what research and experts say about whether it’s the best diet plan for weight loss.

Overview of the Olive Oil Diet

The health and weight loss industry is worth $166 billion and predicted to surpass $259 billion in the next five years. Diets are a big industry, and it comes as no surprise that new “miracle” diet plans continue to pop up. Someone who focuses on living a healthy lifestyle, weeding out the legitimate claims from the false ones can be challenging. 

One that we hear a lot about today is the Olive Oil Diet. On the surface, it almost sounds too good to be true. How can the consumption of up to six servings of olive oil a day be considered the best diet plan for weight loss? 

Research, including a pilot study on olive oil for weight loss in cancer patients, is showing that despite the high caloric value, olive oil is effective at reducing inflammation and affecting hormones in such a way that target fat stores. Is it possible that the Olive Oil Diet is the weight loss solution you’ve been looking for? Let’s find out. 

Best Practices for Using Olive Oil for Weight Loss

If you want to maximize the weight loss benefits of olive oil, it is suggested that you consume five to six servings (1 teaspoon each) of olive oil throughout the day and mix them with nutritionally dense foods that partner with the fat to help you lose weight. 

On the Olive Oil Diet, you’ll combine olive oil with lean proteins, dairy, and nutrient-dense, antioxidant, immune-boosting foods. Think along the lines of fresh, ripe berries, and lots of green veggies straight from the garden. 

To best use olive oil for weight loss, you’ll also avoid certain foods. The foods to avoid shouldn’t come as any surprise and include sweetened foods and drinks, along with processed starches and junk foods. These foods promote inflammation, as does red meat, which should also be avoided. 

Targeting Belly Fat with Olive Oil

Targeting Belly Fat

Olive oil seems to have a direct effect on belly fat, although all the mechanisms of how it works aren’t known. What we do know is that olive oil is a powerful appetite suppressant. Olive contains a majority of oleic acid, which can help you feel satiated and postpone hunger. No matter what diet you’re using, consuming fewer calories than you expend is key to losing belly fat.

Olive oil is also thought to lower insulin levels, which may have a direct relationship with its ability to target stubborn belly fat. Plus, a touch of olive oil to the vegetable dish makes it all the more palatable. Olive oil can help you eat healthier, belly-fat busting foods.

Sample Olive Oil Diet Meal Plan

Of course, you don’t want to eat the same thing every day and with the Olive Oil Diet, you’ll have the ability to change up your daily menu quite often. Here is a sample meal plan that follows the Olive Oil Diet protocol. 

Olive Oil Diet Meal Plan
  • Breakfast
  • Two egg omelets filled with 1 cup spinach lightly sautéed and drizzled with one teaspoon olive oil. Top it with ½ cup diced tomatoes. 

  • Lunch 
  • Salmon salad with 4 oz cooked salmon placed over 1 cup of greens with ½ cup raw, non-starchy vegetables of choice. Drizzle with two teaspoons of olive oil. 

  • Snacks
  • Choose a snack that is high in antioxidants or healthy fats, such as 1 oz of nuts and a half cup of berries. If you want six servings of olive oil instead of 5, choose a small salad or a cup of raw veggies with one teaspoon each olive oil and balsamic vinegar as a dressing. 

  • Dinner
  • 6-oz chicken breast sautéed with lemon juice and two teaspoons olive oil. Serve with six baby potatoes, sprinkled with dill, and roasted asparagus.

Benefits of the Olive Oil Diet

olive oil branch

Olive oil has long been touted for its science-backed health benefits. Here are a few of the known benefits of consuming olive oil regularly. 

  • Olive oil contains a healthy dose of antioxidant to fight the effects of oxidative stress
  • Olive oil may regulate hormones to target areas of excessive fat stores
  • Olive oil is anti-inflammatory and can calm inflammatory responses, that often lead to weight gain
  • Olive oil consumption has not been connected to weight gain or obesity
  • Olive oil provides protective cardiovascular benefits
  • Following the Olive Oil Diet may reduce your risk of diabetes
  • Olive oil is considered one of the best brain foods and may offer protection against age-related cognitive decline
  • Olive oil is satiating and reduces hunger and cravings

Side effects of the Olive Oil Diet

While olive oil may help some people lose weight, it isn’t without a list of potential side effects that should be weighed against the benefits when deciding if this diet is right for you. Possible side effects include:

  • Digestive upset, including diarrhea
  • High in calories and may not be suitable for all people
  • Many olive oils come blended with inferior oils that can decrease the diet’s effectiveness and safety
  • Some people may have sensitivities to lower grade olive oil
  • Anyone with heart disease or obesity-related disease should consult with their doctor before adding such a significant amount of calories and fat to their diet
  • Some people may have an allergic reaction to olive oil
  • Some arguments state that olive oil is only effective when combined with certain foods/nutrients

What Experts Say About the Olive Oil Diet

While olive oil is considered a healthy food by the nutritional community, you’re going to find mixed reviews from experts on this diet. Those that don’t support the diet often don’t oppose the use of olive oil but rather question its effectiveness for long term weight loss.

