Over the past year, trendy diets touting unique health benefits seemed to be the “hot diet” until someone came out with a “better” one the next month. Unfortunately, many of these diet trends won’t pass the test of time.
The latest that has me scratching my head in disbelief is the Bulletproof Coffee Diet that requires that your morning java be swimming in butter and oil for mental clarity. Personally, a Dunkin' Donuts regular coffee with low fat milk along with a bowl of yogurt, wholegrain cereal, and a sliced banana has kept me mentally clear and energetic in the morning for decades.
What other trends need to be ditched in 2014? I took the question to a variety of nutrition experts across the country. Here's what they had to say:
Make the Paleo Diet Extinct
While our ancient ancestors may have locally hunted and gathered for their fodder, Keri Gans, RDN, and author of the Small Change Diet, isn’t a fan of the Paleo Diet concept, which eliminates food groups solely because cavemen didn’t eat them. (Keep in mind the caveman lived to only about 30 years of age.)
“One hundred percent whole grains, dairy, and legumes contain plenty of nutrients that are important for our bodies and long-term health but are excluded if eating a Paleo Diet,” claims Gans. Ditch it and move on. “If I see one more person who wants to eat Paleo while dining out, I am going to scream. The caveman didn’t go to restaurants,” says Gans.
Pull the Plug on the Smoothies and Juices
Why? “Because these liquid foods often contain many more servings of fruit and calories yet less fiber than you realized,” said Leah McGrath, RD, and a corporate dietitian at Ingles Markets. “The smoothies and juices that are pre-made at juice bars or come off the grocery store shelf can be the biggest offenders.”
Consider this: a container of 16 ounces of orange juice is about 225 calories, which is the equivalent of eating a little over 3 whole oranges. Could you ever eat that many oranges in one sitting? I doubt it. You would get tired of peeling after the second orange and stop, thereby reducing your calorie intake. Rely more on whole foods than juices.
Derail the Detox Diets
“These extreme weight loss approaches are unnecessary, unhealthy, potentially dangerous, and ineffective long term,” said Kathleen M. Zelman, RDN, and the Director of Nutrition at WebMD. “Your body has its own detoxification organs that rid toxins so no special diet is needed. Weight loss may occur on a detox diet but only because they are so low in calories, not because of any magical detoxification.” said Zelman.
In fact, most people feel weak, hungry, and cranky during these nutrient deficient fasts and are frustrated when the weight that is lost ends up coming right back on the hips. Want to detox? Eat more whole foods, less overly processed foods, and drink more water, suggests Zelman.
A Gluten-Free Diet is Half-Baked for Most
If you don’t have a medically diagnosed reason to stop eating gluten, you don’t really need to avoid it. In fact, avoiding gluten in your diet as a way to lose weight may actually backfire, according to Elisa Zied, RDN, and author of Younger Next Week. How? “Many gluten-free foods actually contain more calories, sugar, and fat than their gluten-containing counterparts,” says Zied.
Let’s face it, a gluten-free cake is still cake no matter how you slice it.
Leave Behind the Low Carbohydrate Diets
“Consuming very low amounts of carbohydrates on a regular basis can cause a slower metabolism, unruly hormones, and unwanted hunger,” states Jim White, RD, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics media spokesperson and owner of Jim White Fitness and Nutrition Studios. Here’s the real kicker: a low-carb diet can make you feel less energetic, which will negatively affect your workout regimen. You need healthy carbohydrates--such as whole grains, fruits, and veggies--to fuel your workouts and pump iron.
Free Yourself of Having To Eat Free
We need freedom from having to buy and consume products that have the word “free” on the package, according to Leslie Bonci, RDN, and Director of Sports Nutrition at the UPMC Center for Sports Medicine. “Foods labelled as wheat-free, sugar-free, and fat-free imply that removing these ingredients from the food will magically transform your body,” she said. Avoiding these products may actually “free up” some cash in your wallet as these foods tend to be pricey at the checkout counter.
What diet trends will be coming in the New Year? Have you heard of an interesting diet that you are wondering about? Let me know and stay tuned. I will be blogging about them all when they make the headlines.
Thanks for reading the blog.