A fad diet is any trendy diet that promises fast and easy weight loss, like baby food diets, alkaline diets, Paleolithic diets, gluten-free diets, cleanses and fasts, etc. They are tempting and the advertisements for the fad diets lure you in with magnificent claims of weight loss. Just imagine -- no need to worry about counting calories or exercising, just follow the rules and the extra pounds fall right off. They don't work, so don't fall for the fad diet hype.
Fad diets are bad because they don't address the problems that caused you to gain weight in the first place. Once you're through with the fad diet, you'll probably gain the weight back when you reestablish old eating habits. Fad diets are also bad because they usually require the elimination of foods that normally aren't bad for you. Who falls for these diets? Lots of people, of all ages (there are a few common times when people gain weight).
How do you know you are looking at a fad diet? Typical signs include:
- Claims of fast and easy weight loss.
- Elimination of certain food groups or bad foods.
- Includes dietary supplements impressively labeled as fat burners, weight loss aids, hoodia, and metabolism boosters.
- Tells you that foods need to be specifically combined for proper digestion to occur.
- No need for exercise.
- Highlights specific foods, such as grapefruit, maple syrup and lemonade or special soup.
Some people develop a pattern called "yo-yoing" or weight-cycling, which is losing weight, gaining weight, and then losing it again. They repeat this pattern for many years. Some experts believe that weight-cycling is unhealthy. There really isn't any evidence to support this idea, but obviously it isn't as effective as adopting a healthy balanced diet that you can follow for a lifetime.
What About Fat-Burners?Don't fall for the claims of extreme weight-loss "fat-burner" supplements. Take your eyes off the svelte woman (who just lost 30 pounds in a few weeks!) and look down at the bottom of the ad. You will see a disclaimer in tiny letters, "weight-loss not typical, your results may vary." That means most people don't lose much weight.
Some diets require you to eliminate certain food groups with claims that we haven't evolved enough as a species to eat wheat, or beef and tomatoes doesn't match your blood type. These are interesting theories, but have little evidence. Certain health conditions require the elimination of certain foods due to allergies or metabolic disorders such as celiac disease, but most of us should choose foods from all major food groups every day.
A few fad diets require you to combine certain types of foods. They claim the body can't digest carbs with proteins or with fats. This is absurd. Your digestive system utilizes specific enzymes for digestion of different foods and they don't cancel each other out -- in fact, they all work quite nicely together.
Are Any Fad Diets Healthy? What About Low-Fat or Low-Carb Diets?The Mediterranean diet, low-fat diets, and low-carb diets are the big kids on the dietary block and each has a fair amount of research backing some of their claims. In the short term, low-carb diets tend to result in more weight loss, but long-term results aren't clear because weight loss diet research studies rarely last longer than one year.
These diets have their good points. Mediterranean diets include lots of fruits, vegetables and healthy fats. Low-carb diets eliminate excess sugar and high fructose corn syrup that add empty calories and low-fat diets prohibit unhealthy saturated and trans-fats.