The ultimate glossary of food trends: 23 popular diets
We've compiled a complete guide with the 23 most popular diets trends you just need to know about.
The world of nutrition and dietetics is constantly evolving, and with it comes a rotating door of diet trends and lifestyle choices to learn about.
With a new food trend finding popularity every second day - or so it seems - it’s easy to get one confused with another. What’s a flexitarian? What can you eat on its meal plan that differs from the omnivore diet? How can going gluten or lactose-free improve my health? What’s all this buzz about intermittent fasting?
Relax! La Española has compiled a fantastic guide to 23 of the most popular food trends and diets today.
Disclaimer: Aside from the healthy, safe and universally-applauded Mediterranean diet we love, La Española does not support or condone any one diet or lifestyle choice and does not claim to have any scientific research backing many of the following diets. We encourage our readers to do their own research and consult a medical professional before embarking on a new diet plan.
What it is: A diet that completely eliminates meat.
What’s not allowed: Meat of any type.
Pros: Low in saturated fat. Vegetarians often have lower blood pressure levels and are less likely to experience obesity and diabetes.
Cons: Lower protein and vitamin B12 intake, higher risk of iron deficiency.
What it is: A diet and lifestyle that abstains from the consumption (or use, in many cases) of animal products. Many refer to veganism as a form of “plant-based diet”.
What’s not allowed: Any byproduct of animal agriculture. Meat, eggs, dairy, seafood are not consumed, and even clothing cannot come from animals.
Pros: Lower risk of heart disease, Alzheimer’s and cancer. Weight loss. A highly ethical and cruelty-free lifestyle.
Cons: It’s often difficult to find vegan produce in certain areas, although it’s becoming more and more commonplace. Vegans often lack vital vitamins and nutrients. Higher risk of anemia, hormonal issues and depression.
What it is: A plant-based diet much like that of a vegetarian, but that occasionally allows consumption of meat.
What’s not allowed: Meat (although consumed occasionally).
Pros: Weight loss and reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer. A balanced, easy to follow diet that promotes environmental sustainability and lower meat consumption.
Cons: Followers are more likely to be deficient in zinc, Vitamin B12, iron and omega-3.
4. Ketogenic (“Keto”)
What it is: The ketogenic diet is a diet that consists of a high fat intake and low carb intake.
What’s not allowed: Grains (pasta, rice etc), juice, soft drink, low fat dairy products, snack foods (like chips), beans and lentils, any carbohydrates.
Pros: Weight loss (as the body burns fat over carbs), lower rates of diabetes and Alzheimer’s. The ketogenic diet is often prescribed as a well-researched treatment for epilepsy. You also get to eat a lot of foods traditionally seen as “unhealthy”.
Cons: High in saturated fat, which increases the risk of heart disease. Those commencing the ketogenic diet may experience headaches, fatigue, nausea and hunger at the beginning.
5. Paleolithic (“Paleo”)
What it is: A diet that only allows consumption of foods that were available in the Paleolithic “caveman” era. Commonly referred to as “the caveman diet”. The fad “Dukan Diet” and the “Whole 30” diet are similar to the Paleo diet.
What’s not allowed: Processed foods, pasta, bread, rice, beans, lentils, sugar, dairy products, grains, soft drinks, oils, trans fats,
Pros: High in protein, additive and preservative free, weight loss.
Cons: Vitamin D and calcium deficiency. Low energy. Limited food options to choose from, and available paleo products can be expensive.
What it is: Similar to a vegetarian, but allows the consumption of fish and seafood.
What’s not allowed: Red meat, poultry. Some pescetarians also do not consume eggs and dairy.
Pros: Reduced risk of heart disease, obesity, diabetes, arthritis, anemia and cancer. High fibre, omega 3 and iron intake and limited saturated fat intake. Lessens the impact of land animal agriculture on the planet.
Cons: The potential for higher intake of mercury, seafood is often expensive and some pescetarians gain weight due to the allowable dairy and carb intake.
What it is: A diet that allows consumption of both plant and animal products.
What’s not allowed: Everything is allowed as omnivores eat what is available, when it is available.
Pros: Easy to follow and suits most lifestyles. Most people follow this diet plan instinctively. It allows most food and drink items and is not restrictive. Provides most essential vitamins and nutrients. The ultimate “balanced diet”.
Cons: Higher risk of cancer, obesity, diabetes or heart disease. Weight gain and faster ageing process.
8. Mediterranean diet
What it is: A healthy, balanced diet born from the lifestyle habits of those in a range of Mediterranean countries. Variations of this diet include the MIND Diet and the DASH diet.
