The Best Diet: Mediterranean vs. Paleo vs. Zone

There are so many fad diets coming out every year that it’s hard to even know the benefits and how one of them is better than another at helping you achieve your goals and providing the basics of a healthy diet. Among our favorite diet regimens are the Mediterranean Diet, Zone Diet, and of course, the Paleo Diet. What’s the difference among them and which one is better?

First, let’s talk about the Mediterranean Diet. It is known to be a heart friendly diet adopting the Mediterranean-style of cooking with a splash of some healthy oils and wine. Meats and sweets are less often here, but fruits, vegetables, grains (mostly whole), olive oil, beans, nuts, legumes, seeds, herbs and spices are prevalent in almost every meal. Fish and seafood are recommended often; at least twice a week. Poultry, eggs, cheese and yogurt are recommended in moderate portions. This diet emphasizes more lifestyle – including activities like having meals with friends and family and having wine during the meal in moderation. It also relies on regular exercise and movement to maintain health. This diet scores the highest among leading scientists.

Now, we go to the Paleolithic, or Paleo, diet which bases its format on the diets of our Paleolithic ancestors. This diet does not necessarily follow strict guidelines of weighting and measuring portions. Rather the diet is based on the quality of the food. Yes, you will eat like a caveman in this diet. That consists of only fruits, vegetables, lean meats, sea foods, nuts, tubers and healthy fats. Exclude all grains, legumes, dairy products, refined sugar and processed oils. This diet really works for fast weight loss and development of muscle, but the exclusion list is so lengthy that it’s hard for most people to remain on the diet for more than a short period of time.

Also, I think it’s hard to copy the true ancestral diet here because most modern plants nowadays are cultivated and modified rather than coming from the wild or pristine conditions. The best that you can do is to follow a modified version where you have to learn to avoid salty foods and any sugary drinks like soda, but instead drink water, coconut water and green tea. Experts agree that you don’t need to eat this way perfectly all the time. If you can reach at least 80% Paleo diet, you’ll see better health benefits.

Lastly, is the Zone diet popularized by Barry Sears, M.D. This high-protein, low-carb diet recommends getting your calories from 40% carbohydrates, 30% protein and 30% fat. This formula helps to stop hunger and will increase energy expenditure derived from your metabolism. The idea is to control your release of insulin and glucagon, so when you eat within the “zone” your body gradually releases insulin o there will be fewer fat cells stored in the body. The average caloric intake ranges from 1,000 to 1,700 calories per day. This diet is good in that it recommends lean protein sources, minimizing consumption of saturated fat.

The best diet is one that you can stick to. Take a few minutes and research for yourself to see which of these three is most appealing to you.