Real Life People Behind Fitness and Diet Movements

New year, new you. New month, new you. New week, new you! Does this sound familiar? We all look for a fresh start, especially when it comes to diet and exercise. We all hope for something different to inspire us to make better choices so we can improve our health and quality of life—which is why it is no surprise that there are literally hundreds of diet options that people seem to swear by.

Who are the real people behind these fitness and diet movements? How did these movements come about? Review our list and learn all about these trends for yourself.

Tanya Poppett

This fit Aussie is a fitness trainer with over 353,000 followers on Instagram. 25-year-old Tanya Poppett preaches a balanced lifestyle of healthy eating, spending time outdoors, yoga, and of course, exercise routines. Her photos show Poppett’s exercise routines and beautiful destinations and running paths. She shows you that you can maintain a fit body using few or no exercise equipment (she even uses a pillow in one!)

Her rock hard abs and positive attitude will inspire you to get out and get some! She also has a workout app downloadable from the AppStore or Google Play, so you can join in.

The Biggest Loser with Jillian Michaels

The Biggest Loser is a reality television show that started in 2004. The show centers on overweight and obese contestants who are put through a physical and dietetic ringer to lose the most weight for a cash prize. Various countries around the world have their own adaptation to the show; however, the contestants struggle to keep the drastic weight loss off after they leave the controlled environment of the show.

Jillian Michaels was an original trainer on theThe Biggest Loser when the show debuted. In 2010, Michaels announced via Twitter that the eleventh season of the show would be her last and she launched her own weight loss program Losing it with Jillian a spin-off of The Biggest Loser.

Bikini Body Guide with Kayla Itsines

Kayla Itsines is from Adelaide, Australia and began her weight loss revolution on Instagram. Back in 2008, she realized that the methods she was instructed to use as a personal trainer often fell short or did not provide the results the client wanted, which made her think more about what people want and need out of a fitness and weight loss program.

Itsines says her clients experience “amazing results in 12 weeks or sometimes even sooner” and to many of her followers, this promise is incredibly appealing. She built a presence on Instagram and Facebook to share her training and nutrition methods but eventually received a book deal, website and vast following she calls her “army.”

Emily Syke on Instagram

Many people are turning to Instagram for #fitspo (fitness inspiration.) This is an easy and convenient way to get that added motivation to stay fit throughout the day. Seeing real life transformations and average people posting their fitness routines is a great motivator to kick your own butt into gear. Emily Syke gained a huge Instagram following by posting her workout routines and progress.

She also keeps it real with make-up free photos, food baby bellies and the reminder that not all you see on Instagram is as it seems. Syke is an ambassador for REEBOK and her 1.9 million followers love to see her fitness posts.

Nutrisystem with Marie Osmond

Nutrisystem offers weight loss counseling and products on the Internet and through a call center via 1-800 numbers. Nutrisystem’s programs have been sold on the QVC television home shopping network and in Costco stores since 2009.

You may recognize the company’s most popular advocate, Marie Osmond, on its regular occurring TV commercials. She lost 50 pounds and swears by the plan. The company entered the retail arena in 2012 and began selling its five-day “Jumpstart” line in Walmart stores. Like many pre-packaged weight loss meal plans, Nutrisystem lacks long term evidence for weight loss results.Participants have a hard time with reality after the Nutrisystem program ends.

HCG Diet (Featured on Dr. Oz)

By now you’ve probably heard about it: the HCG Diet, an extreme diet that involves injections of HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin). HCG is the hormone women make when they are pregnant—so knowing that you must be wondering why this hormone works for weight loss. Well, the whole plan includes the HCG hormone daily injections and a 500-calorie diet. Sound a bit extreme? Its critics say it is.

This diet is associated with dramatic weight loss; some participants lose up to a pound a day. But the problem was that no doctor could explain how it worked. Critics claimed the caloric restrictions are responsible for the weight loss and not the HCG hormone.

