Fad diets are called fad diets for a reason – they’re just a fad.
Fad: “An intense and widely shared enthusiasm for something, especially one that is short-lived and without basis in the object’s qualities; a craze.”
Most fad diets (which should realistically be called ‘deprivation diets’) cause weight loss for one simple reason; Caloric restriction. Because so many dieters want instant results, fad diets are still popular, even though most people know they don’t work in the long term.
Here we’ll discuss:
- what are fad diets
- popular fad diets
- why fad diets don’t work
- how to identify a fad diet
- tips for efficient, sustainable weight loss
What Are Fad Diets and Why are They So Popular?
A fad diet is a weight loss plan or aid (like a supplement) that promises dramatic, often quick, weight loss results. Most often, these diets eliminate one or more of the essential food groups without a real basis in nutritional principles.
Because of this, fad diets cause those who follow them to gain weight almost as quickly as they lost it. But if this is the case, why are fad diets so popular?
In short, it’s because those desperate for a weight loss solution that works, especially after trying so many that haven’t, will do whatever it takes to lose weight. Many people do experience some success, even if short-lived, on these diets. And because they’ve seen results, they will continue with a diet, even if doing so means compromising their health.
Additionally, most people are only willing to make a change that lasts for weeks rather than execute a complete lifestyle overhaul. According to Robyn A. Osborn, RD, PhD, “most people are put off by the fact that what we usually promote is life-long change.” Everyone wants a quick-fix solution and for that reason, fad diets still remain a popular option today.
5 Most Popular Fad Diets You’ve Probably Heard Of
Whether you’ve tried them or not, you’ve likely heard of the most popular fad diets.
Here are the top five of all time:
The South Beach Diet – The South Beach Diet promotes lean protein, low-fat dairy, and good carbs, though carbs are meant to be limited.
The Zone Diet – People on The Zone Diet get 30 percent of their calories from protein, 30 percent from fat, and 40 percent from carbohydrates. It is notorious for being light on many essential nutrients, making it difficult to sustain.
The Atkins Diet – What once began as a no-carb diet, The Atkins Diet now promotes a balance of lean protein with controlled portions of fat and healthy carbohydrates. Carb-dense foods aren’t allowed until well into this diet, making it incredibly restrictive in the beginning.
The Paleo Diet – The Paleo Diet allows dieters to eat only foods man would have eaten millions of years ago. This includes fish, lean meats, non-starchy vegetables, and nuts. No processed foods, grains, dairy, or starchy vegetables are allowed.
The Raw Food Diet – The Raw Food Diet only permits followers to eat unprocessed, plant-based foods for at least 75% of the time. Many eat raw all of the time, which can cause serious health issues.
Why fad diets don’t work
Fad diets are synonymous with short-term diets, but also short-term results. Most dieters don’t understand why fad diets don’t work, or why even if they do, the effects don’t last.
The reason fad diets don’t work is because they’re simply unsustainable. For example, fad diets can cause:
- Dehydration – when you lose weight rapidly on a fad diet, it’s because you’re losing water weight, not fat. Thus, while you think you’re losing a lot of weight, you’re actually just dehydrating your body.
- Fatigue – tiredness and a lack of motivation are common by-products of fatigue. And because you’ll probably be eating so little on a fad diet, it might be hard to find the motivation to go to the gym. Because fad diets restrict how much you eat and when you eat, it’s difficult to sustain enough energy to keep up with the demands of your daily schedule. Thus, you’ll have to stop following it, and the weight will inevitably creep back on.
- Malnourishment – fad diets often cut out entire food groups – or nutrients for that matter! If yours does this, chances are you’ll be risking other physical ailments in addition to fatigue.
- Loss of muscle – because you’re under eating, your body will begin to burn muscle as fuel. However, muscle burns the most calories. If you start losing muscle, your body will start to slow down, as will your metabolism. Thus, undereating is actually counterproductive to how you want your body to perform.
- Misinformation – one of the biggest problems with fad diets is misinformation. Fad diets don’t teach dieters how to effectively and sustainably lose weight. Instead, they just teach dieters that by eating less, they’ll achieve their goal weight quickly. This is not only dangerous, but counterproductive to a healthy lifestyle.
