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Mediterranean Diet vs Paleo: Which One Is Right for You?

Mediterranean Diet vs Paleo

The Mediterranean and paleo diets are popular eating regimens, believed to promote weight loss and improve overall health. These two diets offer distinct ways of eating but share certain similarities, too. If confronted with the dilemma: the Mediterranean vs. paleo diet, in order to choose one, we learn the following.

The paleo diet doesn't promote eating grains, legumes and dairy, while the Mediterranean diet does. Both, however, ban processed foods and include fruits and nuts, as well as poultry and seafood. In addition, the Mediterranean diet limits the consumption of red meat, while the paleo doesn't.

Key Takeaways

  • The Mediterranean diet focuses on nutrient-rich, high-quality whole foods.
  • A paleo diet limits processed food intake like the Mediterranean diet. It focuses on adding a wide variety of plant-based food sources.
  • Both diets emphasize fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and meats. However, the paleo diet restricts grains, dairy, and legumes.

This article looks into the Mediterranean and paleo diets, their similarities, their differences, and the best option between the two.

Paleo vs Mediterranean Diet for Weight Loss

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On a short-term basis, the paleo diet may result in faster weight loss because it’s more restrictive than the Mediterranean diet.

In addition, a diet lower in carbs and higher in proteins – like the paleo diet – may result in faster weight loss and decreased food appetite.

In the long term, the Mediterranean diet is more comfortable to sustain because it’s more of a lifestyle, making weight loss easier.

Advantages of the Mediterranean Diet for Weight Loss

Some advantages of the Mediterranean diet include:

  • Low in saturated fats
  • High in filling protein and fiber
  • Served with fresh, flavorful fruits and vegetables

Advantages of the Paleo Diet for Weight Loss

Some advantages of the Paleo diet include:

  • High in protein
  • Eliminates added sugar
  • Low in carbohydrates
  • Reduces calorie intake
  • Eliminates highly processed foods

Related: What Does a Keto Diet Consist of? Healthy Fats & Low-Carbs

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Mediterranean Diet vs Paleo vs Keto

Mediterranean Diet vs Paleo vs Keto

Let’s compare the three diet plans:

  • The Mediterranean diet focuses on general feeding guidelines, not calorie counting. On the other hand, the paleo and keto diets are incredibly restrictive, involving lots of counting calories.

  • A keto diet focuses on consuming a diet high in fat for an extended period, which isn’t suitable in the long run. It may lead to negative outcomes like high cholesterol. Also, stopping the keto diet can cause your kilos to pile up.

  • Unlike the keto diet, Mediterranean and paleo meal plans focus more on using fruits and vegetables. Furthermore, the Mediterranean meal plan emphasizes fresh, plant-based food, making it a more sustainable option.

  • The Mediterranean diet includes healthy fats like olive oil, whole grains, avocados, leafy greens, and legumes. In contrast, keto focuses on high-fat foods like butter, bacon, and cheese, low-carb foods, and moderate proteins.

Similarities in Paleo and Keto Diets

Paleo and Keto Diets

Paleo and keto diet plans encourage eating multiple whole foods while excluding processed foods. They encompass a low carbohydrate intake and don’t allow you to eat legumes and grains.

Furthermore, the diets focus on meat for protein while recommending healthy fats like olive, avocado, nut oils, and non-starchy vegetables.

Differences Between Paleo and Keto Diets

Paleo and keto diets remove certain foods. The keto diet prohibits foods that are high in sugar and most fruits. In contrast, the Paleo diet allows specific natural sweeteners and more fruits. Paleo focuses on natural, non-processed meat, while keto lets you eat any meat without added sugar or carbs.

  • Processed meat: Paleo diet doesn’t include processed meats like ham, bacon, or salami. The Keto diet, on the other hand, allows these meats on condition that they don’t contain sugar or carbs.

  • Sugar and sweeteners: Keto diet allows specific artificial sweeteners on the condition that they don’t contain sugar. Natural sweeteners like maple syrup and honey are acceptable in the paleo diet.

  • Starchy vegetables: The keto diet doesn’t allow starchy vegetables. The paleo diet, however, embraces most nutritious vegetables but should be taken in moderation.

  • Dairy: Keto diet allows dairy products without sugar, ideally the higher protein and fat types. The paleo diet doesn’t allow any dairy products.

  • Fruit: Paleo allows all fruits, although you should take the high-sugar options in moderation. The keto diet only allows low-sugar fruits.

Similarities and Differences Between the Paleo Diet and Mediterranean Diet

Here are the key differences between the paleo diet and the Mediterranean diet:

Similarities Differences
Both advocate the consumption of whole foods. The Mediterranean diet includes most foods.
The two diet plans discourage processed foods, but include seeds, nuts, fruits, fish, poultry. Paleo bans foods like grains, dairy and legumes & is low on carbs.

To sum up, both diets fall under the NOVA spectrum, encouraging more unprocessed and minimally-processed foods. Neither requires you to track or calculate portion sizes.

While the paleo diet removes legumes, dairy, and grains, the Mediterranean diet allows them. The Mediterranean focuses on olive oil, while the paleo diet promotes the consumption of coconut oil, lard, and butter.

