Mediterranean Diet vs Paleo: Which Is Right for You?

Here’s a sobering reality: each year in the US, around 678,000 people die due to a health issue exacerbated by an unhealthy diet.

What we eat is about so much more than how we look. It contributes to how we feel and the quality of life we can lead.

If you want to change your eating habits, it can be hard to figure out the best type of diet for you. The Mediterranean diet and paleo are two popular styles of eating you might consider.

Read through our guide to the Mediterranean diet vs paleo to learn more about the pros and cons of each one and the types of foods that fall under each plan.

The Mediterranean Diet

As its name suggests, the Mediterranean diet is a lifestyle of eating the same foods that people who live in Mediterranean countries eat.

It’s grown in popularity as scientists realized that people living in that region of the world tend to lead long, healthy lives.

One important thing to remember is that the Mediterranean diet is really not a “diet” at all. Rather, it’s a lifestyle that follows the same eating patterns as those who live in the area around the Mediterranean Sea.

Things You Can Eat

Nothing is technically off-limits when you follow this style of eating. However, you should focus on eating mostly fresh vegetables and fruits, whole grains, high-quality olive oil, beans, nuts, and seeds.

You can also enjoy a moderate amount of fish, poultry, dairy, and eggs. When following this lifestyle, you should limit your intake of red meat, sugar, and processed foods.

Many people who follow the Mediterranean diet also like to enjoy a small glass of red wine with dinner. So, if you look forward to a glass of vino after a long day, you won’t have to give it up!

Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet

Many people find this an easy lifestyle to adapt to because nothing is truly off-limits. And, the food that you should eat the most of is full of flavor.

Experts believe it also has significant health benefits. Following the Mediterranean diet promotes a healthy heart and may even help prevent diabetes.

Over time, it can also lead to weight loss and reduced inflammation. It’s also a fairly green lifestyle, which is good for the environment.

Drawbacks of the Mediterranean Diet

While there are plenty of reasons to love the Mediterranean diet, there are also some drawbacks to this lifestyle. Depending on where you live, fresh produce, seafood, and poultry might be expensive.

If you’re someone that does better following a more specific plan, you might feel a little lost getting started, since there are only general guidelines to follow.

It can also be time-consuming to plan meals that meet the requirements of the eating plan.

Sample Meals

Still not sure if this is a plan you could follow? Here are just a few examples of the types of meals you might eat when following the Mediterranean diet.

  • Quinoa, chickpeas, and fresh vegetables tossed in olive oil and lemon juice
  • Baked chicken breasts stuffed with spinach, red peppers, and feta cheese
  • Cauliflower rice bowls topped with olives, feta cheese, and grilled chicken
  • Salmon with roasted sweet potatoes and broccoli

Is your mouth watering yet?

Paleo

When you think about how much technology has developed since the dawn of mankind, you probably wouldn’t want to go back in time. However, while our ancient ancestors lacked smartphones and the internet, their diets were full of healthy, whole foods.

The paleo diet consists of eating only the foods that would have been available to our ancestors during the Paleolithic time period. Essentially, it’s made up of the types of foods that hunters and gatherers would have found back then.

Things You Can Eat

When it comes to the paleo diet vs Mediterranean diet, paleo is much more strict. That’s because anything that wasn’t available during the Paleolithic period is off-limits.

Not surprisingly, that means you can’t have processed foods. However, it also excludes beans, most grains, and dairy, which wouldn’t have been available back then, before extensive farming practices. The paleo diet also doesn’t include alcohol.

If you’re thinking it sounds like there’s not much left, think again! When you follow paleo, you can have plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole foods, eggs, fish, and meat.

Benefits of Paleo

Following the paleo lifestyle helps you consume more healthy fats and protein. And, you’ll likely take in more potassium, thanks to eating more fruits and vegetables.

This can help you maintain your blood pressure and keep your kidneys functioning properly.

By cutting out processed foods and added sugars, you can also reduce your risk of diabetes and promote heart health.

Drawbacks of Paleo

For some people, entirely cutting out certain food groups can lead to binging those foods later. If you have a hard time with very restrictive diets, paleo might be hard for you to follow.

It’s also easy to miss out on important nutrients when following paleo. By cutting out dairy, you might not get the calcium you need. And, you might need to monitor your fiber intake, as cutting out whole grains can lead to a deficiency.

Sample Meals

Get inspired to try paleo for yourself with these delicious recipe ideas:

  • Roasted chicken with carrots and broccoli
  • An omelet with spinach, tomatoes, and mushrooms
  • A salad of fresh greens topped with salmon and lemon juice
  • Grilled pork chops with a side salad topped with berries

With just a bit of creativity, the meal possibilities are endless.

Mediterranean Diet vs Paleo

Now that you know more about the Mediterranean diet vs paleo and what sets them apart, it’s time to get cooking!

Even if you don’t adopt either lifestyle full time, you can still make some delicious meals based on the principles of either option. Your body will thank you for it.

For more inspiration on how to live your best life, be sure to browse our other articles before you go.