ISSA Nutritionist Chapter 17: Navigating Successful and Trending Diets 1

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    Chapter Goals:

    • Be able to discuss the term “diet” and how it applies to the roles of a nutrition coach. 
    • Be able to tell the differences between a trend diet and a fad diet. 
    • Be able to discuss some of the common diets out there today.
    • List the attributes of successful diets.


    Fad diets gain popularity very fast and then lose it just as fast.

    Trending diets take more time to catch on, but they are generally going to last longer. 

    The nutrition coaches have a responsibility professionally for them to stay up to date on both the fad and trending diets. The scope of practice for these individuals is not to actually provide meal plans for clients but to educate these clients about their own food choices.

    Defining “Diet”

    Diet comes from Greek origins, and it means “way of life.” Essentially, it includes everything that encompasses a lifestyle.

    Diets include the foods that someone eats as a habit, whether it is for losing weight, improving health, or medical purposes. 

    There are tons of diet plans that are available to consumers, the benefits they promise are things like:

    • Rapid weight loss
    • Long term loss of weight 
    • Improvements in the health of gut
    • Cardiovascular health improved
    • Lowering of blood pressure
    • Improvements in health with cardio
    • Lowering of blood pressure

    Fad diets Versus Trending Diets

    Fads are things that come in waves, appear rather fast, and then pretty much disappear very quickly after. 

    Trends are things that gain momentum and popularity rather slow. These are more likely to look at and solve a problem or fill some need for a lot of people. 

    Fashionable diets are rather plentiful, and some of these will be fads, while others are trends. 

    The WHO recognized some popular diets as rather sustainable and truly healthy options. It is important that nutrition coaches understand these types of diets and they use them as a guide for research when consulting with clients.

    Fad Diets

    Trend diets have the power to stay, but fad diets will explode and then disappear just as fast. 

    Detox Diets

    This is a diet based on the idea that the body benefits from being detoxified sometimes. 

    These generally will start with fasting of some form, and then a very strict diet of raw fruits and veggies, water, or even juices.

    These can also be simply called cleanses, and these diets claim to rid the body of toxins, refresh the digestive tract, and also reset the metabolism.

    Weight loss may be great with these fads, but this is largely due to the losses in water.

    Some people also report that they have a boost in energy both during and after detoxes, and this is likely because of the removal of processed foods and sugars from the diet while reducing the intake of calories.

    Colon Cleanse

    The goal with this form of a cleanse is to clear the digestive tract with an increase in water, using a colonic, or with some form of supplement or laxative. 

    This form of a cleanse can cause a lot of issues like bowel problems, cramping, diarrhea, n imbalances in electrolytes.

    Diets with more fiber could be a lot healthier and better for a colon cleanse. 

    Juice Detox 

    The detox here is going to follow a fasting period of 2 to21 days of eating just liquids. We also know this as juicing. These juices may be prepackaged or freshly squeezed. 

    There are a lot of reported cases of increased times of headaches, fatigue, dizziness, and weakness of the body overall during these detoxes with just juice.

    Liver Detox

    This usually involves taking in large amounts of some very specific herbal teas. The cleans here is usually for 2 – 4 days in total. 

    A liver cleanse is actually rather useless, since the liver is specifically for cleansing and does so on its own. 

    Low and No-Fat Diets

    The AHA, or the American heart association, has the recommendation for calories from fat each day, set at approximately 30 percent of calorie intake. 

    Very low fat diets will initially lead to large amounts of fat loss if the caloric guidelines are followed. 

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    Eating By Blood Type

    Popular diets in the 2000s were the genotype or the blood type diet.

    None of the research done on these diets have supported the claims made by this original maker, and the positive results were likely due to the people simply eating somewhat healthier. Someone would likely do better with an average diet that restricts calories. 

    Cabbage Soup Diet

    The cabbage diet is the epitome of what a fad diet is. It was simply the recommendation of consuming just cabbage soup.

    The risks outweighed the benefits. 

