Debunked: The Reality Behind 3 Popular Diet Trends

3 popular diet trends

Buckle up; we are getting down to the nitty-gritty:

What we eat plays a major role in how we live. In the age of social media it is incredibly easy to follow and fall into popular trends. Friends posting about the great results they got from “X” diet, social media influencers posing next to their favorite weight loss supplements praising it’s effectiveness and offering a “special” deal on pricing using their discount code; it all seems so straight-forward and glamorous.

We don’t always get to see the not-so glamorous side of all these trends, so let’s look deeper into the 3 popular trends grazing social media. 

Ketogenic Diet

To some this may seem like the ideal diet from the outside; you get to eat a bunch of fatty foods and drop some major pounds.

What it Claims
Quick weight loss, reduced cravings, mood boosting, increased energy + focus.

How it Works
The goal of the ketogenic diet is to send your body into ketosis. Without boring you to tears with the science; ketosis is a state in which your body breaks down dietary and stored fat into ketones and relies on fat as a main energy source instead of your body’s preferred energy source, carbohydrates.  In order to achieve this your body must be severely restricted of carbohydrates before it can enter ketosis. Once in ketosis you will begin to burn fat throughout the day; thus resulting in weight loss.

The Reality
This is more than just a “low-carb” diet. It is an excess fat, moderate protein and extremely low carbohydrate diet (only ~7% of diet is allowed to be carbohydrates). In fact the ketogenic diet was never intended to be a mainstream weight loss method. It originated in a clinical-setting used as a method to help reduce seizures in children and a metabolic therapy for children with cancer. This method was never intended for use on adults and it certainly wasn’t intended for weight loss, weight loss just happened to be a side effect of the diet.  It was introduced as a weight loss diet around 2012 and it has gained a lot of popularity over the last 2 years.  There is a small origin of error with the keto diet. It takes about 2 weeks for your body to fully enter ketosis and once in ketosis it is even harder to stay in that state. Even going over slightly on your carbohydrate intake will trigger your body to revert back to using carbohydrates as energy, which takes your body out of the ketosis state and puts you back at square one.

Pros and Cons
Pros: Will you lost weight? Initially, you probably will lose weight.
Cons: If you enjoy fruit, oatmeal or any type of starchy vegetable it may be difficult to follow this carb-restricted diet. There are also a lot of side effects that come along with the early stages of your body entering ketosis including fatigue, light-headedness and irritability. Sustaining this diet for a long period of time is difficult and it could lead to health issues later down the road, especially for those with heart conditions or diabetes.

Bottom Line
If you are considering this method it would be best to consult with your physician to see it this is a good fit for you. Don’t do this diet on your own, get a referral to a dietician who will be able to help to make sure this is done in a healthy way or they may be able to help you find a diet that will be most beneficial for you. I don’t recommend following the keto diet that your friend shared on Facebook. Again, this started in a clinical setting and it should stay in the clinical setting.

Dukan Diet

A four phase diet that has a set of do’s and don’ts that claim to help you prevent regaining any weight you lose.

What it claims
You can eat as much as you want, lose 10 pounds in the first week and continue to lose 2-4 pounds a week until you reach as long as you follow the rules to the T.

How it Works
The diet is broken up into four phases: attack, cruise, consolidation and permanent stabilization. In the attack phase its all-you-can-eat protein. Any protein you can think of such as beef, pork, veal, chicken, eggs and vegetable protein (tofu + seitan) just to name a few is open for you to eat as much as you want. You can also eat non-fat dairy, water and other no-calorie drinks. But that’s it, no other foods for this first phase! In the cruise phase you can add in certain non-starch vegetables and have them as much as you want but they also recommend having at least one day a week of pure protein, like in the attack phase. In the consolidation phase it is still all you can eat protein and vegetables but now you are allowed 1 serving of fruit, 2 slices of whole-grain bread and 1.5 ounces of cheese per day. In this phase you are also allowed 2 servings of starchy foods per week. The last phase is the permanent stabilization phase; this phase is meant to last a lifetime. You can eat 6 days out of the week with the guidelines of the consolidation phase and on the 7th day you have to have a pure protein day.

The Reality
Sure you get to load up on protein and gradually you get to add more food in, but according to the founder of this diet, if you stray from the rules at all it is considered extremely detrimental to the results of the diet. There is no research on its effectiveness for weight loss and it is difficult to keep track of the rules and restrictive phases.  The Dukan diet bans entire food groups, which could put you at risk for nutritional deficiencies.

Pros and Cons
Pros: It allows for very high protein intake. It could be effective for fast weight loss.
Cons: Could lead to nutritional deficiencies. Extreme rules that make it difficult to sustain long-term.  The large amount of restrictions can also lead to an unhealthy relationship with food.

Bottom Line
In my honest opinion, this diet is not worth it. You truly would have to live the rest of your life living by a strict set of rules on what you can eat in order to “keep the weight off” but there is no research to show if people who follow this diet are even successful at keeping the weight off that they initially lose.

Paleo Diet

If the cavemen didn’t eat it you shouldn’t either.

What it Claims
You will lead a healthy, fit and disease-free life with this diet.

How it Works
It is no surprise that we live in a high-processed world and those eating habits may be linked to some health ailments. The Paleo diet takes a step back in time to the Paleolithic period where hunters and gathers ruled and animal protein and plants were the only foods eaten. This means cutting out refined sugar, diary, legumes and grains. There are different “levels” to the Paleo diet, which allows for different degrees of intensity with the diet. In the entry level you are allowed three “open meals” per week, the in the maintenance level you are allowed two “open meals” in the maximal level you are allowed only one “open meal”.

The Reality
The Paleo diet may be a beneficial antidote to the unhealthy habits that have taken over the Western diet as it emphasizes lean meat and vegetables. However, giving the cold shoulder to all dairy and grains can mean you will be missing out on some key nutrients. You also must be careful when choosing your lean meat choices because poor choices in that department may increase your risk for heart problems.  As far as preventing or controlling diseases, there are many experts who believe that there are better options for preventing and controlling diabetes and they have very little confidence in the Paleo diet’s ability to manage cardiovascular disease. As far as losing weight, the key point is making sure you are in a caloric deficit to lose weight; you can still overeat when following the Paleo diet, which will not allow you to lose weight.

Pros and Cons
Pros: Less processed food (always a good thing).
Cons: High risk for nutrient deficiencies.  No guarantee for disease prevention or weight loss.

Bottom Line
I think the emphasis on non-processed food is admirable. I personally think we should all make a conscious effort to reduce the amount of processed foods we eat but I think there are more effective and more sustainable ways of doing that. Because this diet cuts out two major food groups it is important that someone following this diets takes a multivitamin and does get blood work done regularly to keep an eye on any nutritional deficiencies.


There are pros and cons to every diet but when it comes to choosing a diet, be smart. Consult your physician and ask questions to see if the diet will be beneficial for you. They will point you in the right direction or refer you to someone who may be able to help you further.

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