Exploring diets: which works best for weight loss and health?

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When it comes to losing weight and staying healthy, it might seem like there’s a new diet trend every day.

Scientists from the University of Otago in New Zealand decided to put three popular diets to the test to see how they affect weight loss and overall health.

They chose the Mediterranean diet, intermittent fasting, and the Paleo diet.

The Experiment

For the study, the scientists recruited 250 overweight adults and gave them guidelines for following each diet.

The participants could choose which diet they wanted to follow and then carried on with their chosen diet while going about their normal lives.

Most of the participants (54 percent) chose to follow the fasting diet, while 27 percent chose the Mediterranean diet, and 18 percent chose the Paleo diet.

The Results

The scientists followed the participants for 12 months to see how well they stuck to their diets and what impact the diets had on their weight and health.

They found that the Mediterranean diet had the highest retention rate, with 57 percent of the participants sticking to it for the full 12 months.

In comparison, 54 percent of the participants stayed with the fasting diet, and 35 percent remained on the Paleo diet.

When it came to weight loss, all three diets were effective, but the results varied. On average, participants on the fasting diet lost 4.0kg, those on the Mediterranean diet lost 2.8kg, and those on the Paleo diet lost 1.8kg.

In addition to weight loss, the scientists also saw some positive health impacts. Participants following the fasting and Mediterranean diets saw a reduction in their systolic blood pressure.

Moreover, those on the Mediterranean diet saw a decrease in their blood sugar levels.

While the weight loss was modest overall, those on the fasting or Mediterranean diets saw significant improvements in their blood pressure, a crucial health metric.

Understanding the Diets

Each of these diets has a unique approach to eating:

  • The Mediterranean diet encourages consuming fruit, vegetables, whole-grain bread and cereals, legumes, nuts, seeds, and olive oil. It also allows moderate amounts of fish, chicken, eggs, and dairy, and it suggests eating red meat only once a week or less.
  • The Paleo diet focuses on less-processed foods, emphasizing fruit, vegetables, animal proteins, nuts, coconut products, and extra-virgin olive oil. This study used a slightly modified version of the Paleo diet, which allowed some dairy and up to one serving daily of legumes and grain-based food.
  • Intermittent fasting involves cycling between periods of eating and fasting. The fasting period can range from a few hours to several days.

The Takeaway

According to the researchers, there isn’t one “right” diet that works for everyone. Different diets can suit different people and still be effective. For some, the Mediterranean, fasting, or Paleo diets can be beneficial and healthy ways to eat.

In conclusion, the best diet is the one that includes healthy foods and suits the individual. It’s about finding what works for you, sticking to it, and incorporating it into a healthy lifestyle.

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