Khloe Kardashian – Revenge Body

Everyone who hasn’t been living under a rock knows the Kardashian sisters, who’ve built their empire being famous on their shows, Keeping up with the Kardashians, Kourtney and Kim Take Miami, Kourtney and Khloe Take the Hamptons, and the list goes on. After Khloe Kardashian’s public split with ex-husband Lamar Odom, the reality television star decided it was time to take control of her own happiness and mental health. To achieve this, she decided to get fit and get a “revenge body.”

Her 40-pound weight loss inspired her fans and led to her new show, “Revenge Body with Khloe Kardashian” which kicked off on E! January 2017, just in time for new year’s resolutions. The show features men and women who recently went through a breakup or other tough life event, and transforms them from the inside out, with the help of elite trainers and nutritionists.

Macrobiotic Diet

A macrobiotic diet (or macrobiotics), is basically a fad diet. It is fixed on ideas about types of food drawn from Zen Buddhism. While this sounds very “zen”, the diet attempts to balance the supposed yin and yang elements of food and cookware, which is somewhat strange for many people to figure out. Major principles of macrobiotic diets include reducing animal products, eating locally/seasonally grown foods and all meals are in moderation (a struggle for most Americans.)

The macrobiotic diet followers claim is it most helpful for people with cancer and other chronic diseases, but there is no true evidence to support this. Studies that indicate positive results lack methodological quality. This entire diet and methodology was popularized by George Ohsawa in the 1930s.

Slim Fast

Slim Fast is a brand of shakes, bars, snacks, and packaged meals. It is sold all across the world—in the U.S., U.K., Ireland, Canada, France, Germany, Iceland and Latin America. Slim Fast promotes diets and weight loss plans featuring its food products but the benefits of Slim Fast for weight loss are unclear.

Slim-Fast was started in 1977. Originally, it was a product line of the Thompson Medical Company, by S. Daniel Abraham. Thompson Medical sold controversial weight loss dietary supplements. Slim-Fast used the phrase “a shake for breakfast, a shake for lunch, then a sensible dinner” for many years, which offered simplicity to help gain more participants. This diet also struggles to be a long-term solution for weight loss and maintaining weight loss.

The Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean diet promotes plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts, along with replacing butter with healthy fats such as olive oil. The Mediterranean diet is considered to be a decent healthy long-term eating plan.

The Mediterranean diet incorporates the basics of healthy eating — even a glass of red wine — which includes the traditional cooking style of countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. Studies have shown that this diet may make a difference in your risk of heart disease, which sounds like a win-win, right? You just need to make sure you follow it and don’t cheat!

Vegetarian Diet

Vegetarianism isn’t so much a diet movement but a way of life. Some people follow a “vegetarian” diet, but vegetarianism can mean different things. There’s no single vegetarian eating pattern. A vegetarian diet includes only foods from plants: fruits, vegetables, beans, peas, grains, seeds and nuts. The “lactovegetarian” diet includes plant foods plus dairy products. The ovo-lactovegetarian (or lacto-ovovegetarian) diet includes eggs, too. So there is a variation and some flexibility. There are even “semi-vegetarians” who don’t eat red meat but include chicken and fish along with plant foods, eggs and dairy products.

Some incredibly famous figures who practices vegetarianism (more strictly, of course) were Buddha and Gandhi. Buddha wrote that “it is more important to prevent animal suffering, rather than sit to contemplate the evils of the universe praying in the company of priests.” Many modern icons such as Russell Simmons, Alicia Silverstone, Beyoncé, Rich Roll, Hillary Biscay, Mac Danzig, Russell Brand, and Natalie Portman practice a vegetarian diet.

Vegan Diet

Vegans, in addition to being vegetarian, do not consume or use animal products and by-products. This includes eggs, dairy products, honey, leather, fur, silk, wool, cosmetics that tests on animals, and soaps derived from animal products. The key to a nutritionally sound vegan diet is variety; it should include fruits, vegetables, plenty of leafy greens, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and beans. It is very easy for a vegan diet to meet the recommendations for protein if calorie intake remains adequate.

