Mediterranean diet easiest to stick to - research

New research has revealed which diet is easiest to stick to long term and, unsurprisingly, it's not Keto. 

Researchers at the University of Otago tracked the success of participants tackling some of the different trendy diets which have hit recent headlines, including intermittent fasting, paleo and the Mediterranean diet. 

The researchers followed the progress of 250 participants as they embarked on their own eating plans over the course of a year. Authors say the aim was to examine how effective all three diets were in a "real world" setting, where participants elected which diet they wished to follow, without ongoing support from a dietitian.

Most of the participants (54 percent) chose the fasting diet, while 27 percent chose the Mediterranean and 18 percent the paleo.

Despite not having the highest uptake, the Mediterranean diet proved the easiest to stick to. After 12 months, it had the best retention rate, with 57 percent of participants continuing. Fasting retained 54 percent of participants, and 35 percent were still on the paleo diet.

"Our participants could follow the [Mediterranean] diet's guidelines more closely than the fasting and paleo diets, and were more likely to stay with it after the year," says study co-author Dr Michelle Jospe. 

The Mediterranean diet encourages consumption of fruit, vegetables, whole-grain breads and cereals, legumes, nuts, seeds and olive oil with moderate amounts of fish, chicken, eggs and dairy and red meat once a week or less. Dieters lost an average of 2.8kg over the course of the year. 

The paleo diet consists of mostly less-processed foods with an emphasis on eating fruit and vegetables, animal proteins, nuts, coconut products and extra-virgin olive oil. While "original" paleo diets strictly exclude all legumes, dairy and grains, this study used a modified version including some dairy as well as up to one serving daily of legumes and grain-based food. Dieters lost an average of 1.8kg over the year. 

Intermittent fasting, where dieters limit their energy intake to about 25 percent of their usual diet (500kcal for women and 600kcal for men) on two self-selected days per week, led to slightly more weight loss than the other diets - around 4kg in total. 

But Dr Jospe explains participants who said they were still following their diet at 12 months lost even more weight, showing the importance of choosing a diet that is sustainable.