A Comparison of 3 Popular Diet Trends: Mediterranean vs. Paleo vs. Keto
As the fitness craze continues to grip people all over the world, an increasing number of people are taking up diet trends they think will assist in achieving their lofty fitness goals. And there are so many diet trends you get confused for choice. Three of the most popular diet trends gaining followers every day are the paleo, keto, and the Mediterranean diets. These diets like many others promise adherents a lean body and optimal body performance as well as a plethora of health benefits. But are these claims true? What are the weight loss gains of these diet trends and are they sustainable in the long run?
If you are a follower of the fitness craze, you probably are onto one of these diets. But do you know if the diet is the right fix for your fitness concerns? According to Professor Chris Gardner, Director of Nutrition Studies at Stanford University, the public health community should be willing to explore these diets and many others like them considering the obesity problem facing many American families and the epidemic of chronic diseases afflicting the US healthcare system.
In this article, we will examine these three diet trends. What is the result of following these diets? Are they sustainable in the long term? Are there enough studies to prove their effectiveness? There are so many questions to answer as we take a look at three of the most popular diet trends of the century.
Let’s begin with the Mediterranean diet
The Mediterranean diet is the oldest of the three on this list. It has been practiced for thousands of years by people living in the Mediterranean and has been proven over time to be a health-enhancing diet which promotes weight loss, improves the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, lowers cholesterol, and reduces the risk of developing g diabetes. Alzheimer’s and different types of cancer. Of the three diets, the Mediterranean is the one that attracts the least amount of criticism. It fascinated many scientists for a long time as populations living close to the Mediterranean Sea are known to have the longest life expectancy in the world and lowest rates of chronic diseases.
The Mediterranean diet is a diet rich in plenty of vegetables and fruits, whole grains such as brown rice, whole wheat bread, and quinoa, legumes such as beans, lentils and dried peas, olive oil, nuts, herbs and spices, and seeds. The Mediterranean lifestyle includes daily exercise, a high premium on quality of life, and sharing meals with members of the family and friends. A lot of scientific studies have been carried out to prove the efficacy of the Mediterranean diet to boost the health of its devotees.
The Mediterranean diet is relatively easy to follow as it doesn’t require any drastic changes or specialty ingredients. You can easily get everything you need to maintain the diet at the groceries store.
The Keto diet is one of the most controversial diet trends in the world. It is widely antagonized by mainstream dieticians but revered by biohackers. The Ketogenic diet was first promoted by Dr. Robert Atkins in the 1980s to the shock of many health professionals. The keto diet aims to force the body into a state of ketosis by eating mostly fats and a tiny amount of carbs.
Ketosis occurs when the body doesn’t get enough carbohydrates for energy and is forced to break down body fat to manufacture energy needed for metabolic processes. To make this happen, the keto diet limits the intake of carbs to 20-30 grams per day, but a lot of fat is included in the diet. The switch from carbs to fat as an energy source can be stressful to the body and may result in symptoms such as a headache, insomnia, fatigue, lethargy, brain fog and so many unpleasant side effects. But you feel better when the body eases fully into a state of ketosis, according to devotees of the keto diet.
While the keto diet is not easy to follow, studies have shown that it could result in significant reduction in body weight, increase the levels of HDL, lower total cholesterol, and reduce the levels of LDL in the body. In many studies where the keto diet was compared to high carb diets, it seems to produce more positive results.
But the ketogenic diet is not without its shortcomings. According to Dr. Gardner, the keto diet eliminates sugar and white flour but also removes some water, which means the overall weight loss is not only due to fat loss but includes water loss as well. This makes the weight loss claim of the keto diet short-lived.
Additionally, health professionals have warned that eliminating carbs from the diet can lower the levels of the body’s muscles building hormone and thyroid hormone, which leads to a spike in the level of the stress hormone called cortisol, promotes muscle loss and inhibits muscle gain. Not eating enough carbs may also destabilize the hormonal balance in women and reduce athletic performance.
The keto diet is hard to sustain in the long-term because it deprives many people of what their body has been used to for a long time.
The Paleo diet is the newest diet trend of the three. It was founded by Dr. Loren Cordain and is touted as the diet of the caveman. According to the founder, the Paleo diet is going back to the roots. It is eating food you were made to eat. According to the devotees of the paleo diet, humans started experiencing chronic illnesses after they left the hunter-gatherer life and opted for a life of agriculture where they till the land and drink milk. In short, we need to revert to the food preferences of the human beings of pre-Biblical times.
The problem with this diet is that it is almost impossible to replicate the conditions of the earlier man in this age. Unless you are willing to make some strange lifestyle choices such as living in the jungle with some primitive tribe, your paleo diet can never be pure in the real sense of the word. The way we produce our meats and fruits are starkly different from what obtains in the past, but a paleo adherent will have to make do with what is available.
The paleo diet is rich in protein sources such as eggs, meat, and seafood. They also take a lot of healthy oils such as those from walnut, olive, avocado, coconut, and flaxseed. The rest of the diet consist of non-starchy vegetables, fruits, and nuts. The paleo diet is free of processed foods, although some of the cooking methods of paleo meals are in fact food processing. The diet is also free of cereal grains, potatoes, and dairy products.
The paleo diet is a low-carb diet that promises its followers weight loss if they stick to the foods allowed by the diet. The diet claims to prevent heart disease, osteoporosis, cancer, metabolic syndrome and many other diseases. But the truth is that no reliable scientific studies have not substantiated much of the claims. According to Dr. Gardner, the paleo diet is difficult to study because many devotees of the diet practice it in different ways.
Compared to the keto diet, the paleo diet is easier to sustain in the long run.
Health professionals continue to argue over the benefits of these diets, and this has led to more confusion among people looking for the best diet to help them lose weight and maintain healthy lifestyles. But according to Dr. Gardner, these diets are not a one-size-fits-all solution. It may work for some people and fail in others. And the majority of people gain back the weight because diets such as the paleo and keto are hardly sustainable in the long term. He advises that people should rather focus on maintaining a healthy lifestyle as there are no quick fix solutions to weight gain or chronic diseases.
Have you been successful with any of these diets? Let’s hear your thoughts!