Diet on fight: mediterranean, paleo and fasting compared for practical daily keeping

Everyone knows the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet, which encouraged consumption of fruit, vegetables, whole-grain breads and cereals, legumes, nuts, seeds and olive oil with moderate amounts of fish, chicken, eggs and diary and red meat once a week or less. Another well known dietetic style is the the Paleo diet, that consists of mostly less-processed foods with an emphasis on eating fruit and vegetables, animal proteins, nuts, coconut products and extra-virgin olive oil. While “original” Paleo diets strictly exclude all legumes, dairy and grains, this study used a modified version including some dairy as well as up to one serving daily of legumes and grain-based food. There are valid sceintific reports showing that paleolithic diet normalizes many metabolic parameters in some conditions like diabetes and cardiovascular conditions. A new research conducted at University of Otago showed that there were some weight loss and health benefits for overweight adults who followed the Mediterranean, Intermittent Fasting and Paleo diets, though adherence to the diets dropped off considerably during the one-year study.

Intermittent fasting – whereby participants limit their energy intake to about 25% of their usual diet (500kcal for women and 600kcal for men) on two self-selected days per week, led to slightly more weight loss than the other diets. The Mediterranean diet also improved blood sugar levels. Co-lead author Dr Melyssa Roy, a Research Fellow in the Department of Medicine, says the amount of weight loss was modest – on average two to four kilograms for the 250 participants, but for those choosing the fasting or Mediterranean diets, clinically significant improvements in blood pressure were also seen. The aim of the research was to examine how effective all three diets were in a “real world” setting, where participants self-selected which diet they wished to follow, without any ongoing support from a dietitian. Participants could follow the diet’s guidelines more closely than the fasting and paleo diets and were more likely to stay with it after the year, as our retention rates showed. Most of the 250 participants (54%) chose the fasting diet, while 27% chose the Mediterranean and 18% the paleo style.

After 12 months, the Mediterranean diet had the best retention rate with 57% of participants continuing, with 54% still fasting and 35% still on the paleo diet. After 12 months, the average weight loss was 4.0kg for those choosing the fasting diet, 2.8kg on the Mediterranean diet and 1.8kg on the paleo diet. Reduced systolic blood pressure was observed among those participating in the fasting and Mediterranean diets, together with reduced blood sugar levels in the Mediterranean diet. Participants who said they were still following their diet at 12 months lost even more weight, showing the importance of choosing a diet that is sustainable. Dr Roy says the evidence shows that for some people the Mediterranean, fasting or paleo (Paleolithic) diets can be healthful, beneficial ways to eat. She believes the results of this study are relevant to the thousands of people following self-chosen diets with little supervision and indicates more realistic outcomes. She explains that the idea of a diet for everyone could in the end reveal itself not true: the best diet is the one that includes healthy foods and suits the individual.

She commented: “This work supports the idea that there isn’t a single ‘right’ diet – there are a range of options that may suit different people and be effective. In this study, people were given dietary guidelines at the start and then continued with their diets in the real world while living normally. About half of the participants were still following their diets after a year and had experienced improvements in markers of health. Like the Mediterranean diet, intermittent fasting and paleo diets can also be valid practical eating approaches”.

  • Edited by Dr. Gianfrancesco Cormaci, PhD, specialist in Clinical Biochemistry.

Scientific references

Jospe MR et al., Taylor RW. Am J Clin Nutr. 2019 Dec 27. 

Hirahatake KM et al. J Am Heart Assoc. 2019 Oct; 8(19).

Zampelas A, Magriplis E. Proc Nutr Soc. 2019 Jun 28:1-8. 

Informazioni su Dott. Gianfrancesco Cormaci 2445 Articoli
- Laurea in Medicina e Chirurgia nel 1998 (MD Degree in 1998) - Specialista in Biochimica Clinica nel 2002 (Clinical Biochemistry specialty in 2002) - Dottorato in Neurobiologia nel 2006 (Neurobiology PhD in 2006) - Ha soggiornato negli Stati Uniti, Baltimora (MD) come ricercatore alle dipendenze del National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA/NIH) e poi alla Johns Hopkins University, dal 2004 al 2008. - Dal 2009 si occupa di Medicina personalizzata. - Detentore di un brevetto sulla preparazione di prodotti gluten-free a partire da regolare farina di frumento immunologicamente neutralizzata (owner of a patent concerning the production of bakery gluten-free products, starting from regular wheat flour). - Responsabile del reparto Ricerca e Sviluppo per la società CoFood s.r.l. (leader of the R&D for the partnership CoFood s.r.l.) - Autore di un libro riguardante la salute e l'alimentazione, con approfondimenti su come questa condizioni tutti i sistemi corporei. - Autore di articoli su informazione medica, salute e benessere sui siti web salutesicilia.com e medicomunicare.it