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  • Caroline Spurr

The 7 Worst Diet Trends for 2023 Ranked by a Dietitian

Read this before you embark on another New Year, New Me

This time of year is exciting! It reminds me of how I would feel before starting a new school year - that feeling that anything is possible. Read this blog for the top 7 worst diet trends in 2023 ranked by a Vancouver dietitian.

The downside of this time of year is that feeling combined with the aggressive fad diet marketing can lead us down some unhelpful paths! Let’s not repeat the same mistakes as we once did!

worst diet trend by a nutritionist in canada

The Top 7 Diets I Don’t Recommend You Try

Now, this isn’t an exhaustive list; if you follow my Instagram account, you know I dislike MANY diets!

1) Lazy Keto

Many of my clients have tried some form of keto and loved the quick (and short-term) weight loss results that came with cutting out carbs. But that was about it.

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They did not enjoy the following:

  • more cravings

  • how difficult it was to stick with long-term

  • how limited their social life was

  • the increased cholesterol levels

  • the lack of skills taught to maintain weight

Many proponents of keto are aware of the many struggles that come with trying to stay on this diet, so you may see a shift to “Lazy Keto” where there are a few more carbs allowed.

However, for many of us, it will still be pretty restrictive, hard to maintain, and possibly missing critical nutrients found in higher carbohydrate foods such as fibre, B-vitamins, magnesium, potassium, and antioxidants such as flavonoids or carotenoids.

2) Intermittent Fasting (IF) diet

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You can eat whatever you want as long as it is between set times of the day. But it isn’t magical, it is just another way to reduce calories.

IF may be a good fit for someone who prefers to eat more calories at the end of the day, struggles with grazing or impulse buys, and have systems in place, so they do not have to rely on willpower.

It usually is not helpful for most of us, though! IF may not be a good fit for those who:

  • are assigned female (some research indicates women may have more cortisol, muscle breakdown, and inflammation after fasted training).

  • have a poor relationship with food or struggle with overeating/bingeing (because not eating all day will likely increase the risk of you bingeing)

  • struggles with planning, cooking at home and balancing meals or snacks

  • are very social (and maybe around food outside of their eating windows

  • are looking to build muscle or improve performance⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

3) Noom

This one may have surprised you, but I am not the biggest fan of Noom. I like that it focuses more on slowly building better habits, improving your relationship with food, and having some level of accountability with their coaches.

worst diet trends by a vancouver dietitian

What I dislike about Noom is how it tends to:

  • Set unrealistic weight-loss timelines for users. In my practice, predicting the rate of weight loss is extremely difficult unless I am working with combat athletes to help them make weight. I can predict that a lot easier since my combat athletes follow a VERY prescriptive plan without much flexibility, and they do not want or expect to maintain these results after the weigh-in. That is not how I coach any of my weight loss clients because it is not realistic for long-term habit changes!

  • Prescribe a diet with 1200 Calories a day for grown-ass adults! That is barely enough to cover their physiological needs like breathing, digesting or running their brain! Let alone the cost of activities of daily life or exercise.

  • Promote food rules with a stop-light system (red, yellow or green foods) based on caloric density. For some people, that reinforces feelings that they do not have permission to eat certain foods and can worsen their relationship with food.

  • Underdeliver on accountability. Its coaches are trained by Noom (i.e. not trained Dietitians or mental health therapists) and have upwards of 350 clients at a time which can dilute some of the 1 on 1 attention you might be hoping for.

4) Gut Health Detoxes

I am all for improving your gut health - check out my past blogs, Variety & Gut Health and PCOS and Bloating: What is Normal?

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Since gut health is getting a lot of positive attention from researchers and healthcare providers, many companies have also caught on, and you may see more marketing for gut health in 2023.

We do not know the best diet or supplement to fix your gut health. And chances are, that will be very different between individuals! What we do know is that plenty of plants, minimizing highly processed foods, stress reduction, activity, and getting enough fibre are the best ways to boost your gut health!

GAPS (Gut And Psychology Syndrome) Diet

You may have heard about this particular gut health diet: GAPS diet. It is based on the mind-gut connection, aiming to help heal those with various conditions caused by an unhealthy gut like eczema, IBS, IBD, etc.

This diet is similar to keto in that it’s low in carbs, but different in that it’s high in protein (instead of high fat like keto).

bloating pcos and gut health diet plan

It is recommended to follow the full GAPS diet for 18-24 months while consuming primarily meats, fish, stocks, broths, eggs, fermented dairy and vegetables. Essentially all other foods are off-limits.

Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, the creator of the GAPS diet, recommends starting with an introduction diet for those with severe symptoms like diarrhea before progressing to the complete GAPS diet. Those who have already eliminated dairy will also need to do a dairy introduction diet - but only with raw milk - as commercially bought milk is claimed not to be tolerated.

Health Canada states: “drinking raw (unpasteurized) milk increases the risk of contracting a serious foodborne disease such as E. coli. The sale of raw milk has been strictly prohibited under the Food and Drug Regulations since 1991.”.

Dr. Campbell-McBride also says that if you don’t handle dairy well by adding one teaspoon at a time, you will need to heal your gut further before you try to reintroduce it again. Generally, if someone has an issue with dairy, they are either allergic to the protein in milk or intolerant to the sugar in milk. That doesn’t usually disappear after other dietary modifications are made - either you’re intolerant or allergic or not.

A food sensitivity test is also recommended, although the type isn’t specified. Typically, such a test is the IgG test. According to The Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, IgG tests are inaccurate, and simply measure that you have eaten a food, not that you have an intolerance. Check out my other blog for more details on the IgG tests for gut health.

While this may be doable short-term, I can’t imagine eating like this for 2 years. There are shorter and simpler ways to find food triggers, such as tracking your food and symptoms or an elimination diet like FODMAP.

Bottom line - GAPS diet may remove food triggers, but there’s no plan for food reintroductions, which makes it difficult to isolate which foods are causing you gut problems. Work with a dietitian to do an elimination diet instead.

5) Carnivore Diet

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I don’t care what Joe Rogan says - it is not the optimal diet for health, performance, enjoying life, the planet, your wallet, and your gut. This diet allows you to eat meat, and that is about it, besides butter. There is not a single shred of scientific evidence that supports this diet.

Also, this diet was created by a former orthopedic surgeon who had his medical license revoked in 2017 due to concerns over his competency. Now whether he is competent or not is beyond the scope of this blog, but it is worthwhile knowing! If you feel like googling any of this, Shawn Baker is outspoken about his belief in the “vegan agenda,” which highlights a clear bias regarding his nutritional ideology.

The downsides of this diet include the following:

  • You are not eating some of the world’s healthiest foods (plants), and you are at risk for nutritional deficiencies.

  • Decreased gut health (without fibre & plants)

  • It would get boring as hell

  • You will likely develop a worse relationship with food

  • Difficult & expensive to maintain

As you may have been able to tell, the diets that I dislike the most have the common theme of being: