Whether it’s experimenting with ketosis or taking mealtime cues from popular reality TV stars, 2018 ushered in several new diets that grabbed our collective attention. But which ones are worth the hype? We’re taking a closer look at the diets that rose through the search ranks so you can make a food game plan that’s right for you.
7 Popular Diet Trends
In 2018 there was plenty of love for well-known diets like the Mediterranean diet, but new-to-the-scene options like the Dubrow and Shepherd’s diets made health-conscious eaters curious, too. Before you switch up your eating plan for 2019, here’s what you need to know about the most popular diets out there.
Curious about how to start a ketogenic diet? You’re not the only one. It’s quickly risen to the top of the charts for popular diet trends. The keto diet works by getting your body into ketosis, which requires reducing carbs and eating high-quality fats, meats, dairy, and non-starchy vegetables.
What is the keto diet?
The keto diet is all about limiting carbohydrates (50 grams or less per day) to force your body to use fat as fuel instead of glucose, which helps propel your body into ketosis, a fat-burning metabolic state. The compounds produced are called ketones, which signal that your body is officially in ketosis (aka “fat-burning mode”).
Basics of the keto diet
Reaching ketosis requires an intake of foods like healthy fat, protein, non-starchy veggies, dairy, nuts, and seeds. What’s not on the menu? Here’s a short list of foods to avoid:
- Grains (rice, pasta, quinoa, and wheat)
- Processed food
- Sugar and artificial sweeteners
- Vegetable oils
- Higher-carb nuts (pistachios and cashews)
- Starchy root vegetables (potatoes, carrots, corn, and parsnips)
Keto diet benefits
Although it’s a popular weight-loss tool nowadays, the ketogenic diet was originally created to help reduce seizures in epilepsy patients. Neurologists in the 1920s discovered that patients who fasted drastically reduced their number of daily seizures; burning fat quickly was a side benefit. Studies indicate that keeping keto may be linked to improved memory, and may support more balanced blood sugar levels, too.
Keto diet food list
Your ketogenic meal plan should feature lots of rich fats, moderate amounts of protein, and ingredients like eggs, cheese, nut butters, meat and seafood, plant-based oils, and fresh veggies. Some of the best healthy fats include:
- Avocado oil
- Extra virgin olive oil
- MCT oil
- Coconut oil
- Coconut butter
For a full list of approved keto ingredients, check out this post.
Fans of the Real Housewives reality television franchise may already be familiar with this popular diet. If you haven’t heard of it yet, here’s a look at an eating plan that encourages intermittent fasting while still enjoying food and alcohol.
What is the Dubrow diet?
Coined by Heather Dubrow, a former cast member on Real Housewives of Orange County, and her husband, plastic surgeon Dr. Terry Dubrow, the Dubrow diet targets metabolism to train the body to burn fat. You can skip counting calories or macronutrients and instead focus on three aspects of eating: when (fasting is advised for 12 to 16 hours per day), what (the types of food you eat), and how much (the amount of food you eat). The diet is based on the belief that intermittent fasting may activate your body’s natural cell turnover process (called autophagy), making you more likely to lose weight.
Basics of the Dubrow diet
The Dubrow diet works in three phases.
Phase 1: Red Carpet Ready
If you’re gearing up for a big event and are looking for a bootcamp-style fix, this is the place to start. You’ll follow the plan for two to five days, which includes a 16-hour fast with an 8-hour “refueling window.” You can enjoy lean protein, healthy fat, nuts, seeds, non-starchy vegetables, and fruit, plus a savory treat like popcorn, pickles, or turkey jerky. No alcohol here!
Phase 2: Summer Is Coming
To prep for the warmest season of the year, the diet recommends intermittent fasting until you’ve met your goal weight (however long it takes). Fasting time can range from 12 to 16 hours per day, and you can enjoy the same foods as in Phase 1, with added healthy fats and more complex carbs. You can also sip on your favorite wine in moderation.
Phase 3: Look Hot While Living Like a Human
According to the Dubrows, this is the most practical, long-term plan to maintain weight loss indefinitely. It involves a 12-hour fast five days a week, plus two 16-hour fast days. The food options are the same as the previous two phases, with the bonus of indulging in a cheat meal.
Dubrow diet benefits
- Whole foods focus: This diet emphasizes minimally processed whole foods. Not only are you opting for nutrient-dense ingredients, but you’ll be limiting added sugar, fat, and sodium, too.
- Nixing calorie counts: Forget the constant math and focus on the quality of your food and the portion size instead.
- Potential weight loss: Research on intermittent fasting is still emerging, but a 2017 position statement from the International Society of Sports Nutrition noted there’s little evidence that intermittent fasting is more effective than cutting calories. Chat with your doctor to see if this might be the best option for you when it comes to weight loss.
