How to Recognize a Fad Diet That Won't Work

Updated on August 3, 2017

The Truth About Fad Diets

Unfortunately when it comes to successful weight loss, nothing can trump hard work and consistency. Fad diets, diets that often promise extreme results in a short amount of time by sometimes drastic means, have been proven unsuccessful in healthy weight loss; in fact, these extreme diets come with their fair share of health hazards. Most fad diets are not maintainable for long periods of time, which means short term (if any) results. Often times while following a fad diet, you miss out on necessary nutrients from certain foods. In many cases, your metabolism may slow down dramatically due to the diet changes. Not to mention, these diets can wreak havoc on your heart and internal health. Fad diets usually provide no real or lasting results, and do more harm to your body than good.

How to Recognize a Fad Diet

There are plenty of well known fad diets that have circulated in popularity throughout the years. The Atkins diet, the South Beach diet, the Zone diet, and countless others have been all the rave at some point. However, they all have things in common, one of which being that they don't seem to stick around. Sure, there are some people here and there that still experiment with these diets, but they simply do not provide a sustainable or healthy way of living.

Common characteristics of fad diets:

  • promote extremely quick results with minimal effort
  • lack scientific proof that the diet works
  • prohibit or only allow certain foods
  • make weight loss seem "easy"
  • advocate for weight loss through only the diet; don't include exercise and other healthy lifestyle habits in the program

Most fad diets omit key nutrients that are necessary for the body to function.
Most fad diets omit key nutrients that are necessary for the body to function.

Most Fad Diets Omit Key Nutrients That Your Body Needs

A common trait of fad diets is the omission of certain foods. Often times, this means that foods that are rich in nutrients and actually quite good for your health are not allowed. Therefore, those who follow fad diets often experience set backs from missing out on certain foods. Even foods that some diets claim to be "bad", such as carbohydrates or fats, are beneficial to the body. Wholesome carbs and fats each play strong roles in the body's health.

Diets that prohibit carbohydrates often limit the amount of fruit and vegetables one can eat; this can actually be counteractive to one's health because fruits and veggies provide a plethora of key nutrients that help the body function properly, such as calcium, potassium, fiber, various vitamins, etc. Diets that prohibit fats prevent the intake of essential fatty acids, certain vitamins, etc.

Food is the body's fuel for optimal performance and health. When a dieter misses out on certain foods, they may experience constant fatigue, mood swings, more frequent illnesses, and a lack of physical and mental performance.

Fad Diets Can Slow Your Metabolism

Many people think that the less they eat, the more weight they will lose. While it is true that burning more calories than you consume is how to lose weight, your metabolism plays a major role in weight loss. When you eat very little, your metabolism practically grinds to a halt. This occurs because in order to function properly, the body needs to preserve the little food that it is being fed, so it doesn't burn calories as efficiently as it would if it were being fed wholesome, small meals every few hours. The body's food processing system must slow dramatically when there is hardly any food to process.

Fad Diets Are Harmful to Your Overall Health

Believe it or not, these acclaimed health saving diets actually take quite a toll on physical and mental performance, your digestive system, and even your heart.

By severely restricting nutrients and calories, your body may not have the strength or energy to perform at its highest capacity. Food is fuel. Without fuel, the body cannot function the way it was designed to.

Extreme changes in diet (such as the sudden omission of certain foods, or restriction of all food), can shock the digestive system. Fad diets can also often leave the body dehydrated, which just makes it even harder for organs to function efficiently. The digestive system is affected by nutrients that come from certain foods, so without those nutrients, the digestive system does not work very well.

By prohibiting necessary nutrients, essential organs such as the heart take a huge hit. Drastic weight changes (from the weight taken off by the diet to the weight put right back on when dieting is over) is harmful to heart health. Such drastic changes can be very dangerous to the body. Not to mention, the lack of certain nutrients puts dieters at higher risks for organ failure and damage.

Fad Diets Are Not Sustainable

In the off chance that one manages to lose weight following a fad diet, they will not keep this weight off. It is just not possible of plausible to follow a fad diet forever; these diets will just be too harmful to the body and people cannot continuously eat very few calories and miss out on key nutrients. For this reason, they are not an effective way to lose weight for long periods of time or sustainably aid a healthy lifestyle.

Instead of following a fad diet to provide an easy way to lose the pounds, it would be healthier, more efficient, and probably cheaper to begin continuously participating in healthier lifestyle activities. You can talk to a nutritionist or research how to diet properly, in a way that provides the body with necessary nutrients and fuel. Exercise is a crucial aspect of weight loss and healthy living, and safely exercising is an effective way to keep the weight off. A combination of a personalized, wholesome diet plan and a safe exercise program is probably the most effective way to look, feel, and function better. You might not lose weight as quickly as promised by fad diets, but the weight will come off and stay off in a healthy way.

Healthy diets include the nutrients the body needs.
Healthy diets include the nutrients the body needs.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.


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