Most of you have read my diet reviews, but whether you have or not, you know that there are a lot of brutal diets out there!
Even though I don’t recommend diets at all, I can tell by the popularity of my diet reviews that a lot of you are interested in them. That’s why I’m ranking the most popular diets of 2017 from worst to better – using the term ‘better’ loosely, since those programs still have major faults.
The worst diets on this list get there mainly because they’re based on utter bullshit, or they employ scare tactics and chemophobia to sell you expensive products that you don’t need, or they’re unsustainable. Some have a combination of all three, how wonderful!
It’s important to note here, because I’m sure some of you will rain hate mail and threats down on me, that this post is my opinion.
You can form your own opinions on diets also; knowing what you believe and living your truth is a good thing. You’re reading this to get my take, but do your own research too. If you think one of these diets is legit and you want to try it, go right ahead.
To be clear, I am well within my rights under Canadian law to assess and blog about diet programs with my own professional opinions. Just because I hate your diet and I write that it’s crap in a blog post doesn’t mean that I’m guilty of slander.
Isn’t it sad that I actually have to state this?
Anyhoo, here we go!
FROM WORST TO BETTER:
This weight loss company’s product claims for their SlimRoast coffee are based on weak research that has been done on some of its ingredients, but zero research has been done on the actual product. They claim that SlimRoast causes you to lose weight without diet or exercise, something that no food or drug in the world can do. Do you really believe it’s going to happen suddenly with an MLM product?
Now with their new ‘cleanse’ and its claims of detoxing and helping with ‘candida’, and their ‘cellular homeostasis formula’ that contains simple ‘molecularly charged’ micronutrients **insert massive eyeroll here**, Valentus has taken their BS to a whole new level.
I just shake my head in utter dismay when I look at their website and the products they’re selling.
As if that’s not enough, I get threatening emails like clockwork every six months or so from people who I suspect work for the company (or some who clearly do, thanks LinkedIn).
The messages always contain a pathetic attempt at a veiled threat to sue me for my Valentus review. Sigh.
My point is, I don’t like their product, and I don’t like the way they attempt to bully and intimidate me because I did an honest and science-based review of the absurd claims they make about their diet coffee. And believe me, I’m being downright generous when I say they’re absurd.
For those things, they come in last place on my list.
To earn my respect and recommendation, a company and its people need to have integrity, and so do their products. Sorry Valentus, but when you use bogus claims to swindle vulnerable people who are just trying to be healthy, and you try to bully me, you deserve what you get. Shame on you.
Another product based on weak research. Drinking ketones might give you a stomach ache and therefore blunt your appetite, but it doesn’t equal nutritional ketosis AT ALL, so don’t be fooled. Sure, athletes who drink this supplement that truly does taste like DEATH may use it as an alternative fuel source, but those individuals are few and far between.
For those of you who are looking for a short-cut to a ketogenic diet, it doesn’t exist, sorry. This whole concept is a figment of someone’s wild imagination, and someone is making money off of people (and making them drink literally the grossest supplement on earth) is not cool. Want to be in actual ketosis? You’ll need to do the work.
I’ve received heaps of vitriol-infused garbage emails and terrible, malicious reviews on my Facebook business page from followers of this diet who are no doubt wedded to the idea that eating cardboard, low-calorie pre-packaged food is the way to lose weight long term. Like any diet out there, there will be people who are successful on it; I’m sure some (aka very few) people did very well on the grapefruit diet and the cabbage soup diet. Does this mean that those diets were a good idea? Not really, especially in the long term.
I can handle hate mail just fine, but Ideal Protein loses major points because it’s based on physiological fiction, with crazy rules such as not eating fats and carbohydrates together, (as if the human body can’t handle it?) and telling people that their pancreas can regenerate itself. Why, just why. When diet program developers choose to use their credentials to blatantly scam people, it makes me sick. What I’m saying is that just because doctors invented and promote/sell this diet doesn’t mean it’s legit.
If there’s only one thing you take away today from this post, let it be this: do NOT buy into the idea that just because someone has an MD after their name, they know anything about nutrition. The docs who invented this diet certainly don’t.
Other things about IP that make it so low on my list: the diet requires a ton of supplements, which should be a red flag: if a diet has you eating so little, and so few of the right things, that you need handfuls of supplements in conjunction with it, this is not okay. Even less okay is that the diet sells its own supplements. How convenient $$$$$$$$!! Total money grab. Please promise me you won’t fall for this. In addition to the supplements, IP requires that you purchase pre-prepared food, which is another money grab. A legit diet should teach you how to make good food choices in the real world, and encourage you to nourish your body with minimally processed food.
I also don’t like that people who have been successful on this diet can become ‘coaches’.
Just because a person has lost weight doesn’t mean they know anything about nutrition and counselling, and this to me is a serious no-no…and liability.
As if that’s not enough, doctors and pharmacists actually sell this diet (and I suspect, make a cut of the profits), steering a bit too close for comfort to the conflict of interest zone. Aren’t healthcare professionals who you trust supposed to be impartial?
In the end, IP is low calorie, low carb, high protein, with packaged food, shitty science, suspicious conflicts, and unqualified ‘coaches’ overlooking your health. No thanks.
