Exploring Fad Diets: Types, Characteristics And Why They Often Fail

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Published on: 15-Dec-2023

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Anushka Tripathi

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Exploring Fad Diets: Types, Characteristics And Why They Often Fail

Exploring Fad Diets: Types, Characteristics And Why They Often Fail

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welcome readers, to a revealing exploration of the ever-controversial realm of fad diets! In a world where the promise of quick fixes and miraculous transformations often lures us, it's crucial to understand the effectiveness and sustainability of these trending dietary approaches.

Fad diets have a strange position regarding weight loss and fitness. Many argue that due to their extreme and unconventional methods, these diets can bring more harm than good to the body. However, from celebrity endorsements to social media sensations, the influence of fad diets is undeniable. 

In this blog, we embark on an insightful journey to unravel the truth behind fad diets, deciphering whether their allure holds up to scrutiny or merely fleeting trends that disillusion dieters. Get ready to navigate the maze of popular types of fad diets, from keto to detox plans, as we delve into the science, scrutinise the claims, and separate nutritional myths from evidence-based truths.

Table Of Contents

1. What Are Fad Diets?

2. Types Of Fad Diets

3. Common Characteristics of Fad Diet

4. Why Do Fad Diets Often Fail In The Long Run?

5. What Are Some Worst Fad Diets To Stay Away From?

6. The Final Say

7. FAQs

8. References 

What Are Fad Diets?

Fad diets are trendy weight-loss strategies that promise significant results in a short amount of time. They frequently involve unrealistic or unsustainable restrictions on food choices or eating patterns and often rely on anecdotal evidence or overemphasise specific foods or supplements.

Fad diets may be popular for a short period but typically lack long-term effectiveness and may even pose health risks. However, the allure of quick results makes them so tempting, often backed by celebrity endorsements and pseudo-scientific claims. 

You may observe quick weight loss in the initial days of following a fad diet routine. Technically, this is due to water loss after significant changes in eating habits are suddenly imposed on the body. Following fad diets, in the long run, can make you fall prey to extreme nutrient deficiencies and health problems like kidney damage, heart problems, diabetes and even gallstones.


Also Read: 10 Common Weight Loss Mistakes - Oops! You Did It Again 

Types Of Fad Diets

There have been many fad diets that are effective in supporting the weight loss journey. But how far are they sustainable, and could they be the right choice for rapid weight loss? To understand that, we need to observe the two sides of the coin a.k.a advantages and disadvantages. 


The extensive list of fad diets below is going to reveal fad diets pros and cons through the most popular and well-known fad diet plans: 

1. Keto Diet

The keto diet is a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet that drastically reduces carbohydrate intake and replaces it with fat. This reduction in carbs puts your body into a metabolic state called ketosis.

In ketosis, your body starts to use an alternative fuel source called ketones, which are produced from the breakdown of fats in the liver. Ketones can provide energy for your body and brain when glucose (from carbohydrates) is unavailable.

Pros

Cons

Weight loss

The keto diet can be effective for weight loss, reducing calorie intake and promoting fat burning.

Side effects

The keto diet can cause several side effects, including the "keto flu," which can include symptoms like fatigue, headache, and constipation.

Improved blood sugar control

The keto diet may help improve blood sugar control in people with type 2 diabetes.

Nutritional deficiencies

The keto diet can be difficult to follow, leading to nutritional deficiencies if not carefully planned.

Potential benefits for heart disease and cancer

There is some evidence that the keto diet may have benefits for heart disease and certain types of cancer, but more research is needed.

Not suitable for everyone

The keto diet is not suitable for everyone, including people with certain medical conditions.

2. Paleo Diet

The paleo diet, also known as the Palaeolithic diet or Stone Age diet, is a modern dietary plan based on the purported eating habits of early humans during the Palaeolithic era. It emphasises the consumption of whole, unprocessed foods and the elimination of processed foods, sugary drinks, and unhealthy fats.

Studies have shown that following a paleo diet can lower the risk of heart disease or cardiovascular problems.

Pros

Cons

Weight loss

The paleo diet can be effective for weight loss, as it emphasises whole, unprocessed foods and limits processed foods, sugary drinks, and unhealthy fats.

Difficult to follow

The paleo diet can be difficult to follow, as it restricts several foods commonly consumed in modern diets.

Reduced risk of chronic diseases: There is some evidence that the paleo diet may reduce the risk of chronic diseases, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer.

Potential nutrient deficiencies

The paleo diet may lead to nutrient deficiencies if not carefully planned, as it restricts certain food groups that are good sources of essential nutrients.

