Keto tumbles as basic calorie-counting becomes Americans’ top diet of choice during pandemic


IFIC’s 16th​ annual Food & Health Survey​ released today found four in ten of the 1,014 Americans aged 18-80 years contacted in late March reported following a diet or eating pattern in 2020 – with the highest concentration among younger consumers 18-34 years old (52% vs. 33% older than 35 years), women (43% vs 34% of men), Hispanics (50% vs 34% of non-Hispanic whites) and parents with children younger than 18 years (53% vs 34% without children under 18 years).

While there were “no big shifts in the number of people who followed a diet”​ there were big shifts in the types of diets they followed and why they followed them, said Ali Webster, director of research and nutrition communications at IFIC.

For example, she explained the top diet trend in 2020 wasn’t a buzzy fad with complicated rules about when to eat or what to eat – rather it was old-fashioned calorie-counting.

“Something that has been around forever, super-basic, [was] actually the most popular diet type that we’ve seen this year. That jumped to the top right away, and beat out other options like clean-eating and intermittent fasting, which are in the top three,”​ she explained.

Notably, the rise in popularity of calorie-counting pushed down other diets that have stolen the spotlight in recent years and dominated product innovation and marketing strategies, including the ketogenic diet or high-fat diet, which fell to account for roughly 5% of the dieters’ choice compared with around 8% in last year’s survey. However, the slightly broader low-carb diet, which follows many of the same tenets as Keto came in one notch higher in fourth place with just over 5% of dieters, according to IFIC.



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