Our nutritionist says one is healthier than the others.
Each year ushers in a new set of trendy diets—many are "fad diets," which tend to be more harmful than helpful and normally unattainable, but some are nutritionally sound. This year was a big year for restrictive diets, with strict rules against entire food groups. You won't be surprised to see, then, that many home cooks took to Google to learn more about what they could eat—and what they couldn't—on certain diets in 2018.
Google shared their “Year in Search” data with Cooking Light, which highlights their top trending searches for various diets in 2018. But which of these 10 are actually worth your time? Cooking Light's nutrition director, Brierley Horton, MS, RD, weighed in on the one diet that you should take with you into the new year—and all those that should be left behind in 2018.
1) Keto Diet
Not surprised? Neither are we. The Keto Diet was the most-searched diet on Google this year. Keto recipes for pancakes, cheesecake, cookies, chili, and brownies were also among the top 10 most-searched foods on Google this year as well. Touted by a wide cast of celebrities from Halle Berry to Mama June (yes, really!), the diet is primarily focused on high-protein and high-fat foods, only allowing dieters around 20 grams of carbohydrates each day.
There is a lot of debate over the diet, as many doctors and dietitians suggest it is unsustainable for more than a few weeks at a time. Some who have attempted the diet say going keto isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
2. Dubrow Diet
The Dubrow Diet: Interval Eating to Lose Weight and Feel Ageless became an instant best-seller when it hit the shelves in October, as it was written by Heather Dubrow and husband Dr. Terry Dubrow, both television personalities featured on Bravo's Real Housewives of Orange County. The diet shifts the focus from calories to the logistics of eating: when, what, and how much.
That being said, Carolyn Williams, PhD, RD, believes the diet to be based on questionable science and hyper-focused on physical appearance, making it one she would not recommend to clients.
3. Noom Diet
Noom took over social media this year with ads for their weight-loss app, which has racked up an estimated 45 million users. Referred to as the “Weight Watchers for Millenials,” the app serves as a personal weight-loss coach and uses principles similar to Weight Watchers. Foods are coded in colors (with none being off-limits!), there is group and individual support, and there are weekly focus areas to help promote a more well-balanced lifestyle.
Williams tried the app for two weeks and believes it to be a potentially helpful tool that could supplement, or replace, the Weight Watchers programs. Membership costs $49.50 per month, but there's a free 14-day trial if you're interested.
4. The Carnivore Diet
This diet is essentially a more extreme (and riskier!) version of the keto and paleo diets. The diet’s principles are exactly what you would expect: all animal products, no plants. Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, called the carnivore diet a “recipe for disaster,” as plant-based foods can also provide crucial nutrients for bodily functions—while preventing constipation.
While some have found success with short-term versions of this diet. Sass believes it is more due to removing processed and sugar-laden foods from their diets than strictly eating animal proteins. She says you could find more promising results with more sustainable, healthier diets.
More and more people continue to join Club Mediterranean as their diet of choice, due to the wide range of studies highlighting its health benefits. The Mediterranean diet is primarily plant-based, with emphasis on heart-healthy fats, seafood—even the occasional glass of red wine.
Recently, Spain was deemed the country with the highest life expectancy due to the country’s overall adherence to the diet. The amount of research showing the Mediterranean Diet’s positive impacts on health at every age makes it one that has withstood the other fad diets for almost 30 years.
Interested in learning more about the Mediterranean diet?
- 13 Pantry Staples to Buy Before Trying the Mediterranean Diet
- Nourish Your Body With These 20 Minute Mediterranean Recipes
- A Vegetarian’s Guide to the Mediterranean Diet
6. The Optavia Diet
Optavia is a weight-loss program with its own coaches, diet plans, meals, and beverages available for purchase. The company offers 10 different meal plans, each emphasizing eating six small meals each day.
Your designated coach works with you to determine how many of their pre-packaged meals and snacks you eat and how many you make on your own for optimal weight loss. Out of the various meal plan options, Optavia’s “5&1 Plan,” where you eat five of their meals and make one of your own each day, is the only one that promises “fat-burning.”
7. The Dr. Gundry Diet (also known as The Plant Paradox Diet)
The Plant Paradox: The Hidden Dangers in "Healthy" Foods That Cause Disease and Weight Gain is Dr. Steven Gundry’s latest weight-loss book, which has grown increasingly popular in the last year. The diet villianizes lectins, a protein found in many plants, and calls for avoiding a wide variety of plant-based foods containing these proteins. Gundry said he adopted the diet himself and lost 70 pounds, reversed his chronic illnesses, and reduced inflammation, all the while cutting back on exercise.
However, health professionals are wary of the diet’s long-lasting benefits, as it requires eliminating otherwise healthy foods—including chia seeds and a variety of vegetables. The diet also requires swapping out whole grains for white breads, pastas, and rice.
8. Fasting Diet (Intermittent Fasting)
Intermittent fasting isn’t necessarily a new diet, but it has gained significant following in the past two years, thanks to big names like Hugh Jackman and Beyoncé. There are a few varieties of intermittent fasting: either you have a 12-16 hour fast at some point in your day, or your restrict your intake to 500 calories per day twice a week.
There is a lot of conflicting research out there on how beneficial this approach for weight loss actually is—that being said, Horton believes that this approach could be helpful as long as you keep realistic goals.
Horton noted a recent study showed intermittent fasting was no better than a conventional diet, but the conclusion mentioned it still worked, just not in a “magic bullet” way some expect.
“There is research that supports the diet works, and for some the flexibility of limiting how much they eat either at set times during the day, or for a couple days over the course of the week, makes cutting back on calories easier,” Horton said.
9. The FODMAP Diet
The FODMAP Diet is focused on particular short-chain carbohydrates that are often not properly digested by the small intestine. Improper digestion of these Fermentable, Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols (FODMAP) leads to digestive issues, particularly irritable bowel-like symptoms.
This elimination diet requires eliminating specific fruits, vegetables, grains, and dairy products for six to eight weeks, and slowly reintroducing these foods while monitoring any symptoms.
The FODMAP diet is intended to be be temporary, and it is recommended to only be used for identifying problematic foods that could be causing other digestive issues.
10. The Shepherd’s Diet
The Shepherd’s Diet is based on a book by Kristina Wilds of the same name. The book describes itself as, “A Biblically inspired seven-step system to lose weight, feel great, and look younger.”
It is a low-carb, moderate-protein, and very high-fat meal plan, similar to the keto diet. This diet also asks followers to listen for "the Holy Spirit’s direction" in order to prevent overindulging, and show restraint in fasting. Reviews of Wilds’ book on Amazon say that there have been hoaxes and scams related to the book in the past, however.