These Were the Biggest Diets of 2019, For Better and For Worse
It seems like there's always some new diet on the horizon, and if you could use some help cutting through the noise, you'll want to take a peek at this list of the biggest diets of 2019. POPSUGAR spoke with registered dietitians to get their unfiltered thoughts on the year's trends, separating the diets that deserve to stick around from the ones that should be left in the dust, along with juice cleanses and the grapefruit diet. Ahead, you'll find a breakdown of the benefits of each diet, along with tips for getting started or reasons you shouldn't try them at all. You might be surprised which ones experts hope will fade away!
The Keto Diet
Many people do lose an impressive amount of weight on the keto diet, but that doesn't necessarily mean this low-carb, high-fat plan is a good choice. The keto diet allows for so few carbs that grains are essentially off-limits, and even your options for fruit and vegetables are limited. "Cutting out carbohydrates can lead to a quick initial weight loss due to using up your body's glycogen stores, but ultimately, the only way to lose weight is to consume fewer calories than you burn," Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RDN, founder of NutritionStarringYOU and author of The Protein-Packed Breakfast Club, told POPSUGAR.
While there's evidence that a ketogenic diet can be beneficial in managing some illnesses, such as epilepsy in children, "there is no scientific evidence on the long-term effects for weight loss," Lauren explained. And, given its restrictive nature and the toll it can take on your cholesterol and heart health, your efforts are better spent elsewhere. If you're dead set on giving keto a try, Lauren recommends working with a registered dietitian to figure out the best plan for you.
The Mediterranean Diet
There's a reason the Mediterranean diet keeps topping the US News and World Report's diet rankings year after year — it has proven health benefits, and it's much easier to stick with than other diets. "The Mediterranean Diet isn't as restrictive with which foods you can eat or your macronutrient ratios as some other diets," Jessica Cording, MS, RD, CDN, told POPSUGAR. "It's more approachable and includes a lot of foods you are probably already eating."
If you're ready for a taste of the Mediterranean diet, Jessica recommends swapping out your cooking fats for extra virgin olive oil, buying less red meat and more seafood, and eating more fresh fruits and veggies. "Because the list of Mediterranean diet foods is so long, it's easy to make it work with any allergies, sensitivities, or food preferences," Jessica said. This fresh diet is sure to still get high marks in the coming year.
While juice cleanses seem to finally be taking a back seat (just say no to liquid diets, OK?), juicing has once again gone mainstream, this time under the guise that adding a tall glass to your day is some sort of cure-all. This year's drink of choice? Celery juice.
For most of 2019, you couldn't scroll through Instagram without seeing someone sipping on this bright green tonic. With its promises of more energy, better hydration, and improved digestion, it's easy to see why those in search of better health have been adding celery juice to their morning routine. Unfortunately, many experts agree that, while celery — like all vegetables — has plenty of benefits, drinking celery juice is not a magic bullet. Monica Auslander Moreno, MS, RD, a nutrition consultant for RSP Nutrition, thinks it's time to ditch this trend. "Unless you enjoy the taste of celery juice early in the morning, there is nothing particularly beneficial or miraculous about juicing, in any regard," she told POPSUGAR.
Celery juice is also not a complete breakfast. "Because our bodies don't register fullness from liquids in the same way they do from solids, celery juice alone is not an adequate source of macronutrients," Monica explained. If you love celery, skip the juice and add it to a salad or have some with your afternoon snack.
Switching to a more plant-based diet can be good for you and the environment — and in 2019, even the fast-food industry began taking notice, with meatless burgers and other vegan options popping up on menus nationwide.
But eating more plant-based foods doesn't have to mean giving up meat completely. If you've been looking for an ease in, Meatless Monday is a good place to start. By forgoing animal proteins just one day each week, you give yourself the opportunity to try out new foods and recipes that you might otherwise overlook. "Once you see how easy it is, you'll be inspired to add even more meatless meals throughout the week," Sharon Palmer, MSFS, RDN, The Plant-Powered Dietitian, told POPSUGAR.
With its stringent guidelines — no meat, dairy, grains, sugar, or legumes for 30 days — the Whole30 diet has always been a bit controversial, but even the founders will tell you that it's called the Whole30 because it isn't meant to be long-term. According to the site, the goal of Whole30 is to act as a "reset" to help you "curb your cravings and bad habits, boost your metabolism, heal your digestive tract, and calm your immune system." And there are valuable lessons to be learned from those 30 days. "The Whole30 encourages you to examine how foods make you feel and your relationship to food," Jessica told POPSUGAR. "Because of its focus on fresh, whole foods, it also gets you into the habit of cooking more meals at home."
If you are ready for a reset, Jessica's advice is to really use that 30 days to examine your current habits around food and create new ones. "You also want to be mindful during the reintroduction phase and pay attention to how certain foods make you feel," she added. Because this diet can be such a drastic change, if you have any health conditions or are pregnant or nursing, be sure to speak with your doctor before getting started, so they can ensure you aren't missing out on any important nutrients.
If you're unfamiliar, intermittent fasting (IF) simply involves narrowing the window in which you eat during the day, which may boost immunity, among other benefits, and help you lose weight. "To lose weight, you need to create a calorie deficit, where you burn more calories than you take in. Limiting your eating window with IF makes that goal easier to achieve," Lauren told POPSUGAR. "The available research shows similar weight loss results over time among any type of diet, but it also shows some improvements in blood sugar and insulin levels for those who followed IF."
While she advises against IF methods that involve fasting for longer periods of time (at times, even whole days), limiting your window to, say, eight hours is usually realistic and safe.
Because there are so many ways to approach IF, and there are no set rules regarding which foods you can eat, it's really easy to customize it to match your goals and lifestyle. If you want to give IF a try, but aren't ready to go all in, Lauren recommends cutting yourself off within four hours of bedtime. Regardless, always talk with your doctor first if you are taking medications, have blood sugar issues, or have any history of disordered eating.