Celebrities who practice veganism include Jessica Chastain, James Cromwell, Alicia Silverstone, Ariana Grande, Ellen DeGeneres, Miley Cyrus, Liam Hemsworth, Moby, and Christie Brinkley just to name a few.

Raw Food Diet with Dr. Josh Axe

All things raw, all the time. It sounds great but it can get old. All uncooked, unprocessed, (mostly) organic foods include staples like raw fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and sprouted grains. Some eat unpasteurized dairy foods, raw eggs, meat, and fish but that it admittedly sketchy. Food should always be cold (hence the “raw” diet) or even a little bit warm— the temperature can’t go above 118 degrees.

Raw foods allow people to obtain plenty of nutrients in an easy-to-digest manner, which is what our bodies are naturally suited for. Dr. Josh Axe, DNM, DC, CNS is a raw food diet patron who is a certified doctor of natural medicine, doctor of chiropractic and clinical nutritionist. He swears by the raw food diet.

The Paleo Diet with Dr. Loren Cordain

The Paleo Diet is an effort to eat like cavemen used to—If a caveman couldn’t eat it, neither can you. So that means no microwave dinners or easy bake meals. You could only eat anything you could hunt or forage. Anything natural—meats, fish, nuts, leafy greens, vegetables, and seeds. All the man-made carbohydrates like pasta, cereal, and candy are not allowed.

Dr. Loren Cordain is the world’s foremost authority on the Paleo Diet. He’s been featured on Dateline NBC, the front page of the Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times. Dr. Loren Cordain’s popular book, The Paleo Diet, has been widely acclaimed, but many criticize the ability to maintain such a strict diet.

Low-Carb Diet

The low-carb diet trend is a jump-off from the Atkins Diet. It started in 1972 with the book Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution by cardiologist Robert Atkins and it has been updated several times since then. The book became the bestselling diet book of all time, according to the British Medical Journal.

Recent incarnations of the low-carb diet include the Zone Diet, Paleo Diet and Eco-Atkins, but they all have similar goals, which we will cover in this article. “The term ‘low-carbohydrate diet’ is basically applied to diets that restrict carbohydrates to less than 20 percent of caloric intake, but can also refer to diets that simply restrict or limit carbohydrates to less than recommended proportions (generally less than 45 percent of total energy coming from carbohydrates),” said Dr. Jennifer Fitzgibbon, a registered oncology dietitian at Stony Brook Hospital Cancer Center in New York.

Jenny Craig

Jenny Craig, Inc., simply known as Jenny Craig, is a weight loss company founded in 1983 by Jenny Craig and her husband, Sidney Craig. The program was started in Australia and began operations in the United States in 1985. The program combines individual weight management counseling with a menu of frozen meals and other foods.

The weight management program combines nutrition and physical activity with counseling, to help clients change lifestyle and eating habits, but many people who have been on the program criticize its inflexibility. Participants rely on the program’s prepackaged food, planned menus, or consultations but once you reach your goal, you are off the plan and in the real world of food temptations. Jenny Craig’s most famous advocate? Kirstie Alley.

The Atkins Diet with Dr. Atkins

Dr. Atkins, a well-known cardiologist, who developed the “Atkins Nutritional Approach,” or “Atkins Diet.” He is renowned for restricting his patients’ sugar and carbohydrate intake to get weight loss results. Patients successfully lost weight and kept it off – even those that had been unsuccessful on regular low-calorie diets.

His philosophy was that there are two different types of fuel for energy – either sugar or fat. If you restrict sugar or carbohydrates, then the body will feed on the fat. For many, it’s really hard to lose weight by completely restricting both sugar and carbohydrates. Some participants like that there is no calorie counting but have also found themselves overeating in other ways, too.

