How To Spot A Fad Diet

by Liberty Stembridge, Health Columnist

Published in Health on 20th June, 2019

If you're on a health kick, it's easy to get overwhelmed by the amount of diet advice, and diet plans out there. One person says that carbs are bad for you, whilst the other says that their god's gift to mankind, and how are you supposed to know who's telling the truth.

We live in an age of pop science, fad diets and mis-informed nutrition advice, and it's important to know how to spot when something is a genuine way to improve your health, and when it's just a scam.

fad diet meaning

Fad diets in particular can be very dangerous, leading into bad habits such as yo-yo dieting, lack of proper nutrients or losing out on money for no reason. Here's how to spot them.

It promises a quick and easy fix

A classic sign of a fad diet is the promise of a quick and easy fix. The unfortunate truth of health and weight loss is that it takes time. You can't just go on a week-long diet and expect to wake up with glowing skin, having lost two stone and able to run a marathon.

Any good diet will acknowledge that it takes time and dedication to build up a habit of healthy eating. Remember that you're trying to build a healthy lifestyle, and not just find a quick fix to your problems.

It claims to have a secret strategy

Surprise, surprise, there is no secret strategy to health and wellbeing. Although there are many tiny details that nutritionists and wellness experts will argue about, most experts agree that a healthy lifestyle involves eating a balanced diet with plenty of fruit, veg and water, whilst cutting down on things like junk food and increasing exercise.

fad diet

If a diet program is claiming that they have uncovered some secret that everyone is trying to keep hidden, then it's more than likely a fad.

It's low calorie

Many fad diets are designed to try to get you to lose weight as fast as possible, without looking after your health or creating a long-term sustainable diet plan.

Although it varies from person to person, the average guideline for men and women is 2500 and 2000 calories a day respectively. If a diet is suggesting that you eat considerably less calories than this in a day, it's probably a fad diet.

Ultimately these diets may help you lose weight a little quicker, but you'll probably put it all back on within a week the minute you start eating normally again.

The plan is temporary

If you want to lose weight for good, or create a healthier lifestyle - you need to think in the long term. If a plan only lasts for a few weeks, or suggests that you can lose weight for good in a short amount of time, then it is almost definitely a fad.

fad diet

The harsh truth of the matter is that you need a diet and lifestyle that is sustainable and works for you, and you're not necessarily going to be able to achieve all of your goals within a few weeks.

There is little scientific backing

Many fad diets such as "the cabbage soup diet" for example, have little to no scientific backing, if they've even been looked into at all.

Unfortunately the diet and health industry can be a get-rich-quick scheme for some people, and they'll create unhealthy and unethical fad diets just to sell them to people under the pretense that they have been tested, when they haven't.

These diets may help you lose weight at first, but they are inevitably unhealthy and unsustainable.

It's only targeted at losing weight

Your diet should be a part of your overall lifestyle and wellbeing, and should be enjoyable and sustainable for you, rather than a restrictive and stressful part of your life.

A lot of fad diets put their main focus on losing weight, rather than creating a healthy lifestyle that works for you. So if you're looking for a new way to eat, or a diet plan to follow - keep this in mind.

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