Why You Should Avoid This TikTok Viral Diet
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Food trends are like a mole game: when one goes, another appears. The raging cult of SlimFast dominated the early years, and the Kardashians spent all of 2016 delivering flat-tummy tea to the masses. And now, in 2023, TikTok is fueling the new weight loss fad: the Olly-Poppi diet.
The name merges two popular brands: Olly gummy vitamins and Poppi prebiotic sodas. The trend first took off when TikTok user @thehotgirlsara posted about the routine which she says helped her lose seven pounds in a week.
The user, who describes herself as the originator of the diet, says she ate two Olly probiotic gummies in the morning on an empty stomach. Then she drank a can of Poppi in the evening, with increased water intake throughout the day. Since it was uploaded in March, the video has been viewed more than 1.5 million times and inspired masses of TikTok users to try the diet for themselves. The results are mixed.
How does the Olly-Poppi diet work?
A side effect that is almost universally experienced involves people’s stools. Whether explicitly stated or gently danced around, laxatives are often used by fad diets to promise quick and easy weight loss.
The messaging around this particular diet leans more towards subtle signaling. The language leans heavily on the concept of “gut health,” a trend dominating online wellness communities. Consuming foods rich in probiotics and dietary supplements can support digestion and help with overall health. But consuming a large amount of probiotics at once can have a laxative effect.
“It’s a dietary trend disguised as ‘wellness’ and ‘gut health’ and in 2023 I think it’s the most insidious type of trend that exists in the field of food, nutrition and health,” says Jaclyn London, a New York-based dietitian. “I feel like we’re becoming more and more comfortable with normalizing enemas in the name of health, when in reality it’s a way of signaling weight loss and prioritizing to a “flat” stomach above all else.”
The digestive issues that many Olly-Poppi dieters experience are actually side effects of abnormally high fiber levels.
“If a person isn’t used to consuming certain amounts of fiber or probiotics, they may experience unwanted side effects, including diarrhea, bloating, and gas,” says Lauren Manaker, a South Carolina-based dietitian.
London adds: “This does NOT mean the product is ‘unsafe’, but it does mean that consumer expectations versus the reality of personal experience are largely incompatible.”
What’s wrong with the diet?
The Olly-Poppi diet has an impact on more than your physical health. The trend also fuels our endemic and pervasive diet culture that often targets young, impressionable people. The diet has mainly gained traction on TikTok, where 25% of users are under 20.
The negative impact of fad diets on teenage mental health can range from self-esteem issues to harmful eating disorder patterns. TikTok even stepped in and provided the following disclaimer whenever users search for the Olly-Poppi diet on the platform:
Another significant issue here is that the diet has little to no effectiveness when it comes to overall weight management. Some people, like the TikTok user who popularized the trend, claimed to have lost a few pounds after a week of the Olly-Poppi diet. But that’s not the type of weight loss that will last.
“It’s important to know that there’s no magic bullet for long-term weight loss. People who lose weight following this trend are likely losing water weight,” Manaker says. “And for people who eat multiple servings of this combo and don’t eat enough food, they may be missing out on key nutrients, which can lead to major nutritional deficiencies.”
Despite the consensus of doctors and dietitians who identify the serious risks associated with participating in these types of diets, the allure is hard to shake. And the Olly-Poppi diet is no exception.
Part of its appeal comes from the existing familiarity of the products. Unlike new health products that rely on influencer recommendations to win over the mainstream, both Poppi and Olly have developed strong followings.
With pre-established consumer confidence, the idea of taking the two products together seems safer and less daunting than taking a diet pill. Some people may already be inadvertently participating in the plan. No matter how approachable this dietary trend may seem, it is by no means a substitute for a balanced diet.
Dietary supplements are intended to be used to supplement a diet with natural fiber and other compounds to support overall digestive health. “Creating a prebiotic fiber to use as an additive in a food product can only really take us so far,” London says.
“If a person really wants to lose weight, it’s best not to rely on a magic bullet recommended by influencers without medical training and instead focus on managing weight in a holistic and healthy way,” Manaker says.
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