If you’ve been on a quest for just the right meal plan, your choices have likely been overwhelming. There are so many options! But maybe now you have it narrowed down to the Mediterranean diet vs. paleo. There’s a lot of information out there, so let us help you get right to the facts.
The Mediterranean Diet
Numerous studies have shown that the rate of heart disease in countries like Greece and Italy is significantly less than the rate of heart disease in the U.S. and Europe. Because of this, those concerned with heart health have shown much more interest in the Mediterranean diet. This type of eating focuses on food contained in the traditional cuisine of countries located along the Mediterranean Sea.
Unlike many other diet plans, this plan is not meat-based. It instead focuses on plant-based foods. Vegetables, grains, fruits, nuts and beans are the backbone of this way of eating. Red meat is rarely eaten, and moderate amounts of eggs, dairy, fish and poultry are consumed weekly.
Healthy fats, like those from olive oil, sardines, salmon and tuna, are encouraged (Omega-3 fatty acids from these fish decrease the risk of heart failure or stroke).
Overall, the Mediterranean diet avoids any processed foods, refined sugars or refined grains. This means that items like white bread, soda, pastries or deli meats are off limits.
A Sample Daily Mediterranean Diet Meal Plan
So, what would be an easy daily meal plan to follow if you try the Mediterranean way of eating? Take a look below.
Breakfast: One slice of whole wheat toast, a cup of Greek yogurt and ½ cup of raspberries
Lunch: ¼ cup of roasted chicken topped with a drizzle of olive oil, grilled tomatoes and two cups of mixed greens
Dinner: One small serving of salmon, a cup of whole-grain couscous and two cups of steamed kale
If you need more calories per meal, you may add in a handful of almonds or a few slices of avocado.
The paleo diet encourages food that humans ate during the Paleolithic era. This would be food that was eaten before farming became a way of life. Vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and meats are all acceptable to eat on this plan.
Foods that are not approved on paleo include dairy, legumes, grains, refined sugar and processed foods.
A Sample Daily Paleo Meal Plan
If you’re curious what a daily Paleo meal plan could look like, we’ve listed a sample below.
Breakfast: Bacon, eggs and a few slices of fruit
Lunch: Lettuce wrapped sandwich with meat and vegetables
Dinner: Burger patty, avocado and vegetables
A handful of nuts, olives or baby carrots could be simple snack choices for your day.
The Verdict: Mediterranean Diet vs. Paleo
The paleo diet is much more restrictive than the Mediterranean diet. This can make it harder to keep the course and stay on track. That said, it’s likely that you will lose a significant amount of weight due to the elimination of bread, pasta and the like.
However, large amounts of research over the years support the Mediterranean diet’s health benefits. In addition to heart health, science has shown this diet supports a reduced risk of cancer, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
In closing, there are quite a few considerations when weighing the Mediterranean diet vs. paleo. While both focus on quality foods and lead to weight loss, your own goals and personal preferences will no doubt play a role in deciding which is right for you. If you can’t live without the meats, paleo will likely be your best choice. But if you’re looking for an overall healthier lifestyle, it almost seems you can’t go wrong with the Mediterranean diet. And your heart will thank you for it!