What’s not allowed: Everything is allowed, but meat and dairy products are eaten in moderation, while fresh fruit and vegetables, legumes, fish and olive oil can be enjoyed any time.
Pros: Recently named the healthiest diet in the world. Low rates of obesity, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, early death and cancer. Increased vitality and better mood, lower risk of depression and anxiety, weight loss.
Cons: If you love meat, the Mediterranean Diet only allows low intake of this. Other than that - it’s only positive!
What it is: A vegetarian lifestyle that doesn’t allow red meat, but does allow turkey, chicken and poultry products.
What’s not allowed: Red meat. Some pollotarians also don’t eat dairy, eggs, fish or seafood.
Pros: Lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers, lower cholesterol levels. High fibre and antioxidant intake. Potential weight loss.
Cons: Risk of iron, Vitamin B12 and calcium deficiencies if the pollotarian doesn’t include dairy or seafood.
10. Low-carb diet
What it is: A diet that restricts high carbohydrate intake. The Atkins Diet, Zone, South Beach and Ketogenic diets are variations of the Low-Carb Diet.
What’s not allowed: Most carbohydrates, grains, legumes, fruit, bread, pasta, nuts, seeds and starchy vegetables.
Pros: Weight loss, lower cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, reduced appetite, reduced blood sugar and insulin levels.
Cons: A restrictive diet that eliminates many readily-available food products. Increased rates of constipation, headache, cancer, bad breath and a range vitamin and nutrient deficiencies.
11. No sugar diet
What it is: A diet that completely eliminates sugar and sugar products.
What’s not allowed: Table sugar, soft drinks, cakes, muffins, baked goods, ice cream, milk, dried fruit, yoghurt, many fruits, many grains, breads and pastas.
Pros: Weight loss. Reduced risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, digestive disorders, high cholesterol, high blood pressure. Reduced inflammation in the body, increased energy levels, a more stable mood, better skin, increased focus.
Cons: While some foods have very obvious sugar levels, there are “hidden sugars” many aren’t aware of. Essentially, a low-sugar diet takes a lot of self-education to achieve and may also eliminate a lot of good, natural sugars, such as those found in fruits and vegetables.
12. Low GI diet
What it is: A diet that opts for “low GI” foods over “high GI” foods. “GI” stands for glycemic index.
What’s not allowed: White rice, white bread, potatoes, certain sugars, breakfast cereals, pasta, noodles, cakes and biscuits, sweets.
Pros: Scientifically backed, balanced diet that has been popular for many years. Easy to follow. Lowers your risk of diabetes, heart disease, cancer, obesity and hypertension. Weight loss and lower cholesterol levels.
Cons: Many low GI foods are in fact, mostly unhealthy, such as ice-cream, so this diet doesn’t provide a full nutritional picture.
13. Macrobiotic diet
What it is: A pescetarian diet that draws inspiration from elements of Buddhism. Followers believe that food contains yin and yang elements that should be balanced.
What’s not allowed: Many animal products and items not allowed in the vegan diet.
Pros: It allows for a lot of locally-sourced fresh fruits and vegetables, fish and whole wheat grains. Weight loss. Many studies claim the macrobiotic diet is effective in treating some cancers and illnesses, but there is no confirmed research to support this.
Cons: Extremely restrictive diet with higher instances of scurvy, vitamin and nutrient deficiencies and early death. Many of the allowable products are difficult to source or are very expensive.
14. Organic diet
What it is: A diet and lifestyle that only allows for consumption of organic foods.
What’s not allowed: Any food or drink products that are not organically produced.
Pros: Less exposure to pesticides. Food is generally fresher and contains higher levels of vitamins and nutrients due to the removal of preservatives from the production process. Organic farming is also more eco-friendly.
Cons: Organic food is much more expensive than regular food and often more difficult to find in stores.
15. Gluten-free diet
What it is: A diet that eliminates products that contain gluten.
What’s not allowed: Food products that contain gluten. These include wheat products, flour, bread, pasta, biscuits and crackers.
Pros: The only effective diet for those with coeliac disease (gluten intolerance). Gluten-free products are readily available now, both in stores and when eating out. A gluten-free diet is no longer restrictive and allows for lots of fresh produce, fish and meat. Lower levels of osteoporosis and inflammatory illnesses.
Cons: Side effects of a gluten-free diet, even if short-term include fatigue, depression, joint inflammation and mental fogginess.
16. Lactose-free diet
What it is: A diet that eliminates products that contain lactose.
