Do these ‘in’ diets live up to the hype?

It seems like there’s a new Hollywood-inspired diet trend being talked about every week. They all promise to help you shed unwanted extra weight and emerge with the swan-like body of a Victoria’s Secret model.

But with so many options out there, it can be pretty hard to keep track of the top programs of the moment – let alone the science behind them, whether they live up to the hype and what they actually promise.

According to data from Google Trends, Ketogenic and Paleo are two of the most searched diets.

So, what are they and how do they work? We take a closer look some of the most popular diets right now.

Keto diet
In a nutshell …

Otherwise known as the Ketogenic diet, this low-carb, high-fat diet shares many similarities with Atkins. The idea is that reducing carbohydrate intake puts your body into a metabolic state called ketosis, where your body becomes incredibly efficient at burning fat as the primary fuel for energy, rather than relying on insulin.

Where did it come from?
The diet originally came about to treat patients with epilepsy in the 1920s and ’30s, as it was found to reduce seizures successfully. However, it was eventually abandoned due to the introduction of more effective anticonvulsant therapies. It has re-emerged as a popular lifestyle choice in recent years, thanks to backing from several high-profile celebrities.

Who follows it?
Gwyneth Paltrow, Mick Jagger and Halle Berry are all rumoured to have tried the diet.

What can you eat?
The Ketogenic diet is rich with healthy high fat foods, such as fish, nuts and avocados, whilst you’re encouraged to avoid carbs like breads and pasta. The diet also promotes keeping your protein intake reasonably low – although you can still eat meat.

What does an expert say?
Fiona Hunter, nutritionist on behalf of Healthspan, says: “On very low-carb diets the body switches from burning carbs to burning fat for energythis causes an increase in ketones – which is thought to help reduce hunger. However, it can have several side-effects including low energy levels, sleep problems and bad breath. It can be an effective method of weight loss short-term but it’s difficult to sustain long-term.

“It also necessitates cutting out nutritious food groups, and it can be particularly hard to get enough fibre on this diet. A lack of fibre could cause constipation and create an imbalance in gut microflora, which increases the risk of problems later in life.”

Paleo diet
In a nutshell …

Also known as the caveman diet, the Paleo diet encourages its followers to only eat foods that can be hunted and fished – such as meat and seafood – and foods that can be gathered – such as eggs, nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices. The idea is that you’re mimicking the primitive eating habits of our hunter-gatherer ancestors during the Paleolithic era, before the development of agriculture.

Where did it come from?
The diet was made popular in the 1980s by Dr. S. Boyd Eaton, a professor of anthropology, whose book, The Paleolithic Prescription, argued that modern diets are ill-suited to humans because our genetic makeup was established thousands of years ago – before agriculture existed.

Who follows it?
Matthew McConaughey has said that he commits to eating Paleo 90 per cent of the time while Miley Cyrus told US Weekly that “everyone should try no gluten for a week”, adding: “The change in your skin, physical and mental health is amazing. You won’t go back!”

What can you eat?
Paleo followers are encouraged to eat plenty of vegetables, fruits, tubers, nuts and seeds, fish and good-quality animal meats and organ meats. You can also eat traditional ingredients such as bone broth and fermented foods. Processed foods such as cereals, grains, dairy, refined sugar and salt are banned.

What does an expert say?
Ms Hunter says: “This is a very restrictive diet that cuts out several important food groups – particularly dairy. It’s very low in calcium, which could lead to bone problems (osteoporosis) later in life. It also appeared on a list of the British Dietetic Association’s top diets to avoid in 2015, who described it as a ‘sure-fire way to develop nutrient deficiencies’.”

Do you follow a strict diet? What would you miss the most if you were to follow one of these diets?

– With PA

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