A Functional Medicine Take On The 10 Most Searched Diets Of 2019
Each year Google releases lists of things we searched for most in the year, and they even go as far as to break down the diets that captured our imagination (and our screen time) in the year.
The most searched for diets of 2019 included some of our favorites, some (maybe faulty) classics, and some total randoms—but they largely seem to be focused on weight-loss plans.
When faced with all these different plans, we turned to experts to find out more about the trendiest diets of the year.
"I generally recommend avoiding any temporary programs and aiming for a sustainable, workable plan that can be maintained," functional medicine doctor Wendie Trubow, M.D., told mindbodygreen. "As a result, I don't recommend anything overly restrictive and do believe that each person's needs vary, although everyone can benefit from decreasing alcohol, sugar, and processed carbs!"
While even 10 different popular diet plans may seem like a lot, there are so many more that didn't even make this year's list. It just goes to show that while something may work for one person, it won't necessarily work for others.
1. Intermittent fasting
As we've already said, we're not super surprised to see intermittent fasting ranking No. 1 for 2019's diet trends. With health benefits like reduced inflammation, improved heart and gut health, and improved longevity, we are definitely fans of this eating plan. The variety of fasting windows makes IF highly adaptable and versatile, but many doctors recommend easing into fasting, as the change in routine can be difficult (or sometimes unhealthy) to adjust to at first.
To learn more about this eating plan, check out our beginner's guide to intermittent fasting.
2. The Dr. Sebi diet
The diet created by, you guessed it, "Dr. Sebi" is based on claims that illness in the body is a result of mucus buildup, which can be "eliminated" by eating more alkaline foods. While there's no research supporting the idea that alkaline foods can prevent disease, there may be some truth to the health benefits of the strict food list "by the basic premise of eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables," Leah Johansen, M.D., told mindbodygreen.
While we were puzzled as to why this diet was trending in April 2019, it seems the peak in searches was related to a documentary the late rapper Nipsey Hussle was working on, highlighting the work of Sebi (who, incidentally, was not a credentialed doctor).
We dove into the story of the Dr. Sebi diet, and you can read more about it here.
3. The Noom diet
Less of a diet and more of lifestyle change, Noom is an app that uses a psychology-based approach to rebuild habits for increased health. They claim to "trick" your body into changing to healthier patterns faster with custom plans and coaching, which include meal and workout plans. "This is a nice way to increase accountability and focus on eating whole, unprocessed foods," said Wendie Trubow, M.D., when we asked her about the platform. "If the price of the app works for you, then it may be a graceful way to improve sustainable habits." With the plan costing roughly $60 per month, it's definitely not the cheapest option on the list. But the premise of the program can help to promote a more healthy routine and lifestyle.
You can read more about how the Noom app and plan work here.
4. The 1,200-calorie diet
The standard caloric metric (aka the one nutrition labels are based on) is a 2,000-calorie diet. For this diet, the magic 1,200-calorie number is based on the premise that adults need anywhere from 1,300 to 1,600 calories per day for maintaining a healthy weight. While there is evidence to suggest that a calorie restriction plan can promote weight loss, it's important to consider what foods are making up those 1,200 calories. "One must consider that not all calories are created equal," said Johansen, "and the quality of the nutrients on a 1,200-calorie diet must be derived from nutrient-dense, low-glycemic foods to ensure adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals."
While 2020 may be the year you want to take a step back from counting calories, you can read more about why this plan is so popular here.
5. The GOLO diet
The GOLO diet is a program based on metabolic health and designed to help balance hormones to help users manage cravings. Along with the diet plan, they include their own supplement that aims to "address the underlying cause of weight gain" and "repair your metabolism." The food plan focuses on nutritionally dense calories rather than a strict calorie limit.
Read more about the GOLO diet here.
6. The Dubrow diet
The Dubrow diet is based on the book by the same name by Heather Dubrow and her husband, plastic surgeon Terry Dubrow, M.D. The couple are known for their roles on reality television, including Heather's time as a member of The Real Housewives of Orange County and Terry's regular role on Botched. The diet plan itself is designed to "program your cells to burn fat" and to "activate the anti-aging ability found in your cells." The central concept is one of "interval eating," demonstrating how an eating schedule will promote these benefits.
"Time-restricted feeding has strong research in health and longevity," said Johansen when asked about this diet. "I highly recommend time-restricted feeding with nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables as the start toward optimal health."
If you want to find out more about whether this diet could work for you, read about the different stages and the foods you should be eating for this plan.
7. The Sirtfood diet
This one has Adele to thank for its spike in search, which peaked immediately after the singer appeared at Drake's birthday. The diet takes inspiration from the diets of people in the Blue Zones and the higher intake of plant nutrients that goes with them. Diet creators Aidan Goggins and Glen Matten took interest in polyphenols, which they believe can help activate sirtuin genes to mimic the impact of fasting and exercise—though experts may disagree.
"Just because a food contains a certain nutrient linked to metabolism doesn't mean that food causes automatic weight loss," said Frances Largeman-Roth, R.D. "There is no way to turn on a 'skinny gene' with food." However, the foods promoted in this diet may provide other health benefits (like fighting inflammation) and may be worth adding to your diet.
Curious to see what foods the diet promotes? Read more about the truth of this popular diet.
8. No carbs, no sugar diet
This basic idea of this diet resembles the popular ketogenic diet, which surprisingly didn't make the list this year after topping the 2018 list. The big difference? This one is more restrictive, attempting to eliminate all carbs and sugars while keto just restricts carbs. This diet saw its major spike in early January 2019, thanks to a name that also appears on this list: Jennifer Lopez. In January, she posted about a 10-day challenge of no carbs and no sugar she was doing with fiancé Alex Rodriguez. In comparison to other low-carb and no-carb plans, J.Lo and A-Rod's challenge included cutting out some fruits (allowing only some berries) and adding caffeine to the list of things to ditch for the 10 days.
You can read all about J.Lo's 10-day reset plan here.
9. Endomorph diet
This diet is based on body type and was created in the 1940s. Endomorph is one of the three so-called body types (the others being mesomorph and ectomorph), and is also known as being "pear-shaped." It's characterized by higher body fat, typically in the lower body, which can make it harder to lose weight according to the American Council on Exercise. The diet encourages eating poultry, low-fat dairy, fatty fish, legumes, nonstarchy vegetables, and whole-wheat or whole-grain products, while avoiding processed foods, red meat, rich dairy products, and cooking oils that are high in saturated fats.
The basic premise of this diet seems healthy, though the name is misleading. "There is no science-backed evidence that shows that certain diets work for specific body types," said Largeman-Roth.
We wrote more about how (and why) this diet got its name and the foods it suggests eating.
10. J.Lo diet
Basically, 2019 was a big year for J.Lo. Technically the same diet as No. 8, this one's search peaked last January, too. It found its height a bit later than the "no carb, no sugar" search and is likely a result of J.Lo and A-Rod expanding their challenge to inviting friends to join in.
After doing their own challenge for a few days, they challenged others on Instagram (including Hoda Kotb).
The diet itself includes eliminating everything from complex carbs to some fruits and caffeine, but they apparently kept sugar-free Jell-O and a good protein pancake recipe on hand for when cravings hit.
You can read more about her diet plan here.
Finding a plan that works for your individual lifestyle and goals is the most important part of trying a new diet, and while many can help promote weight loss, the focus should be on healthier eating and better habits. With the new year just beginning, we're looking forward to more clarity in nutrition research, and we're expecting another boom in keto as it becomes more accessible.
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