Is low-carb a fad? What is the answer according to Google Trends?

Is low-carb a fad?

In early August 2018, I asked our Instagram and Facebook communities to tell say what comments about Low-Carb absolutely infuriate them.

There is a common misconception that academics and scientists are the only people whose opinions count in a any argument. When I dipped my toe into the academic community I was appalled by how much arguing happens over scientific papers instead of looking at what is right in front of them. There are many debates about nutrition that can be won on pure personal experience, and often, as little as plain old common sense. 

Linda Hoadley and Adam Harris both hate hearing this comment about the low-carb the most:

“Low-Carb is a FAD DIET”

And this is how it can be argued without any science.

When I think of fad diets, the first one that comes to mind is the Dukan diet. In 2011 everyone was ‘attacking’ and ‘cruising’ to get to their true weight.

Google is actually the best judge of whether something is a fad or not. If you just pop onto Google Trends and punch in a few words, you can instantly see how popular those words are on Google Search.

So I went and did that for Dukan, and then for Low-Carb. I asked to see the trend over the last 10 years.

Below you can see the Dukan graph. Spikes in July 2011 and then falls off the cliff and peters out to pretty low interest by 2014.

Here is the same trend search (and same date range) that I ran for ‘low-carb’.

You can see that there was already significant interest 10 years ago, but that interest has grown each year up until 2018. In South Africa a lot of people believe it peaked when Real Meal Revolution was published in 2013, but this graph shows we were miles from the peak back then.

By the way, the sharp zigzag that you see there is typical for diets and other health products. The low dip is in December where people seem to worry the least about their health. The sharp spike is in January when everyone swears ‘things are going to be different this year’. The steady drop throughout the year mimics everyone’s interest in, and general ability to stick to their guns on their goals.

This is what they look like laid over each other. I find this the most useful because it tells me that even though Dukan was massive, it is dwarfed by the size of low-carb. I found this fascinating.

Regardless off the travisty in human behaviour above, there is no way you can call this obvious steady incline over 10 years a fad.

‘Low Carb is a fad’ = Myth

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