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.”
So if a fad diet is both short-lived and without basis in any admirable qualities, why do so many dieters rely on them for weight loss?
The answer is unclear, especially because fad diets don’t actually result in long-term weight loss. Instead, they produce short-term weight loss through unhealthy tactics.
As a smart dieter, it’s best to avoid fad diets altogether. In this article, we’re discussing why this is, the most popular fad diets, why they’re dangerous, how to identify a fad diet, and which type of diet you should actually follow.
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 are Dangerous – Health Risks
Fad diets, particularly those that eliminate certain foods altogether, are dangerous for health. Often, dieters on these plans experience the following symptoms:
- Weakness and fatigue
- Nausea and headaches
- Inadequate nutrition/insufficient vitamin and mineral intake
Long-term fad diet abuse can result in more serious health issues, including:
- Muscle loss
As such, no fad diet is worth the risk. But to avoid fad diets, you must learn how to identify them first.
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.
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. You may even want to consider a supplement like PhenQ to burn stored fat, block fat production, improve energy loves, and suppress your appetite.
This, when combined with a healthy lifestyle switch, is the simplest way to achieve the body you’ve always wanted: No fad diets required.