Weight Management

Fad diets: What you need to know

What is a “fad diet?”

  • A fad diet is any weight loss plan or aid that promises dramatic results without work.
  • These diets don’t offer long-term success, are typically not healthy, and can actually be dangerous to your health.

If fad diets don’t work, why do people use them?

  • People are often willing to try anything that promises to help them lose weight.
  • The simple truth is that weight loss requires work, and many people do not want to commit to the type of long-term lifestyle change that will help them lose weight and maintain weight loss.

Fad diets offer a “magic pill” that promises to fix all of your problems with quick and easy weight loss.  Companies that promote fad diets take advantage of this fact, and prey upon people who are looking for a “quick fix” instead of long-term solutions.

Fad diets also became popular because many of them do cause short-term weight loss.  In most cases, this is because when you stop eating certain types of foods or eat “special” combinations of foods, you get fewer calories than you normally would.  However, it’s likely that with fad diets you are losing weight from water and lean muscle, not body fat.  Most people are not able to keep up with the demands of a diet that strictly limits their food choices or requires them to eat the same foods.  People who use fad diets usually end up gaining back any weight they lost.

How do I recognize a fad diet?

  • If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Here are 10 more signs that will help you recognize a fad diet:

  1. They promise quick, dramatic, miraculous results (or claim that weight loss is easy).
  2. They promise that you can lose weight and keep it off “without diet or exercise.”
  3. They limit your food choices.
  4. They encourage you to avoid any one food group or nutrient.
  5. They require you to spend a lot of money on seminars, pills or prepackaged meals in order for the plan to work.
  6. They lack research to support claims.
  7. They attempt to impress you with medical jargon and long, hard-to-understand terms.
  8. They offer testimonials from clients or “experts” that are not credentialed (may also display credentials that are not recognized by responsible scientists or educators).
  9. They claim that sugar (or any other food or nutrient) is a deadly poison.
  10. They claim that their work is being suppressed by mainstream medicine because it’s controversial.

Before you start any diet, be sure to learn everything you can.  If you see any of the above signs, it’s probably a fad diet.

It’s always a good idea to check with your doctor and/or dietitian before starting any diet or exercise plan.  Your health care team can help you steer clear of fad diets, and create a weight loss plan that works for you.

To find a Registered Dietitian (RD) in your area, go to the American Dietetic Association Web site at www.eatright.org, and click on “Find a Nutrition Professional.”

To ask a question about any diet, click on the “Ask a Dietitian” link to the left of this screen, and a Registered Dietitian will be glad to help you.

Think your drink!

Sugary Drinks = Weight Gain

  • Did you know that drinking sugary sodas can make a big difference in your weight?
  • Just 20 ounces of regular soda per day adds up to a weight gain of more than 20 pounds over a 1-year period!

Just 20 oz of soda or sugar-sweetened drinks (kool-aid, sweet tea, etc.) every day can add up to:

  • 55 pounds of sugar in one year
  • 92,783 extra calories in one year
  • 26 extra pounds of body weight in one year!

By making better choices, you can decrease your calorie intake and avoid gaining excess weight from sugary sodas.  Instead of drinking sugary sodas, try diet sodas. These contain no sugar and no calories.  Better yet, choose water, which has no sugar, caffeine, sodium or calories!  If you don’t like the taste of plain water, add some lemon or lime juice to spark it up.  Or choose club soda (water with bubbles added), which has no calories at all.

What about Fruit Juice?
A better choice than sugary sodas is 100 percent fruit juice because it adds vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals to your diet.  However, fruit juice contains natural sugars, which add calories to your diet, so drinking a lot of it will not help you lose weight.

The Fruits & Veggies—More Matters™ program recommends that the majority of your fruit intake for the day should come from whole fruit, not fruit juice.  If you love the taste of fruit juices but are trying to lose weight, try mixing club soda with just a splash of your favorite 100 percent fruit juice.

Think your drink doesn’t matter?  Think again!