“OK Google, what should I eat?”
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Common themes in this year’s most-searched diet list include meatless, plant-based meal plans, cutting out sugar and carbs and setting a strict time frame of when to eat during the day. But doctors say one diet does not suit all and stress the importance of practicing moderation and eating a variety of heart-healthy foods.
“The key is to select a diet that works for you – one that meets your goals for maintaining your lifestyle and supplying you with adequate energy throughout the day,” Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, told FOX Business. “The net effect is to control appetite and reduce cravings by stabilizing blood sugar.”
Here are some of the highlights from this year’s list:
One of the world’s most-searched health and fitness trends this year was intermittent fasting, taking the No. 1 spot. While most diets tell you what to eat, intermittent fasting is all about when. There are three popular methods: The 16:8 method, which involves skipping breakfast and only eating during an eight-hour window (like 1 p.m. until 9 p.m.) and then fasting for 16 hours in between; the 5:2, fasting for 24 hours once or twice per week; or consuming only 500 to 600 calories on two non-consecutive days of the week and eating regularly for the rest of the five, according to Healthline.com. The eating pattern is said to cause weight loss.
Similarly, the Dubrow Diet, the sixth most-Googled diet of the year, based on a book by Dr. Terry Dubrow, the star of the reality show “Botched,” and his wife, Heather Dubrow of “Real Housewives” fame, focuses on fasting for up to 16 hours a day.
The J. Lo Diet
The singer, actress and dancer vowed to shun sugar and carbs in January for a 10-day challenge she and finance, Alex Rodriguez, took together. The 50-year-old “Hustlers” star refrained from eating starchy veggies like potatoes, dairy, grains and fruits, and also cut out candy and sweets. Her meal plan consisted of veggies like broccoli and leafy greens, along with protein, seeds, seafood, eggs and nuts. And she challenged her social media followers to join in. Her influence catapulted “The J. Lo Diet” to be the No. 10 most-searched diet on the list. And the search trend “no carbs and no sugar” ranked No. 8 on the list.
Glatter does not recommend avoiding all carbs for an extended period of time.
“Slow-digesting, complex carbs are healthy and contain fiber to help stabilize blood sugar and reduce cravings,” he says, adding that the complex carbs come from foods like quinoa, brown rice, sweet potatoes and oatmeal.
Plant-based eating is the basis for the Dr. Sebi diet, inspired by the late Honduran herbalist named Alfredo Darrington Bowman. The diet, which was the second most-searched of 2019, focuses on cutting out wheat, animal products and alcohol and drinking a gallon of water per day. Celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Beyonce have praised plant-based diet plans.
And more Americans have been adopting a meatless diet. Retail sales of plant-based foods like alternative meats and dairy products made sans animal products from ingredients like vegetables, grains and nuts have grown 11 percent in the past year, bringing the total plant-based market value to more than $4.5 billion, according to the Plant Based Foods Association.
Glatter, meanwhile, promotes the Mediterranean diet (which was not in Google’s top 10 list) as “an ideal diet for life,” touting the benefits of a balanced diet of poultry, eggs, yogurt and cheese in moderation, coupled with some sweets and red meat on occasion.
Another diet on the list is the Sirtfood Diet, Google’s No. 7 most-searched meal plan, which suggests that sirtfoods, or foods that help the body make more proteins (classified as sirtuins) such as kale, blueberries, strawberries and dark chocolate. The foods are said to boost the metabolism similarly to exercising, however, it’s unclear if the diet has been scientifically proven as effective.
For those embarking on a new diet plan in 2020, Glatter says to ease into it gradually.
"Drastic changes often don't work over the long term. Diets should incorporate flexibility since strict rules are not realistic," Glatter said.