The 4 Newest Diet Trends: Do They Really Work?

Even though we all know that the easiest way to live a healthy lifestyle is to eat healthful, nutrient-rich food and exercise (…right?), it’s still easy to get swept up in the newest diet craze.  Glossy tabloid pages shout out ways to lose seven pounds in seven days, and it’s pretty much impossible to turn on the TV without some celeb promoting some crazy diet plan or sharing secrets to shed those last 10 pounds. Some ways of eating are obviously cray (like the Baby Food Diet, which is pretty much exactly what sounds like), but others are more sustainable; they stop being “diets” and end up just being lifestyles. We at HC asked around and got the lowdown on the newest diet trends: which are worth it, and which you should skip.


1. The Carb Nite Solution

What it’s all About

The Carb Nite Solution is based on carb cycling. First, you lower your carbohydrate intake to 30 grams or fewer per day for 10 days. On the 10th day, you eat less than 30 grams of carbohydrates all day, but are allowed to have an unlimited number of carbs at dinner.  This is called the “carb nite.” The alleged reasoning behind the Carb Nite diet is that by manipulating your carbohydrate intake, you take control of your body’s hormonal rhythms to shed body fat, not just scale weight. The diet creator claims that your body produces increased levels of carbohydrate-processing enzymes on the low-carb days that prevent your body from storing fat after your high-carb night. You process the carbs, burn excess calories, and lose body fat—all, purportedly, without having to work out.

Does it Work?

It’s up in the air for the Carb Nite plan—in general, it’s good to pay attention to your carbohydrate intake, especially since all the excess carbs that we don’t burn up end up sending a message to the body to store those calories as adipose tissue (fat). But clinical nutritionist Susan L. Holmberg says that the Carb Nite plan’s most seductive selling point—that once you fix your body’s hormonal rhythms after following the diet for a while, you can return to eating the way you were before—is “ridiculous.” Holmberg says dieters who adhere to plans that say you can “fix” your body and then return to their old habits “[end up at] their original start weights and more because they are back to the same habits that put them there in the first place.”

But Holmberg also says that there are a number of studies that support the idea of carbohydrate cycling as an effective method for weight loss. The high-carb night can “stimulate weight loss [by] kicking… up [calorie intake] temporarily [so] that your body will ‘let go’ of pounds once it doesn’t think it’s being starved.” However, Holmberg says the concept of the “Carb Nite” may be excessive and unnecessary for weight loss. Treating yourself periodically, though, Holmberg says, is a good idea in any eating plan. “Most of us need time off from [eating perfectly] all the time,” says Holmberg.

Especially worrying is the plan’s lack of emphasis on exercise. Any plan that doesn’t promote exercise may result in weight loss, but not health or fitness, which is the ultimate goal. It won’t hurt to try it out, but board certified nutrition specialist Jason Boehm says that while dieters may get “very good results short-term,” it’s also very possible they will “struggle with the plan and eventually return to their old ways of eating.”

The Verdict

The jury’s still out on the Carb Nite plan. Carb-cycling combined with a carb-laden cheat day where you can eat whatever you want will spur weight loss, but it can also be easy to go overboard and difficult to maintain long-term. If you keep your cheat days in check and can maintain eating 30 grams of carbs or fewer everyday, it’s possible you could be successful with losing weight on the Carb Nite diet—but remember, you need exercise to maintain your actual fitness.