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So here we are saying goodbye to another year! 2018 beckons and many of us will start the new year with new goals, a new diet plan and a pledge to shift the Christmas weight. Every year, another diet is revealed, many with celebrity endorsements – but which were the British public most curious about? Here is the countdown from five of the most searched diet plans on Google.
#5 – 16:8 Diet
A few years ago, intermittent fasting became all the rage – it was made popular after a TV documentary was aired with Dr Michael Mosley presenting a Horizon special entitled Eat, Fast and Live Longer.
Soon after, the Fast Diet was launched by Dr Mosley and nutritionist, Mimi Spencer.
However, five years on and this diet has morphed somewhat; people were finding it too difficult to survive on a measly 500kcals for two days per week. Morphed, that is, into the 16:8 diet – the diet that says you can eat what you want, just ensure that you do it all within an 8-hour window! So that’s a daily fast of 16 hours!
This means that all your meals take place relatively close to each other, and can occur anytime within a consecutive 8 hour window with 16 consecutive hours of no food at all.
But remember, around 8 of those 16 hours you’re probably sleeping anyway! So for some, this is a less painful way to fast.
Typically, breakfast would occur at around 10 or 11am, lunch at about 2 or 3pm and then a final meal about 6 or 7pm – then fast until the following morning. However, practically speaking, it’s more likely that you’ll skip a meal and just have a late breakfast/lunch and then another meal toward the latter part of the 8 hour window.
The benefits to this plan is that there’s no calorie counting, no forbidden foods, just careful attention to the time! The only word of warning is that the 8 hour window doesn’t give the green flag for any food to be devoured, you should still eat healthily and choose healthier meal options.
But fasting it isn’t for everyone. Even in those 16 hours, some people may suffer from symptoms of low blood sugar which makes them irritable, dizzy and even nauseous. It’s likely that the body will adapt, but whether it’ll adapt quick enough so that you stick with it is another thing – we all respond to a diet change in different ways.
#4 – GMB Fad Free Diet
The GMB fad free diet was launched by the British ITV programme, Good Morning Britain. This is a 28-day diet plan developed in consultation with British dietitian, Lynne Garton, and celebrity fitness trainer, Richard Callender.
Each day, GMB gives you a free meal plan including full recipes. It includes three full meals plus snacks, along with a fitness plan that promises no more than 15 minutes of your time!
This looks to me like a low calorie diet. The breakfasts are small, as are the lunches – but you will lose weight on this plan. It’s a healthy option, with what appears to me to be a balanced diet of protein, fat and carbohydrates.
The biggest risk? I think the dieter will be starving by the time they go to bed, but if you bear with it, you will naturally adjust to the lower calories. It really is fad free – there are no gimmicks whatsoever, and may appear to most people to be a “common sense” diet.
The best bit? It’s completely free! Everything you need for this diet is on the GMB website with no subscription charge! It doesn’t involve calorie counting as such, as you’re given a fully weighed diet plan and a portion guide. Just don’t be tempted to bump up the ingredients, because this will only work if you follow the instructions to the letter.
#3 – Dr Unwin Diet
Dr David Unwin is a British general practitioner (GP) who published the results of a pilot study into the role of carbohydrates and diabetes. He found that following a low carbohydrate diet reversed early signs of type 2 diabetes (known as metabolic syndrome).
In particular, a diet low in carbohydrates reduced body weight, reduced blood sugar levels and improved the way our bodies handle sugar (glucose tolerance).
This diet isn’t without its controversies, however. Although it does advocate a range of fresh fruit and vegetables, he does suggest that full fat yoghurt and butter are among the “healthy fats” – despite both being high in saturated fat, the fat that public health advisors tell us we should limit.
Although I have said in one of my blogs that I personally eat full fat yoghurt, I would draw the line at butter! And I did recommend that we limit the amount of specific foods we eat. We also need to remember that butter is not just high in fat, but 50% is saturated, and it contains a very high amount of cholesterol. It also burns when you try to cook with it because it has a tiny amount of sugars and protein too (known collectively as milk solids).
I haven’t yet seen a specific diet plan from Dr Unwin, and he may only be advising his patients. But there are a lot of news articles and videos out there where he is championing the low carb, high fatmessage.
#2 – Dopamine Diet
The Dopamine Diet is the brain child of British Michelin starred chef, Tom Kerridge. The basis of this diet is the consumption of foods that allegedly increase the brain’s “feel good” hormone, dopamine.
Tom suggests that his diet makes you happy whilst you lose the weight – and he lost a whopping 70kg (154lb or 11 stone) in weight.
He advocates consuming foods such as dairy (cheese, milk and yoghurt), unprocessed meat, oily fish (tuna, salmon, mackerel etc) and eggs. Wash this down with plenty of fruit and vegetables (especially bananas), nuts and dark chocolate!
Much of these foods are associated with high calories, so what’s the twist? Tom’s diet is essentially a low carbohydrate diet: no processed sugar, no caffeine, limited alcohol and cut out starchy carbohydrates. It’s therefore categorised as a “high fat, high protein, low carbohydrate diet” and therefore not one in which is classed as a traditional “balanced diet”.
