We nerd out about research year-round at Men's Fitness. Whether it's a study touting the benefits of a 60-second workout or scientists exclaiming that iceberg lettuce is actually better for you than kale, we're all over it. We also live in our social media feeds, get hit up by hundreds of PR reps daily, and you know, generally give a shit about the stuff that keeps you kickin'.
Based on all that, allow us to make a few predictions about how and what you'll be eating in 2015. There could be big changes on the way for protein powders, vending machines, and any food with "all natural" splashed across its packaging...
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Mediterranean diets go mainstream
Every day it seems there's another group of scientists singing the praises of the Mediterranean diet. Among its dozens of health-boosting benefits, the miracle diet—which is actually quite simple: eat more fruits and vegetables and less meat and dairy—protects the brain, helps combat obesity, and makes you live longer.
The diet has been in the news for years, but it has yet to attain Paleo or gluten-free status. Let 2015 be the year we realize how ridiculously easy it is to eat like the Greek: At each meal, fill one-third of your plate with low-fat protein and two-thirds with colorful carbohydrates, primarily vegetables and a small amount of fruit. Last, add a dash of healthy fat, like that found in olive oil or nuts.
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"Souping" becomes the new juicing
If you’ve ever wanted to yell “Just eat something already!” to anybody suffering through a juice cleanse, school them in souping. Just like juice, soup cleanses aim to detox the body by giving it a break from excess sugar, gluten, alcohol, and other dietary evils. But instead of filling up (figuratively, not literally) on water, lemon, and cayenne, a soup cleanse allows you ingredients like butternut squash, beets, lentils, mushrooms, kale, and steel-cut oats—plus packs at least two servings of vegetables per bowl.
And just like a juice cleanse, a single day of souping costs the same as a week’s worth of groceries. At The Splendid Spoon, a soupery serving up cleanses that include five high-fiber, low-sugar vegan soups per day, a one-day regimen sets you back $55, two days is $92, and three days is $138.
A one-day cleanse clocks in at about 700 calories and approximately 2,200 mg sodium.
More retailers commit to cage-free
Starbucks recently announced that it would phase out the use of eggs that come from chickens raised in gestation crates as well as revamp other aspects of its animal welfare policy. Similarly, Unilever, Burger King, and Costco's Kirkland Brand have committed to uncramping chicken coops in coming years. Also onboard the cage-free bandwagon: The state of California. As of January 1, 2015, laws mandating that all eggs sold in the state come from cage-free chickens go into effect.
Side note: Cage-free is cool and all, but don't confuse it with free-range (chickens are allowed outside for part of the day).
Sugar gets even scarier
If you’ve got abs, you're probably a pro at slashing sugar from your diet. As for everyone else, you’ll smarten up soon, too. Evidence is piling up that sugar messes with your appearance and health beyond rotting your teeth and making you fat. The sweet stuff could also contribute to heart disease, liver disease, and diabetes. The good news is that there’s now a central spot for all things sugar-research-related. Check out sugarscience.org before finishing off those stale holiday cookies.
Healthy food comes down in cost
Nine dollars for a jar of organic nut butter, four bucks for a single can of wild-caught tuna—it’s bat-shit crazy what we’ve got to pay to eat clean. But we just discovered Thrive Market—think of it like an online Costco for health food. For an annual membership fee that works out to about $5 a month, you’ll get access to foods that align with your diet—whether that means Paleo, gluten-free, vegan, raw, or non-GMO—at 20-50% off what they’d cost you at Whole Foods. We’re hoping more retailers jump to compete with Thrive—75% off wholesale, anyone?
Protein goes custom
If picking out a new protein powder makes your head spin, rest assured that somebody feels your frustration. That's why companies like WellPath are starting to a-la-carte the supplement-shopping experience. After filling out an online questionnaire about your body stats, lifestyle, and goals (weight loss, athletic performance, mental focus, etc.) a bag of protein powder will be custom-mixed for you (your name and the date will even appear on the product) and shipped to your door.
...and gets greener
Pea protein is old hat. We've started to see a slew of new ingredients popping up on the labels of plant-based protein powders. Look out for alfalfa protein, artichoke protein, and even cranberry protein.
“Natural” gets nixed
Sixty-four percent of Americans believe that "natural" means no genetically-modified organisms (GMOs), according to a survey conducted by the Consumer Reports National Research Center.
In reality, "natural" means nada. When Consumer Reports tested 80 packaged foods, from breakfast cereal to soy milk to tortilla chips, nearly all of those that boasted "natural" claims contained significant amounts of GMOs.
There's no doubt that a crackdown on "natural" is coming—either the government will step up and definite the term, or require food makers to list GMOs (or lack thereof) on packaging.
For now, stick to "Non-GMO Project Verified" and "Organic." According to Consumer Reports' research, these labels didn't lie.
We eat according to our DNA
Taking things a step beyond custom protein powders, this year we learned that a DNA test can help you lose 33% more weight and that certain diets (Mediterranean, we're looking at you—again) mean longer telomeres. (Those are the markers on DNA that indicate how long you'll live—the longer, the better.) What's next: the everyday eater tailoring his diet to his DNA. It's not as mad-scientist as you may think.
Salad comes out of a vending machine
Too lazy to mix your own greens in the AM? Keep your eyes peeled for Farmer’s Fridge. The kiosks are popping up in office buildings, food courts, and convenience stores and dispense glass jars stacked with ingredients like kale, quinoa, berries, nuts, and goat cheese for around $7 a pop.
Docs prescribe produce over prescription meds
The not-for-profit organization Wholesome Wave has rolled out a Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program (FVRx), which sees docs prescribing fresh produce to overweight and obese children in low-income communities. But parents won't be hitting up CVS to fill these scripts—families are issued coupons that they can use to buy fruits and vegetables at participating farmers' markets.