What Is a Fad Diet?

Fad Diet Image

A fad diet is an eating plan that becomes popular quickly. Fad diets often promise dramatic, unrealistic weight loss results. Many are designed to take advantage of people's willingness to "try anything" to lose weight, look and feel better, and reduce their risk for weight-related health problems, such as diabetes, heart disease and other conditions.

Many fad diets become popular because they do produce short-term weight loss quickly. However, most do not result in long-term weight loss success. They often are unhealthy and, in fact, some fad diets can severely jeopardize your health.

Some, but not all fad diets, promote unhealthy eating habits and don't meet nutritional recommendations. They may provide far fewer daily calories than normal ("crash" diets)—resulting in weight loss mainly comprised of water and lean muscle mass, rather than fat.

It's difficult for most people to maintain any diet that drastically restricts their food choices or requires them to eat unusual foods, very little food, or the same foods day after day. Therefore, people who lose weight on a fad diet usually gain the weight—and then some—back again.

In general, it's best to avoid any diet, eat plan or weight loss product that:

  • Claims to help you lose more that 1 or 2 pounds per week—It takes time to put on weight and takes time to lose it.
  • Sounds too good to be true—Fad diets often make unrealistic promises—that you'll lose weight and keep it off without having to give up high-fat, high-calorie foods or exercise regularly, for example.
  • Bases its claims on "before" and "after" photos; testimonials from clients; or advice from weight loss, science or nutrition "experts" who don't have valid credentials—They often are being paid to endorse the plan or product.
  • Presents simple conclusions based on complicated medical research or data based on a single study
  • Limits your food choices and discourages balanced nutrition from a variety of healthy foods
  • Requires you to purchase meal plans, packaged meals, supplements, or diet pills, or to spend a considerable amount of money on seminars and programs to ensure success

Here are some fad diets that have come in and out of popularity in recent years—many have been around for quite awhile. Please be advised that some, though not all, of these diets can have adverse health effects and may be dangerous to your health and well being.

  • 3 Day Diet
  • 5 Bite Diet
  • 17 Day Diet
  • Acai Berry Diet
  • Air Diet
  • Apple Cider Vinegar Diet
  • Atkins Diet
  • Baby Food Diet
  • Beverly Hills Diet
  • Blood Type Diet
  • Cabbage Soup Diet
  • Cotton Ball Diet
  • Detox Diet
  • Grapefruit Diet
  • HCG Diet
  • Hollywood Diet
  • Liquid Diet
  • Low-Carb Diet
  • Low-Fat Diet
  • Negative Calorie Diet
  • Paleo Diet
  • Sacred Heart Diet
  • Sleeping Beauty Diet
  • South Beach Diet
  • Tapeworm Diet
  • Zone Diet

The bottom line about fad diets: Many fad diets are unhealthy and ineffective for long-term weight loss. If you’re concerned about losing weight and improving your health, talk to your doctor, a registered dietician or a nutritionist about developing a diet and exercise plan that’s right for you. Healthy weight loss requires long-term lifestyle changes—not the quick and easy fix of a fad diet.

Publication Review By: the Editorial Staff at Healthcommunities.com

Published: 30 Apr 2012

Last Modified: 11 Sep 2015