Another issue that concerns some experts is that by consuming so many calories from olive oil, you might be restricting nutritional intake from other healthy foods. If you follow this diet, it’s important to make sure that your daily food consumption remains balanced and that you’re limiting other fats in your diet.

On the flip side are experts who strongly support the potential benefits of the Olive Oil Diet. Consuming olive oil every day provides heart-healthy benefits, may reduce inflammation, and boost your body’s antioxidant load. All of these benefits are great for your health, and that’s not even considering how the diet plan can jumpstart weight loss.

It’s also worth mentioning that fast weight loss, no matter how it is achieved, is rarely sustainable. Diets that promise quick weight loss, can lead to yo-yo dieting and weight gain, which adds additional stress to your body and creates metabolic imbalances.

In this case, remember that less is more. Consuming more olive oil than is recommended with the Olive Oil Diet won’t necessarily lead to faster, greater weight loss. Overconsumption of olive oil can increase the risks of potential side effects, especially digestive upset.

Warning and Cautions of the Olive Oil Diet

For most people, consuming the amount of olive oil indicated in the Olive Oil Diet won’t cause any major side effects. You should be warned that consuming olive oil can produce an uncomfortable digestive upset, including cramping and diarrhea.

It’s always best to discuss a new weight loss plan with your doctor. The Olive Oil Diet might not be suitable for individuals who are prescribed to follow a low-caloric intake diet. If you are on blood pressure medication, the anti-inflammatory properties of olive oil may cause a drastic drop in blood pressure.

Women who are pregnant or nursing should focus more on whole nutrition rather than replacing calories with olive oil. The risk of allergic reactions or sensitivity to olive oil is also best avoided while pregnant or nursing.

Common Questions About the Olive Oil Diet

Organic olive oil


Olive Oil Diet Questions and Answers

Q: What happens if you drink olive oil every day?

A: Many people choose to add olive oil to their foods rather than drink it on its own. Some people find the taste and oily texture too much to drink. However, if you prefer to drink olive oil, as long as you don’t overdo it, there are no dangers in drinking it every day. Drinking, or otherwise consuming olive oil provides anti-inflammatory and heart-healthy benefits within the first week. Those who strictly follow the Olive Oil Diet report fast weight loss results within the first week.

Q: Does olive oil increase metabolism?

A: There is some evidence that shows that foods high in monounsaturated fats, like that found in olive oil, are beneficial for increasing metabolism. Olive oil may be able to help you burn more fat but activating metabolic pathways and inducing positive changes in metabolic processes.

Q: Can I take olive oil before bed?

A: Olive oil can be taken before bed; however, it’s best to start by having it earlier in the day to assess any side effects you may have. Most people’s bodies are not acclimated to consuming such an amount of pure, healthy fat in a single dose. The moment they consume it, they spend the night with cramps or will be running to the bathroom. Let your body adjust first before taking it at night.

Q: Can olive oil help me sleep better?

A: If you’re able to tolerate taking olive oil before bed, there is a possibility that it might help you sleep better, especially if you suffer from frequent bouts of insomnia. Olive oil reduces inflammation and can help balance certain hormones. Inflammation is a stress response, which also increases the levels of cortisol in your body. By lowering inflammation, you reduce insomnia-related triggers.

Q: How much olive oil per day is healthy?

A: Have you heard that you should drink a glass of olive oil each day? It is not necessary to drink that much olive oil to reap benefits. That much olive oil probably isn’t right for your body. Instead, stick to about 5-6 teaspoons a day. You can consume this all at once, although spacing it out over your meals is recommended.

Bottom Line

Olive oil is one of the best foods for a healthy lifestyle.If you’re looking to lose weight, following the olive oil diet may be beneficial in providing a weight loss boost, especially if you’re struggling with excess weight around the midsection. The Olive Oil diet also promotes well-rounded, nutritionally-balanced eating to support weight loss and healthy living goals

While the Olive Oil Diet will work for some, it won’t work for everyone, and there are certain people that it might lead to more serious health issues. As with any diet, it’s best to talk to your doctor before starting this diet plan, especially if you have any preexisting health conditions, including heart disease and hypertension.

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