If you embarked on a healthy eating and fitness regime at the start of the New Year, chances are that right about now, you’re about to give up. The plethora of diets to choose from can be dizzying. There’s no Holy Grail diet that works best for everyone; instead, people need to choose and then personalize a weight-loss plan that suits their lifestyle, tastes, culture, and health needs such as allergies, intolerances and chronic conditions.
Read on to learn which diet trends may suit you best and which ones you’re better off avoiding. We’ve got the expert scoop on which 2017 trends are worth a try, and which ones you should let go by the wayside. Be sure to check in with your health care provider before embarking on any weight-loss plan.
9 Health Trends to Try This Year
Trend No. 1: The MIND Diet
This trending diet combines the basic principles of two proven heart-healthy diets: the Mediterranean Diet and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) Diet. The difference is that this newer one, the Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay, also known as the MIND Diet, is focused on boosting brain health, so it encourages eating foods like nuts, seeds, leafy greens, fish, and olive oil that have been linked to improved cognitive function and slower cognitive decline. The MIND diet is a healthy, balanced eating pattern rather than a rigid set of rules, which makes it is easy to stick to. Two additional factors that make the MIND diet appealing — it focuses on real food and there are no specialty items to buy.
Trend No. 2: Probiotics and Fermented Foods
Gut health has become very popular this year. It’s not exactly a weight-loss trend, but fermented kimchi has been linked to weight loss in at least one study, and fermented foods are definitely trending when it comes to digestive health because they’re one of the best sources of probiotics. Research suggests that probiotics fight off harmful bacteria in the gut and help maintain a healthy gut microbiome, which helps regulate the immune system, aid digestion, and may even aid mood and brain functions. Seek fermented foods like kefir, kombucha, miso, sauerkraut, and kimchi but also complement these foods with a diet high in fiber to feed the good bacteria and help them flourish.
Trend No. 3: High Protein, Low Carb
One top trend with staying power is swapping out some of the carbohydrates on your plate for protein. When you keep fat and carbs within reason, you get better success with weight loss.
The Recommended Dietary Allowance for protein is a modest 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. To calculate your RDA for protein, multiply your weight in pounds by 0.36. A person’s needs may vary depending on their health and activity level, too.
Try shifting from carb-heavy sandwiches to lettuce wraps, adding more legumes to meals, and bumping up your portion of chicken or other lean protein at dinner to increase protein and cut carbs.
And while protein supplements can help boost protein intake, the experts say veer away from any supplement that isn’t pure protein. For example, whey, a milk protein, is OK, but protein supplements that also claim to contain “fat burners” or vitamins are not beneficial.
Trend No. 4: Sophisticated Wearable Devices
Fitness and activity trackers, smart watches, smart eyeglasses, and other wearable technology came in at number-one on the American College of Sports Medicine’s (ACSM) survey of Top 20 Worldwide Fitness Trends for 2017. These tech devices let you track your daily activity, sleep cycles, and heart rate, among other things. You can also use them to set — and help you reach — fitness goals.
Trend No. 5: High-End Fitness Classes for the Masses
While there’s nothing new about fitness classes, a couple of factors have caused them to rise in popularity recently. Fitness classes are now using high-end trainers to teach classes and it’s creating a drive for people to go en masse. Going to classes can also lead to better success with your fitness goals than working out alone. It’s social and motivational; you get guidance from your instructor; and there’s more camaraderie and accountability.
Trend No. 6: Fresh Meal Delivery
Lots of people are turning to healthy, pre-prepped meal services to help with weight control. A number of companies offer well-balanced, nutritious meals that can be ordered online and then boxes of pre-portioned fresh produce and frozen meat, poultry or fish arrive at your door. You cook up the meals yourself according to instructions provided.
These services are great because they help people limit portions. A big plus — many healthy meal-delivery services are expanding to offer vegetarian and gluten-free options too. Another plus — meals tend to be seasoned with herbs and spices versus salt.
Trend No. 7: “Live-Stream” Classes
Another growing trend is that people are taking advantage of the technology to do remote viewing. With time and accessibility being the most frequently cited barriers to exercise, live streaming brings the high-energy workout to you at your convenience, making it feasible and exciting. You can live in Wyoming or London but exercise with a New Yorker. You can try anything, anywhere, anytime – from cool classes to fancy gyms to crazy-good instructors.
