It seems that buzzy new diets pop up on the internet every day, but figuring out which ones actually, you know, work can be tricky. And actually sticking to a new healthy eating plan? That's another struggle entirely. But according to a new survey, the type of diet you choose makes all the difference when it comes to staying on the wagon.
Kettle and Fire (makers of grass-fed bone broth) surveyed over 2,500 adults about their diet habits to see how long-term, health-minded solutions stacked up. Turns out, going gluten-free is the hardest diet to stick with; only 12 percent of people can stick it out for 6 months to a year (vegetarians had the most long-term success at 23 percent). And this might be why: when asked to describe different dieters, the most common word used to describe those going gluten-free was "annoying." (Related: Many Gluten Free Eaters Don't Even Know What Gluten Is)
In addition to being classified as annoying, trying to follow a gluten-free diet for weight loss—and when you don't actually have a gluten intolerance—is also pretty useless, says Keri Gans, R.D., author of The Small Change Diet. "Gluten-free diets are ineffective for weight loss because gluten-free doesn't mean calorie free—plain and simple," she says. Meaning, that gluten-free cookie is still a cookie. And while a gluten-free diet might help you lose a little weight by virtue of limiting your food options, gluten itself is not a cause of weight gain.
What's more, a lot of gluten-free products are actually higher in calories than their gluten-full counterparts. Example: "Many gluten-free cereals and breads have a lot of extra sugar to enhance the taste," says Gans (Uh oh...Way More People Are Following a Gluten Free Diet Than Actually Need To)
And secondly, going gluten-free when you don't actually need to can have other health consequences. Cutting gluten typically means cutting fiber from your diet—hello, constipation. "Fiber has also been shown to potentially help lower cholesterol, maintain blood glucose level, and keep you full," says Gans. No wonder so many of us are jumping off the gluten-free bandwagon after just a couple of months.
Bottom line: With the exception of those who have celiac disease, it's actually a good thing that people aren't sticking with a gluten-free diet long-term. There are far more effective—albeit less trendy—ways to lose weight. We have The 10 Rules of Weight Loss That Last.