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 nutritional universe. Here are the top 7 Diet Trends we are predicting for 2022:
1. Sugar Sucks (The New "Keto")
If there is to be one health claim that will rule the shelves in 2022, it’s the now-popularized version of “Keto,” which we like to call “Sugar Sucks.” 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.
“Sugar Sucks” consumers typically want high protein (unlike traditional keto, which limits protein at no more than 20% of the 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 is sometimes a plus in the “Keto” space as the claim implies low carb. Some food innovations primed to embody the Sugar Sucks ethos include cereals, toaster pastries, and chips.
2. Immunity Rocks
COVID continues to be one of the key influencers of every single trend, and dietary habits are no exception. As we slowly enter a post-COVID world, health and wellness continue to reign supreme behind the purchasing decisions of consumers. In fact, The World Health Organization has announced dietary guidelines that stress 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 immune system boosts are elderberries, green tea (high in antioxidants), Vitamin D (from the sun or from food, like eggs), and garlic. When these ingredients are incorporated into protein bars, you can create a delicious and immune-boosting treat for your customers.
3. Eat Plants
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. Go Paleo (again)
This diet, which is going on 10 years strong, and boasts the accolade of keeping many coming back for more year after year, argues that we should all eat as 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. Don't Eat (at least for a while)
"Intermittent Fasting" is gaining popularity, and we expect it to dominate much of the dietary world in 2022. This "way of eating" involves actually 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 8 pm), and “fast” (don’t eat) for the other 16 hours (i.e., 8 pm 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, a method called “One Meal A Day” (OMAD).
6. 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.
7. Low FODMAP
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 2022 diet trends. FODMAP stands for five key items that are banned from 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. When creating snacks for this particular diet, consider formulating with anti-inflammatory ingredients.