Eating healthier and losing weight is the No. 1 resolution hopeful people make on New Year’s Eve. They yearn to improve their eating habits, only to fail miserably within the first couple of months of the year.
Drastic diet changes rarely work. Before you commit to this resolution, take some time to research the different types of diets out there and consider which one is best for you.
Top 6 diets trending up this year
To help you choose a diet and stick to it, we’ve put together a list of the top six diets trending up this year. Please consult your doctor before making any drastic dietary changes.
1. Keto Diet
The ketogenic diet is a high-fat diet, low-carbohydrate diet that forces the body to burn fats rather than carbs for energy. The diet gets its name from ketosis, the state your body goes into when it burns fat for fuel instead of carbs. Normally, the body turns carbs in food into glucose, which is used for energy throughout the body and the brain. When lacking carbs, the liver converts fat into fatty acids and ketone bodies to replace glucose as an energy source. This diet was originally developed in the 1920s as a way to control seizures.
The Keto diet focuses on fatty foods, such as bacon, cheese, coconut oil, nuts and avocado, and excessively restricts carbs. Typically, keto dieters eat 20 to 50 grams carbs per day (a medium apple has 25 grams of carbs). Keto fans claim the diet helps them drop weight quickly, but research shows that keto doesn’t significantly outperform other weight-loss regiments (Harvard School of Public Health).
Unfortunately, the keto diet comes with a series of negative side effects, including constipation, high cholesterol, acidosis, kidney stones and osteoporosis. Because of these and other adverse effects, most dietitians and nutritionist warn against using the keto diet as a long-term weight loss strategy.
2. Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting (IF) is an eating pattern that involves periods of fasting and eating. Unlike regular diets, IF focuses on when people eat, not what they eat.
Humans have always fasted. Ancient hunter-gatherers didn’t have supermarkets, restaurants or refrigerators. They skipped meals because they had nothing to eat. As a result, humans evolved the ability to function without food for extended periods of time. As a matter of fact, fasting regularly is more natural than eating several times a day or all day long. Fasting is also practiced for religious or spiritual reasons.
There are three IF methods
- alternate-day fasting
- periodic fasting
- daily time-restricted feeding.
The most popular method consists of fasting for 16 hours each day and eating during the remaining 8-hour period. Another popular IF method is eat-stop-eat, which involves fasting for 24 hours twice a week. The 5:2 method limits calories to 500 or 600 on two non-consecutive days of the week.
IF is controversial. According to some research, IF results in weight loss and reduces insulin resistance, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, inflammation and the risk of heart disease, while increasing growth hormone levels, cellular repair and gene expression, boosting longevity and protection against disease.
3. Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean diet is inspired by the traditional eating habits of Spaniards, Italians and Greeks. It’s based on a high consumption of olive oil, legumes, unrefined cereals, vegetables and fruits, moderate-to-high consumption of fish, moderate consumption of dairy products (mostly as cheese and yogurt), moderate wine consumption, and low consumption of non-fish meat products.
Research shows this way of eating lowers the risk of heart disease and early death. The Mediterranean diet is one of three healthy diets recommended in the 2015-2020 U.S. Dietary Guidelines; furthermore, U.S. News & World Report ranks it as the best overall diet. The American Heart Association and American Diabetes Association recommend it as a healthy eating pattern that can reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes. In addition to its health benefits, dieters claim it helps them lose weight and keep it off.
4. Low-Carb Diet
Carbohydrates, or carbs, have a bad reputation because they’re found in many foods that are both –high-calorie and nutrient-poor, such as refined bread, candy and potato chips. Cutting back on high-carb, high-sugar, low-fiber foods is good for you. Nevertheless, you body still needs carbs as a source of energy.
Many healthy foods are high in carbs, such as legumes, whole grains and some fruits and vegetables. As a result, diets that restrict all carbs, without making a distinction between them, aren’t the healthiest diets. Many carb haters end up removing whole, plant-based foods that have key health benefits. Low-carb diets can also make workouts feel harder than normal because of the way the body metabolizes energy when lacking carbs. Therefore, when considering a low-carb diet, proceed with care.
5. Calorie Restriction
When you consume fewer calories than the number of calories you use, you lose weight. Some nutritionist and dieticians claim that achieving a calorie deficit is the only effective way to lose weight. Others warn against becoming calorie-obsessed (a hallmark of eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia) and recommend people focus on the type of food they eat, not the number of calories they consume.
You can use calorie-counting apps or websites to track your calorie intake. You can also cut calories by adjusting portions on your plate, decreasing the amount of high-calorie foods (foods high in fat and sugar) while increasing the portion of high-fiber foods. Eating more fruits and vegetables and less calorie-dense foods automatically lowers your calorie intake.
6. Low-Fat Diet
Like carbs, dietary fat has a bad reputation—but we need fat to live. Fats provide energy and help the body absorb certain nutrients. The body also uses fats to build cell membranes and coat nerve cells. The food we eat contains different types of dietary fat, some healthy and some unhealthy. There’s evidence that replacing unhealthy fats with healthy fats is linked to a lower risk of heart disease.
Fat has the highest number of calories per gram: 9 calories vs. 4 per gram of protein or carbs. Although all fats have the same number of calories, a healthier low-fat diet reduces unhealthy saturated and trans fats in favor of monosaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Saturated fat is found in red meat, full-fat dairy and coconut oil. Sources of monosaturated and polyunsaturated fats include nuts, avocados, vegetable oils, fish and seeds.
Make this the year that you stick with this resolution. If you struggle, seek support. There are many local and online weight loss and weight management apps and communities you can join to get the assistance, encouragement and accountability you need.