The Mediterranean diet encourages foods like seeds, nuts, poultry, fish, and tubers. You’ll likely miss out on some micronutrients and vitamins like zinc, magnesium, vitamin D, iron, and calcium, if on the paleo diet, according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Are you on a special diet, be it the paleo or the Mediterranean diet? Then, don’t hesitate to take advantage of Cook Unity’s paleo meal delivery or Mediterranean meal delivery service anytime! Enrich your daily menu with a range of amazing dishes that suit your dietary regimen!

Related: What Is the Mediterranean Diet and How to Get Started?

Paleo vs. Mediterranean Diet Food List

The Mediterranean diet has the following eating patterns:

  • Limited sugar consumption
  • Moderate consumption of red wine, butter, and eggs
  • Probiotics like yogurt for gut health
  • Fresh herbs and spices
  • Unsaturated fats like olive oil
  • Lean protein sources like lean meat (chicken and fish)
  • Plant-based fibers like vegetables, legumes, and whole grains

Paleo eating patterns contain the following:

  • Coconut oil, and honey in moderation
  • Occasionally consuming root vegetables like cassava and sweet potatoes
  • Plant-based foods like fungi, nuts, seeds, berries, vegetables, and fruits.
  • Pasture-raised and grass-fed fish and meat

Foods to Avoid in the Paleo-Mediterranean Diet

Many would try a combination of the two dietery plans in the hope to get the best of both. So, if you decide on the Paleo-Mediterranean diet, avoid the following in the listed food/drink groups below:

  • Beverages: Leave out all soda, caffeinated energy drinks, Kool-aid, alcohol, flavored drinks, and fruit juices.
  • Sweeteners: Avoid acesulfame-K, saccharin, Splenda, NutraSweet, aspartame, sugar.
  • Fats: Forget about peanut and brominated vegetable oils, all trans fats, lard, safflower, corn, and sunflower oils.
  • Grains: Limit all grains.
  • Dairy: Reduce cheese intake and exclude sour cream, ice cream, butter, and milk.
  • Protein: Limit eggs to four per week and limit meat to once a week.
  • Fruits: Avoid sweet fresh or dried fruits like grapes, prunes, raisins, dates, and bananas.
  • Vegetables: Limit your intake of root vegetables like yams and avoid starchy vegetables like white potatoes and corn.
  • Other Foods: Avoid processed foods, artificial sweeteners, artificial flavorings, chemical food additives, fast food, and frozen ready meals.

Related: Whole30 Diet vs. Paleo Diet: Key Differences & Similarities

Mediterranean-Paleo Diet Plan

Mediterranean-Paleo Diet Plan

A Mediterranean-paleo diet is rich in poultry, lean meats, fish and seafood, and seasonal fruits and vegetables. It also includes olive oil, limitted whole grains, and very little red meat and dairy.

Tips for following the diet include:

  • Eat more wild seafood
  • Always add good fats like olive oil
  • Pair vegetables with seasonal vegetables
  • Limit gluten intake
  • Avoid refined or processed food
  • Build your foods around protein sources like chicken breast, salmon, sardines, etc.

See a sample one-day meal plan for a Mediterranean-paleo diet below:

Time Meal
Breakfast Tea/coffee & a boiled egg
Snack An apple & nuts
Lunch Chicken breast & greens
Snack Carrots, dipped in humus
Dinner Grilled fish & vegetables

Related: Paleo vs. Keto for Inflammation: Which One Works Better?

Mediterranean-Paleo Recipes

Mediterranean-Paleo Recipes

Image by Everyday Health

The paleo-Mediterranean diet plan focuses on eating whole foods while excluding processed foods. It’s more inclusive than the paleo diet.

Examples of recipes to try for breakfast, lunch, or dinner that fit into a Mediterranean-paleo diet include the following:

Related: What Foods Are Not Allowed in the Mediterranean Diet?

Mediterranean Diet vs Paleo: Which One Is Right for You? FAQs

Q: Mediterranean Diet vs Keto: Which is Good for Weight Loss?

A: The Mediterranean diet is better for weight loss than keto because it supports long-term, sustainable weight loss.

Q: Which is Healthier, Mediterranean or Paleo?

A: The Mediterranean diet is healthier than the paleo diet because its design is more of a lifestyle than an actual diet. A restrictive paleo diet may be more challenging to stick to over time.

Q: What Are the Disadvantages of the Mediterranean Diet?

A: The disadvantages of the Mediterranean diet include: You’re likely to gain weight from eating more than the recommended fat amount You might experience low iron levels from minimal meat consumption Loss of calcium from consuming fewer dairy products

Q: Is the Mediterranean Diet the Healthiest?

A: The Mediterranean diet is the healthiest because it emphasizes whole, minimally-processed foods. It focuses on filling your plate with mostly plants that enhance your health.

Related: What Foods Are in the Mediterranean Diet


While studies show that both the Mediterranean and paleo diets have reported health benefits, key differences remain.

The paleo diet has more restrictions than the Mediterranean diet. Thus, this makes it harder to keep up in the long run. Its strict limits on carbohydrates may lead to cravings, causing you to veer off from your goal.

The Mediterranean diet, however, can easily become your lifestyle because it offers a wider variety of foods. Even better, the Mediterranean diet focuses on human connection and appreciating food.

So, which of the two is right for you? This is ultimately a matter of your unique situation, needs and preferences. Generally speaking, the Mediterranean diet shows more evidence of long term health-promoting benefits. The paleo diet is too restrictive, which could be tricky to follow, of course.


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