Dubrow diet food list
Here are some of the key ingredients to focus on when following the Dubrow diet:
- Lean protein (2 to 3 servings per day)
- Healthy fats (2 to 3 servings per day)
- Non-starchy vegetables (2 to 3 servings per day)
- Nuts and seeds (1 serving per day)
- Dairy (1 serving per day)
- Fruit (1 to 2 servings per day)
Inspired by the food grown around the Mediterranean Sea, this diet is a tried-and-true option, and for good reason. People in this region often have longer lifespans, and not surprisingly, the rest of the world wants to know their secrets.
What is the Mediterranean diet?
The Mediterranean diet focuses on whole, unprocessed foods and emphasizes healthy fats (especially omega-3 fatty acids), whole grains, fresh vegetables, fruits, fish, nuts, and some meat and dairy. In addition to food, a lifestyle component also plays a role, namely leisure activities like nurturing relationships, reducing stress, and exercising.
Basics of the Mediterranean diet
Even if you don’t call a tranquil Greek island home, you can still eat like a local. And one of the best parts of following the Mediterranean diet is how flexible it is. Instead of being restrictive, it’s all about making good choices as often as possible. This means you can still enjoy a bowl of pasta and a glass of wine for lunch, so long as it’s balanced with fresh fish and salad for dinner, for example.
Mediterranean diet benefits
Dr. Samantha Boardman prescribes a Mediterranean diet to many of her patients because “a typical Western diet high in sugar, processed food, and fatty meats is not good for your mental health,” she says. Boosting your brain health is one of the potential benefits, along with maintaining a healthy body weight over the long term and decreasing the risk of dementia.
Mediterranean diet food list
This post has a full shopping list, but here are the basics to focus on:
- Seafood: salmon, clams, sardines, anchovies, sea bass, shrimp, mussels
- Fruit: apples, blueberries, figs, dates, peaches, pomegranates, strawberries, oranges
- Vegetables: bell peppers, artichokes, eggplant, fennel, broccoli, green beans, kale, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, zucchini
- Grains: barley, quinoa, oats, millet, farro, wild rice, whole grain pasta
- Legumes: lentils, black beans, garbanzo beans, fava beans
- Nuts and seeds: pistachios, pine nuts, cashews, almonds, chia seeds, walnuts
- Healthy fats: extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, walnut oil
You can use herbs and spices with abandon—they’ll really freshen up your meals—and enjoy cheese, eggs, poultry, and wine in moderation.
Optavia isn’t just a diet—it’s an entire community dedicated to helping you achieve your goals. The program has been around since the 1980s, and claims that a healthy lifestyle is all about making small shifts in your habits over time.
What is the Optavia diet?
The Optavia diet recommends eating six small meals per day, or one meal every two to three hours. The program is personalized; once you sign up, you’re connected with coaches, recorded video conferences, nutrition support, and other resources that help you live the Optavia lifestyle.
Basics of the Optavia diet
A commitment to one-on-one health coaching helps the Optavia diet stand out from others. After choosing a program that’s right for you (like general weight loss, nursing mothers, or teens), you’re matched with a coach who helps you stay on track. The cost of the Optavia diet can average around $300 for a 4-week supply of meal replacements and “fuelings.”
The diet is built around six steps to optimal health:
- Prepare for your journey
- Achieve a healthy weight
- Transition to healthy eating
- Live the habits of health
- Optimize health for your age
- The potential to live a longer, happier life
Optavia diet benefits
One of the biggest benefits of the Optavia diet is centered around its long-term approach to healthy living. It’s not a quick fix, but a full transition to wellness that you can maintain throughout your life. The program is based on nearly 40 years of experience, and has been used by more than 1 million people since its founding.
Optavia diet food list
On the Optavia diet, you eat a combination of “fuelings” from Optavia’s own kitchen—more than 60 scientifically designed shakes, soups, bars, puddings, hot beverages, and more made with a probiotic to support digestive health—alongside “lean and green” meals. The latter include five to seven ounces of cooked lean protein, plus three servings of non-starchy vegetables and up to two servings of healthy fats.
Dr. Gundry Diet
Dr. Steven Gundry has worked in the field of medicine for more than four decades. A former cardiologist and heart surgeon, Dr. Gundry’s focus has shifted to helping people avoid surgery by adopting his unique vision of nutrition. You can learn more in his book The Plant Paradox Cookbook.
What is the Dr. Gundry diet?
This diet is anchored around the philosophy that our digestive system is a complex and sensitive machine, and needs key energy sources often missing in the standard American diet. By increasing nutrients like polyphenols (a micronutrient) and avoiding lectins (a type of gluten- and plant-based protein), it’s believed you can optimize gut health.
Basics of the Dr. Gundry diet
The Dr. Gundry diet follows these guidelines:
- Increase polyphenols: These micronutrients are found in certain plants, especially dark blue or purple fruits like pomegranates, mulberries, and Aronia berries. Polyphenols are also present in other ingredients, like extra virgin olive oil, capers, ginger, red wine, dark chocolate, and kale.
- Avoid lectins: Lectins are a type of protein found in most plants, especially grains, potatoes, peppers, beans, seeds, tomatoes, rice, and corn. Dr. Gundry believes they’re toxic to the human body and may cause digestive damage over time.
- Add good bacteria: The body contains both good and bad strains of bacteria, and Dr. Gundry recommends adding probiotics and prebiotic fiber to your diet to help your digestive system run more smoothly.
Dr. Gundry diet benefits
According to Dr. Gundry’s research, his food philosophy may provide the following benefits:
- Stronger digestive system
- Less weight gain
- Balanced cholesterol levels
- Improved blood vessel function
Dr. Gundry diet food list
You can find a full shopping list here, but below are some of the foods recommended by Dr. Gundry:
- Oils: Coconut oil, sesame oil, MCT oil, olive oil
- Flours: almond, hazelnut, coconut, cassava, arrowroot
- Wild-caught fish: shrimp, crab, scallops, canned tuna, salmon
- Pastured poultry and grass-fed meat: chicken, turkey, duck, bison, venison, pork, lamb, beef
- Vegetables: Broccoli, spinach, carrots, mushrooms, leafy greens, celery, onion, leeks, cauliflower, bok choy, Brussels sprouts, okra, asparagus
Low FODMAP Diet
The term “FODMAP” is an acronym for a group of carbs found in certain foods that can trigger digestive issues. Sticking to a low FODMAP diet limits the offending ingredients and may help keep your tummy tame.
What is the Low FODMAP diet?
FODMAPs is an acronym for:
The diet restricts the number of FODMAP foods you eat, then reintroduces them to help discover which types of foods work best with your body.
Basics of the Low FODMAP diet
The diet involves three phases that aim to help you systematically add foods back into your diet over time.
- Phase 1: Elimination
This phase limits all FODMAP foods for 4 to 6 weeks. It’s recommended to keep a food diary to make notes about how your body responds.
- Phase 2: Challenge
Next, it’s time to reintroduce some of the restricted foods to see how your body tolerates them. Ultimately, the goal is to help design a long-term plan that lowers problematic foods without restricting FODMAPs entirely.
- Phase 3: Re-Challenge
The final phase re-challenges your system months down the road with foods you may be able to tolerate after your body has been given the chance to reset.
Low FODMAP diet benefits
For anyone who struggles with irritable bowel symptoms or digestive upset, eating a low FODMAP diet may make a real difference. The biggest benefit is the potential to reduce uncomfortable symptoms associated with eating certain foods and gain a better understanding of how your body works.
Low FODMAP diet food list
FODMAPs are found in most foods, which is why the diet emphasises “low”—eliminating them entirely isn’t realistic. However, here’s a list of foods that are particularly high in FODMAPs so you can steer clear:
- Brussels sprouts
- Legumes and pulses
- Lactose (milk, ice cream, soft cheeses, yogurt)
- Sweeteners like agave nectar, high-fructose corn syrup, and honey
The Shepherd’s Diet
The Shepherd’s Diet is a 7-step weight loss program from personal trainer Kristina Wilds, who created the diet after her husband was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease. It’s rooted in spirituality and offers several unique ways to spur weight loss and support overall health.
What is the Shepherd’s diet?
The Shepherd’s diet is a weight-loss program focusing on core Christian values, such as avoiding gluttony (eating in excess) and sloth (laziness). Wilds offers faith-based ways to overcome these issues in her book, The Shepherd’s Diet.
Basics of the Shepherd’s diet
- Short-term fasting: Called “The Moses Secret,” the Sheperd’s diet recommends short-term fasting as a tool to jumpstart weight loss.
- Anti-stress support: A portion of the book explains how people can use prayer to help reduce stress and stay positive on their weight-loss journey.
Shepherd’s diet benefits
- Emphasis on whole foods
- Budget-friendly ingredients (like lentils and beans)
- Potential weight loss
- 60-day money back guarantee for anyone who doesn’t see results in the first two months
- Positive, long-term health changes, including emotional and spiritual health, and stress reduction
Shepherd’s diet food list
Wilds believes that Jesus likely consumed a blend of the Paleo diet and the Mediterranean diet, so the Shepherd’s diet focuses on a blend of the two. Here are some of the recommended foods for the Shepherd’s diet:
- Healthy fats
- Fresh herbs
- Low-carb plant-based protein
- Unprocessed whole grains
When following The Shepherd’s Diet, be sure to avoid the following ingredients:
- Processed grains