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

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

 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.

worst diet trend by an online nutritionist in canada

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 the keto diet trend 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 and hard to maintain. Keto also possibly missings 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

dietitian meal plan vancouver dietitian

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
  • wants to 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 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 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’s not how I coach any of my weight loss clients because it’s 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?

ibs food intolerance diet plan online nutritionist

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 will boost gut health is:

  • eating plenty of plants
  • minimizing highly processed foods
  • stress reduction
  • regular activity
  • getting enough fibre

GAPS (Gut And Psychology Syndrome) Diet

While gut health is a broad diet trend, let’s focus in on one diet in particular. You may have heard about this particular gut health diet: GAPS diet. It’s based on the mind-gut connection, aiming to help heal unhealthy gut caused by conditions like eczema, IBS, IBD, etc.

This diet is similar to keto being low in carbs, but different in that it’s high in protein.

bloating pcos and gut health diet plan
What Can You Eat in the GAPS Diet?

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. For up to 2 years.

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.

Issues With The GAPS Diet: Raw Milk

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.

Issues With The GAPS Diet: Food Sensitivity Tests

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

worst diet trend by a nutritionist vancouver

I don’t care what Joe Rogan says – it is not the optimal diet for health, performance, enjoying life, the planet, your wallet, or your gut. This diet trend is simply terrible. It only 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, a former orthopedic surgeon who had his medical license revoked in 2017 due to concerns over his competency created this diet. 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 the carnivore 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:

  • Difficult to stick with due to the restriction, food rules or expense
  • Socially isolating
  • Restrictive with the amount or types of food that are “allowed” which often to worsens your relationship with food
  • Based on shaky or non-existent scientific evidence
  • Risky for developing nutritional deficiencies and poor gut health
  • Hard to fit into your life (these diets tend to take over your life)
  • Low on accountability, support, and tailoring to the individual
  • Focused ONLY on what you eat instead of looking at nutrition from a holistic perspective, such as why you eat, how you eat and building life-long skills

6) The Fertility Diet

More and more I’m seeing diet trends for fertility. Not all of the recommendations in this diet are bad per se, but it isn’t the best advice to promote fertility and potentially grow a healthy baby. It encourages healthy fats, full-fat dairy, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans and other vegan proteins, but also discourages the consumption of animal proteins, which may not be ideal for the goal of pregnancy.

Fertility foods that increase fertility in females

Does Eating Less Meat Help with Fertility?

Why might eating less meat be ideal for fertility? Because of this study, which found that greater intakes of animal protein were associated with ovulatory infertility, meaning the failure to release an egg from your ovaries in your cycle (ovulate).

The participants are healthy women (without PCOS) from the Nurses’ Health Study, a long-term study starting in 1989, with follow-up questionnaires every 2 years. Interestingly, in calorie-matched diets, replacing carbs with animal protein had a 19% greater risk of ovulatory infertility. When carbs were replaced with vegan protein, the risk decreased even more to 43%. And when animal protein was replaced with vegan protein, the risk was lowered to more than 50%.

So it sounds like less carbs and more vegan proteins for the win, right?!

Are Vegan or Vegetarian Diets Optimal for Pregnancy?

While these results sound promising, animal proteins are also essential to build a foundation for a healthy pregnancy. Lily Nichols, Registered Dietitian and author of Real Food For Pregnancy: The science and wisdom of optimal prenatal nutrition argues that a vegan diet or vegetarian diet is not suitable for pregnancy.

Nutritional Shortfalls of Vegan and Vegetarian Diets

She lists several reasons for this, including the low amount of the amino acid glycine in vegan proteins, which is a “conditionally essential” amino acid during pregnancy, meaning you need to consume it from foods to get enough. Being the dominant amino acid in collagen, it’s not surprising to know that this helps develop a baby’s skin, nails and hair, and skeletal system.

