7 Reasons to Quit Fad Diets

Dr. Angela Seabright
Elise LaPointe

| 3 min read

Woman preparing healthy food with her daughter
You’ve probably seen those miraculous before and after pictures on social media of someone who tried a new, unheard of diet and dropped excess weight in the blink of an eye. You might’ve even considered trying the diet yourself. If you did try the diet, what were your results? A period of “yo-yo” weight loss is the most common answer, meaning you lost weight only to gain it right back.
The reason these fad diets are hard to sustain in the long run is because it’s a temporary solution for a lifelong issue. Society pushes the idea that people need to be skinny, which creates a desire for immediate results.
If you’re still not sold on the idea that fad diets do more harm than good, let’s lay out the facts.
  • They’re not balanced. An entire essential food group is often cut out of the dietary plan for fad diets, which causes an imbalance in nutrition. Most carbs aren’t evil and are necessary to maintain energy levels, balance hormones and promote healthy digestion. A very low-carb diet, such as the keto diet, reduces daily carb intake to less than 30 grams per day while a healthy intake should be between 125 to 275 or so grams per day. (Please note: your calorie and carbohydrate intake are based on your specific individual needs.) The keto diet and being in constant ketosis isn’t sustainable because eventually you’ll need to increase carb intake, which will cause all the weight lost to be regained.
  • They’re not sustainable. Like any fad, these diets have a connotation of having a beginning and an end. But then what happens?
  • The weight loss they promote can be damaging. Extreme weight loss with a restrictive diet happens due to an extreme deprivation of calories. This weight loss is not just fat loss, but mostly water loss and even some muscle loss.
  • They ignore movement. These diets claim rapid weight loss without mentioning exercise. The paleo diet describes in-depth the benefits of eating like a caveman, however makes no mention of physical activity.
  • They can promote disordered eating. Diets, such as intermittent fasting, restrict healthy eating habits. Calories are necessary to jump-start your metabolism so by not eating anything for 16 hours, you are actually slowing your metabolism down in the long run.
  • They’re not backed by research. Many diets cite minimal studies for scientific reference. The cabbage soup diet, which consists of only eating cabbage soup for a week, doesn’t have any scientific studies to back up the claims of the diet.
  • The results come with side effects and don’t last. Whenever a fad diet demonizes food groups and drastically reduces calories, of course there is some weight loss, but there’s also likely some malnutrition happening with side effects that could include the keto-flu, migraines, hair loss, fatigue, unhealthy skin and more. And, 65% of people gain back all the weight they lose through fad dieting.
If you want to lose weight, focus more on healthy eating for a long-term lifestyle change rather than immediate results. A Mediterranean approach to eating or DASH diet are great places to start for sustainable, healthy eating.
The best way to achieve weight loss is by focusing on portion-controlled, nutrient-dense foods and adequate physical activity, while limiting your intake of saturated or trans fats, empty calories and added sugars.
One piece of bread won’t make you overweight, and one salad won’t make you thin. Consistency and good nutrition are the key.
This content has been reviewed and approved by Grace Derocha, registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator and certified health coach at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.
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