Depending on who you talk to, dieting is life-changing, terrible for you, optimistic, misguided, will keep you alive or put you in an early grave.
Then there’s all that lingo that comes with mastering the biological theories behind dieting, like ketosis and alkaline and lectin — phrases that make you feel like you’re in a science class rather than just trying to shed a few pounds or live a healthier life.
Have no fear, because we’ve got a simplified guide for you about the trendiest diets going into the new year — that self-conscious time when everyone’s reevaluating their lifestyle.
With each diet description is a rating of its effectiveness, done by U.S. News and World Report in August of 2018. We’ve included their findings, based on input from a panel of health experts, on weight loss and healthiness for each diet. While doing this study they took into account the diet being “relatively easy to follow, nutritious, safe, effective for weight loss and protective against diabetes and heart disease.”
COMING TOMORROW: There’s no baking required for this mac & cheese recipe
Without further ado, here are the diet trends you’re likely to see referenced in celebrity Instagram captions in 2019.
Vinny Guadagnino. (Photo: Kevin Mazur, WireImage)
Perhaps the biggest fad that’s riding its wave of popularity right into 2019 is the Ketogenic, or “Keto,” diet. Celebs like Kourtney Kardashian, Al Roker and Vinny Guadagnino (who affectionately went by the nickname “Keto Guido” on the new seasons of “Jersey Shore”) have popularized the diet. Ketogenic diets are low on carbs and high on fat, which puts the body in a state of ketosis. Ketosis is a metabolic state that happens when your body doesn’t have enough carbohydrates for your cells to burn for energy. So, instead, it burns fat. The Keto diet is very effective at slimming your waistline, but does cause huge changes to your body that aren’t always positive. U.S. News & World Report says that changing the way your body is fueled from carbs to fat can lead to leg cramps, dehydration, brain fog, dizziness and more.
U.S. News & World Report: 2.8/5 Weight Loss | 1.6/5 Healthy
The philosophy of this diet is in the name. The Paleo diet encourages people to eat foods that would have been available to our Paleolithic ancestors. In case you need to brush up on your high school science, the Paleolithic era started 2.5 million years ago. Basically, with this diet you’re looking at meals that could either be hunted or gathered — lean meats, fish, vegetables, nuts and seeds. And, because farming hadn’t been developed yet in the Paleolithic era, Paleo dieters are expected to cut out foods that became popularized through farming like dairy products, legumes and grains, as well. Those who follow the Paleo diet believe that modern eating habits don’t suit our prehistoric genetic makeup, so we should return to Stone Age-approved meals.
U.S. News & World Report: 2.5/5 Weight Loss | 2.5/5 Healthy
Acid is the enemy of the Alkaline diet. The thought behind this diet is to cut out foods that cause your body to produce acid – including meat, wheat, refined sugar, processed foods, dairy, eggs, canned food, packaged snacks, caffeine and alcohol. You may be thinking: what else is there to eat? The Alkaline diet approves of most fruits and vegetables, nuts, legumes, soybeans and tofu. These are foods that are alkaline — in other words have a pH value of 7, which is neutral, or above. Foods with a pH value below 7 are acidic, and therefore a no-go. That said, there is no solid science to support that regulating the pH values of your food will change the overall pH balance of your body. It will do that naturally. However, in general, eating a lot of fruits and veggies and avoiding processed foods will make you lose weight.
U.S. News & World Report: 2.1/5 Weight Loss | 2.9/5 Healthy
A popular diet that spurred a New York Times bestselling book, Whole30 encourages people to eat foods with as few ingredients as possible, and all those ingredients should be substances you know and can pronounce. A head of broccoli? Go for it. A piece of candy made with things like glycerin, citric acid, potassium sorbate, red 40 and soy lecithin? Not so much. The program’s website claims that if you completely avoid foods such as alcohol, anything with added sugar, legumes, dairy and more, for 30 days, you will “eliminate cravings, restore a healthy metabolism, heal the digestive tract, reduce systemic inflammation, and discover how these foods are truly impacting how you look, how you feel, and your quality of life.” This program also advocates not stepping on a scale, to make the diet more about health than weight loss.
U.S. News & World Report: 2.3/5 on Weight Loss | 2.4/5 on Healthy
The Mediterranean diet advocates heart-healthy foods that are typically eaten in the Mediterranean. The diet guides people to eat plenty of plants and foods that are low on “bad” cholesterol, such as legumes, nuts, wheat, fruits and veggies. For example, in this diet, you replace butter with healthy fats like olive oil, salt with herbs and spices, and red meat with fish and poultry. Plus, it totally encourages a glass of red wine every now and then. In essence, you’re not avoiding fats and carbs, you’re just choosing the healthier versions.
U.S. News & World Report: 3.0/5 on Weight loss | 4.8/5 on Healthy
Author Mark Bittman arrives at the launch party for the PBS television series of “Spain…on the Road Again” in New York on Sunday, Sept. 21, 2008. (AP Photo/Peter Kramer) (Photo: Peter Kramer, ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Think of the Flexitarian diet as vegetarian with a lot of cheat days. The term applies to people who typically eat meatless but occasionally incorporate meat or fish into their diet. New York Times columnist Mark Bittman (who also wrote “VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00”) has a big role in popularizing this diet. Bittman, as his book title suggests, advocates eating vegan before 6 p.m. An easier way to ease into this diet is by doing a few meatless days a week, says Dawn Jackson Blatner, the author of “The Flexitarian Diet” and a registered dietitian, until you reach the top tier, which is five meatless days a week.
U.S. News & World Report: 3.3/5 on Weight loss | 4.6/5 on Healthy
We can trace the popularity of this diet back to Kelly Clarkson’s praise of “The Plant Paradox Cookbook” by Dr. Steve Gundry. She said this book helped her achieve her recent weight loss. Gundry has a long, science-fiction-esque explanation about why plants high in lectins (a kind of protein) like beans, legumes and whole grains are bad for you. An extraordinarily simplified version of his theory is that lectins in the plants cause confusion in the immune system and inflammation. An extraordinarily dramatized version of his theory is that plants are waging war against us so we don’t eat them and we’re too dumb to adjust our diets. It’s true lectins can be toxic in some cases, but much of Gundry’s research is based on inconsistent evidence.
U.S. News & World Report: No ranking available