Vegan, Keto, or Flexitarian? A Dietitian Tells Us the Truth About 2020’s Most Popular Trends

Be honest, how much thought are you giving to each meal throughout the day? We’ll admit to occasionally choosing convenience over substance (usually followed quickly by feelings of regret and heartburn). It’s easy to see why nutrition can seem overwhelming at a glance, with a seemingly endless amount of nutrients and vitamins to learn about and incorporate into every meal. On top of that, there’s a growing list of trendy diets and eating habits such as intermittent fasting and flexitarianism that promise improved mental clarity and a lower risk of some illnesses like diabetes and heart disease. We decided to get the all the food facts from Accredited Dietitian and Co-Founder of Health and Performance Collective, Chloe McLeod who was able to answer all of our burning questions.

We’ve been hearing a lot lately on social media and by chatting to that super-fit friends who swears by their daily F45 workout about food trends recently, but we wanted to find out the types of trends that Chloe is seeing first hand in her own practice. She explains, “the most popular diets I’m seeing at present are the vegan diet, ketogenic diet, intermittent fasting, and worryingly, the carnivore diet”. When it comes to the newest way of eating, Chloe adds that “flexitarianism is the new kid on the block, and we expect to see more of it in 2020”. To give us a clearer understanding of what these diets consist of and how they differ from each other, Chloe was able to narrow each down to its essence.

  • Vegan: Consuming no foods made from animal products. This even extends to foods like honey and eggs, as they are products from animals.
  • Ketogenic: A very low carbohydrate, high-fat diet. It is based on the principle that when we severely reduce our intake of carbohydrates, which is broken down into glucose (the bodies preferred source of energy), the body will look to other sources of energy i.e. fat. This results in the production of ketones which can be used as an energy source by the brain and also increase satiety.
  • Intermittent Fasting: Most common methods are the 16:8, meaning eating in an eight-hour window and fasting for sixteen hours, or 5:2 which is where an individual has a lower calorie intake two days per week and eats normally the rest of the time.
  • Carnivore: Similar to keto in that it is low carb, but this means no carb, and constitutes meat and eggs only. Some people following the diet will include dairy but others won’t due to the lactose (or natural sugar content). This means no grains, fruit, vegetables nuts or seeds!
  • Flexitarian: Following a more flexible diet than a vegetarian. Eating with the seasons, eating some meat but not a lot, and overall being more flexible in your approach to your food choices.

Chloe told us that she believes these particular diets are popular right now for a couple of reasons. Firstly, “many of them claim to have weight loss benefits, which is a very common reason for people trying new diets”. She adds that, “vegan diets are quite popular for ethical reasons as well as people becoming more environmental and health conscious”. When we asked Chloe what was the best eating style for overall health, she explained that the flexitarian diet is what dietitians and health professionals have been advocating for for years now. That’s because “it doesn’t demonise a food group and follows the idea that all foods fit”. Another benefit of the diet is that it’s sustainable, and the reason it’s sustainable is that it doesn’t cut out specific foods or food groups. The reason it’s sustainable, as Chloe mentions, is that “when you demonise foods/ food groups and restrict what you can have, your diet becomes less sustainable. You may see results at first and believe your new diet is the bees knees, but slowly but surely people start craving foods they’ve cut out that they previously loved. This can lead to feelings of guilt and completely abandoning the diet and going back to old ways which leads to what we call yo-yo dietitian”. In fact recent research shows people who regularly diet gain more weight in the long term than non-dieters.

Another reason Chloe advocates for a flexible way of eating for her clients is that any diet that cuts out food groups can also cut out important nutrients. “While it is possible to follow a nutritionally complete vegan diet, it is very difficult and many people will need advice from a professional (i.e. accredited practicing dietitian).” For example, by cutting out carbohydrates can mean that people miss out on “gut-loving fibre and important vitamins and minerals found in plants”. When it comes to intermittent fasting, Chloe believes that it can be a successful lifestyle choice “as long as it can be sustained and people don’t spiral out of control if they don’t make it through their fasting period”.

Looking to the future, we asked Chloe where she saw food trends heading for the next year and beyond, and her response was “with all that’s happening in the world, i.e. climate change, I wouldn’t be surprised if more plant based diets take off i.e. flexitarian diet, especially given its flexibility, inclusion of all foods, as well as its environmental health benefits”.

To find out more about Chloe and Health and Performance Collective, follow her on Instagram @health_performance_collective or @chloe_mcleod_dietitian and on her website www.healthandperformancecollective.com.

For more simple tips to keep healthy, this is how to create a yoga studio at home in 5 easy steps.

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