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 Finder found that ‘eating healthier’ was the second most popular New Year’s Resolution in Australia – topped only by improving fitness and getting in shape.
Many people try any number of diets they believe will help them reach their desired goal, from weight loss to lowering inflammation to gaining muscle to improving existing health issues. Some diet motivations can 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 popular diet with Australians, rising from 27k average monthly searches in 2016 to around 100k in 2020
· The Mediterranean diet has grown in popularity over the years, reaching the top 3 most Googled diets with a total of 247,900 searches in 2020
· Other diets grabbing the nation’s attention include DASH, carnivore, plant-based and anti-inflammatory diets, all of which saw an increase in searches over the last five years
· Dukan, alkaline and 5:2 diets seem to be on their way out, with searches dropping in favour of new diet trends.
The ketogenic diet is the most Googled diet in Australia!
It’s official: the ketogenic diet is the most Googled diet in Australia, with over 900k searches in 2020 alone.
With an average increase of around 70,000 monthly searches in the last five years, it even outranks the historically popular Weight Watchers diet, which previously held the top spot until 2017.
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.
Mediterranean diet has become one of nation’s most popular diets
The Mediterranean diet is also having its moment in the sun with Australians, seeing a huge rise in monthly searches making it one of the top 3 most Googled diets in 2020.
Once less popular than the 5:2, Atkins and Paleo diets, the Mediterranean diet has gone from an average of 15k monthly searches in 2017 to 25k monthly searches in 2020.
The diet 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, 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.
DASH, carnivore, plant-based and anti-inflammatory diets on the rise
Several diets have seen increased popularity over the past half a decade, including DASH, carnivore, plant-based and anti-inflammatory diets.
DASH - which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension – has commonly been a diet recommended to treat high blood pressure, but has several other benefits too, including helping to maintain a healthy weight.
Previously receiving less than 2000 searches a month, the DASH diet now sees over 5000 monthly searches, with a huge spike in popularity in 2018. The diet is not too dissimilar to a plant-based or Mediterranean diet, in that it focuses on whole, unprocessed foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains, with some room for lean meats and fish. The diet is also low in salt (found to be a contributing factor of hypertension) and fat.
And speaking of plant-based diets, this term too has seen a pique in interest over the past five years, rising from 58k yearly searches in 2017 to a massive 170k in 2019. Now at a slightly lower average of 7000 searches per month, it’s clear the diet has found a firm spot on people’s radar, with searches for the diet peaking every January to coincide with the growing movement ‘Veganuary’, in which people pledge to try a vegan diet for a month.
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 on the diet, as well as range of other high fibre and antioxidant-rich foods.
The anti-inflammatory diet does what it says on the tin. It promotes a heavy focus on antioxidant-rich foods that help to reduce and prevent inflammation in the body. Not surprisingly, this involves most plant-foods, including plenty of omega-3 fatty acids and fibre. There are different types of anti-inflammatory diets, Mediterranean and DASH being two of them, and they all resemble some form of plant-based diet. Searches for this diet term have risen from an average of 3000 to nearly 15k searches per month.
At the other end of the spectrum, we have the carnivore diet – not too dissimilar to the ketogenic or Atkins diets, but definitely a far cry from Mediterranean or plant-based.
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 analysed 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 fibre and electrolyte imbalances.
Done with Dukan?
Once a fairly popular diet trend, the Dukan diet seems to have fallen out of favour with dieters, dropping from 89,700 yearly searches in 2017 to just 14,300 by the end of 2020.
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 favourable 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.
Alkaline and 5:2 diets also seem to be on the way out, seeing a decline in yearly searches from 54k and 258k to 30k and 98k respectively.
What Do the Experts Say?
We asked our in-house nutritionist Jamie Wright to share some expert insight on Australia’s 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 behaviours 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 demoralising and send you down a spiral of cycling from one diet to the next.
Plant based diet
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”.
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 the weight management too!
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.
The Alkaline diet
It’s hard to believe there’s a diet out there which rivals the carnivore in terms of ridiculousness but this one takes the cake… not literally of course as cake is acidic and would make your organs explode (according to this diet).
The diet is founded on the thought that our body is incapable of handling acidic foods and thus we need to consume those which are more alkaline to make sure our Ph levels remain balanced. Trust me, if this was the case, we wouldn’t be around for very long.
It’ll be of surprise to absolutely no one to learn that there is no research vindicating this approach either. Absolute nonsense, avoid, avoid, avoid.
Take Home Message
It seems low carb diets like keto and carnivore are definitely creating a stir with Australians. While keto promises rapid weight loss through a high protein, low-carb approach, the carnivore diet takes this one step further by advocating a zero-carb diet. Both diets may have benefits for weight loss and management, but also come with their own risks, so dieters should do their due diligence and have all the information at hand before they kickstart their new regime.
Plant-based diets, meanwhile, are also making a name for themselves, with the increase in popularity for Mediterranean, DASH, anti-inflammatory and general plant-based diets. With a more balanced approach to eating that doesn’t imply total restriction, it is easy to see why these diets are taking the nation by storm and may see even more followers in 2021.