Weight Loss Diet Trends To Leave Behind In 2022
Just because the number on the scale goes down, doesn’t mean you are actually healthier.
There are TONS of diet trends out there that promise quick and easy weight loss. It can be so tempting to try something drastic that might work in the short term. But what happens after that? And just because the number on the scale goes down, doesn’t mean you are actually healthier. It's important to be wary of which diets are actually backed by science and which ones can actually be harmful. As a non-dieting dietitian, I encourage healthy eating patterns you can sustain forever. These are my top weight loss and fad diet trends to leave in 2022 and why:
Keto and Low Carb
The keto diet is a very low carbohydrate, very high fat diet actually meant to treat epileptic children. It is very hard to sustain as most common foods are off the menu (goodbye, rice and bread) and eliminates a lot of nutritious foods like whole grains and fruits. Some people are able to lose weight in the short term, but it is unclear what happens after you go back to a regular eating pattern. Skipping nutritious, fiber-rich carbohydrates can cause constipation, low mood and poor sleep, increased cholesterol levels, and also vitamin and mineral deficiencies. And if you have liver, kidney, pancreas, or gallbladder issues, diabetes, or are pregnant or breastfeeding, it’s best to consult with your doctor or dietitian first.
I hear all the time that sugar is poison or toxic so you must eliminate all of it. While excessive amounts are detrimental to your health, your body can process sugar just as it processes other carbohydrates, the key is in the amounts. If completely eliminating sugar means failing and bingeing large amounts, or a miserable and inflexible life, it may be healthier to have smaller amounts of sweets spaced out throughout the week, along with an overall nutritious diet. Fruit is another food that often gets cut because of sugar, but because of the fiber and high nutrient content, should not be treated like refined sugar.
Blood Type Diet
I get asked about this one a lot. Created by a naturopathic doctor in the 90s, there is actually no scientific evidence supporting the effectiveness of this diet. The foods recommended for each blood type are nutritious, whole foods that would probably benefit anyone regardless of blood type, and unnecessarily eliminate other food groups that still might be beneficial.
Long-Term Low-Calorie Diets
The ever popular 1200 calorie diet, who hasn't tried it? Only to find out it makes you tired, weak, sad, and super hungry. Calories matter for weight loss, but if you are eating in an extreme deficit for extended periods of time, your body is able to adjust and slow down to use fewer calories to keep you alive. It also makes it difficult to get enough of the nutrients you need, and you might feel out of control when you do eat: that is your brain’s way of protecting you. Any weight lost also likely includes muscle loss, which is counterproductive as muscle helps us keep our metabolism burning more. Note that it is possible to speed up your metabolism again after long periods of restriction!
If you feel like you overindulged from holiday celebrations or a vacation, you might feel a little sluggish, bloated, or uncomfortable. You still don’t need a special diet or extreme cleanse. Your body is able to detoxify itself using your liver and kidneys, and they do need energy (calories!) to function too. These detox cleanses like juices, broths, and teas are also often popularized to help you “jump start weight loss,” but because the lost weight comes from having no food in your body, once you eat again, you will likely gain weight again too. Save your money and work on going back to your regular eating pattern, buy some healthy staple foods, or start cultivating a sustainable healthy diet instead.
Meal Replacement Shakes
I see a lot of these products that are meant to be “calorie and nutrient balanced.” At the end of the day, these are still highly processed powders or smoothies, which is not the same as eating food, and often is a generally unenjoyable experience.
Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss
Fasting is increasingly popular in recent years, but there is still no solid evidence that fasting works for weight loss. The benefits still seem to come from limiting the total calories consumed. There are other benefits too, like improved blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and blood sugar levels, and you can also still get those benefits through other lifestyle changes. Intermittent fasting is contraindicated for pregnant or breastfeeding women, and people with certain medical conditions like diabetes, low blood pressure, or a history of eating disorders, and people taking certain medications. And it may be worth mentioning that what you eat does still matter too in the hours between your fast.
This is another trend that has been popular in recent years, but there is no solid evidence that working out fasted results in greater fat loss. Exercising in a fasted state, usually after an overnight fast, may affect your energy levels and performance, so it could be worth experimenting if your body feels better when you exercise in a fed state instead.
The Mono Diet
I’ve heard of people trying or asking me about diets where you only eat one single food for days or weeks like the eggs, grapefruits, potatoes, or meat. This is an extreme form of dieting, and again is very unsustainable, leads to nutritional deficiencies, and promotes unhealthy eating habits, not to mention there is no science backing these.
Drinking Coconut Oil
Fats are in, but there are still mixed opinions on the health benefits of consuming coconut oil. Some claim that drinking coconut oil is beneficial for heart and brain health, reducing inflammation, and weight loss. However, studies still show that because coconut oil contains saturated fat, consuming it in excess leads to increased levels of the “bad” LDL cholesterol levels, which can be harmful to heart health.
With all of this loud diet noise, it can be hard to remember that what goes the longest way for health and weight management does not need to be extreme and unsustainable. Before trying a new diet, ask yourself, can I eat this way forever? You can make 2023 the year of long-term success, better health, and a better relationship with food.
Chella Po, MS, RD is a New York City-trained US registered dietitian who can be found on Instagram as @betterbeing.ph. She uses science to back up her professional advice for clients seeking to create a sustainable, healthy diet without counting calories, restrictive plans, or stress! Contact her for a free discovery call today.