5 Most Popular Eating Plans
Better Nutrition|January 2019

An inside look at some of today’s trendiest diets: what works— and what doesn’t.

Lisa Turner

Every year, there’s a new crop of diets focused on weight loss, disease prevention, or overall longevity. In general, the best of these avoid calorie counting, focus on whole foods, and are either balanced enough that they can be followed for the long run, or effective enough that they’re worth trying for a short time. Here’s a look at five of today’s most popular eating plans, with the best and worst of each.

1 THE KETOGENIC DIET

Possibly the most popular diet of 2018, the ketogenic (also called “Keto”) diet focuses on minimal carbs—about 5 percent of daily calories—with moderate protein (20 percent) and very high amounts of fat (75 percent). It’s designed to shift the metabolism into ketosis, a state in which the body burns fat, instead of sugar, for fuel. The diet is geared primarily for weight loss, and studies show that it may also prevent seizures and protect against neuro degenerative disorders and other diseases.

What you eat. The Keto diet is composed mostly of “good” fats—coconut oil, nuts, full-fat dairy, and other forms of saturated and monounsaturated fats. Hydrogenated fats and processed vegetables oils such as safflower or soybean oils are avoided. Proteins include meat, eggs, fish, and nuts. Vegetables are limited to low-starch varieties, and fruit is generally restricted to berries. Beans, grains, sugars, or starches are avoided.

What’s good. Because it strictly bans sugar and starches, it can promote balanced blood sugar and rapid weight loss. And the high amount of fat means you’ll rarely feel hungry.

What’s bad. It’s low in fiber, and limits fruits, vegetables, and legumes—foods that have been shown to protect against cancer and other diseases. It’s high in saturated fats, which have been linked with increased risk of disease. And there are side effects, including dehydration and what’s called “keto flu,” a feeling of lethargy, brain fog, and nausea.

The bottom line. The Keto diet is great for quick weight loss and balancing insulin, but it’s generally not a life-long eating plan.

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