What are Fad Diets and How Do You Spot One?

    What are Fad Diets and How Do You Spot One?

    These days, a lot of people are getting more into fitness and health. While this is generally a good thing, this trend is also responsible for new “fad diets.” But what are fad diets, how do you spot one, and what effects does it have on your overall health?

    What are fad diets?

    Fad diets are typically promoted as the “best” or “fastest” way to lose weight1. Proponents of these diets claim that they achieved results in record time, and usually with minimal effort. Because of this, a lot of people get hooked on trying out these types of diets, even if the claims haven’t been proven, and the effects haven’t been studied well.

    What are fad diets and why are they popular? The reason that they’re called fad diets is that these diets tend to be “trendy.” And they usually don’t have any hard science or medical recommendations to back them up.

    What exactly is the problem with these diets?

    The biggest concern about fad diets is that not all of them have been scientifically proven to be safe and healthy for the long term. It’s possible that trying out a new diet might cause you to lose weight. But over time, you might experience symptoms that cause you to feel sick or tired2.

    Some diets might neglect some important vitamins and minerals that your body needs. You can sometimes feel fatigued, or have a lack of energy, especially if the diet calls for avoiding certain foods3. If you do it for a long time, then this might cause some serious health problems.

    These diets can also be unsustainable, and you might find yourself quickly gaining back the weight you just lost. This can make people feel angry or frustrated, and lose their motivation to stay fit.

    Another problem with these diets is that they can sometimes misinform the public about certain types of foods. They might claim that eating carbohydrates is bad, or some types of food change your body chemistry, causing you to lose weight. These are problematic since people might start to believe the wrong things about food, and it causes them to make bad decisions about their health.

    But how exactly does one know if a diet is a fad diet or not?

    What are fad diets? The 7 Signs

    So what are fad diets? And how can we identify them? Here are 7 warning signs of fad diets that everyone should know:

    It sounds too good to be true

    There’s a saying that goes, “If it’s too good to be true, then it probably is.” The same thing applies to diets.

    If a diet promises you numerous gains for very little effort, then it’s probably not a good idea to go on that diet. Losing weight can be difficult, but it’s totally worth doing it the right way since it helps you keep the weight off and helps you achieve good health.

    There’s no research to back it up

    Another red flag for fad diets is that there’s very little to no research to back it up. In situations where proponents cite research, these tend to be untrustworthy, or taken out of context to support their claims.

    You start to experience unhealthy side effects

    Losing weight shouldn’t cause you to experience unhealthy side effects such as fatigue, aches, and pains, or even getting sick4. If you experience these symptoms while you are on a diet, chances are, the diet is a fad diet and it’s not good for your health.

    The diet asks you to “starve” yourself

    Some diets require you to drastically lower your caloric intake so that you lose weight2. While it is true that eating less food does make you lose weight, starving yourself is another matter.

    Proponents of the diet are trying to sell you something

    Another red flag is that if the diet requires you to buy a certain supplement or take a certain pill. More often than not, this is a sign that the diet isn’t actually real, and it is just a means for people to sell you their products.

    They recommend eating only certain combinations of foods

    Some diets might require you to combine specific foods, because there is a claim that these combinations help you lose weight faster. Scientifically speaking, there’s really no proof that combining foods makes them more effective or helps you lose weight faster.

    The diet asks you to take out important food groups

    Lastly, some diets require you to cut out important food groups such as fat or carbohydrates. While too much fat and carbohydrates aren’t good for the body, eating too few from these food groups can be just as bad.

    Diets that ask you to cut out entire food groups might be unhealthy for the long-term, and should be avoided.

    Key Takeaways

    What are fad diets? At the end of the day, when it comes to diets, the best thing to do would be to talk to your doctor. They can best be able to give you advice on what foods to eat, and how you can lose weight the right way, and safely.

    Learn more about Diet and Weight Loss here.

    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Expertly reviewed by

    Chris Icamen

    Dietetics and Nutrition

    Written by Jan Alwyn Batara · Updated Feb 13, 2022