What are the most Googled Diets of the last five years?
Most of us have likely tried some type of diet at some point in our lives. A 2018 survey by the International Food Information Council found that 36% of Americans followed a specific diet or eating pattern, while a Statista report showed that one of Americans’ most common New Year’s resolutions was to lose weight or get into shape.
If the goal isn’t weight loss, various diets can be adapted for other reasons such as lowering inflammation, gaining muscle or improving existing health issues. Some diet motivations go as far as wanting to lower one’s carbon footprint or to reduce animal suffering.
But which diets have been piquing our curiosity the most? We decided to investigate the most Googled diets over the last five years, to see how diet trends are changing and which ones are standing the test of time.
Here’s what we found:
· The ketogenic diet is the most searched for diet in the US, outdoing the historic WW diet in 2017
· The Mediterranean diet is more popular than paleo, which was one of the top 3 searched-for diets up till 2019
· Plant-based and carnivore diets are two of the fastest rising diet trends, seeing a huge increase in searches in the last five years
· The Dukan diet seems to have fallen out of favor with dieters, reflected by a huge decline in searches between 2016 and 2019
The ketogenic diet is the most Googled diet in the US!
It’s official: the ketogenic diet is the most Googled diet in the US, with over 10 million searches in 2020 alone.
With an increase of 770,000 average monthly searches between 2016-2017, it even outranks the historically popular Weight Watchers diet, which previously held the top spot until 2018.
Ketogenic diets promote limiting both complex and simple carbohydrates and replacing them with fat and protein, which has been shown to lead to significant weight loss within a short amount of time if followed correctly.
The reduction in carbs places your body into a state called ketosis, which enables the body to burn its excess fat stores relatively quickly. The diet has also been shown to have other benefits such as improving symptoms for epilepsy and other neurological diseases, as well as helping those on the autistic spectrum.
The keto diet is commonly seen as a derivative of the Atkins diet, which took the diet world by storm in the 1970s and peaked in popularity around the early 00s. The main difference between the two is that on Atkins, dieters are encouraged to increase their carb intake gradually over time, whereas the keto diet advocates keeping carbs low in order to keep the body in ketosis.
Over the last five years, the Atkins diet has only slightly declined in terms of Google searches, receiving over 120,000 yearly searches in 2020. However, this may be due in part to an increased interest in the keto diet, and not because dieters are switching off to the idea of Atkins principles altogether.
Mediterranean continues to be one of the country’s most popular diets
The Mediterranean diet continues to be the most consistently popular diet in the US, sitting in our top 3 most searched for diets over the last five years.
It is based on consuming mainly whole foods such as fruits and vegetables, fish, seafood, beans, pulses, whole grains, nuts and seeds, and moderate amounts of poultry, eggs and good quality dairy. Due to its focus on natural, single food ingredients and a restriction of processed foods, it is often touted by dieticians as the most balanced, healthful and sustainable approach to eating.
The Mediterranean diet is named as such because it is based on foods traditionally consumed in places like Italy and Greece in the 1960s. Researchers consistently found these populations to be healthier than Americans, with a lower risk of many chronic diseases.
Although interest in the Mediterranean diet has risen in recent years, going from 110,000 average monthly searches in 2016 to 368,000 in 2020, this is still surpassed by the interest in Weight Watchers and keto diets. However, Mediterranean remains in the top three, suggesting that there is still very much a place for balanced, simple eating.
Plant based vs. Carnivore
Two of the biggest diet trends to sweep the nation in the last five years has been plant-based and carnivore diets.
Whilst seemingly at complete odds with one another, it seems one thing they share is their rise in popularity, with Google searches for both terms shooting up around 2018.
The number of average monthly searches for “plant-based diet” has gone from 33,100 in 2016 to around 100,000 in 2020, making this approach to eating more popular than the carnivore, low-carb, Alkaline, South Beach and gluten-free diets.
But the carnivore diet is not far behind, seeing a surge of new searches between 2016 and 2020 and now also receiving an average of 100,000 searches per month.
Once an unheard-of concept, the carnivore diet involves cutting out all plant-based foods and consuming only animal-based products, including meat, fish, seafood, eggs, and limited amounts of dairy.
Though anecdotal evidence suggests the diet can be beneficial for weight loss and treating arthritis, depression, anxiety and diabetes, effects of the diet have not yet been analyzed by research. Unlike
the keto diet, which aims to keep carbs to a minimum, the carnivore diet is a completely zero-carb diet.
Overall, health experts have warned against the carnivore diet for overall health as it eliminates all plant foods that are an important source of many vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Side effects of the carnivore diet include vitamin deficiencies, lack of fiber and electrolyte imbalances.
