When 2020 started, like most people, you may have gone through the motions and re-assessed how you want things to go in your life. You’ve probably set new resolutions for yourself and committed to a few things here and there. It could be about your job, your relationships, and the most commonly renewed one: your health, specifically, losing weight.
Together with the pandemic, we all faced in 2020 and continuing in 2021, along with other important matters happening in the world, it’s definitely hard to stay on top of it all as well.
Personally, I’ve never been a fan of any diet trend. I don’t count my calories and I don’t restrict any food. I like to keep it old school by eating the right portions and simply stopping when I am full. So far, I’m at a weight that I like and I’ve maintained it successfully.
But it’s interesting to see how the health industry continues to find many ways to help more people keep the weight off. The evolution of weight loss trends is allowing more people to love food and change their whole perspective on it.
We no longer live in a time wherein starving yourself and restriction is the way to get to a body you desire, but more of providing a feeling of satisfaction, and using food as fuel.
The most popular weight loss trends in 2021 surely offer diverse approaches that give more choices for all of us. Let’s have a look at what these trends are. Some of these have been the most popular even in previous years. This is because they’ve gone through numerous studies and evidently still come out on top.
Disclaimer: Please speak with your doctor before trying any new diet plan, the information posted below is not medical advise and is meant to be used as a consumption of information in order to better your knowledge.
5 Of The Most Popular Weight Loss Trends In 2021
1. The MediterrAnean Diet
This diet is at the top of the list with good reason. In January 2020, a group of 25 professionals from the health industry came together in search of the best diet. These professionals are experts in food psychology, weight loss, obesity, nutrition, and yes, diet, so they have an actual say in this.
According to the US News and World Report, the Mediterranean diet was deemed to be the best diet in terms of seven factors. These are short term weight loss, long-term weight loss, cardiovascular disease prevention, diabetes prevention, ease, nutritional holisticness, and other health risks. It’s actually been the top 1 diet for 3 years now.
So, what makes it the best?! The Mediterranean diet focuses mainly on four things: protein, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. It’s called the Mediterranean because it’s actually derived from the eating habits and cuisine of the people living on the coast of the Mediterranean sea.
Source: Oldways Preservation and Exchange Trust
Should you be interested in following this diet, the major components of this would be a weekly consumption of protein from fish, poultry, beans, and eggs. It promotes a daily consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fat like those derived from avocado or other fishes. If you’re inclined to use oil, you have to stick to olive oil.
Consumption of red meat should be limited while you’re on this diet. Herbs and spices are also encouraged to make food more tasty and interesting— ultimately, it reduces the need for salt.
I actually like this diet and though I am not following it, my eating habits and meals look a lot like the Mediterranean Diet. It’s a bit restrictive of red meat, but that’s for good reason, and should be the case even if you’re not on this diet. It’s simple, practical, and straightforward.
2. Keto Diet
You know when you go on social media and you see a photo of a burger patty, with lots of cheese and no bun in it with the #ketodiet or #onketo. I would daresay that Keto was probably the most used word in 2019, even this year. Keto is basically a low-carb diet on an extreme level.
Some say that Keto is actually just the Atkins Diet, reborn. A lot of people love this diet because it doesn’t restrict most kinds of meat, and dairies like butter and cheese are allowed. Any form of sugar, even from fruits, is restricted. This is due to the fact that the major components of the Keto diet focus only on two things: fat and protein.
This diet will significantly drop your carbohydrate intake and replace it with fat and protein. You’ll be consuming only about 20-30 grams of carbohydrates while you’re on this.
The rationale behind this is to get your body into a metabolic state of ketosis. On ketosis, your ketone levels will rise as the body’s response to the lack of glucose. Ketones are produced by the liver as a byproduct of it burning your increased levels of fat. The ketones will now be giving you the energy you need for the day, instead of the usual glucose or energy from carbohydrates.
A lot of people are very excited about this diet because it produces massive weight loss results in a short span of time. But this is slowly being debunked by other health professionals saying that the weight loss is only water loss. Some physicians also worry that the diet is highly restrictive as fruits aren’t allowed and you get a lot of your natural vitamins and minerals from fruits.
There are a lot of side effects that come with the keto diet. A new word on it is that it even has an effect on a person’s libido. Besides the other major side effects that you may experience which are kidney and heart diseases in relation to the fatty foods, you’re eating. As I said, I hate restricting and extreme diets and I’m personally not a fan of Keto.
There’s a great video if you’re interested in starting the Keto Diet as a beginner by Ruled.Me on YouTube, here it is:
3. The Flexitarian Diet
A lot of people are intimidated by the words: vegan, vegetarian, or any other word that equates to being fully plant-based.
This is mostly valid though as the thought of giving up meat and fish completely is an overwhelming, sometimes even impossible feat for some of us. And then, there was Flexitarian.
The word Flexitarian has been coined by a dietician named Dawn Jackson Blatner, who has written a book over ten years ago entitled: “The Flexitarian Diet: The Mostly Vegetarian Way to Lose Weight, Be Healthier and Add Years to Your Life.”
The main premise of the Flexitarian diet is to incorporate vegetables as much as possible into your meals without restricting any kind of food including meat.
In Blatner’s book, you’ll find meal plans for 5 weeks straight that’s designed to ease you into the Flexitarian way of eating. It’s not as strict as you need to follow each meal or recipe for the exact day, you’re free to swap recipes as you like.
