The Truth About Fad Diets

What Are Some of the Popular Fad Diets?

Although there are countless fad diets out there, let's take a look at some of the most popular ones and see what the research says.
 
Crash Diets
For starters, any diet that calls for you to consume under 800 calories a day is called a very-low-calorie diet (VLCD). These types of diets should only be done under the supervision and approval of your healthcare provider, as they can cause heart rhythm abnormalities that could be fatal. Going on these very-low-calorie diets can cause numerous side effects, such as:
 
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Changes in your menstrual periods
  • Hair loss.
 
Some crash diets call for short-term dieting with significant weight loss. However, don't be fooled. You are more than likely only losing water weight, which will be regained rather quickly.
 
And then you may run across diets that claim to have "special" fat-burning ingredients or mega powers to speed up your metabolism. Some of these ingredients may include cider vinegar or "negative-calorie foods." Unfortunately, no foods possess miraculous weight loss properties.
 
Low-Carbohydrate Diets
Some of the popular diets that are considered low-carb include Atkins, The Zone, and Scarsdale. These types of diets focus on limiting carbohydrates and consuming foods that are higher in protein -- and often fat.
 
What does the research show? Studies have shown that these plans can be an effective way to lose weight for many people, particularly in the first week. However, most of the research that has been done shows that a low-carb, high-protein diet may not be any more effective than other weight loss plans when used for long periods.
 
Also, these types of diet plans may lead to nutritional deficiencies and may not be safe for those who have kidney problems or other health conditions (see Are High-Protein, Low-Carb Diets Effective? and The Atkins Diet). Nonetheless, they remain a reasonable option for many people.
 
Detox Diets
Some examples of detox diets include the Master Cleanse and Rebooting with Joe Cross. These plans typically keep you strictly on fruit and/or vegetable juices. Some of these may also include taking a laxative to clean out the "toxins" and basically everything else in your digestive system.
 
But do they work? Well, a liquid diet of low calories will cause you to lose some weight. So, yes, but -- and this is a pretty big but -- there are some potentially serious downsides to this type of dieting.
 
First of all, this diet can trick your brain into thinking you are starving. So while you are initially losing a good chunk of water weight, the next thing your body will do is start to break down muscles to help supply energy your body needs. This is your body kicking into survival mode, as it believes you are not consuming enough calories because you have no access to food and it needs to keep you alive.
 
Staying on these types of diets for a long time could be potentially dangerous, if not even life threatening. Also, there isn't much scientific evidence to prove that your body even needs to be "detoxified." Research has also shown that many people gain the weight back rather quickly once they stop this type of extreme dieting (see Master Cleanse Diet, Rebooting With Joe Cross, and The ABCs of Juice Cleansing).
 
Others
There are so many fad diets out there, it would be impossible to cover them all in this article. They range from celebrity-endorsed diets to single-food diets, such as the grapefruit diet or the cabbage diet.
 
There are also others that consist of a more balanced diet, such as Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig. While these popular diets can work for some people, it's important to look at the average weight loss after one year on some of these diets. In some cases, it is only around five pounds (see Weight Watchers and Me, The Jenny Craig Diet, and What You Need to Know About the Paleo Diet).
 
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