Mediterranean Diet Vs Paleo: Which Is Better? 

    mediterranean diet

    Martin Alvarez

    Martin Alvarez
    Nutritionist/Dietitian Professional Guide

    Updated on 12/3/2022

    Consuming food may be done in a variety of ways. The Mediterranean diet and the paleo diet are two of the most popular diets, and they both cater to diverse preferences as well as distinct health aims. Moderation is essential when following the Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes consuming numerous fresh fruits, vegetables, grains, and seafood dishes. There is no prohibited food. Along with large amounts of meat, poultry, and fish, the paleo diet emphasizes the consumption of fresh vegetables and fruits that are available in season. On the other hand, cereals and dairy products are not permitted.

    Although taking quite distinct methods, both of these diets have the potential to be healthy replacements for the conventional diet in the United States, provided they are carefully planned, and the emphasis is placed on fresh, whole foods rather than processed foods.

    Mediterranean Diet Overview

    mediterranean diet

    According to Lindsey Kane, a registered dietitian, in-house nutritionist, and head of nutrition at Sun Basket, A Meal Delivery service based in San Francisco, "The Mediterranean diet is not a diet at all; rather, it is an eating pattern that focuses on nutrient-rich, high-quality whole foods."

    The dietary habits of individuals who live near the Mediterranean Sea were analyzed and attempted to be codified in the Mediterranean diet. This refers to the traditional, plant-based diets that people follow in countries ranging from Spain to Greece. Oldways, a nonprofit organization located in Boston that focuses on food and nutrition, worked with the Harvard School of Public Health and the World Health Organization to design a Mediterranean diet pyramid in 1993. This pyramid serves to identify the components of a Mediterranean diet.

    The following foods are included in a typical Mediterranean diet:

    • Whole grains.
    • Fruits and vegetables that are fresh and in season.
    • Beans and other types of legumes.
    • Seeds and nuts both.
    • Herbs and spices, also.

    In addition, the diet consists of a limited number of servings of fish and shellfish each week, as well as modest quantities of dairy products, eggs, and chicken. There is a restriction on both red meat and sweets, and the goal is to emphasize whole, unprocessed foods sourced locally as possible. In addition to this, the Mediterranean way of life promotes a modest amount of physical exercise and the consumption of perhaps a little glass of wine with the evening meal.

    Paleo Diet Overview

    paleo diet

    The Paleo diet, much like the Mediterranean diet, restricts the consumption of processed foods and places emphasis on the consumption of a diverse range of plant-based food sources. However, these plant-based food sources are limited to those our ancestors would have most likely encountered during their foraging and hunting days.

    According to Lori Chong, a registered dietitian nutritionist and certified diabetes educator at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, the Paleolithic diet is "a diet based on the idea that we're supposed to eat like our Paleolithic ancestors, before farming and food factories." "It's a diet based on the idea that we're supposed to eat like our Paleolithic ancestors," she says.

    The logic behind this statement is straightforward: If our Paleolithic predecessors didn't consume it, then neither should we. This translates into an emphasis on healthy foods, raw fruits and vegetables that are available in season, and a substantial amount of meat. Anything that needs extensive agricultural methods, such as beans and legumes, produced cereals, and dairy products, is not allowed on this diet. Alcohol is not permitted either since it is a product that is derived from grain and is heavy in carbs.

    The concept of adhering to a diet that is in line with our biological heritage has been around since the 1970s; however, the diet only began to gain widespread acceptance in the 2000s after the advent of CrossFit, an exercise program that advocates adopting this way of eating in order to boost athletic performance and achieve the ideal body. There is now a multitude of food firms that provide goods that are compatible with a paleo diet, which makes adhering to such a diet a bit more convenient prospect.

    Advantages to One's Health

    mediterranean diet

    Mediterranean Diet

    According to Kane, the Mediterranean diet has been linked to a significant number of health benefits, which has contributed to the diet's widespread popularity among dietitians and health professionals. "Those who follow this dietary pattern not only enjoy a reduced incidence of heart disease and better lifespan, but they also experience lower blood pressure, as well as a decreased risk of diabetes, stroke, some malignancies, and cognitive illnesses including Alzheimer's."

    Paleo Diet

    People looking to lose weight rapidly may find success with the Paleo diet. This is due to the fact that cutting out processed meals, sweets, and carbs is an effective method to kickstart a weight reduction program. A healthy alternative to the typical diet in the United States may be achieved by emphasizing the consumption of unprocessed foods and a large number of vegetables. Because overweight or obesity is linked to a greater prevalence of Type 2 diabetes, the paleo diet could be an excellent choice for those who want to lower their risk of developing the condition.

    Risks To One's Health

    mediterranean diet

    Mediterranean Diet

    Because the Mediterranean diet is more of a lifestyle than a diet, and because everything is allowed to be eaten in moderation, it is regarded as one of the healthiest ways to approach food consumption and eating. Because of its versatility, you may be sure to cover all of your nutritional needs and continue to feel full over an extended period of time.

    Paleo Diet

    The paleo diet is an obvious example of a restricted eating plan, and as such, it may pose particular dangers to one's health. Additionally, it could be more challenging to maintain the behavior over the long run. Fiber is one of the things that cause concern. Because grains are not allowed in the diet, there is a possibility that the amount of fiber and several other essential nutrients may be reduced as a result.

