Are All Fad Diets Bad?

Are All Fad Diets Bad?

For the past couple of weeks, we’ve been looking at “miracle” weight loss methods, beginning with the latest diet pills on the market. This week we’re looking at fad diets. I’m sure the majority of you have either heard about or tried personally some latest diet that will miraculously melt the pounds off. I know I have. Grapefruit diets, liquid diets, high-fat diets, low-fat diets, high protein diets, low protein diets, no dairy, lots of dairy, no red meat, some red meat, a lot of red meat, celery diets, etc. and etc. and etc.

Fad diets promise quick weight loss via usually unhealthy, unbalanced diets. They usually attract people wanting to lose large amounts of weight quickly without physical exercise. These diets can range from simply useless to actually dangerous. What are some of these useless-dangerous fad diets? Let’s look at some of them.

The Grapefruit Diet

1The basic logic behind this diet is simple: grapefruits require more calories to digest than they contain. This diet lacks needed vitamins and minerals and actually provide too few calories for your body to work as it should. 2This diet doesn’t require eating only grapefruit, but grapefruit has to be a part of every meal (half a grapefruit or an 8 oz glass of fresh grapefruit juice). This diet also calls for foods high in protein, including eggs, bacon, dressings, butter, etc.

The Raw Food Diet

3Some raw foods are great – vegetables, fruits, nuts, some grains. Having these in your diet is a good thing. Raw food diets, however, ban all cooked, processed foods, the logic being that the cooking process strips food of its nutrients. Cooking can sometimes reduce nutrient levels but for the most part cooked foods still offer the fiber, vitamins and minerals benefits.

The Five-Bite Diet

4On this diet, developed by Alwin Lewis, MD, an obesity doctor, you can eat whatever you want but only five bites of it. The body will simply be starved of the nutrients and calories it needs to function. Even eating foods high in calories, this diet can result in a daily caloric intake of 900-1000 calories a day – not enough to function.

The Cotton Ball Diet

(I’ve never heard of this one before but had to include it because it’s just so far out there!) 5Basically, this diet calls for ingesting cotton balls soaked in orange juice. Supposedly it curbs hunger. There are soooo many ‘no’s’ to this diet, where to start? Ingesting non-food items are dangerous and can cause an obstruction which can result in surgery and life-threatening health conditions. Plus, your body gets no nutrients and therefore cannot function the way it should.

Detox Diets

6There are various types of detox diets but two main ones are diets that remove foods that are processed and/or can cause food allergies (dairy, gluten, red meat, peanuts, eggs, etc.),and diets that call for fasting – a practice more and more healthcare providers are advising against). While not considered entirely harmful, detox diets should only be started after consulting with your physician because you could possibly have underlying health problems that would be exacerbated by fasting.

The Lemonade Diet

7This diet is also referred to as the Master Cleanse Diet. While there are many variations, this diet basically calls for subsisting for long periods of time on only lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne pepper, all mixed in water. 8Aside from robbing your body of nutrients it needs, it also results in weight loss of mainly water. This means once you stop the diet and start ingesting solid foods again you’ll more than likely gain that weight back. Another downfall is losing muscle.

The HCG Diet

9Health care professionals refer to this diet as the edge-of-starvation diet. This sounds bad right from the start. With this diet, you’re limited to approximately 500 calories a day and must take human gonadotropin (HCG). HCG is a hormone that supposedly suppresses appetite. In studies,however, this claim has not been substantiated.

Be Smart! Determining If a Diet is a Fad Diet

10When looking at a diet plan, evaluate the diet with questions. Steer clear of diets that:

  • Promise quick weight loss
  • Sounds too good to be true
  • Promote a product
  • Give lists of “good” and “bad” foods
  • Cannot back up claims with valid scientific research

A Better Way

Instead of being taken in by these fad diets, you should lose the needed weight in a more balanced, healthy way. 11A healthy diet program:

  • Has variety
  • Encourages portion control
  • Focuses on good fats (non-saturated instead of saturated fats)
  • Suggests smaller foods eaten more frequently
  • Includes berries
  • Includes no sugar-containing sodas and fruit drinks
  • Includes a  good, consistent exercise program
  • Encourages lifestyle changes


1“Fad Diets,”

2,5,10”13 Outrageous Fad Diets & What They’re Really Doing to Your Body,”

3,4”Fad Diets You Shouldn’t Try,” K. Aleisha Fetters,,,20833428,00.html

6”What’s the Deal with Detox Diets?” Robin Foroutan, MS, RDN,

7,8”14 Fad Diets You Should Absolutely Never Try,”

9,11”Fad Diets: Why They Don’t Work & What To Do Instead,” Melinda Raini, DO, MS,

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Post by Andrea Rogers