- Google released its “Year in Search” trends for 2018 on Wednesday.
- The diets that Americans looked up the most fall into one of two camps: high-fat and low-carb, or calorie restriction, like fasting.
- Some options, though, were downright bizarre.
Even though research shows that adopting a healthy eating plan you can stick to for life is a better tactic than yo-yo dieting, people are always intrigued by the latest strategy for losing weight in a hurry.
Google has published its list of the trendiest, most searched diets of 2018. According to our Google searches, there seem to be two key strategies. Dieters seem to be curious about various kinds of high-fat, low-carb plans, such as the keto diet, as well as schemes that ask people to restrict their eating to certain hours of the day or to certain days of the week.
Given that more than 9 in 10 internet searches in the world are performed on Google or its subsidiary YouTube, the search engine’s list of trends is probably a decent gauge of what diets people were trying this year. But it’s worth remembering that Google’s annual trends are based on which search terms had the biggest spike in 2018 as compared with 2017. That means some oddball diets may have landed on this top-10 list simply because they’re new and novel.
Perennial classic diets like Atkins and Weight Watchers didn’t make this list; here are the 10 eating plans that did.
The Keto diet was the trendiest of 2018, based on Google searches. But the high-fat regimen isn’t easy to follow.
- Melia Robinson/Business Insider
It’s no surprise that the keto diet kept the internet curious this year – stars including Halle Berry and the Kardashians love it, and so do Silicon Valley tech workers, venture capitalists, and athletes such as LeBron James.
Keto diets put people into a fat-burning mode called ketosis because they don’t eat enough carbs to power their body or brain. To get into this mode, keto dieters strictly limit their sugar and carb intake, filling up instead on butter, heavy cream, full-fat yogurt, leafy greens, vegetables, meat, and seafood.
The keto diet was first used clinically in the 1920s to help with tough-to-control epileptic seizures that weren’t responsive to other drugs. Lately, some people have also used the diet to help control cases of Type 2 diabetes. But going keto can lead to kidney and liver issues, so consult a doctor if you want to try the plan.
Because it’s so hard for people to stay on the strict keto regimen, we don’t yet have good data about what the long-term effects of this diet might be.
The Dubrow Diet is a new plan from the reality-TV husband-and-wife pair Heather and Terry Dubrow. In many ways, it’s just an intermittent fasting routine.
- Jerod Harris/Getty Images for Nobu Newport Beach
Terry Dubrow catapulted to fame on the TV show “Botched,” and he and his wife, Heather, starred in “The Real Housewives of Orange County.”
They’re leveraging that fame to tout a diet plan that is essentially a version of intermittent fasting, a regimen in which dieters spend up to 16 hours a day fasting, confining their eating to an eight-hour window.
“If you know how to eat in certain timed intervals, you will on a daily basis preferentially break down your fat in a very rapid way,” Terry Dubrow told Dr. Phil on his show in October when the book was published (by a company owned in part by Dr. Phil’s son). “You’ll send your body, physiologically, into an anti-aging state.”
One reason the Dubrow plan may be effective is that it keeps people from mindlessly snacking all day. But fasting also has the potential to increase ketone levels in the body.
The Dubrow diet consists of three phases: first, there is an extremely restrictive phase, with no alcohol allowed for the first two to five days. Then the diet opens up to include more foods and brings back alcohol. The third and final phase is more relaxed and focused on maintenance.
The couple claim that 100 adults who tried the diet for six months under the Dubrows’ supervision lost 33 to 86 pounds. But rapid weight loss doesn’t always lead to long-term results, and yo-yo dieting can have serious consequences for your heart.
Noom is a weight-loss app that provides users with individualized feedback.
- Charles Platiau/Reuters
App users enter in how much they weigh along with data on how often they’re exercising, eating, and sleeping. Then they get advice in personal and group messages from human coaches as well as access to online resources (such as articles on how to eat local food and tips for sleeping better).
The app is getting good results for people with prediabetes: In 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention listed Noom as one of its recommended, evidence-based, Type 2 diabetes prevention programs – a first for a smartphone app.
“We know that the program is above the requirements,” Noom’s president and cofounder, Artem Petakov, said when the news was announced. “The CDC requires that 40% of participants lose 5% of their weight, and Noom demonstrated that 51% achieved 5% weight loss.”
Prices for the program range from $16 to $60 a month, depending on how long you agree to subscribe.
The carnivore diet is exactly what it sounds like — followers eat only animal products.
Shawn Baker, who’s been a fan of the carnivore diet for at least two years, has said it can be tough to maintain the veggie-free regimen.
“It can be monotonous eating the same thing over and over again, but as time goes by you start to crave it,” he told The Guardian. “I just have to think: How hungry am I and how many steaks do I want to eat?”
