4 Popular Diet Trends Right Now
Like bell bottoms and acid-washed jeans, diets go through trends. Remember the grapefruit diet? The cabbage soup diet? Scarsdale? Atkins? South Beach? The list is long. What are today’s diet trends? Which are most popular and which one might be right for you?
In this post, we’ll give you the rundown on Paleo, AIP, Keto and Whole30. But before we get started, remember: We’re not saying one diet is better than another, and any diet should be rooted in common sense and sound medical advice.
Before beginning any diet, speak with your doctor or healthcare provider about which diet is right for your specific health concerns and goals. The foods we choose to eat play a key role in maintaining and improving our health. Nutritional medicine can assist with alleviating many conditions. An integrative health provider can help you understand how a healthful diet can contribute to your overall wellness.
The Paleo Diet
One of the biggest diet trends of the last few years is the Paleo diet, based on the idea that what our ancestors ate during the Paleolithic age should provide a model for modern nutrition. In other words, “If a caveman didn’t eat it, neither should you.” Essentially that means yes to meat and vegetables; no to bread and processed foods.
Paleo requires a higher percentage of protein—around 30 percent of daily calories, so meat, seafood and animal products are staples. Lower carbs mean non-starchy fruits and vegetables are okay, but potatoes are not. Fiber is also important, but not from grains. Again, the emphasis is on fruits and vegetables. As you would imagine, a diet high in animal products means a moderate to higher fat intake is okay, especially monounsaturated fats and Omega-3s. As for dairy, did cavemen have cheese sticks? Nope. And neither can those following the diet. Paleo also encourages lower sodium intake, which may occur naturally because you eat fewer processed foods on this diet.
Is it for you? If you hate counting calories and can live without pasta, it just might be. Like some other diets mentioned in this article, the emphasis is on rethinking your relationship with food and trying to establish healthier habits.
The AIP Diet
The AIP Diet stands for “autoimmune protocol,” so it emphasizes eliminating foods that trigger an autoimmune response in the body, such as allergic reactions or intestinal inflammation. This diet doesn’t claim to cure any autoimmune diseases, but it can minimize the worst effects. Some call it a stricter (!) version of Paleo.
In addition to banning grains, added sugars and processed foods (like Paleo), AIP also forbids eggs, seeds, dried fruit, chocolate and certain herbs. Instead, you’ll fill up on vegetables, a limited quantity of fruits, coconut products, a variety of meats and fermented foods (kimchi, kefir and kombucha).
Is it for you? If you suffer from an autoimmune disease or have serious digestive issues, this might be worth trying. Because you are likely trying to alleviate symptoms of disease, this isn’t a 30-day “do it and done.” It will require a completely new way of eating, so you have to be in it for the long haul to realize lasting benefits.
The Keto Diet
Keto is short for “ketogenic,” but what does that mean? This diet is based on the metabolic state known as ketosis when the body burns fat as the main energy source instead of carbs. As you might guess, the Keto diet is extremely low in carbs, high in fat and moderate in protein. The Keto diet encourages your metabolism to shift from burning glucose (sugar) for fuel to burning fat for fuel.
You may see a pattern developing here in the diets we’re reviewing: Keto also forbids grains. No sugar―including fructose―so you won’t be munching on apples with this diet. Also banned are legumes and tubers (potatoes, sweet or otherwise). You can eat meat, leafy greens and other vegetables, plus dairy. Nuts and seeds are okay, as are certain sweeteners (stevia and monk fruit). Berries are allowed, because of their low glycemic index.
Is it for you? If you’re okay with skipping bread, but can’t live without cheese, this might work for you. The Keto diet claims to be very effective at weight loss.
The Whole30 Diet
As the name implies, the Whole30 Diet lasts for 30 days and encourages the consumption of whole foods. The goal is to eliminate groups of foods that are known to promote unhealthy responses in our bodies. After 30 days, you can slowly add the foods back in to see if your body reacts poorly and then decide whether you need to eliminate them permanently.
This diet is most similar to Paleo, although you are allowed to eat potatoes. Unlike Paleo, you are also allowed to eat some processed foods, as long as they are Whole30 approved. You can’t have any alcohol (even in vanilla extract), MSG, added sugar or sulfates, so you’ll become an expert at reading labels.
Is it for you? If you want to try something similar to Paleo, but can’t give up roasted potatoes, you might like Whole30. A lot of Paleo recipes are Whole30 compliant, so you’ll have plenty of options in terms of cooking.
Want to know what it’s like doing Whole30? Our next post features a first-hand account of a woman who just completed the 30 days of Whole30; she shares her experience.
Diet fads come and go, which is why you shouldn’t view dieting as an on/off switch or even call it a diet. The goal is to be at optimal health your entire life, and that doesn’t require a diet—it requires smart habits that last a lifetime.