Popular diets for 2022
As much as I would like 2022 to be the year of no fad diets or no more rubbish weight loss advice, that just won’t happen. So, I’ve written this article to give you the lowdown on what will likely continue to be popular dieting strategies in 2022.
Let’s get straight to discussing some of these diets:
I think this one will continue to trend in 2022. First things first, let’s establish what this diet actually is. It’s an ultra high-fat, moderate protein and very low carb diet (around 5% of total calories coming from carbs). This is in contrast to the dietary pattern that most people tend to have, with around 55% of our calories usually coming from carbs. In the medical field, it is a well-established diet used to treat children and, more recently, adults with drug-resistant epilepsy.
For any wright loss to occur, you need to be in a calorie deficit which occurs when the energy we expend (by fuelling our organs, breathing, exercising, fidgeting, etc) is greater than how much we are eating. Our body is then forced to use fat as fuel. If this calorie deficit is sustained over a period of time, you will lose weight.
When you embark on a keto diet, you initially lose weight rapidly which is not actually losing fat. This is because whenever we eat carbs, they are broken down to glucose which, in turn, is immediately used by our body, particularly the brain. The glucose we don’t need here and now is converted to glycogen and stored in the liver and muscles as fuel reserve. For every gram of glycogen we store, 3-4g of water is packed alongside it. So, when you cut down on carbs, your body starts using up your glycogen reserved, in addition to the water packed alongside it.
Let’s do the maths: we have the capacity to store on average around 500g of glycogen. Multiply that by four. That’s 2000g. So you can expect the first 2.5kg of your weight loss to just be glycogen and water.
Also, think about what you have to cut out in order to follow the keto diet properly. That Krispy Kreme doughnut you love? Can’t have. Your favourite Walkers crisps? Can’t have. The chocolate fudge cake your colleague baked? You guessed right - can’t have. This means that you are basically not snacking on all these high-calorie foods, effectively creating a calorie deficit. Calorie deficit = weight loss.
Bottom line: A keto diet is no more superior for weight loss than a standard diet whereby you restrict your calories. In addition, following a keto diet means you are missing out on some key nutrients and minerals that come from having wholegrains, fruit and veg.
Intermittent fasting (IF) and time-restricted feeding (TRF)
OK, before we discuss these two, let’s first clarify the difference between them as they are not one and the same.
Intermittent fasting generally involves a restriction in the number of calories a person is allowed to eat. On the other hand, time-restricted feeding doesn’t limit calories per se but shortens the eating window. During this window, a person can eat however many calories they want.
Time-restricted feeding (TRF)
When it comes to TRF, the eating window can vary as per an individual’s preference. Although, one of the most popular is the 16:8 diet, which means you have a window to eat for eight hours per day, followed by 16 hours of ‘fasting’. There are no restrictions on how often this can be done and some people choose to do it a few times per week, whilst others choose it to be their daily eating pattern.
So, what is the low down with TRF? Well, in recent years, there has been research to suggest that restricting most of your calories to earlier on in the day can be beneficial to our metabolic health and can lead to improvement in insulin resistance, blood pressure and blood sugar control. However, studies have not shown that this eating pattern is superior for weight loss when calories are matched with a standard calorie deficit diet.
Bottom line: Although TRF may have benefits in reducing disease risk, if you are looking to just lose weight, then it is no different to a standard calorie deficit diet. Essentially, by restricting your eating window, you are reducing the opportunity to eat the amount you would have should you not be restricting. Think about all those evening and late-night snacks you’ll be doing without.
- Less snacks = Calorie deficit.
- Calorie deficit = Weight loss.
Intermittent fasting (IF)
When it comes to IF, one of the most popular methods is the 5:2 diet which involves eating as you normally would five days of the week and, on the remaining two days, you restrict your calorie intake to approximately 500-600 calories. You would also incorporate a non-fasting day between the two fasting days. A year-long study from 2017 assigned 100 adults aged 18-65 who were obese to one of three groups:
- Group 1: To follow a 5:2 eating plan.
- Group 2: To follow a standard calorie deficit diet.
- Group 3: Control group (no changes made to diet, participants to continue with their normal eating patterns).
What did the study show? Well, there was a high drop-out rate in the 5:2 plan suggesting that this style of eating pattern is not as easy as proponents like to claim. In addition, weight loss and weight regain were similar in both group 1 and group 2. Changes to fat and muscle loss were also similar, thus counteracting claims that IF helps to retain muscle more so than traditional calorie deficits.
Bottom line: Multiple studies have shown that IF is not a magic tool for weight loss and not superior to any other dietary pattern that facilitates weight loss. If it helps you restrict your eating and makes your life easier, then go for it. Just be aware that there is nothing magical going on and the only reason you are losing weight is that you are in a calorie deficit overall in the week.
So, there you have the three popular diet methods that will likely remain popular in 2022. The key thing to remember here is that losing weight will always ultimately come down to being in a calorie deficit. The aim of all weight-loss diets is to achieve a calorie deficit, it’s only the packaging that differs.