Other carnivore-approved foods include eggs, fish, and dairy.
Nutritionists don’t think this is a good plan, since there’s essentially no dietary fiber in the mix and it’s missing a lot of key nutrients we don’t get from animals.
“In the absence of adequate fiber, the bacteria in the colon consume and thin the protective mucus lining, which then leads to impaired immune function and inflammation,” Christopher Gardner, a professor of medicine at Stanford University, told The Guardian.
The Mediterranean Diet turns up in study after study as one of the best for our brains, bodies, and longevity.
The eating plan favors fresh vegetables, whole grains, beans, and healthy fats from foods including fish, nuts, olive oil, and avocados. Studies have shown that the Mediterranean diet is one of the best for losing weight and keeping your heart and brain healthy.
This is especially true because people on the plan tend to shy away from processed foods, which have been linked to higher rates of cancer and tend to pack in added sugar, promoting weight gain.
Going Mediterranean may even help improve symptoms of moderate to severe depression. One study published in May suggested that the plant-heavy diet improved patients’ moods while saving them about $20 a week (probably because they were preparing more home-cooked meals).
Optavia is a diet-coaching scheme that involves a branded line of diet snacks, breakfasts, and drinks.
Optavia is the rebranding of another diet regimen that you may recognize: Take Shape for Life, from Medifast.
“The company introduced the Optavia brand in July 2016 along with more than a dozen new products” The Baltimore Sun reported. “Products are designed to be nutrient-dense, portion-controlled, and free of artificial colors, flavors, and sweeteners.”
Optavia dieters can buy Optavia-brand food including peanut-butter chocolate-chip breakfast bars, strawberry shakes, and cookies. They also stay in touch with coaches (who are often paid veterans of the weight-loss program) via phone and email checkups.
But a 2009 investigation of the company by CBS News suggested that the weight-loss results the company touts are questionable at best.
Steven Gundry, the surgeon behind the Dr. Gundry diet plan, says you’re at “war” with your genes and certain foods are to blame. Gundry’s diet advice is popular among searchers in his home state of California, but the nutrition science is questionable.
- Flickr/Jessica Spengler
Gundry has authored two books on dieting, along with a cookbook.
His latest book, “The Plant Paradox,” published in 2017, villainizes plant proteins called lectins, which are in lots of foods, including grains, beans, tomatoes, and potatoes.
Kelly Clarkson loves the eating regimen, but experts in nutrition do not.
“There are some studies on lectins since the 1970s, but they are very inconsistent, and a lot of them are in very isolated environments like in test tubes or animals,” Ariana Cucuzza, a dietitian nutritionist at the Cleveland Clinic, told Live Science, adding that translating the results of those studies to humans could “be very confusing” and that “people don’t really know how it affects us.”
Fasting diets also drew people’s interest this year. There’s evidence that periodic fasting may sometimes slow aging.
- Asta Thrastardottir/Business Insider
Some fasters choose to zero out their calories a few days a month, while others restrict eating to an eight-hour period each day. Some people fast one or two days a week, only sipping broth and seltzer.
Increasingly, researchers are discovering that giving your gut a break now and then in this way can deliver huge health benefits.
Periodic fasting can help some people ward off diseases including diabetes, high cholesterol, and obesity while also boosting the production of a protein that strengthens connections in the brain and can serve as an antidepressant.
Scientists are at work on novel drugs that could one day mimic the health-boosting effects of being in a low-calorie state, without starving people.
Fodmap dieters shy away from sugar.
Fodmap (that’s fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols) are foods that are high in sugar, such as fruit and honey, as well as other carbohydrates including beans, lentils, wheat, sweeteners, and yes, avocados. The low-Fodmap diet was invented by Australian researchers at Monash University. Scientists at the school say it’s an effective way to deal with irritable-bowel syndrome.
Stanford Health Care says all the Fodmap foods pull water into your digestive tract, so if you eat them a lot, “they may not be digested or absorbed well and could become fermented by bacteria in your intestinal tract.”
The diet is meant to help with constipation, bloating, gas, and diarrhea and is done in two phases. During phase one, dieters severely restrict Fodmap foods, while in phase two people can incorporate more formerly banned foods back into their daily eating.
The Shepherd’s Diet is billed as “biblically inspired,” but it’s similar to a lot of the other diets on this list.
- Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images
This diet is the foundation of a 2017 book from the Colorado-based piano and voice teacher Kristina Wilds.
Like many others, it encourages people to eat more fat and fewer carbs. It sounds strikingly like keto, with a sprinkling of religion added in:
“The Shepherd’s Diet is a low carb, high-fat, very high-fat, moderate-protein food plan that replaces unhealthy carbs with healing fats and faith in God to show us the way,” the book’s Amazon summary says.