5 diet fads of the last 15 years that have vanished

Worldwide obesity has more than tripled in the past 50 years. But rather than address the root problem of our collective weight gain — excessive calorie consumption due in part to an abundance of hyper-appetizing processed foods, coupled with a sedentary lifestyle — we instead pursue enticing diet fads that promise quick fixes. for our body malaise.

As an international team of scientists wrote in an article published in 2022, these fad diets are ultimately ineffective because they tend to promote short-term changes, are overly restrictive in the foods they recommend, are difficult to maintain for long, are often nutritionally inadequate and lack of scientific support.

Over the past 15 years, numerous diet fads have arisen and eventually faded away. Scientific scrutiny and a readily distracted public eager to move on to the next trendy food trend led to their demise. Here are five of the most notable diet fads that have died out.

Raw food diet

Google Trends shows that searches for raw food peaked in 2010 and have steadily declined ever since. Searches today are only 18% of their maximum. Proponents of raw food insist that cooking destroys the natural enzymes and vitamins present, making the food toxic. While cooking certainly degrades some of a food’s nutrition, it also makes it easier and safer to eat. Studies suggest that long-term devotees of raw food consumption typically end up underweight and nutritionally deficient in the B vitamin12, vitamin D, iron and calcium. Eating raw food is a diet fad that has deservedly faded into obscurity.

Paleolithic diet

According to Google, the Paleolithic diet hit its peak in fall 2012 and now attracts only a tenth of them. This dietary fad requires people to eat as ancient humans did before the advent of agriculture, as befits our natural evolution. This means consuming fruits, vegetables, lean meats, fish, eggs, nuts and seeds. Unfortunately, it leaves out two nutritionally dense food groups: whole grains and legumes. Like raw consumption, its strict focus can lead to nutritional deficiencies. Its severity also ignores the fact that ancient humans all over the world ate all manner of foods (sometimes other humans as well). We are not evolutionarily adapted to eat just a few things, but a multitude.

Gluten-free diet

Going “gluten-free” was quite a diet fad in the mid-2010s, when people who suffered from the occasional gastrointestinal upset (but without a rarer condition called celiac disease) started attributing their tummy troubles to gluten, a protein that found naturally in grains such as wheat, barley and rye. But since its peak in May 2014, interest in “gluten sensitivity” has dropped significantly to less than half. Perhaps the most significant trigger for falling gluten sensitivity was a double-blind, placebo-controlled study that found that people who thought they were negatively affected by the protein actually weren’t. Instead, hard-to-digest sugars called FODMAPS, found in many gluten-containing foods, were the real culprits.

Detox diet

Detox. It looks fantastic. Who doesn’t want to detox their body? Many people did this in 2014, when the diet fad was at its peak. However, it is an ultimately meaningless term. The body has amazing built-in mechanisms to cleanse itself of waste products. To maintain them, all you have to do is eat a balanced diet and exercise.

Detox advocates, on the other hand, want you to buy expensive juices or try wobbly, low-calorie, short-term diets where you consume nothing but water with lemon, cayenne pepper and maple syrup, for example. Sometimes, they just want you to fast while consuming natural laxatives. The idea is that this dietary reboot will rid you of “toxins.”

As dietician Cara Rosenbloom wrote for the Washington Post in 2022, what follows certainly provides a feeling of purification. “The relief that comes from the laxative effect of detox diets can feel like evidence that the toxins have been removed. But it’s simply the result of a long overdue poop.

Ketogenic diet

Interest in the ketogenic diet has plummeted in recent times. Most of the Google search interest that the diet fad garnered was in 2019. It’s now down to a fifth of that. Followers of the ketogenic diet consume less than 10% of their calories from carbohydrates, another quarter from protein and the rest from fat. This mix, out of step with the carbohydrate-dominated diet most of us eat, causes the body to run on energy from the breakdown of ketone bodies (fat) rather than glucose (sugar). This supposedly reduces appetite and increases the body’s metabolism.

There is evidence that the diet achieves both of these goals, but only slightly. Ultimately, consuming a low-calorie ketogenic diet probably results in somewhat more weight loss in the long run than a conventional low-calorie balanced diet, but it is much more difficult to follow, which explains its reduced attractiveness.

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