There are tons of diets to choose from these days—keto, paleo, intermittent fasting, sirt food, vegan, and the list goes on and on. The problem with most is that they either don’t work, or they’re hard to maintain in the long run unless you have some sort of professional help.
Luckily, science has determined not only which diet seems to work the best for weight loss, but also which are the easiest to continue for lifelong results.
A study conducted at the University of Otago and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that intermittent fasting seemed to result in the most pounds shed and was fairly easy to follow. The Mediterranean diet, which also saw significant health benefits, appears to be the easiest diet to maintain.
For the study, 250 overweight adults were asked to pick between the Mediterranean diet, paleo, or intermittent fasting as a weight loss strategy—54 percent picked IF, 27 percent Mediterranean, and 18 percent Paleo. For those who picked IF, they employed the 5:2 strategy, wherein you eat a only about 500 calories on two days of the week and your normal amount the other five.
All attended a 30-minute class on their self-selected diet and were then asked to try to stick to the diet for a year without any professional help.
The purpose of that was to see how effective the diets were in a “real world” situation—i.e. one where people don’t have access to a scientist, dietitian, or nutritionist.
Participants who picked IF lost an average of 9 pounds; Mediterranean dieters lost an average of six; and paleo an average of 4. (IF and Mediterranean diets also resulted in “significant improvements” in blood pressure, the researchers said)
While those numbers may seem low, it could be influenced by the fact that close to half the participants dropped their selected diet strategy before the 12-month study concluded.
The Mediterranean diet saw the most retention, with 57 percent of those who chose it still following the eating strategy at the end of the study. Intermittent fasting was close behind with a 54 percent retention rate, and paleo only saw 35 percent of participants stick with it.
So does this mean you should necessarily try out IF or Mediterranean diets? Not necessarily. Dr. Melyssa Roy, a research fellow at the University of Otago’s Department of Medicine and co-lead author of the study, said it only shows that there’s no “right” diet, and that people should follow the one that works for them—one that suits their lifestyle and gets them results.
“Like the Mediterranean diet, intermittent fasting and paleo diets can also be valid healthy eating approaches—the best diet is the one that includes healthy foods and suits the individual,” Roy said in a release.