As the year comes to an end, I like to think about all the diets that have come and gone. This year I did an online search and found a list of Google's top trending diets, based on queries with the highest amount of traffic. Below are my thoughts on the diets deemed 2012's most popular:
1. Michael Phelps Diet
Pros: Michael Phelps is certainly lucky to be able to consume 12,000 calories per day, eat whatever he wants, and still look and perform as well as he does--at least for now.
Cons: The average person, even those of us who are very active, could never consume anywhere close to 12,000 calories per day, let alone follow a diet that provides so much fat and sugar. I think this should be a one-man diet, for Phelps only.
2. Beyond Diet
Pros: This gluten-free plan is built around an online community that includes recipes, shopping lists, and a 24-hour question and answer support section. Co-founder Isabel De Los Rios recommends healthy foods like fruits, veggies, raw nuts, eggs, wild fish, and meat, with a focus on natural foods.
Cons: I don't approve of a gluten-free diet being promoted to all members of the community. Experts agree that going gluten-free is only necessary for those who have been diagnosed with celiac disease or gluten intolerance.
3. Raspberry Ketone Diet
Pros: It's gotten people talking about raspberries.
Cons: There's lots of marketing hype around this diet, which revolves around raspberry ketone supplements sold at health stores. No research suggests that it actually promotes weight loss. Instead of spending your money on the pills, buy some real raspberries--there's no question that they're healthy.
4. PINK Method Diet
Pros: P.I.N.K. stands for power, intensity, nutrition, and "kardio," and who doesn't love such a great acronym? The diet, which is touted by Dr. Phil, emphasizes high-fiber vegetables, fruits, and carbs. (It focuses on healthy eating plans and rigorous workouts.)
Cons: The P.I.N.K. Method is divided into four phases, suggesting that it's fad-like and restrictive. The first and third phases are too low in calories, especially for a diet plan that includes an exercise regimen. And the name P.I.N.K. is obviously targeted to women, which could be a turn-off to men who need to lose weight.
5. Adriana Lima Diet
Pros: Victoria's Secret model Lima is fond of veggies, drinks plenty of water, and is an avid fitness buff. And she feels comfortable enough to bring her own salad to restaurants, ensuring that she stays on track with her diet.
Cons: Nine days before a fashion show, Lima begins a liquid-only diet, opting mostly for protein shakes. Two days before the show, she stops drinking her daily gallon of water, and up to 12 hours before, she stops drinking entirely. When she's not "in training," her diet is still restrictive--low in carbs and fat. Unless you're being paid the big bucks that Lima is, I suggest staying as far away from this diet as possible.
6. Miranda Kerr Diet
Pros: Kerr, another Victoria's Secret model, says she sticks to a healthy diet 80 percent of the time, and treats herself the rest of the time. She advocates for moderation, consumes mostly vegetarian meals, drinks plenty of water, and limits her sugar intake.
Cons: Kerr firmly believes in the Dr. Peter D'Adamo Blood Type Diet. No science suggests that eating for your blood type actually works, and for most people, this approach is too restrictive. I wish Kerr would stick to promoting a balanced diet, and leave the "blood type" aspect out of the picture.
7. NV Diet Pill
Pros: Can't find a single one.
Cons: Endorsed by celebrities like Holly Madison and Carmen Elektra, the NV Diet Pill is just another weight loss gimmick with no research to support its effectiveness. Too bad these celebrities aren't endorsing a healthy diet--maybe then, fruits and veggies would be flying off supermarket shelves, rather than diet pills.
Pros: This diet was popularized by brides-to-be, who made all the other crazy diets of 2012 look sane.
Cons: A feeding tube is inserted into the nose, and a constant slow drip of protein and fat supply about 800 calories a day. Need I say more?
9. Juicing Diet
Pros: A juice diet typically consists of plenty of fruits and veggies. Many people feel better after a day of juicing.
Cons: Feeling "better" is temporary--most people who stick with it more than one day complain of headaches, irritability, and fatigue. And they usually only feel better thanks to a break from their usual junk food. Plus, you can't meet 100 percent of your nutritional needs by juicing alone, and if you're trying to lose weight, you'll gain it back once you return to your standard diet.
10. Marisa Miller Diet
Pros: For the most part, Victoria's Secret model Miller relies on organic fruits and veggies, lean protein, and whole grains. Her diet tips include portion control, food prep, and making healthy swaps for some of the "fattening" foods she enjoys.
Cons: Not many. But Miller's fitness regime might be difficult for the average person to adhere to, since she works out with a trainer three or four times each day, in a boxing ring. The rest of us might need to stick to boxing classes.
I can't wait to see what next year brings!
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Keri Gans, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian, media personality, spokesperson, and author of The Small Change Diet. Gans's expert nutrition advice has been featured in Glamour, Fitness, Health, Self and Shape, and on national television and radio, including The Dr. Oz Show, Good Morning America, ABC News, Primetime, and Sirius/XM Dr. Radio.