This Is the Most Popular Healthy Eating Plan in America—No, It’s Not the Mediterranean Diet

Move over, Mediterranean. There's a better diet in town.

casanisa/ShutterstockYou might not normally associate takeout food with clean eating, but Grubhub, a leader in the takeout marketplace, knows that plenty of people aim for healthy options, especially with summer right around the corner. The company recently announced the results of a study of the top trending healthy eating plans in the United States. And it’s not what you might think.

For their work, Grubhub analyzed orders related to the most popular healthy eating plans in the United States: Paleo, raw diet, juice cleanse, vegan, gluten-free, low-fat, Mediterranean, and ketogenic diets. Reviewing data from 2016, Grubhub looked at a combination of dietary tags and an in-depth analyzation of foods aligned with the specific eating plans. Their analysts were then able to pinpoint the most popular eating plans across the nation, and the preferred plans by city and gender.

Their main findings:

Paleo is #1

Paleo is the most popular healthy eating choice across America, with orders increasing by 370 percent in 2016. The Paleo diet, which is the most popular eating plan in Dallas, Houston, Austin, and Philadelphia, is designed to mimic foods from our hunter-gatherer ancestors, and involves meat, fish, and other animal products, along with fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats. There are no processed foods or sugar allowed. Nicole Osinga, a registered dietitian, can understand why Paleo reigns supreme among the healthy eating plans. “I think the Paleo diet promotes some good concepts—lots of veggies, whole foods, adequate healthy fats, and proteins. Following a Paleo diet can assist people with weight loss, as you feel full quite quickly and carbs are limited.” (There’s some evidence that a Paleo diet can also help with chronic pain.) But Osinga noted that legumes are a healthy food that shouldn’t be restricted from one’s diet. “In addition, excessive red meat intake can increase your risk for different types of cancers. If it were up to me,” she adds, “I would swap in some legumes for protein instead of some red-meat based Paleo meals.”

Seattle is the capital of clean eating

Seattle residents ordered takeout tailored to different diet plans more than any other major city in the country, making it the most health-conscious city from the perspective of this survey. The preferred plan in Seattle was found to be a gluten-free diet, which excludes gluten, a protein found in grains such as wheat, barley, rye, and a cross between wheat and rye called triticale. Gluten-free was also the eating plan of choice in Atlanta, Phoenix, Minneapolis, and Portland, Oregon.

Men go for low-fat

Men and women across the nation were found to have very different preferences on food. Fitness-focused men preferred a low-fat diet, which is up 21 percent from previous years—and very popular in New York City, Boston, and San Francisco. A low-fat diet features plant foods along with a moderate amount of lean and low-fat, animal-based food.

Women like a juice cleanse

Women favored a juice cleanse, a fasting method and a detox diet in which a person consumes only fruit and vegetable juices, abstaining from food consumption anywhere from a few days to several weeks. The popularity of juice cleanse orders soared by 89 percent over the previous year, according to the study, and was most popular in Miami and Nashville, Tennessee.

More people are eating a raw diet

Raw diets saw a 92 percent increase in orders in 2016 compared to the previous year. A raw diet involves uncooked, unprocessed, and mostly organic foods with staples like raw fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and sprouted grains. Food may be slightly warmed but not above 118 degrees.

Vegan diets are hot

Vegan diet foods are on the rise, especially in Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and San Jose—Grubhub saw a 58 percent increase in vegan diet orders in 2016 compared to the year before. A vegan diet is comprised of only plant-derived foods, with no animals or animal products, including flesh (land or sea animals), milk, eggs, or even honey.

Mediterranean diet is cooling off

You might think the Mediterranean diet, credited with amazing cardiovascular benefits, would be one of the more popular types of takeout, but in fact, orders of Mediterranean diet food—which features fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and olive oil, and prioritizes fish and poultry over red meat—increased only 7 percent over last year.

Ketogenic diet is catching on slowly

Grubhub found a slight uptick—just 5 percent—in takeout customers ordering food tailored to a ketogenic diet, essentially a low carb diet where the body is put into a state of burning fat instead of blood sugar for more fat loss.

Alexa Erickson
Alexa is an experienced lifestyle and news writer currently working with Reader's Digest, Shape Magazine, and various other publications. She loves writing about her travels, health, wellness, home decor, food and drink, fashion, beauty, and scientific news. Follow her travel adventures on Instagram: @living_by_lex, send her a message: alex[email protected], and check out her website: