Year End Review: Biggest Fad Diets of 2017

It’s that time of the year again, folks! The end of 2017 is fast approaching and the one thing everyone hates to do is to look back at our biggest weight loss achievements and regrets. Most of us are usually left wondering what went wrong by the time December rolls around (well, at least I know I do).

The biggest culprits seem to be these fad diets that come around each year, but they usually leave us feeling empty handed. And this year was no exception. Today, we’re going to examine some of the biggest fad diets of 2017 and see which ones could or could not work in the long term. Let’s get it going!

woman eating a bowl of pasta salad with vegetables
Fad diets of 2017 came and went, but which ones were good?

Top Fad Diets of 2017 List

The year usually starts off with so much promise, but once winter rears its ugly head, all of the dieting goals usually go straight out the window. For those that stuck to their diet throughout the year, I commend you. As for the other 99% of us, diets usually suck. There, I said it.

Furthermore, not all diets are good, at least in the long run. Let’s take a deeper look into the fad diets that ruled 2017 and why they don’t make sense as a long term solution.

1. Ketogenic Diet

The ketogenic diet, or keto for short, has gotten a lot of buzz recently for its weight loss benefits, as well as potential overall health impacts. This diet primarily revolves around the concept of sticking to an extremely low carb, but high fat/protein diet.

When your body is deprived of carbohydrates for long stretches of time, it switches itself into a metabolic state known as ketosis. When your body is running low on glucose (which you would get from carbohydrates), it begins to burn its stored fat for energy and survival. 

You can think this as a cool way to trick or “hack” your body into burning fat, rather than receiving energy from otherwise ingested carbohydrates.This process also enables the liver to turn fat into ketones, which supplies energy to the brain. The benefits don’t just stop there. In addition, studies show that keto diets can also help those with diabetes, epilepsy, or even cancer.

Sounds good, right? Not so fast! Well, first, restricting your body of carbohydrates for long periods can and WILL put you in a bad mood. This is because the lack of carbs will make you feel lethargic, increase strain on kidneys, and can lead to constipation. Talk about having a bad day, huh? Unless you’re a fan of any of these issues listed here, then I would look to stay away from this diet.

2. Raw Paleo Diet

cartoon of a caveman coming out of a cave for fad diets 2017
Paleo means eating the same diet as cavemen

The paleo diet is another popular diet fad that just isn’t sustainable. This diet is pretty simple to grasp and, as the name suggests, consists of foods that our paleolithic ancestors would normally eat. I guess the intention here here being that all cavemen were ripped muscle heads with cheese grating six packs? I don’t know.

In either case, if you do go paleo, expect to only eat from basic food groups, such as lean meats, fish, leafy greens, hearty vegetables, and nuts. That means, no bread, sweets, juices, coffee, etc. as these would have been unavailable to Mr. Caveman Joe back in the day.

The thought and concept of paleo isn’t too bad and, frankly, it CAN be a healthy diet. However, one major issue of the paleo diet is that it completely restricts whole grains and legumes. The diet claims that whole grains and legumes are part of the industrialized plant category and thus were not available to our early human ancestors.

Today, science tells us that whole grains and legumes are crucial ingredients to a healthy and balanced diet. This really limits the paleo diet for long term use, but in the short term, could be an excellent diet especially if combined with regular exercise.

3. 6:1 or 5:2 Diet

Wooden table with no plate or bowls just fork and knife
6:1 or 5:2 diet revolves around fasting for a few days

This one is a pretty unique and ambitious diet plan. The 6:1 diet suggests that you eat normally for six out of the seven days, then completely starve yourself on the last day. Likewise, the 5:2 diet says that you can eat your normal diet for five out of the seven days, but designate two days for fasting.

Even celebrities are hopping on the bandwagon. Chris Martin, the lead singer of Coldplay, announced that he was a major fan of the 6:1 diet trend and said it even helped boost his creativity. However, studies by the British Dietetic Association debunk this myth by showing that the 6:1 or 5:2 don’t actually provide any real health or weight loss benefits. They mostly chalk this up to being “just another fad diet”.

Fans of this diet think that fasting every so often helps reset their body or makes them feel lighter on a daily basis. This could just be a mental benefit only. More likely than not, depriving your body of any vitamins or nutrients for over 24 hours will lead to overeating or craving of high fat/sugary foods once you do break your fast. Save yourself the trouble and stay away from this fad diet.