Medifast Diet

The Medifast Diet is “a nutritionally balanced and clinically proven weight loss program that helps people lose weight faster and more effectively than traditional diet plans.” Medifast emphasizes portion-controlled eating at regular times throughout the day. Sounds simple enough, right?

Medifast was founded in 1980 by William Vitale, a medical doctor who actually sold directly to other doctors, who then prescribed it to their patients, so word quickly got out. Medifast Meals take the guesswork out of it. The meals are individually portioned, calorie and carbohydrate controlled, and contain 24+ vitamins and minerals. Medifast is like other pre-planned packaged meals; it is hard to be thrusted back into reality with regular food once you reach your goal (or even while you are on the plan).

Richard Simmons

Richard Simmons is an American fitness guru who took the fitness world by storm in the 1980s. He promotes weight-loss programs by movin’ and grovin’, or dancing around to his “Sweatin’ to the Oldies” line of aerobics videos. Simmons is known for his eccentric, flamboyant, and energetic personality that keeps people going.

Simmons began his weight-loss career by opening a gym called “Slimmons.” His gym was located in Beverly Hills, California and it catered to the overweight. He became widely known through exposure on television and through the popularity of his consumer products. Because of his eccentric, flamboyant, and energetic personality, he is often parodied on comedy shows.

Jared from Subway

Jared Scott Fogle is also known as “the Subway Guy” but now, he is a former American spokesperson for Subway restaurants. Fogle, who was morbidly obese, changed his eating habits upon the switch to eating at Subway by eating smaller portions that were free of high-calorie condiments such as mayonnaise. While following this diet, he lost over 200 pounds. He then became the face of using Subway as a weight loss method.

Fogle’s contract with Subway ended in 2015 when he was investigated for paying for sex with minors and receiving child pornography. He pled guilty in federal court to possessing child pornography and traveling to pay for sex with minors and was sentenced to serve 15 years, 8 months in federal prison, with a minimum of 13 years served.

Weight Watchers with Oprah Winfrey

Weight Watchers offers various products and services to assist weight loss and maintenance. Founded by homemaker Jean Nidetch in 1983, the core philosophy behind Weight Watchers programs is to use a science-driven approach to help participants lose weight by forming helpful habits, eating smarter, getting more exercise and providing support.

Weight Watchers most famous advocate for their program is Oprah Winfrey. She is quoted in their 2016-2017 ads as saying, “Since I’ve started Weight Watchers, I’ve lost over 40 pounds. I feel more present in every aspect of my life, and I can honestly tell you that I struggle no more. I truly believe that if this can work for me, it can work for anyone.”

South Beach Diet

The South Beach Diet is a popular fad diet developed by Arthur Agatston. It was promoted in a best-selling 2003 book and emphasizes eating high-fiber, low-glycemic carbohydrates, along with unsaturated fats, and lean protein. It categorizes carbohydrates and fats as “good” or “bad” so participants know what they should consume. Like many fad diets, it is generally recognized as sensible, but it promises benefits not backed by evidence or science.

The South Beach Diet was developed in the mid-1990s by preventive cardiologist Dr. Arthur Agatston and Marie Almon. He was the former chief dietitian at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach, Florida. The South Beach Diet was originally called the Modified Carbohydrate Diet but was renamed the South Beach Diet after the South Beach neighborhood where Agatston’s practice is located. Plus, it sounds sexier.

The Zone Diet

The Zone Diet is the last diet trend on our list. It was developed by Dr. Barry Sears more than 30 years ago to reduce diet-induced inflammation. The Zone Diet’s goals are meant to help you shed excess pounds, reduce your risk of chronic disease, and improve your mental and physical health. The Zone Diet is promoted as a life-long dietary program that has science to back it up.

Dr. Barry Sears is a leading authority hormonal response and dietary control. In 1982, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine for discoveries of the role that specialized hormones known as eicosanoids play in the development of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, auto-immune diseases, and cancer. In essence, his approach to food is treating food as a drug that works with your body.