How to Identify a Fad Diet
If you’re considering a diet that isn’t an already-identified fad diet, there are criteria you can use to determine whether your chosen diet is legitimate or illegitimate.
Here are six helpful questions you should ask yourself:
Do I have to make drastic reductions in calories? – If the answer is yes, the diet is likely using starvation tactics to help you lose weight.
Do I need to take special pills, powders, or other substances? – If the answer is yes, the diet is likely a gimmick and will force you to spend money on a diet that doesn’t work.
Do I need to eat foods in specific orders or combinations? – Food combining is yet to be proven as an effective means of losing weight. As such, you’re likely consume a diet lacking in certain nutrients.
Do I need to wholly eliminate a food group? – If you do, you will be harming your body, particularly if you’re still growing. You should never completely eliminate protein, carbohydrates, or fats from your diet.
Do I need to substitute or skip meals? – Again, this can cause nutritional deficiencies and make it difficult to live with your new diet in social settings.
Are the claims based on unfounded promises or a “too good to be true basis?” – If so, it is too good to be true. If a diet simplifies complex science and uses before/after photos and lofty promises to draw you in, it’s likely a fad diet.
How to create a diet for sustainable weight loss
There’s no magic formula for weight loss. Rather, weight loss is the product of dedication, education, and persistence, because no one diet works for everyone.
Here’s a brief, step-by-step glance at how you can create a diet designed around sustainable weight loss:
1 Portion control – sustainable weight loss begins with proper portion sizes of healthy, whole foods. It’s important you measure everything you eat, especially when you’re first starting out. After all, it can be difficult to eyeball portions. Learning some quick shortcuts, such as the fact that a cup of fruit shouldn’t be larger than your fist, or 3 ounces of meat is the size of your palm, can help. However, you may want to invest in a scale or portion control plates if you think it’ll help.
2 A variety of healthy, whole foods is key – a variety of foods (and therefore a variety of nutrients) is also important to ensure you look and feel your best. You need to ensure you consume the proper balance of macronutrients to give your body the fuel it needs. Of course, you can always add a comprehensive, weight loss supplement like PhenQ to boost energy and stay on track. However, you shouldn’t do so simply because your diet isn’t cutting it.
3 Eat smaller meals more frequently – small meals are a great way to keep your blood sugar stable and defeat common cravings. Again, eating whole, healthy foods during these more frequent mealtimes – often every 3 to 4 hours – is the simplest way to stay satisfied and maintain energy levels throughout the day.
4 Add vegetables – because most vegetables are so low in calories, you can add them to fill up on fiber without rapidly increasing calories! Greens are typically best, so you should add broccoli, cabbage, kale, or even spinach when you’re looking to bulk up a meal without adding many calories.
5 Eliminate empty calories – empty calories (often found in sweetened drinks) should be among the first to go when it comes to smart, effective weight loss. After all, they offer you no energy and do nothing but make it difficult to lose the weight you’re trying to lose.
The reason tips like this are so effective for weight loss is simple: They work with your schedule and your body’s natural needs to produce weight loss you’re actually able to sustain. And though your weight loss will be much slower than it would be with a fad diet, you’ll be able to keep it off because you’re not just losing water weight, you’re burning fat!
Lifestyle Change: The Healthy Alternative to Fad Diets
While fad diets offer short-term results and satisfaction, a lifestyle change provides sustained success that helps you lose weight and keep it off, all while nourishing your body.
Fad diets set you up for metabolic damage and extensive health risks. As such, you should focus on consuming a well-balanced diet and exercising to reach your goals.
Fad diets have no place in a sustainable weight loss regimen. In fact they can be quite damaging to your physique. Due to the fact they can break down your muscle mass and slow your metabolism, they can actually leave your body holding more fat overall once the diet is over.
With a sustainable plan, you can feel confident knowing that although the weight will come off more slowly, it’ll stay off. And if you need additional support when you’re first getting started, or even if you’ve been trying to lose weight for a while, PhenQ can help!
PhenQ is a natural weight loss supplement that burns fat, boosts energy, suppresses appetite and makes your weight loss journey that little bit easier. It works alongside your healthy efforts to give you a helpful boost.
Next time you’re ready to get serious about weight loss, leave fad diets at the door and turn to the tips above instead for long-lasting results you can feel good about!