Meanwhile, plant-based diets have been shown to aid with weight loss, as well as lower your risk of chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease and various autoimmune diseases. This is likely due to the high amount of fruits and vegetables usually consumed, as well as a range of other high fiber and antioxidant-rich foods.
Dukan diet: on its way out?
Once a fairly popular diet trend, the Dukan diet seems to have fallen out of favor with dieters, dropping from 60,500 average monthly searches in 2016 to just 9900 by the end of 2019.
The diet is similar to keto in that it too promotes a low-carb, high-protein approach. However, unlike keto it is split into four distinct phases, each one specifying different foods and protocols.
The increased search interest in ketogenic diets may suggest a more favorable preference towards this over the Dukan diet, due to it being easier to follow with fewer specific ‘rules’. That being said, Dukan does allow the reintroduction of some carbohydrates later down the line, whereas keto advocates for keeping carbs to a minimum in order to keep the body in ketosis.
What Do the Experts Say?
We asked our in-house nutritionist Jamie Wright to share some expert insight on the US’ most Googled diets…
The Ketogenic diet
The keto diet has exploded in popularity for one specific reason: rapid weight loss. At least initially anyways. We assume all weight loss is fat, and that’s not really the case. In fact, when it comes to rapid weight loss, most of it tends to be from less food in the gut (which will be the case with keto given the reduction in carbohydrates), a reduction in internal carbohydrate stores and changes in body water.
While increasing protein intake is one of the most effective strategies for weight loss and long-term management, you don’t have to follow a keto diet to achieve this. Also, most will reduce their fruit and veggie intake to limit carbs…I don’t really have to explain why this shouldn’t be promoted.
Notably, keto is also extremely restrictive and for many this simply isn’t sustainable. There are those who may prefer a higher fat, lower carb diet and that’s fine, but most will find this difficult. Highly restrictive practices can also lead to disordered eating behaviors and dieters should be aware of this before trying keto out.
It’s a great diet for the clinical conditions mentioned, and certainly the research now looking into it as a treatment for diabetes is promising, but please don’t be bought into the gimmick of it being a rapid weight loss tactic. Rapid weight loss is almost always partnered with rapid weight regain and this can be hugely demoralizing and send you down a spiral of cycling from one diet to the next.
I believe any nutrition expert/practitioner who is worth listening to would promote a predominantly plant-based diet. It’ll come to the shock of absolutely nobody reading this, but plants are pretty great for our health.
With the focus of these diets being consumption of more plants, less processed foods, a moderate amount of animal products and no real restriction, they tick all the health boxes you’d really care for.
We could probably do away with giving this form of dieting a name. Instead let’s just call it “common sense”.
The carnivore diet
How could I describe the carnivore diet…? Well, firstly, I was pretty disappointed when I found out the diet had nothing to do with pretending you were a dinosaur and eating all your meals in one of the inflatable suits.
Secondly, it’s like the keto diet but stupid. Restrictive beyond reason, advocating only certain animal products, no clinically researched validation for the approach and created by someone with no formal nutrition qualifications. Honestly, you’d probably be safer getting chased by a dinosaur than you would be following this diet for any period of time.
Mediterranean diet: the gold standard
If someone asked me to put all my eggs in one basket and say “You should definitely be following this diet,” it’d have to be the Mediterranean (MD) approach.
It’s like if all the “experts” came together and said, “You know what guys, let’s stop scamming people for a second and make an actually well-thought-out diet”.
It falls into the bracket of predominantly plant-based yet advocating “healthy” fats and proteins from marine sources.
There’s a library of data to back up how great the MD approach is for reducing the risk of heart disease, certain cancers, Alzheimer’s, dementia and Parkinson’s, as well as even being a useful weight management approach.
The other dietary approach that would fall into this bracket would be the DASH diet: an effective tool for reducing hypertension through sodium monitoring and more plant consumption. All in all, great at what it’s intended for and could even help with weight management too!
Take Home Message
It seems that low-carb diets have still got Americans’ attention when it comes to weight loss and health – whether that’s keto, Atkins or the increasingly popular carnivore diet.
However, it’s worth bearing in mind why diets like the Mediterranean continue to stand the test of time. By focusing on a wide variety of food groups (not cutting any out) and emphasizing fresh fruits, vegetables and other plant-based foods, the diet offers a more relaxed approach to eating that’s enjoyable, healthy and sustainable.
It may be this same reason that plant-based diets also continue to rise, showing that any diet based around fruits and veggies is bound to strike a chord with most people.
Our articles should be used for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to be taken as medical advice. If you’re concerned, consult a health professional before taking dietary supplements or introducing any major changes to your diet.