Intermittent fasting, Mediterranean and paleo diets help promote weight loss and improve overall well-being
Over the years, many diets have come out, promising to help you lose weight and become healthier. Research is now pointing to three such diets
as some of the most effective: intermittent fasting, the Mediterranean diet and the paleo diet.
The study, conducted by researchers from the University of Otago
in New Zealand looked at the weight loss and health benefits for overweight adults who followed the three diets.
The study aimed to examine how effective the three diets were in a "real world" setting. This involved having participants self-select which diet they to follow, without a dietician providing ongoing support. Participants were also allowed to drop out of their diets when they wanted.
According to co-lead author Dr. Melyssa Roy, the study showed that for some people all three diets can be "healthful, beneficial ways to eat," supporting that there isn't any single "correct" diet. Each had its own advantages, as shown below.
Intermittent fasting is a "diet" that concerns itself about when you eat and not what you eat. It involves alternating cycles of fasting and eatin
g. One of the most popular methods has you fast for 16 hours a day while being allowed to eat during the remaining eight hours.
A majority of the study participants – around 54 percent – chose to try an intermittent fasting diet. The scientists found that, after 12 months, these participants experienced an average weight loss of 4.0 kilograms (8.8 lbs).
In addition, the researchers found that those on a fasting diet displayed reduced systolic blood pressure. This is consistent with other studies that show that fasting can improve heart health
The Mediterranean diet incorporates the traditional eating habits of people from countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, including Greece, Italy, southern France and Spain. While what is included in it can vary by country and region, it is generally high in
vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, beans, cereals, grains, fish
, as well unsaturated fats like olive oil
Of the three diets in the study, the researchers found that the Mediterranean diet was the easiest to adhere to. They found that participants were able to "follow the diet's guidelines more closely than the fasting and paleo diets." Participants were also found to be more likely to stay with it after the study.
Those who chose the Mediterranean diet lost an average of 2.8 kilos (6.2 lbs) after 12 months. As with fasting, the participants also showed reduced systolic blood pressure. Participants also demonstrated reduced blood sugar.
The paleo diet is based on the concept of only eating those foods that early humans ate
when they first roamed the planet millions of years ago. In practice, this means eating a diet that seeks to eliminate high-fat and processed foods, while loading up on fruits and vegetables, as well as lean protein.
The researchers found that the paleo diet was the hardest to adhere to. Only 35 percent of those who chose it continued to follow it after a year, compared to 57 percent for the Mediterranean and 54 percent for intermittent fasting. This was even though the researchers had used a modified version of the diet that allowed some dairy as well as a daily serving of legumes
and grain-based food – foods usually excluded from the paleo diet.
Those on the paleo diet lost 1.8 kilos (4 lbs) after 12 months, the least amount of the three diets. At the same time, those on this diet were consuming fewer carbohydrates and ultra-processed foods, the latter of which is associated with health risks
The researchers noted that participants who were still following their diet at 12 most lost even more weight, regardless of the diet they were on. This highlighted the importance of choosing and following a diet that is sustainable in real-world conditions.
Diets are one method you can use to lose weight
and improve your health. But, as the study shows, being able to select one that you can easily follow for a long time is very important. Regardless of whatever diet you chose, be sure that you can maintain it so that you can reap its benefits in the long run.