Whole30 is really popular, and I can see why. It’s structured, led by a charismatic duo, and it seems like everyone is doing it. That all being said, I really dislike this diet for several reasons, the first one being that it’s completely judgemental and gross in a way that I can’t stomach. Whole30 basically insinuates that you’re weak if you can’t complete the 30 days, and god forbid you should slip up, it makes you go right back to day one. It’s a punitive culture that food shames you with every bit of cheese or tablespoon of cream in your coffee. Contrary to what the inventors of this diet claim (‘this diet with end your unhealthy relationship with food!’), the plan sounds like a recipe for creating an unhealthy relationship with food. Not okay.
The science behind Whole30 isn’t sound, either. The diet claims to be able to eliminate things like eating disorders (excuse me while I punch something after reading that), bipolar disorder, lyme disease, and Crohn’s disease (no eliminating those with diet, unfortunately). Those claims are just plain irresponsible and idiotic. The chemophobia (legumes are harmful!) that goes on with this diet is out of control and not based on strong science at all.
The fact that Whole30 doesn’t support plant-based diets and in fact, speaks out against them in favour of eating meat, just shows you that there’s a whole mess of stupidity going on here, to the tune of this quote:
“The inclusion of plant-based protein sources known to have detrimental effects on hormonal balance, the digestive tract, and the immune system, and the lack of nutrients (like vitamin B12 and heme iron) found only in animal protein sources means that your health potential is limited.”
I can’t. How low can you go, to fear monger plant-based diets. Yes, vegan diets don’t contain B12 or heme iron, but they can be just as complete as diets that contain animal protein, and suggesting they can’t shows a gross misunderstanding of nutrition science overall…which is NOT a shocker considering the other trash claims this diet makes.
The only good thing about Whole30 is that if you eat a completely junk-filled diet, you’ll have to give that up when you’re doing this plan. But compared to all the crazy shit this diet claims/is based on, that’s a small comfort. Pass.
Long on scare tactics and short – very short – on proof, the Bulletproof diet is pretty much a clusterfuck of supplements, ‘don’t eats’, and research done on rodents to support its weak claims. None of those are good. Dave Asprey, the guy who invented the Bulletproof diet, is laughing all the way to the bank because people everywhere are falling for this crazy shit. Just because Mr Asprey lost 150 pounds drinking butter coffee and ‘hacking’ his life doesn’t mean it’s going to work for you, or that you should even try it. The obnoxious culture of the Bulletproof diet and its arrogant, patently false nutrition claims is enough to land it here on my list.
I know I’m a dietitian and a lot of you think I wouldn’t ever say anything nice about a ketogenic diet, but the truth is that while it’s almost impossible for the average person to maintain, some people actually do well on it.
Ketogenic diets aren’t the same as high protein diets; ketogenic diets are around 80% fat, 5% carbs, and 15% protein. In order for the ketogenic diet to ‘work’, you need to remain in ketosis, which means that you really can’t ‘cheat’ and eat a slice of cake or something; at least not regularly. I see clients who cycle off and on the ketogenic diet, but that’s sort of like yo yo dieting, because when you go off it, the weight can come raging back.
There’s not a lot of long-term studies on the effects of a ketogenic diet for the long-term in healthy adults. Kids who are epileptic have been put on this diet for years, and it does have some efficacy there. The key to a ketogenic diet is actually sustaining it and thriving on it. I personally can’t exercise on a ketogenic diet; I need carbs to run. Some people don’t though, so you’ll have to figure out if you’re that person. If you like to go out a lot, or you don’t want to give up much of your fruit or carb intake, this diet might not be for you. Ketogenic diets can also be full of saturated fat, which we still understand as being unhealthy in large amounts, so if you are thinking of doing this diet, you’ll need to be careful about choosing mostly healthy fats. This can be quite a challenge.
The good thing about ketogenic diets is that they’re generally full of vegetables and other unprocessed foods like nuts and eggs. This is small comfort compared to the massive hurdle of actually doing this diet for the long term.
Keto is not something I recommend on a regular basis (or at all, because of the lack of research and difficulty of it), but it’s one to watch.
I do NOT recommend this diet (or any of them) for anyone who has a history of or predisposition to eating disorders. I need to get that out of the way.
IF does have some promising research for weight loss, so it’s near the top of my list. Some people do well with it, some people don’t. If you’re emotionally and physically healthy, and you want to try IF, ask your MD first and then go for it.
21 Day Fix
The 21 day fix focuses on portion control and exercise for weight loss. It’s not a forever eating plan, but it can be a good jumpstart to healthier habits, like knowing how much you actually should be consuming. It involves pre-planning of meals, which is a habit everyone needs to have, and it’s inclusive to plant-based eaters, which is fantastic. The calorie level it gives followers may be a bit low, so if you try this diet, make sure you know that you can adjust it upwards so you’re not starving – which can put you at risk for eventual overeating.
You also should know that even though it’s suggested, you don’t need Shakeology to follow this program.
Even though the alkaline diet is based on bullshit – nothing you eat affects your blood pH – the foods recommended on this diet are mostly plant-based and very healthy. Don’t fall for any ‘alkalizing’ supplements or waters, which are all BS. I’ll say it again: nothing you eat ‘alkalizes’ your body; it’s a simple physiological fact.
Ignore the ‘alkalizing woo woo diet’ part of this plan and just eat more plants, which is always a great idea. That is all.
What are some diets I DO recommend? I love the Mediterranean diet, and Paleo isn’t bad although there’s no reason to eliminate legumes and dairy – the reasoning the diet gives for doing that isn’t correct.
Whatever diet you choose – whether it’s a structured program or just trying to eat healthier – make sure the changes you make are sustainable and enjoyable. Healthy eating shouldn’t be about punishment, guilt, or buying expensive products and supplements.