Discussions about diet and health can often devolve into arguments over which food is the best or most appropriate for human beings. However, researchers at the University of Otago believe that this question is not as important as the question of which diet will be more sustainable. In reality, a diet is only as good as it is realistically attainable. A diet might be nutritionally perfect, but if it’s too unrealistic to follow, that perfection is useless.

Instead of focusing on that perfection, researchers compared intermittent fasting, the paleo diet, and the Mediterranean diet to see which fared better in terms of tangible benefits and real-world application. They tested the latter by allowing participants in the study to choose the diet method they wanted and apply the diet to themselves with no help from researchers or a dietician—much as any regular person would choose and follow a new diet normally.

The results this study yielded were interesting—all diets had observable health benefits, including weight loss, but specific diets shined in their ability to be applied and maintained. The study found that not only did the Mediterranean diet show significant health benefits like a reduction in both blood pressure and blood sugar levels, but this diet surpassed the others in terms of how long dieters would adhere to it.

The co-lead author of the study, Dr. Michelle Jospe, said, “Our participants could follow the diet’s guidelines more closely than the fasting and paleo diets and were more likely to stay with it after the year, as our retention rates showed.” There you have it—if you’re looking for a diet you’ll most likely stick to for life, you’ll want to choose the Mediterranean diet and up your chances of adherence.

Being able to follow the diet you choose successfully is a huge part of getting the healthy results you’re seeking. When looking for a diet, try to avoid extreme restrictions that you know you’ll likely break or know that you wouldn’t want to adhere to the diet for more than a few months. The best thing for good health and losing weight is to find a diet that you’ll be able to stay consistent with, just as it’s essential to find an exercise you’ll adhere to consistently. So far, science says the Mediterranean diet is your best bet for a consistently healthy eating pattern.