As the fascination with a low-fat diet fades into history, along with VHS tapes and New Kids on the Block, three diets are getting more attention – the Mediterranean diet, Low-Carb and Paleo.
Of the three styles of eating, the Mediterranean diet has received the most research attention.
Observations are only the first step of the scientific method—a good place to start, but never the place to end.
With the Mediterranean diet, a large part of the problem lies in the fact that there is no clear definition of what makes up the diet.
Part of the popularity comes from the health and longevity of people living near the Mediterranean. Often overlooked is the fact that in some areas of the Mediterranean, foods are cooked in lard, butter and sheep’s tail fat. To further complicate things, the entire lifestyle of those in the Mediterranean is significantly different than those living in modern day America.
Research on a more standardized Mediterranean diet has shown that it lowers body weight and improves lipid and glucose levels compared to the Standard American Diet (SAD). For the average person, the food choices in a Low-Carb diet seem more obvious than in a Mediterranean diet. Since starch is significantly limited, gluten-containing grains are significantly reduced or even eliminated from the diet. Reducing carbohydrates helps maintain healthier blood sugar levels, which also reduces insulin secretion and triglyceride formation. To look more at the Low-Carb research, be sure to check out my blog post What Do 18 Studies Say About Low-Carb Diets? The 18 studies I’ve included are randomized, controlled trials.
Although the Paleo diet is based on eating the way humans did tens to hundreds of thousands of years ago, it’s just recently become popular. Root-based starches are pretty filling, so even those who follow a Paleo diet without counting carbs will probably eat a lot less carbohydrates than the SAD diet and perhaps even the Mediterranean diet. The bulk of the Paleo diet is made up of non-starchy vegetables, animal proteins, nuts, seeds and animal fats.
If I were asked which style of eating is best, I’d first think of what I’d recommend to my friends or family, who I care most about. Based on the hundreds of research articles and books I’ve read, I personally lean toward a combination of Low-Carb and Paleo. The Paleo diet helps to clearly eliminate problematic foods such as grains, vegetable oils, sugar and most, if not all dairy. In my tenacious pursuit of optimal health, I’m always looking for nutrition, exercise and lifestyle choices that provide the greatest benefits. About Tom NikkolaTom Nikkola has dedicated his entire career to the health and fitness industry and has far-reaching experience in supplementation, nutrition, metabolism and weight management. I’ve been on a low-carb diet for over a year now, mostly to eliminate hypoglycemia (which it did), and for the first 6 months, would have swore it was the only way to go. I have read that going too low on carbs can mess up your thyroid, but I am hesitant to add more carbs, as when I do, then that’s usually when I get hypoglycemic. Low-carb, low-fat, cabbage soup, Fruit Loops.  Which diet shows the most promise for helping dieters not just lose weight, but keep it off? Turns out it’s none of the above mentioned.  Researchers that have been collecting data from a two-year-work-based program called the Dietary Intervention Randomized Controlled Trial have determined that the Mediterranean diet is the winner.