What’s not allowed: Food and drinks that contain lactose.
Pros: Improved digestive health, clearer skin, weight loss, lower blood pressure, lower risk of diabetes. Lactose doesn’t alter the taste of the product, so you will feel better with little difference to your routine or the taste of your food or drink.
Cons: Lactose-free variations of many products are generally much more expensive than their regular counterparts.
17. Raw food diet
What it is: A diet that only allows the consumption of raw, uncooked food. The same allowances and principles of the vegan diet but only allowing for raw food. Some raw food diet followers consume raw animal products.
What’s not allowed: Cooked or prepared food of any kind. Most animal products, if you follow the strictest form. No cooked or processed foods, refined sugars and oils, pasta, coffee, tea or alcohol.
Pros: Increased energy, better skin, weight loss, improved digestion, lower risk of heart disease, low calorie intake.
Cons: Large increase in potential of food poisoning or exposure to toxins from undercooked foods. Many raw food fans only eat organic produce, which is much more expensive. Many followers of the diet also experience lower energy levels and vitamin and nutrient deficiencies.
18. Alkaline diet
What it is: A debunked diet that operates on the belief that different foods affect the PH levels of the body, and aim to balance them. An alternative medicine diet that is sometimes referred to as the “anti-inflammatory diet”.
What’s not allowed: Alcohol, caffeine, dairy products, meat, fruit, some grains, tomatoes, eggs, bread.
Pros: Practitioners claim that you will have increased energy and lower risk of heart disease, arthritis and cancer by following the alkaline diet.
Cons: Dieticians and nutritionists do not recommend following the alkaline diet as no studies can confirm what the diet claims to do. Nutrient and vitamin deficiencies are common and menu options are limited.
19. Blood type diet
What it is: A range of diets determined by your blood type. The belief that food can positively or negatively interact with your blood.
What’s not allowed: Dependent on your blood type. For example, Type A blood groups should live by a meat-free diet, those with Type B should avoid many dairy products and Type O should subsist on a meat-heavy, high-protein diet.
Pros: Benefits are varied for each blood type.
Cons: The Blood Type diet was created by a naturopath, and there isn’t a lot of research to support his hypothesis.
20. Locavore diet
What it is: A niche eco-friendly diet where followers only consume locally-produced products.
What’s not allowed: Consumption of any food or drink products that have been shipped in to your local area from somewhere else.
Pros: Fresher, less contaminated food with higher nutritional value. Locavores enjoy a clear chain of production they can trust, support local businesses and leave minimal impact on the environment. Locavores can eat any food products as long as it is grown, produced and prepared locally.
Cons: Food and produce options are limited in some remote areas.
21. FODMAP diet
What it is: A diet created by Monash University and designed to support the health of those suffering from digestive conditions such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Promotes good gut health.
What’s not allowed: Many vegetables that are high in FODMAPS, including artichokes, mushrooms, cauliflower, beans and onions. Wheat products including bread, cereals and pasta, many fruits, cows milk, yogurt and fresh cheeses, beer, soft drink, fruit juice,
Pros: Relief from IBS symptoms, such as bloating, diarrhoea, constipation, gas and abdominal pain. Improved mood, mental health and quality of life as a result. A diet that is backed by science.
Cons: Slightly restrictive, but still allows for variations of many products.
22. Intermittent fasting
What it is: Intermittent fasting is a very popular lifestyle choice where participants abstain from food consumption for set periods of time. There is a range of intermittent fasting styles, including the 5:2 method, the 16:8 method, alternate day fasting or 24 hour fasts.
What’s not allowed: Any food products during your fast of choice. Water is generally allowed.
Pros: Some health professionals claim intermittent fasting is effective in aiding weight loss, stabilising blood sugar levels and improving brain function. They also claim it reduces the risk of certain cancers, heart disease and obesity.
Cons: Tiredness, mental fogginess, irritability, hunger, fatigue, dehydration, headaches.
23. Fertility diet
What it is: A diet designed for women who wish to become pregnant or to boost their fertility.
What’s not allowed: Trans fats, certain carbs, low fat milk (full cream milk is recommended instead), soft drinks.
Pros: The fertility diet still allows all the things you enjoy in moderation, including coffee and alcohol. It is jam-packed with fresh produce and proteins, and controls blood sugar and insulin levels.
Cons: There are very few drawbacks to the actual diet itself, but the jury is out on whether this diet does in fact improve fertility.
Which food or diet trends have you tried? Which did you find were the most effective at achieving what you were hoping for? Follow us on our Facebook and Instagram channels and interact with us there!