The Mediterranean diet is probably one of the best known in the world. Less famous, but equally interesting, is the "exchange method"; coined and defended by the homonymous association, chaired by Dr. Clotilde Vázquez.
However, the relationship between the two is indissoluble. Devised as a versatile method to apply a healthy nutritional pattern, the exchange method takes advantage of the benefits of the Mediterranean diet in its application. How does it work and why does it work?
The exchange method, what is it?
Candlestick set by chef Alberto Chicote, the Mediterranean diet for exchanges, which had its peak of fame a couple of years ago, It is actually an interesting approach when it comes to losing weight. As defined by its creators, the exchange method is conceived as a system based on the Mediterranean diet and physical exercise, complemented by psychological support and motivation techniques that allow us to achieve the proposed objectives and not fall into old habits.
The result, they claim, is weight loss. The method defends flexibility, especially. It is not a diet to use, but It consists of a feeding system based on food lists and interchangeable quantities. The exchange method allows you to choose between several foods with a similar nutritional profile, so that the pattern is preserved, more or less, but not the foods we choose.
The exchange method considers six food groups: dairy, protein foods, vegetables, carbohydrate foods, fruits and fats. In this way, you can choose, day by day, what we are going to eat. What's more, it also allows greater flexibility when eating out, which facilitates adhesion.
The nutritional pattern is chosen, after a previous study, a nutritionist. This will have set the necessary amounts of each of these food groups in advance, clarifying how many servings of each should be included in each meal and the equivalence of the food between the groups.
Education, another key factor
Another of the most important aspects of the system by exchanges is the educational one. This "diet" forces the patient to get involved in a positive way, since it is he who must choose food. But, in order to do so, you must know what you are going to choose and why. The result is that patients are educated directly and indirectly.
The method itself promoted by the association of Dras. Clotilde Vázquez and Ana de Cos, designers and co-owners of the method in its most "official" (and commercial) form, implies the education of patients from the outset as essential. This is necessary because, although it seems very simple: exchange food according to your nutritional profile, it really isn't.
It is necessary to know why each of the foods has a nutritional profile or another, as well as its physiological implications (since not all foods, even having a similar nutritional profile, have the same biological value) and interactions with the rest of food substances. To complement the method of exchanges, doctors also include physical exercise and even psychological assistance.
But does the exchange method work?
The first thing to say, if it is not clear, is that it is not a "miracle diet." It does not intend (or get) to eliminate weight very quickly and effortlessly (which would be bad). That said, yes, the exchange method has several very interesting results that demonstrate its usefulness for losing and maintaining weight loss. On the other hand, it's nothing surprising, of course.
First, this employer has the professional assistance that allows us to control what we eat and do it well. Second, as we have been commenting from the beginning, the diet bases its nutritional pattern on the well-known Mediterranean diet. This, Well done, it is famous for being one of the healthiest options known (despite criticism). The control of fats, the large amount of fruits and vegetables, as well as seeds, legumes and nuts help enormously to control weight and health.
On the other hand, studies have proven the effectiveness of an active education in patient nutrition, who adopt healthy nutritional patterns more consciously. Studies have shown that this nutritional pattern has many potential benefits. But all that glitters is not gold.
It all depends on how we adapt it
Answer if this method works or not may be too simplistic. After all, it all depends on how we add it to our diet. It is important to note that not all calories, or proteins, and especially not all carbohydrates are equal, a generalization in which it would be easy to fall with this system. For example, the so-called hydrates provided by brown rice are not the same as industrial pastries, although both foods are mainly made up of sugars.
Therefore The educational section associated with this diet is important, to avoid misunderstandings. On the other hand, there is an aspect associated with the method promoted by the association that requires a little clarification: within this one advocates carbohydrates to the detriment of fats (something common in the Mediterranean diet). However, there are several evidences that contradict this advice.
As we have seen in other "diets," such as keto, paleo or protein, promoting a diet that is richer in fats and less in sugars could have a number of interesting benefits that would not be contemplated in the "original" exchange method. However, everything depends.
As we have said, in the end, The important thing is how we adapt this nutritional pattern to our day to day. If we do not understand and properly apply this diet, no matter what name we put it or what we try to do, its benefits will be null or, worse, it will be negative for us. Therefore it is essential to have a nutritionist to carry it out.