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Diets: Fad or Fact

posted Jan 27, 2017, 8:47 AM by Tracy Ducker, MS, RDN   [ updated Jan 27, 2017, 2:00 PM ]
A popular New Year’s Resolution is “to lose weight.” With all the diets and weight loss products and “so called experts,” it can be confusing in deciding what is best and safe. We have all heard of fad diets but What is a fad diet? A fad diet promises quick weight loss usually through unhealthy and unbalanced diets. There are a few questions you can ask yourself to determine whether the diet is a fad or not. 

  • Does the diet promise a quick weight loss - 10 pounds in a week sounds great but it is mostly water, which you will regain. It is proven that for successful, long term weight loss you should aim for 1-2 pounds per week. 
  • Does it sound too good to be true - if so, it probably is.
  • Are entire food groups eliminated (i.e. no carbohydrates) - eliminating an entire food group, eliminates essential nutrients. A successful weight loss diet is a balanced diet of adequate protein, carbohydrates and fat with enough calories to keep your metabolism up while still allowing for weight loss. For more information on eating a balanced diet based on your weight and exercise level go to
  • Does it lack scientific research to support its claims - many diets have great testimonials, which may or may not be true. Look for sound research proving the diet is safe and effective.
  • Are weight loss supplements required and only sold by the company - this is a red flag that the company is only out to make money.
  • Is exercise not part of the plan - long term weight loss is difficult to achieve without including exercise. Cardiovascular exercise burns calories and weight training exercises build muscle which increases metabolism. The recommended amount of exercise for weight loss and improved health is 2.5 hours per week of cardiovascular exercise and 2 days of resistance or weight training. 

There are many fad diets and they come and go frequently, but here are some recent fad diets:

High Protein Diets- consuming large amounts of protein and little or no carbohydrates will lead to weight loss but it is mostly water loss initially. Your body does start to use body fat for daily energy needs; this is called Ketosis and can lead to health issues as it forces your kidneys and liver to work harder. The other main concern with these diets is they lack specific nutrients and are restrictive and hard to follow for the rest of your life.

Juice or broth fasts/liquid diets- are very low in calories and are hard to follow for extended periods of time. Very low calorie diets cause your body to go into starvation mode which lowers your metabolism. This is counterproductive, if you want to lose weight you need to increase your metabolism.

Cleansing or Detox diets – our kidneys and liver are our body’s natural way of cleansing and detoxing and if healthy they don’t need any help. For more information on detox diets click here.

If you want more information on fad diets click here. Many of these fad diets work, in the short term, but can be hard to follow for long periods of time and in some cases do more harm than good. Once these diets are stopped weight gain is common because eating habits haven't changed. The best way to lose weight is to change the eating habits that are causing the weight gain and exercising daily. By eating a diet that has enough protein, carbohydrates, and fat along with cardiovascular exercise to burn calories and weight training to build muscle you can increase your metabolism and lose weight. 

If you are interested in weight loss or have questions about weight loss diets/products your I.L. Creations registered dietitians can help. Check our calendar for your dietitian's next visit or contact us at