Paleo Vs Mediterranean Vs Intermittent Fasting

It’s A Triple Threat Match

Researchers in New Zealand pitted the three titled diets against each other in a year long study. They took 250 people classified as overweight or obese, asked them to pick one of the popular diets and then would check in with them twice in the year. Each participant was given written resources, a 30 minute face to face instruction session and an exercise plan. Other than that there was virtually no support. This was to mimic what happens all the time when people decide to follow a diet and go it alone without any coaching or support. Would one be much better than the others? Could the participants stick to the plan for the year long study?

What Did Each Diet Look Like?

Modified Paleo Diet: Participants were instructed to emphasize fruit and vegetables, animal protein, coconut products, butter and extra-virgin olive oil. They were also to avoid grains, sugar, and processed seed oil. However, to help participants stick to this diet some full-fat dairy could be included, as well as a serving of legumes and grain-based foods. This is why it was a modified paleo diet.

Mediterranean Diet: Guidelines for this diet were based on Harvard’s Healthy Eating Pyramid and emphasized high amounts of fruit, vegetables, whole-grain breads and cereals, legumes, nuts, seeds, and olive oil, with moderate amounts of fish, chicken, eggs, and dairy, and red meat once per week or less.

Intermittent Fasting Diet: Participants could fast on any two days of the week of their choosing. This meant cutting calories to 500 for women and 600 for men on fasting days. Their fasting-day meals could be anything they wanted, but they were advised to select foods rich in protein and low-carbohydrate vegetables. On non-fasting days, participants could eat whatever they wanted but were given a general recommendation to follow a sensibly healthy diet.

How Did They Do?

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Adherence refers to the percentage of people who stuck with the diet for the full 12 month study even if not following the guidelines completely.

As you can see the fasting diet was by far the most popular choice and had the most weight loss. The adherence to the fasting and Mediterranean diets were both similar above 50%. The paleo diet was picked by the fewest and had the lowest adherence. People just didn’t stick with it and those who did lost the least weigh. That was a modified diet also, not the strictest form of paleo.

What Could This Mean For You?

The study results reflect what I see with gym members and clients all the time. People normally have a hard time sticking to a strict approach. In this case that was the modified paleo diet, which is arguably the most strict of the diets. When people have more flexibility with their food choices they lose more weight. In this scenario that was the intermittent fasting group.

Also consider this. The study was 12 months long with people who were overweight or obese. They had weight to lose. In two of the diet approaches just over half of the people stuck with them and only 35% of people stuck with the other diet. The most successful of all these people only lost an average of 4 kilos in 12 months! Basically 50% of people or more will quit on a diet or training plan by themselves. And the ones who stick with it will get dreadful results anyway. That just shows that people need coaching, support and accountability. Diets can’t be trusted to be beneficial either, it’s healthier habits that work better. If you’re someone who doesn’t want to go it alone and actually wants long term results, CLICK HERE and we can make it happen. You won’t follow a diet destined to fail and you’ll have support every step of the way.


Jospe MR, Roy M, Brown RC, Haszard JJ, Meredith-Jones K, Fangupo LJ, et al. Intermittent fasting, Paleolithic, or Mediterranean diets in the real world: exploratory secondary analyses of a weight-loss trial that included choice of diet and exercise. Am J Clin Nutr. 2020 Mar 1;111(3):503–14.

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