This diet works because you naturally consume less calories by eating foods that keep you feeling fuller for longer. Many studies have shown that protein switches off the hunger hormones produced in the gut, and providing you eat slower, you’ll feel fuller quicker. There’s some evidence too that much of the fat in dairy products doesn’t get absorbed by the body because of its high concentration of calcium.
However, diets like this are not dietetically approved, and can easily be high in the wrong fats. I don’t eschew dairy, far from it, but we do need to watch how much butter, cheese and chocolate we consume – even if we are losing weight, what effect is this having on our blood cholesterol?
#1 – Pioppi Diet
And the winner is…the Pioppi diet! I can’t help wondering if the winning diet was spurred by a spike in searches after the British Dietetic Association (BDA) listed this diet as one of the top five diets to avoid for 2018! This news release was a hit among British newspapers and news sites and caused a storm on Twitter after the founder, Dr Aseem Malhotra, took exception to this.
It is possible that the BDA decided to include this after an earlier news release from the British Nutrition Foundation, which stated that this diet rails against the traditions of a Mediterranean diet, which this is supposedly following. The Mediterranean diet is low in saturated fat, and higher in mono and polyunsaturated fat.
The Pioppi diet is based on the diet of the people of a village in Italy called Pioppi! This village hosts some of the longest living residents in the world, which inspired Dr Malhotra to investigate. It is also a village visited by the infamous Ancel Keys, who noted that heart disease and saturated fat has a relationship back in the 1950s.
Dr Malhotra is most famous for being a British cardiologist who champions low carbohydrate diets and believes that saturated fat has nothing to do with heart disease.
What is odd about this diet is that it is based on an Italian diet, yet bans outright any food that contains starchy carbohydrates including: wholegrains, rice, pasta, flour, bread – all which feature heavily in almost all Mediterranean diets.
Dr Malhotra is never going to sanction a diet that includes carbs – it’s vehemently against his beliefs and principles – so he appears to have adapted the Mediterranean diet to what he believes is correct, and not necessarily the one in which the Pioppi people follow. It has therefore been heavily criticised.
For me, 2017 is the year of the low carbohydrate diet – carbs are bad, fat is good! But is this really the case? I do agree with Dr Malhotra, that medical and nutrition scientific research is riddled with potential problems of bias, because so much research is funded by the food industry – which means, we cannot be sure how much of the research is influenced by what they want to hear. But we also need to be careful that people who champion specific diets aren’t cherry-picking their research evidence to prove a point.
Low carbohydrate diets are all the rage just now, with many proponents being medical doctors who want to find ways to avert or treat type 2 diabetes. This is commendable, but are they looking at the diet as a whole in the way a nutritionist or dietitian would? How do they look at the evidence? Can we suddenly decide that a specific diet is good for all when it’s only been tested on a very small and specific subset of the population? We just don’t have the evidence yet to suggest that high fat diets are healthy and we can’t, with any good conscience, recommend them. There are better and safer ways to lose weight and control blood sugar.
I agree that a low carbohydrate diet probably does have a great impact for this (growing) selection of the population, those who are showing early signs of diabetes or metabolic syndrome. But I don’t believe it’s a diet for life and I don’t agree that a diet high in fat is good either. I want to see more studies, more robust studies, before I can stand behind the #LCHF (low carb, high fat) brigade.
Low carbohydrate diets should be carefully managed, and not one to be followed without professional help – why? Low carbs can very easily mean low dietary fibre and that is bad for the gut. If you are really good at consuming high portions of a variety of fruit and veg, and keeping tabs on the amount of meat and dairy that you eat, then all respect to you – but not everyone is well versed in what is good nutrition.
Many starchy carbs are full of the dietary fibres your gut bacteria requires, and actually, if we’re going to talk about evidence, why doesn’t anyone talk about the increasing evidence behind gut bacteria, insulin resistance, obesity and inflammation? Therefore, carbs are good – just be choosy in the ones you select! No one is arguing that added sugar is bad, but we’re not yet agreeing that grains are bad!
So, in my opinion, apart from the GMB diet – these are all “fad diets” and if you want to lose weight and keep it off, choose a diet that suits you. If you are diabetic, have a history of heart disease or stroke – please don’t attempt a high fat diet until you’ve consulted your GP first.
Other popular searches included
This blog post is intended as an interesting and informative read for anyone with a general interest in health and nutrition. It is not intended to give any form of medical advice or opinion. If you suffer from any of the mentioned symptoms, you should seek the opinion of a medically trained professional and not rely on the contents of this post. I’m a nutritionist guys, not a dietitian or a medical doctor.
Seb is a writer and blogger of food and nutrition. He holds a bachelors and a masters degree in nutrition science, and has studied sports and exercise nutrition at postgraduate level. He specialises in plant-based nutrition and believes passionately that we can all live with a little less meat. He writes for www.veggieandspice.com and www.itsaboutnutrition.com