A to Z Challenge: F is for Fad Diets


Let me be clear, I am not a fan of any type of diet, even the healthy ones. I understand that it is a lot easier to have someone tell you when to eat, what to eat, count your calories, prepare the meals, provide an exercise schedule, and all you (theoretically) have to do is follow along. And, there are some really great, responsible people with wonderful, healthy programs to follow out there! That type of predetermined schedule can jump start you onto a healthy path.

But what happens when you travel? Or, get injured? Do you know how to take care of yourself when it is not spelled out in digestible, deliverable increments? Have you learned enough about how nutrition works to power your new active life? Hopefully that is the case and you remain committed to working through those tough times and plateaus, that we all have to deal with, to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

All diets work on the same premise: restrict calories, they only vary based on which foods are being labelled as “forbidden” or “bad”.




The meal plans tend to restrict one food group entirely: high protein/low fat, high protein/low carb,  No fats… You get the idea.





You may have heard of many of these plans. Each states that theirs is the best way to loose weight, and as long as you follow their strict guidelines, or buy their exclusive prepared meals, you will be successful.

Short term success can happen, but the problem is that this type of restriction is impossible to maintain, forever! Eventually, you will eat from the forbidden side😳.


Which leaves the other type of diet. The Fad Diets. Sadly, there are far more of these floating around then the healthy alternatives 😔




A fad diet is defined as an eating plan that is unbalanced and unhealthy, and promises fast weight loss.




Fad-Diets moreThe authors of fad diets target individuals who want to drop weight without exercise. These plans may cause temporary water loss, but never result in loss of fat.

And, yes, there is a tapeworm diet😬.



Loss of water causes dehydration and can tax the organs (liver, kidneys and heart). And the weight will return.

Fad or “yoyo” diets severely limiting specific macronutrients can cause the metabolism to destabilize  as it fights to right the balance of nutrients, causing weight gain when the person begins eating normally once again. Worse, the cells will begin to breakdown muscle fibers to acquire the nutrients they crave, leaving the individual with less muscle mass than before the diet😔. This leads to the cycle of muscle loss/fat gain. over time.


Why do people keep falling for this scam?


What if I told you that I had discovered a rare mineral, only found in the deepest part of the rainforest, and extracted this “unique and unlabeled” ingredient. I then put that compound into capsules and am marketing my amazing new weight loss supplements. I then get some “experts” to pen testimonials. Those experts claim that test subjects lost 20% more weight when taking my supplements, while dining on only marshmallows, for 1 month! And they never had to break a sweat!! Clearly this is the secret that Western Medicine doesn’t want you to know about!

Any rational person would see this as the scam that it is, right! Right?



What should you avoid?

1. Diets that focus on only a few foods or food groups.  Any plan or program that excludes major food groups is too limiting in nutrients to be healthy. Examples: Cabbage soup diet, grapefruit diet, raw food diets,

2. Detox or cleanses. These are just plans to get you to spend money and consume less calories. They are completely unnecessary! Our livers and kidneys are perfectly capable of filtering and flushing contaminants out of our systems.

“All the flushes and cleanses are pure nonsense, unnecessary, and there is no scientific basis for these recommendations,” says Pamela Peeke, MD

3. Diets with ‘miracle’ foods or ingredients-These plans usually center around a miracle root found only in some remote region, that must be consumed 6 times a day, and only sold by one person or company. How convent for that guy! The reality is that the only supplement you may need is a multivitamin, the rest of your nutrients should be from healthy, whole food sources.  Some current examples of these fads include bitter orange, green tea, and apple cider vinegar. I know, some celebrity says this is how she fits into her runway dress, so it must be true! Ya, it’s not.

4. Fasting and very low-calorie diets.  Fasting for weight loss is counterproductive. Your metabolism will crash and begin to digest muscle for nutrients. Fasting will cause short term weight loss in the form of muscle, fat and water, but fat will be regained. Current examples are the Hollywood Diet, and Master Cleanse.

5. Diets that sound too good to be true. Low calorie diets that promise 5 to 10 pound loss per week are completly unrealistic. At best you should be loosing about 1 lb/week.

6. Lack an exercise component-if you are severely limiting your caloires, and cutting out protein or carbs, you will not have the energy to move around, let alone exercise! Any healthy, responsible program will incorporate some form of modest activity. Just accept that if you want to really make a permanent change!



University of Pittsburgh Medical Center http://www.upmc.com/patients-visitors/education/nutrition/Pages/fad-diets.aspx