Study finds weight loss and health benefits across different diets

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A study led by Dr. Melyssa Roy from the University of Otago suggests that overweight adults can see both weight loss and health benefits when following the Mediterranean, Intermittent Fasting, or Paleo diets.

The research, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, adds nuance to the conversation around which diets are most effective for weight loss and overall health.

Methodology and Participants

The study involved 250 participants who were given dietary guidelines for either the Mediterranean, Intermittent Fasting, or Paleo diets.

Participants continued with their chosen diets for 12 months while living their everyday lives.

Most participants (54%) opted for the fasting diet, followed by 27% choosing the Mediterranean diet and 18% the Paleo diet.

Key Findings

After a year:

  • The Mediterranean diet had the highest retention rate at 57%.
  • Average weight loss was 4.0 kg for those on the fasting diet, 2.8 kg for the Mediterranean diet, and 1.8 kg for the Paleo diet.
  • Both the fasting and Mediterranean diets were associated with reduced systolic blood pressure.
  • The Mediterranean diet was additionally linked to reduced blood sugar levels.

Although the weight loss was described as “modest” by the researchers, clinically significant improvements in blood pressure were observed, especially for those on the fasting or Mediterranean diets.

Dietary Choices

The study notes that there is not a one-size-fits-all ‘best’ diet; different approaches may be effective for different individuals:

Mediterranean Diet: High in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, and olive oil. It includes moderate amounts of fish, chicken, eggs, and dairy, and minimal red meat.

Intermittent Fasting: Involves cycles of eating and fasting, but the study did not specify the particular fasting regimen followed by participants.

Paleo Diet: Focuses on less-processed foods, including fruits, vegetables, animal proteins, nuts, and olive oil. The study used a modified Paleo diet that included some dairy and up to one daily serving of legumes and grain-based food.


The research supports the idea that the Mediterranean, Intermittent Fasting, and Paleo diets can be healthful and beneficial for some people, and that there’s no singular ‘right’ way to eat.

What’s most important is finding a diet that includes healthy foods and suits the individual’s needs and lifestyle.

The team suggests that these diets can be a valid part of a diverse range of healthy eating approaches and emphasizes the need for personalized nutrition.

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