Promotes mindful eating

Encourage individuals to focus on whole, unprocessed foods and their impact on their bodies.

Limited food choices

The paleo diet can restrict food choices, making it challenging to enjoy a variety of cuisines and dining experiences.

Also Read: What Is a Paleo Diet? 7 Meal Paleo Diet Plan, Benefits And Foods To Eat And Avoid! 

3. Intermittent Fasting

Instead of dictating what you eat, intermittent fasting focuses on when you eat. Standard methods include the 16/8 method (16 hours fasting, 8 hours eating) and the 5:2 process (eat normally for 5 days, consume 500-600 calories on the other two).

This approach has shown potential benefits in weight management, blood sugar control, and cellular repair, providing individuals with a nuanced and adaptable strategy for improved health.

Pros

Cons

Effective for weight loss

By restricting calorie intake and promoting fat burning.

It Can be challenging

To follow, especially for people who are not used to eating at restricted times.

Improved metabolic health

By increasing insulin sensitivity and reducing blood sugar levels.

Potential side effects

Intermittent fasting can cause side effects such as fatigue, headaches, and constipation.

Potential health benefits

Some evidence is that intermittent fasting may benefit other health conditions, such as heart disease and neurodegenerative diseases.

Not suitable for everyone

People with certain medical conditions and pregnant ladies should consult with a doctor before getting into it.

4. Juice Cleanses

Juice cleanse diets involve consuming only fruit and vegetable juices for a specific period, typically 3-7 days, to "detox" the body and lose weight. Juice cleanse advocates claim they support the body’s natural detox processes by clearing the diet of sugar, caffeine, refined foods, and other substances that can deplete energy. 

Pros

Cons

Quick boost of nutrients

Juice cleanses provide a quick and easy way to consume a high concentration of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants from fruits and vegetables.

Short-lived effects

The nutritional benefits of juice cleanses are short-lived and do not improve long-term health.

Weight loss

Juice may lead to temporary weight loss due to reduced calorie intake and water loss.


Unsustainable for weight management

 Juice cleanses are not a sustainable approach to weight management and can lead to rebound weight gain after the cleanse.

Also Read:  Top 6 Lime Water Detox Drinks 

5. Atkins Diet

The Atkins Diet, as outlined in "The New Atkins Diet Revolution" by Dr. Robert Atkins, is a modified version focusing on a balanced approach to nutrition. Emphasising lean protein, healthy carbs, and controlled fat portions, it has evolved from the earlier version, which allowed unlimited bacon and eggs. This diet restricts carb intake to just 20 grams daily, gradually increasing each week. 

Pros

Cons

Improved Blood Sugar Control

By limiting carb intake, may aid in better blood sugar management for individuals with diabetes.

Nutrient Deficiency Risk

Restricting certain food groups may lead to inadequate intake of essential nutrients.


Flexible Food Choices

Allows for various food options, emphasising lean proteins and healthy fats.

Potential Side Effects

Some may experience side effects like headaches, constipation, and fatigue during the initial phase.

Also Read: What Is Atkins Diet: Phases, Benefits, Food List and Important Tips! 

6. Raw Food Diet

Raw food is a type of food diet where food is never heated to temperatures above 104–118°F (40–48°C). Advocates believe that raw foods retain nutritional value, which is lost during cooking. The diet mainly consists of natural fruits, vegetables, and nuts. Some people may also consume raw eggs and dairy, while raw fish and meat may be included in rare cases.

Pros

Cons

Rich in Nutrients

Raw foods retain more nutrients as they are not subjected to cooking processes.

Nutrient Absorption Challenge

Certain nutrients may be less bioavailable, requiring careful planning to meet nutritional needs.

Increased Enzyme Intake

Raw foods contain natural enzymes that may aid digestion and nutrient absorption.

Potential Risk of Bacterial Contamination

Raw foods carry a risk of bacterial contamination, emphasising the need for food safety precautions.

Common Characteristics Of Fad Diets

Fad diets differ in their approach but share some common features described below:

  • Many fad diets limit certain food groups entirely, such as carbohydrates in the Atkins Diet or Keto Diet.

  • They usually promote a "one-size-fits-all" approach, neglecting individual needs and metabolic differences.

  • Fad diets promise rapid weight loss, often faster than the recommended 1-2 pounds per week.

  • Limited scientific backing, and many need more robust scientific research to support their claims.

Why Fad Diets Often Fail In The Long Run?


