Love It, Like It, Hate It: Popular Diets

FUELED Wellness with Molly
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If all of the “New Year, New You” messaging has you thinking about slimming down and getting healthier, you may be considering one of the popular diets that are oh-so-trendy right now. Here’s the Skinny from Molly on her top picks for nutrition plans and lifestyles – and which she recommends to steer clear of.

A few key takeaways:

  • Many diets are likely to be only a temporary fix. The key is to find a plan that can work for you over the long term; something that’s convenient and livable.
  • There’s absolutely nothing wrong with sifting through the different aspects of various diets and assembling the pieces into a plan that best suits your needs.
  • When evaluating a diet, look at safety first – if it seems risky, it’s 100 percent not worth it.




Working with a registered dietitian can provide much-needed guidance to develop your own personalized nutrition plan that’s tailored to your preferences, lifestyle, budget, and more. An RD can also work with you to integrate some of the effective components of the popular diets when it makes sense to fit these into your lifestyle.



What it is: Intermittent fasting is less about the specific foods we eat, and more about when we eat them. There are many different intermittent fasting methods, all of which divide our days or weeks into eating periods and fasting periods. Daily fasting windows, for example, can range from 12 hours to 20 hours daily, with many recommending a 3-hour fasting window between our last meal and bedtime.

More details on Intermittent Fasting, up next on WGNO



What it is: There’s no counting or weighing or measuring with Whole30. It’s a 30-day program centered on real, whole foods; a temporary elimination diet, designed to serve as a reset button to help re-train our habits and our taste buds.

What’s allowed on Whole30: Meat, fish, poultry, seafood and eggs. Fruits and vegetables. Nuts and seeds. Fats including coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil. Salt, vinegar, herbs, spices, and seasonings.

What’s not allowed on Whole30: No sweeteners, including maple syrup, honey, agave nectar, coconut sugar, date syrup, stevia, Splenda, Equal. No alcohol. No grains or legumes (including peanuts and peanut butter). No soy, no dairy, no baked goods, junk foods, or treats – even with “approved” ingredients.




What it is: “Keto” is short for a ketogenic diet. In my experience, Keto is one of the most talked about but least understood diets on the market. People say they are are “going Keto” when they are limiting carbs but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re following a Keto plan.

Tthe classic ketogenic therapeutic diet is a very-high-fat, extremely low-carbohydrate, low-protein diet, calling for a 4:1 ratio of fat to combined protein-plus-carbohydrate.

Carbohydrate and protein limits vary. The general rule of thumb for a keto diet is a maximum of 50 grams of carbohydrate daily, though many keto advocates recommend about half this amount. Protein goals are generally around 0.8 grams of protein per pound of lean body weight, with the rest of the calories coming from fat.

What’s allowed on a Keto diet: Fats of all types. Meat, fish, poultry and eggs. Nonstarchy vegetables and leafy greens, fresh or frozen; carbs from these vegetables need be factored into daily carbohydrate allotment.

What’s not allowed on a Keto diet: Starchy and/or refined carbs are pretty much off-limits entirely, including bread, rice, pasta, cereal, potatoes, pasta, rice or legumes. No sugar. Only a small amount of fruit is allowed; mostly berries, because of their lower carb content.



What it is: OPTAVIA is a diet plan by Medifast that’s centered on pre-packaged “Fuelings” (their word, not mine) consisting of pouches and boxes of meals and snacks that are made without artificial colors or sweeteners (their “select” line is also preservative-free).

There are three levels of OPTAVIA, and all clients are encouraged to connect with OPTAVIA coaches, available online or in person (OPTAVIA provides a list of coaches by region; note that these coaches are generally not registered dietitians; not required to have any formal medical or nutritional training).




  • Any diet centered on diet pills
  • Any diet that restricts/eliminates physical movement + exercise
  • Any diet that focuses on weight + scale only



Want more from Molly?  Click here to sign up for Nutrition Bites, her weekly e-newsletter with links to her Get the Skinny TV segments here on WGNO, and her weekly column in|The Times-Picayune!   And you can follow Molly on Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram:  @MollyKimballRD


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