Wow, what a year. As a registered dietitian, I’m always interested to look back and reflect on the health and nutrition trends each year. So let’s take a look – and review – some of the most popular trends in nutrition from 2020!
Nutrition Trends in 2020:
I think one of the most popular eating patterns on the scene in 2020 was intermittent fasting (IF).
There are many supposed benefits of IF, like weight loss, improved cardiovascular outcomes, blood sugar control, energy levels, and the list goes on. But I think most people take interest in IF for the weight loss component.
So what does the research say about IF and weight loss? A 2019 systematic review looked at the effects of intermittent fasting on health, aging and disease. What it found was that IF was no better when it comes to weight loss compared to other calorie-reduced diets.
It’s also important to note that there is not much research evaluating the effects of IF long-term, as most studies are limited in duration. So whether or not both the practice of IF and the weight loss one might experience doing IF are sustainable long-term, we don’t really know.
And in my opinion, IF discourages us from listening to our bodies and honouring our internal cues. Rather than letting our hunger signals tell us when to eat or stop eating, we use a pre-determined window of time to do so.
Apple Cider Vinegar Gummies
Just when we thought the apple cider vinegar (ACV) craze was dying down, ACV gummies hit the market.
These might have been one of the top products I received questions about in 2020. The most popular ACV gummy brand, Goli, claims that taking their gummies gives you all of the benefits from 1 shot of apple cider vinegar in 2 gummies. What these benefits are, Goli doesn’t say. Interesting.
Regardless, there’s no shortage of purported health benefits of ACV online. From weight loss, fat burning, better blood sugar, clearer skin, improved digestion and more. Unfortunately, almost none of them are true.
There is some research proposing that ACV consumption may improve blood sugar control, but more research is definitely needed. You can read more about that in my blog post here. Unfortunately for the rest of the claims, there’s not much to back them up.
So whether you’re taking ACV shots or chewing on A CV gummies, know that it won’t be a cure all, and it definitely won’t be the reason you lose weight or your IBS symptoms improve. Your better off consulting a dietitian for help!
Collagen peptides were all the rage in 2020. Perhaps because celebs like Jennifer Aniston and Khloe Kardashian are now the faces of collagen supplement companies?
Avid collagen peptide consumers tout the powder for it’s ability to promote healthy hair, strong nails, clear skin, and less wrinkles. It’s also been purported to improve joint and gut health. Sounds like a miracle product to me!
The research on supplementation with collagen peptides is still in its infancy. While there may be some existing studies reporting benefits, most have limitations like either small sample size, animal studies, funding by collagen companies, poor methodology, or all of the above.
The bottom line: There isn’t enough research right now to support the collagen frenzy. If you want to mix it into your coffee, it won’t harm you, but do we really need to be consuming collagen in our smoothies, coffee, baked goods and popcorn? Probably not. And yes, collagen popcorn does exist.
You can read my full blog post about collagen, including what is is, its function in the body, and a more in-depth look at the research here. Also check out my podcast episode all about collagen here!
Probiotics and Fermented Foods
Probiotics were also a hot topic in 2020. Many individuals and businesses are recognizing the importance that the gut microbiome plays on our health, and it’s no secret that we eat can impact the bacteria in our gut. Read my blog post on Probiotics 101 here.
But what hasn’t been clear is the classification of probiotics. Like collagen, you can find probiotics in everything these days. From granola bars to chips to various beverages. And of course, supplements like pills and powders. Fermented foods like kimchi and kombucha are also emphasized for their probiotic benefits.
However, there’s no guarantee that fermented foods offer probiotic benefits. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines probiotics as “live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host”. This means, that for a food – like fermented foods – to be labelled as a probiotic or to claim probiotic benefits, scientific evidence for the health benefit would have to be documented.
Unfortunately, there is no documentation to date to show us that the live microorganisms in most fermented foods like kimchi and kombucha offer a health benefit. That being said, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consume them! Hopefully in 2021 and beyond we will learn more about fermented foods and the benefits they offer.
Supplement Subscription Servies
There’s a subscription service for just about anything these days – including vitamin and mineral supplements.
Services like Care/Of, Ritual, VTMN Packs and others offer personalized daily vitamins that are delivered to your door step each month. With most supplement services like this, you take a brief quiz on the brand’s website, letting them a little bit about know your age, gender, location, lifestyle, and health/wellness goals. They then recommend which supplements of theirs would “best” suit you and your goals.
Here’s the thing: the supplement industry is booming. Yet supplements aren’t *really* making us any healthier. This article by Timothy Caulfield sums it up nicely. In many cases, unless you have a legitimate nutrient deficiency, supplements aren’t likely to do anything special. So most supplement companies are taking your hard-earned $$ in exchange for supplements you probably don’t need.
Now, there are times where vitamin/mineral supplementation is absolutely supported by evidence. Think prenatal vitamins and nutrient deficiencies. But the excessive use of supplements for “general health” or things like improved focus, better skin and especially weight loss is questionable.
Want more? Check out my podcast episode all about the vitamin and mineral supplements here.
“WW” aka Weight Watchers 2.0
While it didn’t launch in 2020, there’s been a fair share of influencers and celebrities promoting the re-branded weight watches in the last year. There’s now even ads running for WW on TikTok, featuring singer and WW spokeswoman, Ciara.
From what I understand about WW, it’s still a points system. Sure, they’ve added the ability for you to track other health habits like sleep and activity, But whether or not they claim to be a diet, if they’re judging whether or not your should eat a food based on how many points it has… it’s a diet.
Should you be looking to create healthy habits or improve your health, I totally support you. But you can do so without paying WW, tracking your food, and wondering whether or not you have enough points left in your day for a bedtime snack.
What do you think of these 2020 Nutrition Trends?
Did you try any of these nutrition trends in 2020? How did it go? What trends do you foresee rising in popularity in 2021? Leave a comment and let me know! I’d love to hear from you.
Lastly, for more discussions about nutrition trends and nutrition myth-busting, be sure to check out my podcast, No BS Nutrition!