    Raw Food Diet

    Those that recommend this diet are the ones that say that overcooking food will leech out nutrients and proteins and enzymes. 

    This is not really marketed as a diet for weight loss, but more for the prevention of diseases. 

    The critics of this diet have many concerns, the main one being the consumption of undercooked foods and animal products, specifically. 

    Baby Food Diet

    This diet relied on the use of baby food as the literal replacement for meals, or as the only type of food actually consumed. 

    Baby food, while healthy, still lacks some of the fibers and other healthy things we need in diets. It is also very expensive to buy enough baby food to feed adults.

    Medical And Over The Counter Weight Loss Programs

    This includes many of the popular over the counter programs such as Jenny Craig, weight watchers, optavia, Nutrisystem, and Medifast. 

    These diet programs will all likely be successful due to the fact that they specifically aim to reduce the total intake of calories, and thus people will lose weight. 

    Some of these programs can be very restrictive, and this is where the possible problems lie. 

    Low energy Diet and Very Low Energy Diet 

    These are diets that are supervised by a physician. 

    Low-calorie diets are those that have 800 – 1,200 calories every day, and then very low-calorie diets are those that are lower than 800 calories per day. 

    Bodyweight reductions on these diets tend to be around 10 – 15 percent. 

    Current Trending Diets

    There are a lot of claims made with current and trending diets like the loss of fat, the loss of weight, and the prevention or improvement of chronic diseases. 

    These trending diets have staying power for many reasons. 

    Plant-Based Diets

    These diets will minimize or completely remove meat and products from animals in some way. 

    Research has shown that adopting this form of diet is cost-effective, and it also helps with the lowering of body mass index, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and the risk factors for heart disease. 

    Some of the different diets in this category are:

    • Vegan – not consuming animals or their by-products
    • Lactovegetarian – this diet doesn’t allow meat, poultry, fish, or eggs, but it can have dairy products.
    • Ovo vegetarian – this would have someone eating eggs and foods with eggs as ingredients, but no other dairy or meat products. 
    • Pescatarian – this diet allows for dairy, eggs, fish, and other forms of seafood.
    • Pollotarian – this form of plant-based dieting would have someone eating eggs, dairy, and also chicken. 
    • Flexitarian – this is a vegetarian diet primarily, but with the option to “cheat” every now and then. 

    Ketogenic diet

    This is also known as the Keto diet, and it is based upon the restriction of intake in carbs. Only around 20 percent of the daily calories will be coming from carbohydrates, so the main source of energy will be fats.

    Carb intake will not change over time, as we see with other popular and similar diets. 

    Ketoacidosis is a very high level of ketones within the blood. This condition will require rather immediate medical care, and usually is a result of starvation.

    Atkins Diet

    This is both a brand and a diet that has been popular for years. 

    The diet sees a low intake in the carbohydrates, with actually around 90 – 95 percent of calories coming from proteins and fats. 

    This diet is criticized for causing low energy levels and even impairing function cognitively. The high levels of fats can be a problem for the GI tract also. 

    Carnivore Diet

    This type of diet consists of the person eating meat and animal products only. All the most popular meats are the staple of these diets. 

    Supporters of this form of dieting cite that human evolution supports the carnivore diet well. It is believed that humans evolution as hunters leads this diet to be very healthy and preferred. 

    Of course, there are many things wrong with limiting your intake to only be from animal products.

    Paleo Diet

    This diet has gained a lot of momentum in the last ten years, and it is very popular among the top level of CrossFit and other sports. 

    Many people refer to this as being clean eating in general. 

    People doing this diet are generally trying to lose or maintain their weight and also eat a very simple and healthy diet. 

    It has become easier to find food items at the stores and restaurants that follow this eating plan, due to the growing popularity. 

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    The critiquing of this diet comes from the avoidance of carbs and reductions in the energy levels of these advanced athletes. 


    This diet is from the exclusion of gluten from food products. Gluten is a mix of proteins that are found within grains like wheat, rye, and barley. 