    According to Chong, "healthy bacteria in the GI tract are fed by fiber, which is another reason why fiber is so important." As a result of the potential reduction in fiber consumption in the paleo diet, the composition of the gut microbiota, which depends on fiber as a food source, may be altered. Research into the microbiome the gut is expanding.

    "These days, a significant amount of study attention is being paid to the microbiome and the ways in which it influences human health. Chong acknowledges that "we do not know everything there is to know about it." However, as our knowledge expands, this may cause a shift in how we see particular diets and the effects such diets have on one's health.

    In addition, eating a lot of fatty cuts of meat might actually raise your chance of developing cardiovascular disease as well as some forms of cancer. In a similar vein, research published by the WHO in 2015 discovered that eating processed meats like bacon and lunch meat can increase one's chance of developing colorectal cancer. If you are going to make a move to the paleo diet, you should search for lean meats that have been processed just to the extent that is necessary.

    Weight Loss

    mediterranean diet

    The Mediterranean and paleo diets may be used to lose weight; however, if this is your primary aim, the paleo diet is likely to result in faster weight reduction due to the increased restriction level required. Some people have reported experiencing quick weight reduction when following diets that are high in protein content. In either scenario, reducing the size of your portions is an essential factor in successfully losing weight, and the majority of dietitians advise targeting a weight reduction of between one and two pounds each week.

    Keeping the weight off is another vital factor to take into mind. A more restrictive diet, such as the paleo diet, which may be more challenging to adhere to over time, may not be the best choice for maintaining weight loss over the long term. Instead, consider following the Mediterranean diet, which is intended to be more of a lifestyle than an actual diet, as an alternative. When combined with other lifestyle adjustments, a low-calorie Mediterranean diet was successful in research conducted in 2018 on 626 individuals in both the initial weight reduction and the subsequent maintenance of that weight loss over a period of 12 months.

    There is less consensus on the paleo diet's effectiveness over the long term. According to the sources of a randomized controlled experiment that took place over the course of two years and involved 70 post-menopausal Swedish women who were obese, adhering to a paleo diet helped participants decrease fat mass and weight. Participants who followed the paleo diet had lost more weight at the six-month mark, but not at the 24-month mark, as compared to dieters who followed the Nordic nutrition guidelines, which has many parallels to a Mediterranean diet.

    What Is The Cost?

    mediterranean diet

    The Mediterranean and the paleo diet have similar cost profiles since they both include a substantial amount of fresh food and some meat. It is possible that some interpretations of the paleo diet, which have a significant amount of more expensive red meat, are less wallet-friendly than the Mediterranean diet. This is due to the fact that the Mediterranean diet includes a tremendous amount of grains and legumes, such as beans and lentils, which are frequently some of the cheapest staples in the supermarket. If you opt to utilize just organic food, you may anticipate spending more money than if you choose to use a combination of organic and conventionally farmed produce. This is true in both scenarios.

    According to Lindsay Collier, a clinical dietitian specialist at Westchester Medical Center, these two diets "may be costlier than the average Western diet" in terms of expense. [Clinical Dietitian Specialist] This is due to the increased intake of produce compared to the diet considered normal in the United States. “But if you choose canned goods with less salt or frozen choices, you may cut down on the expenses. Working with a certified dietician is the best method to ensure that you can accommodate different dietary preferences within your financial constraints.”

    Which One Is Better?

    mediterranean diet

    In the yearly diet rankings published by U.S. News, the Mediterranean diet consistently earns the top spot as the Best Diet Overall. A diet needs to be risk-free, reasonably simple to adhere to, nutritious, and successful for weight reduction in order to obtain top ratings, which are produced with input from a panel of experts in the field of health care. This is an accurate depiction of the Mediterranean diet, which is highly regarded by a significant number of dietitians and nutritionists throughout the United States.

    In comparison, the paleo diet came in at number 33 out of the 41 eating plans that were examined in 2019. This ranking reflects the fact that the paleo diet is more restricted and may not be as sustainable as other methods of eating that give more flexibility.

    • The strategy focuses on plants, with seafood as the primary protein source and small amounts of meat, chicken, and dairy.
    • Favoring natural foods over processed ones are one's primary diet.
    • The dietary restriction does not include grains or any other foods that have been grown (potatoes, legumes, etc.).
    • An increase in the eating of meat and poultry.

    Fruits and vegetables that are in season should be given priority.

    Favoring natural foods over processed ones is one's primary diet.

    Weight LossWhen calories and food intake are regulated, it is possible to lose and keep off weight.Some people are more likely to experience quick weight reduction when they consume a diet high in protein; however, this type of diet is also more challenging to stick to because of its restrictive nature.
    Risks to One's HealthA way of eating that is generally considered to be healthful and poses little danger to one's health.
    • Removing particular food categories, such as dairy and whole grains, may result in a general decrease in the amount of fiber and calcium in the diet.
    • The consumption of more red meat and processed meats has been linked to an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease as well as some types of cancer.
    Advantages to One's Health
    • Possible advantages to the cardiovascular system include reductions in cholesterol and blood pressure, as well as a lessened risk of stroke.
    • Decreased likelihood of developing certain malignancies.
    • A lower likelihood of getting diabetes as well as improved control for people who already have the condition.
    • Possible weight loss and improvement in diabetes treatment in type 2 patients.