Many people often ask why fad diets don’t work for long periods. Here are the points that answer the drawbacks that claim why fad diets often fail in the long run:

1. Unsustainability

Fad diets are unsustainable, and sticking to a restrictive diet is very challenging. Depriving oneself of favourite foods and nutrition often leads to binge eating and a return to old habits.

2. Psychological Impact

Lack of proteins, carbs and fats can lead to mood swings, while continual cycling between losing and regaining weight can demoralise and negatively impact self-esteem.

3. Lack Of Lifestyle Change

For lasting weight loss, one must adopt long-term healthy habits. Fad diets often overlook the importance of exercise, sleep, and stress management. 

4. Nutrition Deficiency

Fad diets focusing on specific food groups may lead to nutrient deficiencies, as your body requires a variety of nutrients from different foods for overall health. Restricting certain types of food can create imbalances, impacting your health by depriving your body of essential vitamins and minerals.

5. Metabolic Adaptation

Rapid weight loss from fad diets can cause your metabolism to adjust, making it difficult to maintain weight loss in the long run. This adaptation often results in the body becoming more efficient at storing fat, potentially leading to regained weight when normal eating patterns resume.

What Are Some Worst Fad Diets To Stay Away From?

Below is the list of those worst fad diets that should not be incorporated:

1. The Baby Food Diet

While baby food is nutritious, it is designed for babies only, and adults have different nutritional needs. Relying heavily on baby food can lead to nutrient deficiencies. Plus, the need for more textures can be unsatisfying, leading to overeating.

2. The Master Cleanse (Lemonade Diet)

As the name says, you must stay on only lemonade by adding cayenne pepper, lemon juice, water, and maple syrup for 10-15 days straight.

Nutritional deficiencies, muscle breakdown, low energy, fatigue, and weak immunity are the drawbacks that can happen because it is a very low-calorie diet, and excessive sticking to the diet can cause serious health complications like gallstones.

3. The Cabbage Soup Diet

Consuming a low-calorie cabbage soup for seven days leads to rapid weight loss. The monotony of consuming cabbage soup every day can lead to boredom and nutrient deficiencies. The weight loss experienced is primarily water weight, quickly regained once a regular diet is resumed.

4. The Breatharian Diet

Followers, known as Breatharians, believe humans can live in sunlight and air alone without needing food or water.


This diet is based on pseudoscientific beliefs and is hazardous. It is a myth that no food and only air and sunlight are sufficient to sustain and aid weight loss. Our body needs energy from food and water if not provided, then there are chances of having severe health complications and even death.

The Final Say

To close this chapter, fad diets promote rapid weight loss, but just like another side of the coin, they result in nutritional deficiencies and can sometimes lead to health complications. 

Hence, starting a diet with expert advice is always better because the dietitian knows what is more suitable and required to provide weight loss without causing any issues and deficiencies. 

Fad diets are not sustainable in the long run, so it is better to follow good exercise with balanced nutrition to gain healthy weight loss. You can also visit ToneOp to get the best healthcare advice. 

FAQs

1. Why are fad diets so popular these days?

People want to lose weight fast without looking at other factors, and fast weight loss fascinates people to follow the fad diet.


2. How long can you follow a fad diet if you want?

A fad diet can be followed for up to 10 to 15 days. Following it longer than a month can result in health complications such as muscle loss and nutrition deficiency. 


3. Can you eat anything in the fad diet?

No, the fad diet is a restrictive form of diet where you are advised to eat certain foods that have fewer calories and fats.


4. Is the fad diet safe?

If the fad diet is followed for 10-15 days with proper supplementation of vitamins, then it is safe. If not, the health consequences can occur.


5. Why fad diets are crazy diets?

Fad diets may also be referred to as crazy diets because it cannot be claimed that they are safe over the longer term. Or they lead to an increased risk of various diseases.

6. What are the disadvantages of fad diets?

  • Dehydration

  • Weakness and fatigue

  • Nausea and headaches

  • Constipation

References 

  1. fad diet

  2. Nutrition for Weight Loss: What You Need to Know About fad Diets

  3. fad Diets: Facts and Fiction

About ToneOp

ToneOp is a platform dedicated to improving and maintaining good health through a comprehensive range of goal-oriented health plans with up to 3 Coach support. With a range of Weight Management, Medical Condition, Detox Plans, and Face Yoga Plans, the app also provides premium health trackers, recipes and health content. Get customised diet, fitness, naturopathy & yoga plans and transform yourself with ToneOp. 

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