What Are Fad Diets?

Karen Frazier
What are Fad Diets

Fad diets promote quick weight loss by following a specific set of guidelines, which differ depending on the diet plan. Some fad diets endorse specific foods to be eaten while others claim certain foods need to be avoided. Others conform to particular methods of eating such as when and how much, as well as what food or foods should be consumed.

Fad Diet Definition

These quick-fix, short-term plans come in all shapes and sizes. In general, any diet with one of more of the following characteristics is considered a fad diet:

  • Quick weight loss
  • Easy to follow
  • No exercise required
  • Eat whatever you want
  • Great amount of weight loss guaranteed
  • Uses before and after photos as primary marketing tool
  • Actors portraying doctors or other medical experts
  • Extremely limited food choices or entire food groups
  • Expensive products and/or seminars required

In summary, if the advertisements, including testimonials, sound like the magic answer to your weight issues, the diet is a fad.

Examples of Fad Diets

These types of diets have been in our society for centuries. Some of them continue to be prominent philosophies in today's weight loss world. Others contend to be the newest, hottest diet to hit the diet scene. A few examples of fad diets are:

  • The Cabbage Soup Diet
  • The Grapefruit Diet
  • The Cambridge Diet
  • The Scarsdale Diet
  • The 3-day Diet
  • The 7-day Diet
  • The Coconut Diet
  • The Blood Type Diet
  • The Bread and Butter Diet
  • The Shangri-La Diet

The Pros and Cons

Fad diets function mainly by restricting calories. When calories are limited, weight loss occurs, which is the first and foremost advantage of following such a plan. To name any further advantages would be false reporting.

On the other hand, the disadvantages of fad diets are many. First, due to the extreme food restrictions, weight loss is rapid and unsafe. The Mayo Clinic suggests a safe, sustainable rate of weight loss is one to two pounds per week. Avoid diets claiming more than two pounds of loss a week, due to potential health risks from the loss of muscle mass and lean tissue. Secondly, according to Straight Health, these diets may not provide the nutrition needed for proper body functions because they restrict calories to less than 1200 calories or they eliminate entire food groups. In fact, these diets breach the USDA's primary recommendation of good nutrition: eat a variety of food to achieve a healthy, balanced food intake.

Long-term weight maintenance is critical to support optimum health. These plans do not provide the tools necessary for behavior changes to occur. Furthermore, if you regain the weight, it may be more than you lost on the diet.

Safer Diet Suggestions

If you choose to follow a fad diet, be cautious. Seek medical attention, if you experience any side effects. Be prepared for weight loss that may cause further weight issues later.

From a nutrition standpoint, these diets are not recommended. Instead, eating a healthy diet and maintaining an adequate exercise regime is the healthiest and safest way to lose weight and keep it off. Consulting with your physician or a nutritionist will benefit you far greater and longer than any fad or crash diet available.

What Are Fad Diets?