Many diets sound good on paper but can be challenging to live with every day. And while three of the most popular diets deliver some health benefits and weight loss, sticking to them beyond a year is a challenge.
That’s the upshot of findings by university researchers in New Zealand. They studied three common weight loss programs — the Mediterranean, paleo and intermittent fasting diets. The goal was to determine “real world” results among dieters who chose their own diet plan and worked toward their goal without a dietitian’s help.
Among the 250 study participants, the weight loss results after a year were modest — typically about 9 pounds for those doing intermittent fasting, 6 pounds with the Mediterranean diet and 4 pounds for the paleo diet.
Intermittent fasting involves restricting eating to certain hours of the day or substantially reduced eating several days a week. The Mediterranean diet emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains and moderate amounts of protein. A paleo diet focuses on protein, fruits, vegetables, nuts and olive oil.
Those on the intermittent fasting and Mediterranean diets also reduced their blood pressure. The Mediterranean diet participants also had lower blood sugar levels.
After a year, nearly 60% of those on the Mediterranean diet had stuck with it, compared with about 50% for fasting and 35% for the paleo diet. Most participants reported that the Mediterranean diet was the easiest to follow.
There also was this big-picture observation: There isn’t a single diet that is absolutely right for everyone. Instead, pick one that fits your interests and lifestyle.