And just like that, another year has flown by. And just like that, Google serves up the most-searched diets of the year. Much to my chagrin, this past year’s popular diets didn’t prove to be an improvement over the previous year.
If anything, it was a disappointment, as some diets I could actually get behind (looking at you Mediterranean diet) fell off the list. There was one huge surprise for me: The Keto diet didn’t make the cut. But honestly, that doesn’t stop me from thinking a lot of people still are trying it. Sigh.
Anyway, here’s what people in the U.S. were searching for when it comes to diets:
1. Intermittent fasting diet.
Not surprised at all to see this on the top of the list, as it has definitely grown in popularity. It actually appeared last year as No. 8 but under the general term of “fasting.” There are many types of intermittent fasting, but the two main types are either the 5:2 format or what is referred to as time-restricted eating.
During time-restricted eating, you can eat within any 8-hour window – for example, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. or from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. During the remaining 16 hours of the day, no food is consumed, except zero-calorie beverages. The 5:2 format is when two non-consecutive days of the week are spent “fasting,” basically consuming around 500 calories per day, and the remaining five days of the week, you could eat your regular diet.
There’s been a lot of research to conclude that you may lose weight on these types of diets. However, it’s still not understood if the benefits occur because you’re simply restricting calories (personally my guess) or because you’re not eating for long periods of time. And how about whether or not any of it’s sustainable for the long haul – that remains the real question.
2. Dr. Sebi diet.
The late Dr. Sebi, born as Alfredo Darrington Bowman, was a Honduran herbalist and self-proclaimed healer who believed that a build-up of mucus, not germs, caused illness and that his type of alkaline eating plan was the cure. In order to cleanse the body of this mucus, he encouraged consumption of what he referred to as live and raw foods, such as fruits (except seedless), veggies (no canned allowed), whole grains, nuts and seeds, teas and herbs and spices. Basically, everything else was restricted. For example, no animal products, no soy products, no alcohol and absolutely no fortified foods. Wow, talk about restriction!
There is no scientific research to support any of Dr. Sebi’s claims, including that his diet could cure conditions like AIDS, sickle cell anemia, leukemia and lupus. Actually in 1993, a lawsuit ordered him to stop making such claims. And there isn’t even any evidence that he was a medical doctor at all.
3. Noom diet.
Holding steady in the No. 3 spot, Noom is still on the list. Noom is an app that’s designed to be your personal weight-loss coach, and it currently offers two 16-week programs – healthy weight and diabetes prevention – for a monthly fee. The company says its users have an average weight loss of 18 pounds in 16 weeks, which is refreshing since that’s considered a healthy weight-loss rate. Noom claims it uses lifestyle intervention techniques to help participants reach their goals. I can’t argue with what appears to be a rational approach to weight loss; however, everyone’s weight-loss journey is different, and an app may not be effective for some.
4. 1,200 calories diet.
Unless you are a non-active petite woman, think around 5 feet tall, I’m almost sure that 1,200 calories daily will not provide adequate nutrition to help your body function properly. I will admit though that most people will lose weight – at least until they realize they’re starving constantly. And until malnutrition starts to set in. Enough said.
For three years straight, the GOLO diet (created by former psychiatrist Dr. Keith Ablow and a team of doctors) has appeared on this list. It claims to optimize your insulin levels while reducing fat storages in your body. The three-tiered program, which includes a daily supplement called Release, customized meal planning and a guide, costs $39.95 per month. Release supposedly kick starts your metabolism, reduces hunger and cravings and regulates insulin levels. Sound too good to be true? Well, it probably is. There’s absolutely no conclusive scientific evidence to support any of these claims. I’m weary of any diet that strictly promotes buying its products in order to be successful – and so should you.
6. Dubrow diet.
When a diet is created by reality stars (in this case, Heather Dubrow of “The Real Housewives of Orange County” and her husband, Dr. Terry Dubrow, a Newport Beach plastic surgeon and star on “Botched”), you should probably ask yourself if the diet is mostly hype. Falling from its No. 2 spot in 2018, the Dubrow diet, which is basically intermittent fasting with three different phases and a whole lot of rules, is more about calorie restriction than anything else. (Hey, I’m sensing a theme here.) Truthfully though, any diet with a third phase called “Look Hot While Living Like a Human” gets a hard pass from me.
7. Sirtfood diet.
The sirtfood diet claims that certain plant-based foods known as “sirtuin activators” can boost your body’s metabolism to promote weight loss, reverse aging and decrease inflammation in the body. Sirt foods include red wine, dark chocolate, berries, coffee, kale, matcha green tea, extra virgin olive oil, walnuts, parsley, red onions, soy and turmeric. The diet plan involves two phases. First three days of phase one you consume 1,000 calories per day, made up of one sirtfood-heavy meal and three green juices. Then days four to seven you eat two sirtfood meals and two juices a day, for a total of 1,500 calories. Phase two, a two-week maintenance phase, consists of three meals full of sirtfoods and one green juice per day. All the meals throughout are chosen from recipes provided in the sirtfood book.
Any research at this time is limited to studies conducted invitro or on mice, so it’s hard to conclude that sirtuin-boosting foods have any weight loss or any anti-aging capabilities in humans. One can argue though that the sirt foods promoted may definitely have some health benefits, but after the calorie-restricted phases are off, will you still lose weight? Not so sure.
8. No carbs, no sugar diet.
No carbs, no sugar is back on the list from 2015, except four years ago people searched for it under the “zero carb” diet. Hmmm? Not sure there’s a difference. I guess it all comes down to semantics, right? I will propose though that its popularity now is due to the fact that superstar J. Lo and former NY Yankee pitcher A. Rod promoted it. You gotta love the influence of social media. They challenged their fans to avoid all carbs for 10 days. J.Lo did report eating cucumbers, red pepper, onion, celery, green beans and yellow peppers. I guess she didn’t get the memo that vegetables ARE carbs?
Anyway, carbohydrates, which break down into glucose, are the body’s main fuel source. Our brain and our muscles cannot function optimally without glucose. So, I still find it hard to believe that people think a diet without carbs is a good idea. Maybe one day the public will learn that celebrities are not necessarily the best diet advisers.
9. Endomorph diet.
In the 1940s, psychologist William Sheldon described three main body types: ectomorphic, mesomorphic and endomorphic. Endomorphs are characterized with wider waistlines, bigger bone structure, low muscle mass and high amounts of body fat. These characteristics are believed to lead to a slower metabolism; therefore, making it harder to lose weight than other body types. The endomorph diet plan focuses on avoiding refined carbohydrates and eating a mix of healthful fats, proteins and carbohydrates from vegetables, nuts, fruits and whole-grain foods. The plan also includes an exercise regime that involves cardiovascular and strength training in order to help build lean muscle and burn calories.
I don’t know about you, but to me this sounds like a healthy eating plan for everyone no matter your body type. Can we do without the stereotype?
10. JLo diet.
So when people weren’t searching for no carbs, no sugar, they went straight to JLo diet. Same result as No. 8 was found. Lucky us.