Recently, a research project conducted by The Dietary Intervention Trial followed 322 moderately obese people – most of them men – that were assigned to three diet categories:  Low-fat, low-carb and Mediterranean. I don’t find it surprising that the participants on the Mediterranean program sustained better long-term weight loss.  The Mediterranean diet – if it’s even fair to call it a diet – is non-restrictive and focuses on filling your plate with whole foods that are fulfilling and provide plenty of nutrition. The Mediterranean diet is one where you don’t have to track calories, carbs or grams of fat, and you get to indulge in moderate amounts of olive oil and red wine.
The folks that live near the Mediterranean Sea follow a plant-based diet that’s plentiful in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, fish, olive oil, and flavorful herbs and spices.  Studies have shown that this population live longer and suffer less than Americans from cancer and cardiovascular ailments. The Harvard School of Public Health partnered with Oldways, a non-profit food think tank in Boston, to develop a Mediterranean diet food pyramid that provides a colorful visual of the foods that should be eaten in generous portions daily. The beauty of this diet is that it focuses on what you should eat instead of what you shouldn’t.  If most of the foods you eat come from the bottom of the pyramid, you will be nourished and full and won’t be as likely to have cravings for the less nutritious, processed foods that are so plentiful in the American diet. Meals that are designed around fish and vegetables as the main ingredient will, however, be naturally lower in calories than some other popular entrees like chicken alfredo with a side of garlic bread or a steak and baked potato. Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.
I am a wellness program administrator that is certified in group fitness, personal training and wellness coaching. Personally, Vanessa and I lean toward Low-Carb and Paleo over the Mediterranean Diet for reasons I’ll explain below.
However, a significant amount of the research has been observational research, or population-based studies. These studies don’t exist to generate health advice, but to spark hypotheses that can be tested and replicated in a controlled setting so we can figure out what’s really going on.
Their diet is often characterized as consisting of more olive oil, legumes, vegetables, fruit, unrefined grains and fish.
People are far more active, have less stress, take more breaks during the day and have much stronger relationships than we do. As such, it wipes out a common allergen often found in the diet of those following a Mediterranean diet. In those studies, participants lost more weight on the Low-Carb diet than on the Mediterranean diet. Within the Paleo diet culture, there is a range of opinions about the amount of carbohydrates people should consume.
At its core, you can ask “would this have been available to eat 100,000 years ago?” If the answer is no, you probably wouldn’t eat it when following Paleo. It eliminates a lot of problematic foods, which can lead to a large number of health benefits without even considering the macronutrients. Any of the three are better than eating the Standard American Diet, so if someone is more likely to follow one way of eating over the others, that’s the one I’d recommend. In doing so, many of the foods that cause digestive problems and inflammation, which is at the core of virtually every disease process, are wiped out of the diet.
A mix of whey, some organic canned coconut milk and nut butter is an easy way to boost your intake without feeling as full as whole food might make you.
It is not based on deprivation, starvation, and doesn’t promise quick results in a short amount of time, all of which can set people up for failure. Traditional dishes that are served at celebratory events include kugeli – a potato dish drenched in bacon and butter -, dumplings stuffed with farmer’s cheese and, of course, Polish sausage.  In America we eat a blend of dishes from all of these cultures with McDonalds, Taco Bell and Olive Garden thrown in.


I definitely liked every bit of it Very nice article I am glad I found this info on the net and I will tweet this on my social network. Researchers look at groups of people or populations who are identified as mainly eating a certain way, look at their health outcomes and compare them to other groups. It’s possible their health could be maintained by eating a diet of only meat, lard and wine while living the same lifestyle.
If I had to choose between the SAD and the Mediterranean Diet, I’d recommend the latter without hesitation. However, becoming overly dogmatic about it can cause one to miss out on some foods and supplements that can further promote health, which wouldn’t have been available earlier in human history. But that doesn’t mean I, nor most of the people I know, would benefit from eating sweet potatoes three times per day. As for the Mediterranean diet, it’s better than a low-fat diet or a SAD, but its lower emphasis on increased protein, and its inclusion of grains and higher-carb foods make it less appealing than the other two styles of eating. However, I need to gain weight and am finding it hard to do on a low carb, grain free diet. I do have all of those things (whey protein powder vanilla, almond butter and coconut milk) in my pantry. No diet is perfect and I recommend a high-quality full spectrum multi-vitamin along with fish oil, a probiotic and magnesium.
I found that I can cook a low carb version of any food or sweet I desire and that helps tremendously. Does that mean these food choices make them healthy, or are they a generally healthier people who happen to eat this way? However, since HDL and LDL cholesterol levels both tend to rise on a Low-Carb diet and drop on the Mediterranean diet, researchers claim the Mediterranean diet lowers heart disease risk more.
While no study can say with 100% certainty that the findings are the final word, this is as close to showing cause and effect as research is able to do.
Most carbohydrates in the Paleo diet come from root vegetables such as potatoes, yams and squash, or from fruit. Most people I know aren’t that active, which is why I lean toward a lower-carb, higher-protein Paleo plan. He is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, Certified Sports Nutritionist and Certified Personal Trainer.
I disagree, since I don’t believe LDL cholesterol is the major culprit in the development of heart disease, but instead inflammation.
If you’re looking for a more comprehensive list, check out this post from Diane Sanfilippo author of the best-selling book Practical Paleo. No one seems to know the answer to this as it seems the majority of people are trying to lose weight.
An excellent way to improve your body’s ability to metabolize carbohydrates is with exercise, strength training particularly.
I believe that as long as I eat them within “plan”, they are healthier than a piece of bread?



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