    Very few people are actually allergic or have problems with gluten, but many people believe that it negatively affects them, even when it truly has no poor effects. 

    Gluten-free diets include:

    • Fish, poultry, and meat.
    • Dairy without added ingredients.
    • Gluten-free grains like quinoa, rice and oats.
    • Starches like potatoes, corn, almond flour, and cornflour. 
    • Nuts and seeds.
    • Eggs.
    • Fruits and vegetables.

    Intermittent Fasting

    Intermittent fasting is a type of diet that focuses on timing of the intake of foods in a 24 hour time or even weekly, rather than specific types of foods. 

    One method for this is the 5/2 method where the goal is to eat normally on 5 days of the week and then fast for two of the days in the week. 

    Another method we see is the 16/8 method and any of its variations, where the goal is to not eat food for 16 hours per day, and then eat for only the remaining 8-hour window that remains for the day. 

    Carb Cycling

    This is another dietary approach where the focus is on timing of the meals and eating of specific things. 

    The style of diet is frequently seen with fitness and bodybuilding competitors. This may also have some appeal with those that are trying to simply lose fat or break through a weight loss plateau. 

    Navigating A Successful Diet

    When someone goes on a diet in order to lose some weight, it is important to consider what is actually causing weight loss. 

    Many factors may be involved in losing weight short term and it is not always very sustainable, including the volume of food, intake of calories, and the loss of water. 

    The body is not physically able to reduce the body fat by 3 or more pounds in a matter of days. It is important for nutrition coaches to know and understand and also be able to explain these factors that go into short term weight loss. 

    Long term weight loss is based on the consumption of fewer calories than the body is expending. It is simply the act of being in a caloric deficit in general.

    Psychological Effects of Yo-Yo and Extreme Dieting

    A sound and effective diet for managing weight and health is a lifestyle adjustment that requires some consistency.

    Weight cycling is the act of repeatedly losing and regaining weight that will disrupt the body’s basal metabolic rate, the use of fuel, and increased fat cell storage.

    Most studies show that inflammation can also go up dramatically as a result of extreme and repetitive attempts at dieting.

    Mindful Eating

    This involves listening to your body and responding to the natural cues for thirst, hunger, and satiety. Many people live stressful and busy lives, and this often makes mindful eating a challenge.

    Both food and eating are rooted deeply in our social culture and they link with our emotions. 

    The Most Effective Diets

    There is not a diet that is a perfect match for each and every person, but there are some diets that give excellent guidelines that will work for overall general health of many people. 

    The dietary guidelines for Americans and MyPlate are two things that we should look at and utilize as coaches. It is important that we use the information within these two sets of principles, to help clients navigate the challenging world of nutrition. 

    A healthy eating pattern is going to be one that includes:

    • A focus on a lifetime of healthy eating
    • The choosing of many types of foods and focus on nutrient density and amount of food
    • The limiting of added sugars, saturated fats, and sodium
    • The choosing of more healthy foods and beverages on average as we go through life
    • A focus on foods that are whole, like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and high-quality protein.

    These guidelines work to help most people by creating a focus on balance and moderation in the things we at.

    The DASH Diet

    Dash stands for the dietary approaches to stop hypertension. 

    The audience here is of course for those that have the all too common condition of hypertension. It looks at minimizing the intake of sodium as one of the main changes. 

    Mediterranean Diet

    Global health and wellness research has shown that people living in the Mediterranean countries are seen with lower rates of common chronic health issues. 

    The diet has moderate portions of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, potatoes, nuts, seeds, olive oil, fish, poultry, and eggs, along with a small amount of red meat. 

    When coaches are looking at whether or not a diet approach is good for their client, they should think about these questions:

    • Is this approach going to give better results?
    • Is this approach going to support the daily activity levels of the client?
    • Is this going to be a balanced approach?
    • Is this approach both realistic and sustainable for the client in a long term setting?
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