Truly, 2018 was a year of diet trends that captured the imagination, promoted healthy eating, and caused us no end of problems dining out.
Some of these diets have been more popular than others. A few have succeeded in shifting excess pounds, while others have only worked temporarily before the weight returned.
Let’s take a look back at what 2018’s top diets were all about.
1. Ketogenic Diet
The ketogenic diet was a big trend in 2018, but it’s far from new.
The first keto diet was developed as a therapy for epilepsy in the 1920s. Fast forward a hundred years, and celebrities are still using it to lose weight—from model Adriana Lima to sportsman James LeBron and famous family the Kardashians.
Keto is all about avoiding carbs so your body uses fat as energy instead of sugar from carbohydrates.
When you follow this diet, your body goes into “ketosis” and produces ketones for fuel. It’s much like the Atkins diet, but with fewer carbs—that means no pasta, bread, oats, cereals, or even honey.
This diet isn’t considered healthy eating unless you have a medical condition or you’re very overweight. The main problem is that it cuts out main food groups, including whole grains and fruits, which leaves you at risk of nutrient deficiencies.
It’s pretty hard to stick to the keto diet, and it can cause unpleasant side effects like dizziness, nausea, bad breath, and constipation. However, it does work if you have enough determination.
2. Paleo Diet
Short for “Paleolithic” and very similar to the blood group A diet, the paleo diet means eating like our ancestors.
Paleo followers eat fruits, vegetables, nuts, lots of meat, and even insects. It’s a high-protein diet that cuts out dairy, processed foods, and grains.
Paleo was first introduced as a diet in gastroenterologist Walter Voegtlin’s 1975 book, and it was made popular in 1985 by researchers Eaton and Konner. Then, in 2002, Loren Cordain wrote The Paleo Diet, sold millions of copies, and gained plenty of celebrity followers who made it fashionable.
Its famous face endorsements include Jessica Biel, Jack Osborne, and Matthew McConaughey, but perhaps the real reason behind its popularity in 2018 is that it’s not calorie controlled. You can eat any paleo foods when you’re hungry—especially meat.
The paleo diet can be healthy because it cuts out processed foods, fat, sugar, and salt, but it also cuts out whole-grain and dairy, which means you may get constipated and develop issues with calcium deficiencies.
3. Whole30 Diet
The Whole30 was panned by dieticians as the worst diet out there, but it didn’t stop it from being one of the most trending diets of 2018.
The Whole30 is a reset diet that aims to figure out why you might be feeling unwell, tired, or fatigued.
In 2009, its founder, Melissa Hartwig, developed a strict set of rules that cut out grains, legumes, dairy, and natural sugar, stating it would “change your life.”
You avoid these food groups for 30 days and gradually reintroduce them one at a time with the idea that you’ll identify what’s making you feel bad.
Because you’re cutting out food groups like sugar and only eating from a restricted menu, you are likely to lose weight—at least in the short term. Many people found they regained weight once they finished the 30-day plan.
This is certainly a very restrictive diet, with plenty of fatigue and emotional stress attached to being hungry. Many people fell off the wagon, but it didn’t stop others from trying.
If the Whole30 helps you identify a trigger food, then it’s a pro for your health—but cutting out major food groups in the long term means you don’t consume enough fiber, calcium, and vitamins like iron and magnesium.
4. Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting was another hot diet trend in 2018, but it’s been around for millennia.
The are many different time scales for intermittent fasting, such as fasting for 12 hours or 16 hours each day, but the 5:2 really boosted its popularity. Celebrity followers such as Miranda Kerr, Jennifer Lopez, and Benedict Cumberbatch didn’t hurt its reputation, either.
The 5:2 fast works out as five days of eating and two days of fasting that actually allows for 500 calories on fasting days. Many celebrities broke up the two days to make it easier, and we followed suit.
In reality, intermittent fasting is a form of a calorie-controlled diet. By eating less, you take in fewer calories and lose weight as a result. Followers also say that it gives your digestion time to relax, too.
Perhaps it’s popular in 2018 because it works. Eating fewer calories is a good way to shed the pounds and regulate insulin.
5. Vegan and Vegetarian
This “diet” has been around for decades, but in 2018 it really took off with the emergence of trendy flexitarians (that’s someone vegetarian who occasionally eats meat or fish).
A vegetarian or vegan diet isn’t a diet—it’s a lifestyle change.
Cutting out animal products is often due to practical cruelty concerns, trying to spend less on food, and avoiding antibacterial ingestion from factory-farmed animals rather than attempting to shift a few pounds before bikini season.
Vegetarians avoid eating meat, whereas vegans avoid all animal products, including milk, eggs, and honey.
Removing saturated fat from your diet can help you lose weight, and upping your fruit, vegetable, and bean content to fill the gap is great for your health, as it lowers your risk of heart disease and cancer.
However, vegans need to make sure they are getting enough iron, B12, and protein from other sources, or they can become anemic and vitamin deficient. It’s possible, but it does require dedication.
Vegan celebrities include the hugely popular Ariana Grande, who took the world by storm in 2018, and vegetarians include Peter Dinklage of Game of Thrones, Natalie Portman, and Liam Hemsworth.
The vegan trend shows no sign of slowing down for 2019.
What’s the Difference Between Dieting and Healthy Eating?
There’s a big difference between dieting and healthy eating.
A diet that only lasts a few weeks or months in order to lose a certain amount of weight often results in a yo-yo weight pattern. You’ll find yourself putting weight back on once you finish.
Healthy eating is a lifestyle change that gets long-term results and boosts your overall health, too.
From the popular 2018 diets, it’s vegan/vegetarian and intermittent fasting diets that can work long term because they are lifestyle changes.
The Mediterranean diet, with its emphasis on olive oil, vegetables, fish, and low-fat meats, is another healthy eating diet—but it’s not been so popular in 2018 as in previous years.
Whatever you choose, it’s important to eat all the food groups in balanced amounts to ensure a healthy diet.
Picking a lifestyle change that incorporates health foods over fad restrictions is much more likely to help you lose weight, and it’ll improve other areas of your health, such as boosting your immune system, hair, and skin.
There are no quick fixes to losing weight—but let’s see what 2019 brings to the diet table.