Vegan proteins also contain no vitamin B12, another essential nutrient involved heavily in a process called methylation, which encourages healthy cell, DNA and organ formation. Without enough B12, the risk of miscarriage, preterm delivery and neural tube defects increases. Most women know the importance of folate in this process, but vitamin B12 is also included in this essential step.

Choline, another vital B vitamin, is necessary for the prevention of neural tube defects and promotes healthy brain development of babies during pregnancy. It’s also almost solely found in an animal protein: eggs.

Other nutrients that fall short in vegan proteins include preformed vitamin A (retinol), vitamin K2, DHA, iron, and zinc.

Bottom line – including some vegan proteins is excellent and can add a lot of extra nutrients and fibre, but don’t downplay the importance of animal proteins for this life stage!

Fertility foods that increase fertility in females

7. Dr. Now Diet

I’m not surprised this made it into the latest diet trends, but be forewarned: it’s one of the worst (for more reasons than just the diet itself).

If you’ve seen the TV show “My 600-lb life”, you’ll know the doctor who created this diet, Dr. Nowzaradan. For those who are unaware, this show follows the journey of people preparing for weight loss surgery, and Dr. Nowzaradan advises them on how to prepare for this surgery – including a highly restrictive, very low-calorie diet designed to help people lose weight fast.

While fast weight loss sounds great, let’s look deeper into what this diet entails.

Dr. Nowzaradan’s Philosophy

Dr. Nowzaradan quotes in his book: “The Scale Does Not Lie, People Do.”, which is a problematic statement in itself. By implying the scale is the only measure of truth and assuming that people are untruthful about their intake is simply messed up. Yes, recalling all the food you ate isn’t 100% accurate. In fact, people have been found to underreport about 400 calories. However, this is not because people intend to lie to cover up what they’ve really eaten – it’s because they inaccurately journal portions and simply forget to input some things. It’s definitely not because they want to lie about what they’ve eaten. Moreso, this statement shifts the blame of excess weight solely to the individual, which could lead to guilt, food rules, and all sorts of disordered eating thoughts and habits.

He also uses the acronym FAT to describe his diet approach. I’ve got nothing against acronyms – they’re great for memorization – but can we acknowledge that he probably chose the most inappropriate acronym for his program? He works with morbidly obese people who are desperate to lose weight. They are vulnerable and seeking help from a professional. Many members of the body positivity movement are encouraging the word fat to be a neutral way to describe a body, similar to tall or slim. However, the use of FAT as an acronym for his diet plan does not appear to be in the spirit of body neutrality or fat acceptance movements.

Dr. Now Diet Recommendations

Some of the recommendations, like 2-3 meals per day (no snacks) and a goal of 1200 calories per day (or less), make this diet difficult to follow long term. Not to mention, it will be tough to get your nutrient needs met on these guidelines.

It’s essential to think about the purpose of this diet and who it was designed for. A person with a very large body about to undergo surgery will have a greater chance of complications, so weight loss (even a small amount) will help reduce the likelihood of complications. Further, with a surgery date in a short period of time, a more drastic measure may be required to reach that goal. If you are not awaiting weight loss surgery that is scheduled in a short period of time, I believe there are better diets out there that can help you reach your goal healthily and sustainably.

Though not all the recommendations in this diet are healthy, some pieces are good takeaways, such as:

  • High protein
  • High fibre
  • Eat mainly minimally processed foods

Bottom Line

Unless you’re planning for weight loss surgery, try to choose a more balanced, sustainable diet, and stay away from diet trends promising fast results. Check out our other blog on the best diet trends of 2023.

That’s a wrap! Stay tuned for more diet trend reviews as 2024 approaches.

If you need help implementing any of these new trends, let me know by filling out an application form here.

Follow Edge Nutrition on Instagram & Facebook, or join our email list for more helpful tips.

About The Author

7 thoughts on “The 7 Worst Diet Trends for 2023 Ranked by a Dietitian”

Leave a Reply

Scroll to Top