Which Fad Diets Are Worth Trying?

By Holly Bieler
Updated on 09. Jul. 2020

The lowdown on the top 5 diets in 2020.

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Diet fads have been around for as long as people have wanted to lose weight. Which is, to say, since forever. The Ancient Greecians were known to fast for days at a time in the hopes of shedding a few pounds, and in the ensuing two thousand years popular dieting techniques seem to have become just more bizarre. In the 1800s, women started consuming tapeworms as a means of fitting into their corsets, while just a decade ago the masses were extolling a magic elixir of maple syrup and lemon as the key to staying slim.

However the onslaught of social media has seen an unparalleled proliferation of dieting fads in recent years, with innumerable self-proclaimed fitness and wellness experts extolling the benefits of their unique weight-loss systems to audiences who are more self-conscious than ever before. In this age it can be hard to separate out which diet will actually work for you, to say nothing of which are actually good for your body and will deliver lasting results, from those which are passing fads or worse, bad for your body.

Check out our handy guide to the top 5 diet trends right now to figure out which, if any, is right for you.

Keto Diet

Good For: Quick Weight Loss, Diabetics, Big Eaters

Not Good For: Long-Term, Some Chronic Conditions, Restrictive

This high-fat, low-carb diet has exploded in recent years, largely due to its impressive and speedy results. Most standard low-calorie, exercise-driven diet regimens will generally result in a loss of 1-2 pounds each week during the first month. Keto dieters, on the other hand, will typically drop closer to 5-10 pounds weekly in the same time frame. This is a result of the Keto diet’s focus on cutting out virtually all carbohydrates in place of high-fat, high-protein foods like meats, cheeses, nuts and eggs, which ultimately lowers the body’s insulin levels, causing it to burn stored fat for energy.

Venison With Bacon and Mushrooms

In addition to its hyper-drive results, the keto diet boasts some benefits for people suffering from certain conditions. Diabetics can benefit particularly from the keto diet, as your body will make and require less insulin when you’re on it. A recent study found that type 2 diabetics tended to see lower blood glucose levels and ultimately required less medication after a year on the keto diet. People at risk of cardiovascular disease also tended to see increased health benefits from the keto diet, which can ultimately eliminate more dangerous, heart-harming belly fat more quickly than other diets. 

Those with big appetites might also do particularly well on the keto diet, as it’s high-protein, high-fat meals are famous for staving off the hunger pains usually associated with dieting.

The keto diet’s focus on satisfying, filling ingredients that are high in fat and protein and its inclusion of yummy foods that are often barred from diets, like cheese and nuts, has gained it a reputation as a good long-term diet that’s easy to adhere to. However the jury’s still out on whether it’s healthy to stay on the keto diet for too long. Maintaining a low-carb diet over years can cause certain problems in the body, from irregular heart rhythms to vitamin deficiencies. The high fat intake can also overwhelm the pancreas and liver, so anyone suffering from certain conditions should not get on the Keto diet.

Intermittent Fasting

Good For: Gradual Weight Loss, Bad Dieters, Energy

Bad For: Social Eating, Rapid Weight Loss

Intermittent fasting isn’t a diet in the traditional sense in that it doesn’t change the foods you eat, but when you eat them. Like our Greek ancestors, practitioners of intermittent fasting forgo eating for extended periods of time, upending the traditional breakfast-lunch-dinner schedules in favor of larger meals consumed farther apart. Common intermittent fasting techniques call for 16 to 24-hour fasts, two days a week.

Fans of intermittent fasting report results from weight loss to increased concentration, and studies have shown that this technique might result in myriad health benefits. Short-term fasting causes changes in the body’s hormones which can cause the body to burn more fat, repair cells more quickly and increase muscle growth. It also increases your metabolic rate, anywhere from 3.6-14%. This makes intermittent fasting an especially good tool for anyone looking to drop weight without entering into a restrictive diet. Fasting days, however, can be tricky for anyone who normally eats with their families or friends.

Flexitarian Diet

Good For: Long-term, Eco-Concious, Less Restrictive

Not Good For: Quick Weight Loss

To learn about the core tenets of the Flexitarian Diet, look no further than its name. Short for ‘Flexible Vegetarian’ this diet falls along the lines of a traditional healthy vegetarian diet, comprising mainly vegetables, fruits, beans and whole grains, with the majority of its protein sourced from plants. However unlike vegetarian or vegan diets, meat plays an important role in the Flexitarian Diet, which acknowledges the benefits of animal protein while vastly limiting its intake compared to most diets. Practitioners of the Flexitarian Diet consume mainly fresh, plant-based foods and slowly faze meat out over a month-long period, culminating in a final regime which allows for the consumption of meat only two days per week, in no larger than 9 oz. portions.

Chickpea and Spinach Stew

The flexible nature of this diet makes it easier to maintain than more restrictive diets, making it a good option for those looking for a longer-term healthy lifestyle switch. The low meat intake is also a benefit for those looking for more sustainable, eco-conscious ways of eating. 

However its flexibility and comparative lack of restrictions doesn’t make it a great option for those looking to shed pounds quickly.

Volumetrics Diet

Good For: Gradual Weight Loss, Bad Dieters, Long-Term, Less Restrictive

Bad For: Quick Weight Loss

Developed by Penn State University nutrition professor Barbara Rolls, the Volumetrics Diet is based on the old-style way of dieting: calorie-counting. Volumetrics dieters can eat no more than 1,600 calories per day for women and 2,000 calories for men. However this is largely where the restrictions stop. No foods are banned on the Volumetrics Diet as long as you’re meeting your calorie requirements. Not that that means you’ll be eating ice cream all day. The Volumetrics Diet extolls low-calorie but satisfying foods such as fruits, vegetables, low-calorie yogurt and lean meats. Focusing almost exclusively on calorie counts means that Volumetrics meals tend to be larger portions, the idea being you will eat more and stay full for longer while still keeping your calorie intake low, ultimately losing weight. This lack of restriction makes it particularly easy to adapt for the long-term, but means weight loss will be more slow and steady.

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