4. Volumetrics Diet

food scale with heavy apples on one side for fad diet
Volumetrics is based on the idea of eating more dense food

Here’s another fad diet of 2017 that just doesn’t make sense for the long term. The concept of volumetrics is pretty easy to understand. Dr. Barbara Rolls, inventor of the diet, claims that everybody typically eats the same weight of food every single day. Therefore, creating a diet filled with low density/calorie and high weight food will give you the false sense of eating a large portion without all of the unnecessary calories.

Take, for example, eating a whole apple compared to eating a very small handful of almonds. Both will have the same number of calories (give or take), but I can guarantee you that eating a whole apple will make you feel a heck of a lot more full.

Volumetrics plays along this concept and claims that it will help you lose weight and keep you full, but this can also be a bit tricky to keep up for a long time. The only knock on volumetrics isn’t about the diet itself, but that things can get pretty boring. Also, you will probably spend most of your time with meal prep, which can be exhausting.

Out of all the fad diets of 2017, volumetrics is a more sound and stable diet plan. However, it will really be up to you make the commitment to stay on course with time, money, and convenience.

5. DASH Diet

The DASH diet, which is short for Diet Approaches to Stop Hypertension, centers around one singular goal: controlling hypertension. Hypertension is another way of saying high blood pressure, which is the constant and elevated force of blood against your arteries. This can ultimately cause serious health complications, such as heart disease. The DASH diet says it can help reduce overall sodium levels (which is a big culprit in high blood pressure cases).

The scary part about hypertension is that there are no big warning signs. That’s why heart disease is always one of the biggest silent killers in the US year in and year out. However, there are ways to lower or manage hypertension. We actually mentioned one of the best ways to lower hypertension in a previous article about the benefits of turmeric. Be sure to catch up on that article!

Along with introducing turmeric to your diet, it can be good to potentially take up the DASH diet. There’s usually a standard DASH and lower DASH diet level, which gives way to different sodium limits per day. The standard DASH allows you to eat roughly 2,300mg per day and the lower DASH only allows you 1,500mg per day. All you need to do is follow a diet that stays on par with these daily sodium levels.

Now, one of the biggest drawbacks to the DASH diet is that it does not focus on weight loss as its primary goal, which is usually the motivating factor for anyone to take up a diet. Also, due to its more lenient nature (compared to some of these other crazy fad diets), it can get pretty unsatisfying and boring quickly.

Keeping up with DASH might save your life, but it most likely won’t be easy or enjoyable. Rather than call this a weight loss fad diet, we’ll more so rank it as a lifestyle fad diet.

6. Mediterranean Diet

plate of grilled salmon with vegetables for fad diets 2017
Mediterranean diets rely on eating seafood and raw vegetables

The Mediterranean diet, as the name suggests, revolves around copying a similar diet to those living along the Mediterranean Sea (i.e. Spain, Greece, and Southern Italy) in the early 1900s. This diet is more or less a pescatarian diet in which you only consume fresh fruits, greens, nuts, legumes, seafood, and unsaturated fats, such as olive oil.

By taking on a Mediterranean diet, you can boost overall health and even brain function due to the high levels of healthy fats that you will consume naturally. Poly and monounsaturated fats found in foods like fish and nuts provide essential fatty acids and Omega-3s in you diet. This can help boost overall health, vision, and brain function.

The only real issue to this diet comes down to quality. Those living in more rural or even urban areas might have a tough time accessing fresh caught and high quality seafood than those living by the Mediterranean Sea. This forces most people to resort to frozen or over processed seafood, which can be damaging to your health. Overall, the concept of the Mediterranean diet is sound, but is restrictive since many people don’t have the luxury of living by the sea.

7. MIND Diet

The MIND diet is a mix of the Mediterranean and DASH diets and officially stands for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Diet. Woo, that one’s a doozy!

The DASH and Mediterranean diets focus on reducing hypertension and increasing your seafood intake. As we mentioned above, seafood is not only healthy due to its high levels of Omega-3s, but is also very good for brain health. Therefore, the MIND diet (pretty fitting name) is centered around eating foods that are good for long term cognitive or brain function. This can ultimately help reduce the chances of getting brain related issues like Alzheimer’s.

This is another one of those goal oriented diets and tries to battle a specific problem, rather than focusing on overall health and weight loss. There are no guarantees that you will you NOT gain weight, which is why we had no choice but to list this as a fad diet. However, there are some incredible benefits to this diet.

According to WebMD, studies show a 54% reduction in the risk of getting Alzheimer’s or dementia for those that followed the MIND diet. Certainly worth a try if Alzheimer’s or dementia is something that runs through your family.

