Increased protein, fasting and food elimination are some current diet trends, providing strategies to reduce what have been deemed bad calories or to decrease inflammation. Which diet to choose depends on the goal, said Katy dietitian Ann Tholen.
Protein diets shift caloric sources, while fasting diets cut caloric consumption, she said, adding that elimination diets aim to identify and rid gut-inflammation triggers — particularly in those with irritable bowel syndrome and autoimmune disorders such as multiple sclerosis, psoriasis and thyroid disease.
High protein diets
High protein diets likely are the most popular trend right now, Tholen said. Through diets such as the ketogenic diet, weight loss is achieved by restricting sugars and carbohydrates, therefore sending the body into a metabolic state referred to as ketosis.
Summer Duhon, Katy chiropractor and owner of Katy Ideal Weight Loss, said she has followed the diet for 10 years and recommends the program to her chiropractic patients for substantial weight loss.
“If there is not enough sugar in your body for it to function, your body will create its own sugar by breaking down fat,” Duhon said. “By restricting carbs and sugar, we voluntarily place our body in this natural state.”
Although Duhon said she currently is in the maintenance phase of the program, she completed the diet twice to lose more than 40 pounds following two pregnancies.
Tholen said the ketogenic diet works best for those hoping to lose a significant amount of weight or for those with epilepsy, adding the diet has proven to reduce seizures as well as offer long-term weight loss of five or more years.
However, Tholen warns if done improperly, high protein diets can increase saturated fat consumption and raise cholesterol levels.
“(On a high protein diet), people start eating bacon again and switching to coconut milk, and we can see those levels rise,” she said.
Unlike high protein diets, fasting diets do not eliminate or reduce food groups, but instead aim to reduce caloric intake by giving dieters designated time frames for food consumption.
Tholen said alternate-day diets advise followers to fast one day by consuming 500 calories or less and eat what they want the next.
She said alternate-day dieting can help dieters achieve quick weight loss.
Tholen said she suggests the fasting method of the eight-hour diet, which provides a daily eight-hour window through which dieters can consume whatever they choose, while fasting the other 16 hours of the day.
“Doctors even are starting to recommend it,” Tholen said, “because it forces people to focus their heaviest meals in the morning when most people are the least insulin resistant.”
Melissa Hill, of Spring, has followed the eight-hour diet for about two and a half months. She said she typically consumes 1,200 calories from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and fasts from 7 p.m. until 11 a.m. the following day.
“I saw the results my friend was having on (the diet) for weight loss and realized that due to my busy schedule, I was essentially practicing it without even realizing it,” she said. “I focused on cleaning up my diet and being more intentional about the amount of time I fasted and feasted, and began seeing results very quickly myself.”
Hill said she has lost inches around her waist, has experienced improved sleep and no longer has daily headaches.
Tholen said another benefit of the eight-hour diet is a reduction in night binging.
“A lot of calories are often consumed while watching T.V. at night,” she said. “This diet helps with that.”
Not every dieter, however, seeks to achieve weight loss through caloric reduction. Leaky gut syndrome, or gut inflammation, can cause bloating and weight gain, particularly in those with IBS or autoimmune disease, Tholen said. Elimination diets are recommended for those seeking to discover their inflammation triggers.
When food groups are removed and reintroduced, if a flare-up occurs, that food is identified as a trigger.
The low FODMAP diet recommends eliminating and reintroducing foods high in poorly absorbed sugars such as barley, yogurt, apples, apricots, pears and cauliflower.
Dana Todd, of Spring, suffered from infertility, IBS and poor liver function, which prompted her to try elimination diets. On her first diet, she cut out gluten and by doing so, her monthly menstrual cycles became regular for the first time. She later progressed to following a low FODMAP diet.
“Low FODMAP did show me foods which made my bloating and diarrhea worse as compared to other foods,” she said. “I am not currently following the low FODMAP diet, but I still try to eliminate those particular foods. (Through the diet), I learned I cannot eat more than a fourth of an avocado or half of a small sweet potato, or I am immediately in the bathroom.”
Tholen said elimination diets are beneficial for identifying and removing triggers, but should not be strictly followed indefinitely.
“What people end up doing is eliminating a whole host of foods from their diets, and that’s not what we want to see as dietitians,” she said. “Once triggers are identified, non-triggers should be reintroduced into meal plans.”
“No diet should not should be followed in the introduction phase forever,” Tholen said, adding concepts learned from any diet should be incorporated into balanced plans, such as the Mediterranean diet.
The diet is rich in non-starchy vegetables while also incorporating many beans, peas and lentils.
“Long term, I recommend incorporating more whole foods, less processed meats and not substituting with supplements,” she said.
Take a look at diet book offerings
Popular diets today encourage eating more protein, fasting or eliminating inflammation triggers. Dietitian Ann Tholen said which diet to choose depends on the goal.
The Complete Ketogenic Diet for Beginners: Your Essential Guide for Living the Keto Lifestyle by Amy Ramos
• Restricts carbohydrates and sugars.
• Good for those seeking substantial weight loss and for those with epilepsy.
• Cholesterol levels can increase if not implemented properly.
The Complete Guide to Fasting: Heal Your Body Through Intermittent, Alternate-Day and Extended Fasting by Dr. Jason Tung and Jimmy Moore
• Weight loss is achieved through alternate-day fasting or by eating for eight hours and fasting for 16 hours.
• Alternate-day fasting can encourage negative binging-and-purging behavior.
• Eight-hour fasting builds healthy eating habits by loading calories at the beginning of the day and discourages nighttime binging.
The Complete Low-FODMAP Diet: A Revolutionary Plan for Managing IBS and Other Digestive Disorders by Dr. Sue Shepherd and Dr. Peter Gibson
• Good for those with IBS and autoimmune disorders.
• Identifies gut inflammation triggers by eliminating and re-introducing foods high in fructose.
• Not intended as a long-term plan.
The Mediterranean Zone by Dr. Barry Sears
• It’s a balanced, long-term plan.
• Includes many non-starchy vegetables, fish, beans, peas and lentils.
— Marianne Horton