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There is a lot of hype and information about different diet types and how they may benefit us, especially with weight loss. With that in mind, let’s deep dive into some of the common diet trends of 2018 and look at what the research really says regarding weight loss and healthy living.

Plant-based diet
Plant-based eating focuses on whole plant foods and includes vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes (lentils, beans and peas), nuts and seeds. The main advantage of plant-based eating is that it has been shown to help reduce the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and some types of cancer.

This eating style means incorporating more plants and plant proteins into your meals. It does not necessarily mean eliminating all animal products (e.g. dairy, fish, meat or poultry), as there have been benefits shown with simply a reduction in quantity of animal product consumed. A well-planned plant-based diet can support healthy eating, however, there is no increased benefit for weight management compared to general healthy eating.

Eliminating all animal products isn’t necessary for optimal health. Photo: Flickr/Creative Commons, Olearys.

Low carbohydrate diets
Carbohydrates are your bodies preferred energy source. There has been an interest in following low carbohydrate diets recently, at various levels of carbohydrate intake, for weight loss and diabetes management.2

While the research on the long-term effect on weight management, osteoporosis, and nutrient deficiencies has yet to be determined, some research has shown low carbohydrate diets as being more fullness and decreased appetite due to a higher fat content when consuming low carbohydrate diets. Other research has shown a promotion weight loss; however, the amount of weight loss was no more than what can be achieved through healthy and sustainable diet changes. 3,4

One note of caution is that with a low carbohydrate diet, some nutrients are of concern as low carbohydrate diets that may be lacking in low carbohydrate diets include fibre, calcium, vitamin D, selenium, magnesium, zinc and phosphorus therefore planning adequate meals is important. Before beginning a low carbohydrate diet, it is important to speak with your healthcare provider.

Low carb diets may result in missing out on important nutrients. Photo: Flickr/Creative Commons, Jeff Keacher.

DASH diet
The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) Diet has been shown beneficial for weight management, reducing blood pressure, total cholesterol and bad cholesterol or LDL cholesterol. This eating style focuses on a diet that is rich in vegetables, fruit and low-fat dairy products and lower in sodium, saturated fat, total fat and cholesterol.5,6 Reducing your salt intake can be achieved through limiting salt when cooking or at the table, choosing fresh foods, avoiding salty or processed foods, using seasonings such as herbs or spices. Traditionally weight loss associated with the DASH Diet is related to a caloric deficit due to increased vegetable and fruit intake.7

Reducing salt consumption has lasting health benefits. Photo: Flickr/Creative Commons, Blondinrikard Fröberg.

Nutrigenomics/personalized nutrition
Your genes contain DNA that determine characteristics that are with you since birth. We all have the same genes, but variations in our DNA make us unique. Nutrigenomics is a new science and is the study of how human genes interact with diet and nutrients to influence an individual’s subsequent health outcomes.8

Through a nutrigenomics test you may get insight into how your genes influence how your body uses and processes nutrients, impacts weight management, optimizing exercise and more. Studies used within nutrigenomics have been completed since the human genome project finished in the early 2000s. As a result, research and recommendations within this field is ever changing.

Nutrigenomics testing is not a diagnostic tool, but rather may provide insight into how your genes influence your nutrition. For example, the FTO gene has been linked to body size, fat storage and obesity.By understanding your genes, you can make diet and lifestyle recommendations to decrease your risk of adverse health outcomes, however your health is influenced by much more than just your genes including one’s environment. Through personalized nutrition, individuals can be empowered to optimize their health and wellness.

The final word
With so many programs or diets available, it can be a challenge to pick the one that is right for you. Before you make changes, look to see if there are any red flags such as: 1) promises a lot of weight loss in a short amount of time; 2) restricts what you are eating considerably; and/or 3) eliminates major food groups.

You are more likely to be successful at weight loss that you can enjoy for the long-term when the changes made fit into your regular routine and work with your lifestyle.

 

Are you looking to help optimize your health and nutrition through what you eat and drink? Registered dietitians are regulated health professionals who offer evidence-based and sustainable nutrition changes to help you meet your health and wellness goals. Work with a registered dietitian in Ontario at Shoppers Drug Mart and select Wellwise locations. Book online at shoppersdrugmart.ca/dietitians. 

The information provided is for personal use, reference and education only and is not intended to be a substitute for a Physician’s advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult your healthcare professional for specific information on personal health matters. Please note: Dietitian services are currently only available in select Ontario stores. Please contact your store to learn more. ®/TM 911979 Alberta Ltd. ©2018 Shoppers Drug Mart Inc.

About the author: Emily Campbell has a master of science in foods and nutrition and is a registered dietitian who works for Shoppers Drug Mart®. 

References

  1. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. (2016). Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Vegetarian Diets. Retrieved from: https://www.eatrightpro.org/-/media/eatrightpro-files/practice/position-and-practice-papers/position-papers/vegetarian-diet.pdf
  2. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. (2018). Diet Review: Ketogenic Diet for Weight Loss. Retrieved from: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/healthy-weight/diet-reviews/ketogenic-diet/
  3. Hu T, et al. (2016). Effects of a Low-Carbohydrate Diet on Appetite: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Nutr Meta Cardiovasc Dis 26(6):476-488.
  4. Hu T, et al. (2012). Effects of low-carbohydrate diets versus low-fat diets on metabolic risk factors: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled clinical trials. Am J Epidemiol 1(176): Suppl 7:S44-54.
  5. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. (n.d.). DASH Eating Plan. Retrieved from: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/dash-eating-plan
  6. Heart and Stroke Foundation. (2018). The DASH Diet to lower high blood pressure. Retrieved from: https://www.heartandstroke.ca/get-healthy/healthy-eating/dash-diet
  7. (2018). The Complete Beginner’s Guide to the DASH Diet. Retrieved from: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/dash-diet#what-it-is
  8. Mead, NM. (2007). Nutrigenomics: The Genome-Food Interface. Environ Health Perspect. 115(12): A582-9.
  9. Doo, M, et al. (2015). Obesity: Interactions of Genome and Nutrients Intake. Prev Nutr Food Sci. 20(1): 1-7.
  10. ca (2018). Checklist for Choosing a Weight Loss Program. Retrieved from: http://www.unlockfood.ca/en/Articles/Weight-Loss/Checklist-for-Choosing-a-Weight-Loss-Program.aspx