The diet follows a 3-4-5 approach. This means that for breakfast you’re allowed to have 300 calories, for lunch about 400 calories and 500 calories for dinner. In between these meals, you can include small snacks of about 150 calories up to two times. This will allow you about 1,500 calories a day.
However, you can still tweak this a bit by adding or subtracting a bit of calories to suit your needs.
The main downside that I see with this diet is that you have to prepare most meals on your own. Although the ingredients are fairly easy to find and won’t break your bank, it could be taxing for some of you, especially those who don’t have time to cook.
4. Intermittent Fasting
In a study of 1000 Americans last April, 10% were following intermittent fasting, bumping out the 9% who were merely eating healthy, and 8% on Keto. This is the most Googled diet and it shows great promise.
Intermittent Fasting does not manipulate in terms of food composition in your diet, but controls the ‘when’. The time you’re eating and the time you’re not is the most critical component of IF. It’s basically tweaking your eating patterns without restricting any kind of food.
Some may argue that this isn’t a diet per se, but more of an eating pattern. Nevertheless, I thought it was worth mentioning as it’s one of the most popular trends that people are following nowadays.
You can choose from a range of cycles that you want to eat and fast. Some fast 16:8, 16 hours fasting and 8 hours of eating. Normally, this would look like you having breakfast at 12 noon, and eating the latest before 8 pm.
There’s also the ‘Eat-Stop-Eat’ method, which is more drastic in terms of fasting as it implies not eating anything for 24 hours straight, twice in a week. That’s not eating from breakfast today until breakfast the next day. You may also opt for the 5:2 diet, wherein you consume 500 to 600 calories twice in a week, then eat normally for the rest of the week.
A lot of people are into the 16:8 method as it doesn’t veer much away from the normal routines. It simply means eating dinner before 8 pm and skipping breakfast, not having it until 12 noon. The interesting thing about this is that people have been fasting for centuries now. It’s not a new thing.
From the early ages, there weren’t convenient stores or groceries to get your food. It has to be hunted and you’d need to wait for longer periods of time for your next catch. I like the idea of IF as it has no restrictions, you just need to follow a time which makes a lot of sense.
We did a full post on the beginners guide to intermittent fasting – check it out!
Check out this Ted Talk by Cynthia Thurlow on intermittent fasting that breaks most of what we know down:
5. Volumetrics Diet
Born from a nutrition professor from Penn State University, the Volumetrics Diet aims to incorporate the most nutrition-dense food into your meal plan while still being low-calorie. In this diet, you’ll encounter energy-density food and nutrient-density food.
Foods with higher energy are naturally more packed with calories and lower energy ones have fewer calories. Nutrient-dense foods have a relative number of calories but are packed with nutrients, while also having a minimal amount of salt, sugar, and fat.
Your meals would look packed with nutrient-dense food like vegetables, fruits, and whole grains with low-fat dairy. Here and there you’ll also get portions of high-energy food, but only at limited quantities.
To show you specifically each level of categorization, here’s the breakdown:
- Highly nutritious: fruits and vegetables, non-fat milk, low-calorie broth
- Mid nutritious: starchy vegetables, low-fat proteins, beans, legumes, low-fat meals
- High energy, low nutrition: pizzas, burgers, fries, bread, cheeses
- Low nutrition: crackers, chips, candies, cookies, butter and oils
From the following groups, you’d see how the energy content increases, while the nutrition content decreases as you go down the list. The Volumetrics diet will allow you to eat highly nutritious foods freely at any time and amount while being more and more controlled throughout the list.
I personally think the Volumetrics diet is all about knowing the food and what it gives you. From the list you’d initially know that food items in C and D are more leaned to processed, unhealthy food– you have to eat less of that. It’s simple but Volumetrics makes it more complex in a way, but the main message is knowing your food, how much it gives in terms of calories and nutrition.
If your goal is weight loss, the most important aspect that you have to practice and consider is a caloric deficit. All these diets have one thing in common: that’s to reduce your caloric intake by restricting some food, incorporating low-calorie, highly-nutritious food, or manipulating the duration of your eating times. In each case, the main goal is to reduce your calories.
Some of these may work for you, some may not. Personally, I follow a very loose diet but I found it to be very effective and balanced. One of the things I do is to stay hydrated. Oftentimes our bodies mistake dehydration to hunger and this could lead us to eat more, then gaining more weight.
I also try to limit my sugar intake. I snack on a few cookies or donuts here and there but don’t eat it in each meal, every day. Instead, I stack on vegetables, whole foods, and healthy protein. Adding exercise helps too. Doing something as simple as walking after eating has numerous benefits such as improving your blood flow, and putting your metabolism in first gear.
If you’re looking for more ways to lose weight, why not incorporate some training into your plan? Check out my post on why swimming burns more calories (Hint: It’s because we use our entire body!). You can even incorporate some of these diets directly with your training. I talked about this more in my post on fasted cardio, which basically talks about exercising before eating.
If you’re on any of these diets and you still eat more than you need, then none of these would work. Mindful eating is key when you want to lose weight. So listen to your body, know when it is full and hungry, then nourish where it demands nourishing.
Do you have any other diets that you’re using or have do you have experience in any of the ones mentioned above? If so, feel free to leave a comment below and get the discussion rolling!
Marko Rakic is a trail runner and fitness enthusiast from Sydney, Australia. He is the lead writer for The Ultimate Primate and believes the best way to live a happy life is to take a holistic approach to fitness and health.