Trend No. 8: Intermittent Fasting
One way to reduce overall calorie intake without “dieting” is to incorporate intermittent fasting (IF). There are a few different IF protocols you can follow. For example, there’s the popular “time-restricted feeding” (e.g., 16/8 method) where you fast for an extended number of hours each day (e.g., 16) followed by unrestricted eating during the “feeding window” (e.g., 8 hours). There’s also “alternate day fasting” (ADF), which involves heavily restricted caloric intake (e.g., > 400 calories) or complete fasting for a prescribed number of days each week. An example is the 5:2 diet where you fast for two days a week and eat with no restrictions the other 5 days. There’s also the “fast-mimicking diet,” which is designed to mimic the benefits of prolonged fasting by heavily restricting caloric intake (about 40% of normal intake) for 5 consecutive days out of each month. Of course, intermittent fasting works best if, overall, the food you do eat is healthy and nutritious, and of course, you must be sure to stay hydrated on fasting days.
Trend No. 9: 2-Week Diet
Many popular diets these days leave you starving, restricting calorie to the point that your metabolism actually SLOWS. But there is a little-known plan called the 2 Week Diet that actually teaches you what to eat and when. This increases your metabolism, allowing you to shed weight and shed it FAST. Those on the diet report losing 12-23 pounds and 2-4 inches in a matter of 2 weeks – all backed by science. Watch this video to learn more about how the 2-week diet works.
5 Health Trends to Avoid This Year
Trend No. 1: Paleo Diet
The Paleo diet is based on emulating the way cavemen must have eaten: no dairy, no refined sugar, no processed foods. Instead, meat, fish, and lots of fresh vegetables and fruit — the fare of hunter/gatherers — defines this diet trend.
While you may see pounds drop once you cut out all the bread, cookies, and ice cream, it may be a tough diet to follow over the long haul. It’s still popular, especially with cross-fitters and fitness enthusiasts who do high-intensity training, but it limits anything processed or out of a box, making it challenging for busy people.
The Paleo diet doesn’t include legumes and dairy, a restriction that doesn’t make sense for many nutritionists. There’s no reason not to eat legumes.
Trend No. 2: Clean Eating
The buzzword “clean eating” is making its way around the diet and nutrition world.bIt is a way to describe eating foods that come in the purest form, unprocessed and light.
People into “clean” foods avoid rich sauces, processed foods and additives, sugar, artificial sweeteners, or anything fried in oil, in favor of a diet of whole grains, protein, and fruits and vegetables, preferably organic.
While “clean eating” implies something good many nutritionists do not recommend this approach because it encourages extreme dieting behavior.
Extreme dieters may take it literally and avoid any healthy fats. If you try to avoid eating cooked foods and adding healthy fats to your diet in an effort to eat ‘clean,’ you may be missing out on essential nutrients and fats to help with many metabolic processes within the body.
Trend No. 3: The Sirtfood Diet
The Sirtfood Diet promotes the idea that you can boost your metabolism and lose weight by activating sirtuan pathways when you eat a diet rich in foods — like buckwheat, kale, coffee, dark chocolate, and red wine — that are high in polyphenols. The makers of the diet refer to these foods as “sirtfoods” and they suggest that eating them can help create a weight-loss effect in the body similar to the one that’s triggered by fasting. While this diet is based on healthy foods, it’s more restrictive than what nutritionists would recommend. Including a variety of fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains in your diet is the best way to get the vitamins and minerals your body needs.
Trend No. 4: Souping
Souping – which is like juicing but you drink soup — is a big weight-loss trend this year. While a soup fast can be better than a juice fast in the sense that you’re more likely to get a variety of key nutrients (that is, if the soup contains whole foods like beans, vegetables, or whole grains), it tend to be very low in calories, which means that the people doing them are likely to miss out on key nutrients like protein and fiber after all. A few other concerns are that it can be expensive if you buy “designer” soup meals; it’s time-consuming if you make all of your own soups, which may make the diet unsustainable for some; and using store-bought soups that are loaded with sodium could actually be very unhealthy. Nobody’s saying to give up that belly-warming bowl of chicken soup. Soup, of course, can be part of a healthy diet. But it shouldn’t be the only thing on the day’s menu.
Trend No. 5: Nut Milk
Original and flavored nut milks made from almonds, cashews, and hazelnuts have become increasingly popular. It’s not only people who are sensitive to lactose (the sugar in dairy), but those who want to lose weight that are trading in regular milk for nut milks, since nut milks tend to be lower in calories than full-fat dairy — and unsweetened nut milk has even fewer calories than fat-free milk. However, when it comes to nutrition, nut milks are not the best choice. Nuts are a wonderful addition to a healthy diet, but the milks made from these nuts are nutritionally inferior to cow’s milk. For example, skim milk contains 8 grams of protein per cup whereas almond and cashew milk only contain 1 gram or less. Plus, the original and flavored varieties have 7 grams or more of sugar per cup (in the form of added sugar) as compared to the naturally occurring lactose in milk.