8. Flexitarian Diet

plate of asparagus with cherry tomatoes and meat
Flexitarian diets give you the freedom to eat meat on occasion

Another one of the better fad diets of 2017 is the flexitarian diet. For those (such as myself) that enjoy a more plant based diet with the occasional dose of meat or seafood, then the flexitarian diet is perfect.

Everyone is aware of some of the dangers of eating too much meat and some of the staggering impacts it has on our planet, but meat is just so hard to give up for one simple reason: it just tastes THAT good. Meat also provides a full mix of essential amino acids that your body needs in order to function (not typically found in plants). These are the building blocks of protein and muscle. Therefore, cutting out meat entirely can have some negative impacts on your health.

Being a flexatarian allows you to flush your body of eating too much protein while also giving you the flexibility to eat meat whenever you need it. Some might consider this to be a major fad diet because Americans are generally uneducated about the amount of protein people need to eat everyday.

In fact, America constantly tops the charts on a global scale by eating more than a whopping 270 pounds or 123 kilograms of meat per person per year! Compared to some vegetarian countries like India who only consume a small 7 pounds or 3 kilograms of meat each year, this number is a little outrageous.

Americans might complain that eating little meat can be unsatisfying, unhealthy, or simply doesn’t taste good. But this can’t be any farther from the truth. Rather than label the flexitarian diet as a true fad diet, I’ll go with the idea that it’s a good diet, but one that isn’t going to be universally accepted.

9. Whole30 Diet

To me, the Whole30 diet certainly has all the makings and symptoms of a fad diet. First, it calls for its fans to completely eliminate certain unhealthy food groups immediately. Cold turkey.

For thirty days, those who follow the Whole30 diet must cut out dairy, grains, sugar, alcohol, and even legumes. After the month is over, you can then slowly begin reintroducing your body to these foods to see your natural body reactions. In theory, this is supposed to help you identify which foods are problematic and which foods you should stay away from.

This is a great idea, but the execution is a bit rushed. In fact, eliminating certain food groups so suddenly can actually make you crave these foods even MORE once you complete the diet. Talk about defeating the purpose! 

I think the Whole30 diet has good intentions, but it would be best to just slowly eliminate certain foods from your diet, rather than going way overboard on the first go. Remember, slow and steady wins the race.

10. Green Juice Diet

Green juice made of kale, cabbage, celery, and apple fad diets 2017
Green juice has been a favorite among fad diet trends

The green juice diet has actually been around a while, but it seems to pick up steam and reappear in fad diets every few years or so. There are obvious health benefits to drinking green juice, but this is definitely not a recommended diet for the long term. It’s great to use in short spurts to help your body rid itself of toxins or to just reset your system before taking on a real balanced diet.

I actually became aware of green juicing back in 2013 after seeing this documentary called Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead. If you haven’t seen this yet, please stop whatever you’re doing now and be sure to pick up a copy or watch online. The film follows Joe Cross, who was once tipping the scales at over 300 pounds and fighting through various health issues, as he turns to green juicing to change his life. After going on a cleanse for 60 days, he begins to see MAJOR improvements in his health and weight.

After seeing the movie, I got addicted to green juicing to put it simply. The short term benefits were incredible. I lost a ton of weight, felt more energetic, and even saw my hair and skin achieve a never before seen glow. However, much like all fad diets, this just couldn’t live on forever.

Your body really needs to consume a balanced diet of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats in order to function at its peak. Juicing provides plenty of nutrients to your body, but a lot of it goes unabsorbed due to the fact that you’re barely gaining any true sustenance.

In other words, I slowly began craving meat and carbohydrates since my body was severely lacking in these nutrients. If you’re looking for a quick detox and flush, then I would definitely recommend this diet. Otherwise, look throughout this list to find better long term options.

Final Thoughts

It seems like every year is a new year of fad diets or trends that promise game changing results, but they all end up the same. They get tired, boring, or limits you to such an antisocial creature that you’ll just miss going out with your friends without thinking about what you’re eating.

At the end of the day, a true healthy and balanced diet will take bits and pieces of each of these fad diets listed above. The more important aspect here is the will power and motivation to push through for the long haul. Any diet that promises to make you feel incredible or lose 30 pounds in 30 days is just complete…well, you know what I mean.

As long as you’re sticking to a relatively clean diet and exercising regularly, it’s OK to have a cheat day here and there. In 2018, make sure to promise yourself to commit to a lifestyle change, rather than looking for empty shortcuts with these fad diets. I wish each and everyone of you a healthy and happy New Years. Here’s to changing your life in 2018!

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