The keto diet is still making headlines after surging in popularity several years ago.
Food sensitivity specialist YorkTest researched the most viewed diet-related hashtags on TikTok and found that Americans can’t get enough of the low-carb, high-fat diet. Racking up over ten billion views, keto had almost double the number of views than any other diet or eating lifestyle.
Additionally, it found that 550,000 Americans search for ‘keto diet’ every month on Google.
The Food Institute did some research to find out why.
WHY IS KETO SO POPULAR WITH CONSUMERS?
There appear to be several reasons behind keto’s large following.
“I find that keto is popular with consumers because it is a black-and-white concept that seems to provide results without requiring salads and deprivation,” Amy Shapiro, a registered dietician and founder of Real Nutrition, told The Food Institute.
Shapiro added that there are keto recipes for sweet substitutes like cookies that followers can still eat and stay within their macro recommendations.
“People are used to villainizing carbs and this is something they can get behind because they can still have ‘carb like’ foods but in different versions that are fun to recreate on TikTok with interesting and possibly healthful alternative ingredients,” she added. “People are motivated by diets when they can substitute their favorite foods and still get results.”
Nuala McBride, registered nutritionist for the meal planning app HitMeal, told us that the keto diet remains popular because it gives strict parameters to follow with the allure of weight loss at the end.
“The diet regime cuts out key unhealthy foods namely processed and foods high in sugar,” said McBride. “These two categories of food types are usually the biggest contributor to weight gain.
Interestingly, McBride pointed to the keto diet community as another driver for its popularity. “The keto diet welcomes people to a community, especially on social media,” she said.
DOES KETO HAVE STAYING POWER?
Keto was the fastest-growing diet term called out on menus in 2021, according to Datassential’s MenuTrends.
Additionally, keto options are currently offered at 1.5% of all restaurants around the U.S. and projected to grow to 2.7% menu penetration by 2025, Marie Mold a registered dietician at Datassential, told The Food Institute. However, this does not mean it holds long-term staying power.
“Diets tend to come and go, and my prediction is keto will follow that trend,” said Molde. “It won’t be entirely forgotten thanks to its popularity over the past few years but will eventually be replaced by the next trendy diet – like how keto replaced paleo.”
Keto is popular because of its association with weight loss, but from a nutrition perspective, it is not recommended as a long-term diet or lifestyle for most people, Molde noted.
Shapiro also specified that she does not counsel clients on following keto unless they have certain medical conditions that require or would benefit from a high fat diet.
In fact, the keto diet was originally designed not for weight loss, but for epilepsy, according to a report from LiveScience.
A recent study also suggests the popular eating plan may also improve some symptoms of multiple sclerosis. In the study, when MS patients ate a keto diet for six months, they reported less fatigue and depression, and an improved overall quality of life, reported MedicalXPress (March 2).