At YouBar, we specialize in creating nutrition products for many of the hottest health and fitness influencers in the United States. Our work with these diet-trend-defining celebrities gives us advanced insight into the “next big thing” in the always-evolving diet universe. Based on these relationships, here are the top 10 diet trends we are predicting for 2021:
1. Keto “Lite” (The Ketogenic Diet for 2021)
If there is to be “one hot diet” for 2021, it’s the now-popularized version of “Keto,” which we like to call “Keto Lite.” The original “True Keto” diet forced followers to push themselves into ketosis by eating mostly fat (70% or more of total diet). Eating such high levels of fat caused them to lose weight fast because it made their bodies switch from burning carbs (glucose) to burning fat (ketones). But as “Keto” has become mainstream, followers are increasingly calling their diets “Keto” as long as they hit just two key “Keto” metrics: rock bottom sugar and low net carbs.
“Keto Lite” consumers typically want high protein (unlike traditional keto, which limits protein at no more than 20% of total diet), moderate fat from high quality sources (i.e., almonds, coconut, avocado), and extremely low sugars with no more than 4g net carbs (which is calculated by total carbs minus fiber minus sugar alcohol minus allulose). Gluten-free everything is also a plus in the “Keto Lite” space as the claim implies low carb.
2. The Immune System Support Diet (“Eating to Combat Covid”)
COVID continues to be one of the key influencers of every single trend, and dietary habits are no exception. In fact, The World Health Organization has announced dietary guidelines during the COVID outbreak that stressed the “importance of a balanced diet to maintain a strong immune system,” and includes the recommendation to consume 4 servings of fruits and 5 servings of veggies every day.
“Super” foods in the immune-supporting space are everything high in Vitamin C (from grapefruits to broccoli) and Vitamin E (from nuts to avocados). Other on-trend foods for fighting COVID are elderberries, green tea (high in antioxidants), Vitamin D (from the sun or from food, like eggs) and garlic.
3. The Plant-Based Flexitarian Diet
Forget “Veganism”; the “plant-powered” trend is all about consumers eating a majority (90% or more) of plant-based foods, but not excluding the well-sourced free-range chicken leg or grass-fed meatball when it rolls around. Of particular importance to the plant-based movement is the consumption of proteins derived from plant sources – think pumpkin seed protein, almond protein, pea protein and hemp protein. Adaptogens, including “whole body” supporting ingredients like ashwagandha, turmeric, and reishi mushrooms, are also hugely popular for the plant-based crowd.
This diet is also great for the planet because plants have a much lower carbon footprint than animals. As such, you’ll notice that flexitarians are also typically key proponents of the growing interest in sustainable, or better yet, “no waste” packaging.
4. The Paleo-Inspired Whole Foods Diet
This diet, which is going on 10 years strong, argues that we should all eat like our caveman ancestors did. This means consuming a majority of hunter-gatherer food staples, like berries, nuts, and wild-caught animal meat (fish, chicken, etc). The Paleo Diet also encourages the consumption of some high-impact proteins, like grass fed whey and collagen peptides. Since Cavemen didn’t farm, this diet bans anything that requires industrialized farming techniques, including grains, wheat, corn, and processed foods, like sugar. In the Paleo world, if you could cook your dinner without sauce over an open fire, you’re probably doing it right.
5. Intermittent Fasting
This diet involves simply not eating for the majority of the day, and believers say it helps people lose weight naturally by breaking the “constant-snacking” cycle of modern life. The 16/8 method is the most popular version. With this, dieters restrict their daily eating period to a strict 8-hour block (i.e., noon till 8pm), and “fast” (don’t eat) for the other 16 hours (i.e., 8pm till noon the following day). In practice, this means skipping breakfast and cutting food off strictly post-dinner. Some Intermittent Fasters go down to eating just a single meal a day.
6. The DASH Diet
This health-conscious diet was developed to prevent heart disease and lower high blood pressure. And its name is an acronym for just that: the “Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension” (DASH). Because the focus of this eating style is the reduction of blood pressure, sodium is strictly controlled, at 2,300 mg per day for the standard dash and just 1,500 per day for “intensive”. Besides this restriction, the diet is pretty run-of-the-mill stereotypically-healthy, with an emphasis on consuming such go-to healthy foods as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fish, poultry and nuts.
7. The Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean diet is based on a number of scientific studies that have shown that people who live in the Mediterranean (like the South of France and Greece) typically have much lower instances of “lifestyle diseases”, like heart attacks, diabetes and stokes, than Americans. The thinking is that this healthfulness hails from their dietary norms and that if you eat like them, you’ll be healthy too.
The traditional staple foods of the region, which are the cornerstones of this dietary strategy, include stereotypically “heathy’” fare, like veggies (lots of tomatoes!), fruit, legumes, whole grains, nuts, seeds, seafood and extra virgin olive oil. At the same time, the Mediterranean Diet eschews processed foods and sugars, including processed meat, refined grains, and trans fats. Fads come and go, but the Mediterranean Diet is almost always at the top of the pack when it comes to dieticians’ recommendations. It’s not for easy and fast weight loss, but it is consistently linked to long term good health.
8. The MIND Diet
The MIND diet is what would happen if the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet had a brain-health-focused baby. Indeed, the name is an acronym for the very long “Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay.” Its popularity hails mostly from the purchasing power of the aging Baby Boomer population, and it aims to help a dieter’s brain by reducing the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia. While the scientific community is divided on whether or not it works, some early studies are promising.
From a practical perspective, the diet is basically the Mediterranean Diet with a low sodium twist – mostly plant-based, with a large focus on “real foods” like fruits, veggies, whole grains, nuts, and well-sourced, wild-caught fish in addition to low-fat, low sodium dairy. A plus is the addition of any “superfoods” known to support brain health, like turmeric, dark chocolate, broccoli and Omega 3s.
9. Low FODMAP Diet
In the United States, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is on the rise. Indeed, it is estimated that a whopping 10-15% of the adult population suffers from IBS symptoms (although only 5-7% of adults have been diagnosed). As a result, the number of people who are seeking out dietary strategies to combat their symptoms is enormous, with sufferers spending an estimated $10 billion annually on treatments.
There is only one clinically recommended diet to treat IBS: a diet low in fermentable carbs known as the Low FODMAP diet, making this one of our top picks for 2021 diet trends. FODMAP stands for five key items that are banned on the diet. These are: Fermentable Oligosaccharides (like wheat and legumes), Disaccharides (like milk and yogurt), Monosaccharides (like figs, honey and most fructose-containing fruits), and Polyols (like blackberries and lychees). These carbs are notorious for triggering uncomfortable digestive symptoms like gas and bloating, and their elimination is proven to be a great way of fighting IBS completely drug-free.
10. The Volumetrics Diet
If this diet had a tag line, it would be, “Eat more while consuming fewer calories.” The idea behind it is to consume the most food by volume to trigger your body’s “full feeling”, while simultaneously consuming the fewest calories possible. As a result, foods like broths (think water-logged chicken broth) and non-starchy veggies (think carrots and kale) are central, and diet followers avoid anything that’s small and calorific. Forget steak, high fat oils and chocolates. Fill up on kale, spinach and tons of water.