Quick-Serve Restaurants need to be be prepared for “lifestyle dieters”

“Lifestyle dieters” want choices in where they eat which often makes it difficult for restaurants to recruit managers that understand that concept.

Just when gluten-free has begun to be manageable for most QSRs to safely serve for both customers who must refrain from gluten, along with those who simply opt to do so, along comes a slew of new ways the world wants to eat. From keto and paleo, to Whole30 and Clean Menu eating, QSR customers are eating from the “lifestyle” diet that best meets their needs and  preferences.

Typically, the popularity of any given diet will either build slowly in adherents, then gain popularity, or just plain old “explode” onto the restaurant scene, sometimes leaving brands feeling a bit blindsided.

I have seen this happen firsthand. In fact, today some of our the most mainstream clients are asking for these specialty menus from our nutrition department, prompting me to put together some information around the biggest diets today.

After all, QSR brands big and small need to have a good working knowledge of what these diets entail because it’s a sure bet that diners know this information and expect their favorite quick-serve to have menu options they can still eat. To that end, here is a very brief overview of what the main popular lifestyle diets are, along with a simplified version of what each is all about.

Whole30

Whole30 is a dietary pattern meant to “cleanse” the body. The goal is to eliminate any foods that may cause inflammation or disrupt the digestive system. This pattern is followed for 30 days in order to “reboot” the metabolic system.

This includes abstaining from all forms of added sugar, legumes, alcohol, nearly all types of dairy, and both processed and whole carbohydrates. Instead, Whole30 followers are encouraged to seek a diet rich in lean meat, seafood, eggs, vegetable, fruits and natural fats, though the focus is less about the quantity eaten, as much as the quality of the foods.

Paleo

The Paleo diet works off the belief that people are healthiest when they eat as their ancestors are believed to have done in the Paleolithic Period that ran from 2.6 million years ago up to about 12,000 years ago. Adherents of this diet believe the hunter/gatherer lifestyle humans are thought to have followed then is what the human body evolved with and should, therefore, be what we consume now.

Those who developed the diet claim the rise in obesity and chronic metabolic diseases can be traced to the beginning of the Agricultural Revolution during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Paleo diet followers eat a lot of lean meats (both exotic and certain cuts of domestic), seafood, fruits and all non-starchy vegetables.

This diet, though moderate in carbohydrate levels, is still lower than many other diets, while being rich in protein and moderate in healthy fats.

Keto Diet

The Ketogenic diet is a high-fat, low-carb, moderate-protein diet that began as a medical diet, but has gained wider spread popularity in recent years as a lifestyle diet and weight loss tool.
A typical keto diet follower eat no more than 20-50 grams of carbohydrates per day. This relatively low amount forces the body to enter a state of ketosis, where fat — being broken down into ketones — is then used as the individual’s primary energy source.

Clean Menu

You’ve heard it before – the U.S. public wants to know what’s in their food, with many seeking to eat food “free-from” everything from CMOs and antibiotics to hormones and preservatives. This diet, then, revolves around diners’ needs to know that the place they are eating is providing these so-called “clean” ingredients.

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