Are You On A Fad Diet? (5 signs to look for)

Are You On A Fad Diet? (5 signs to look for)


This is a guest post written by Jonathan Dunsky.

broken-dietIn a recent post Evelyn wrote about the dangers of fad diets and the importance of creating healthier habits for long-term weight loss and health. That was an important post and good advice, but there is one piece of the puzzle that’s missing: how do you know if a diet is a fad diet or not?

There is no rule book to give you a definitive answer, but I believe that the following 5 signs may indicate that a diet plan is indeed a fad and may be wiser to avoid (or follow with caution):

1. Calls For Eating Specific Foods For No Apparent Reason

One thing which many fad diets have is an obsession with a specific food which they require you to eat. There’s the egg diet, the Japanese banana diet, and this diet plan which calls for eating cabbage soup in large quantities. Most of the time, the reason why this food is good for you is farfetched if not totally bogus.

Whenever you see something like this you may have stumbled on a fad diet.

2. There’s a Big Gimmick Involved

Gimmicks sell. The more simple and catchy the gimmick is the better it is for the person who wrote the diet book or program. They can now sell more copies, get more press coverage, and appear on more “gimmick hungry” TV shows.

Having a gimmick is similar to having a specific food: it’s something that was created to set this diet plan apart from all the others, even though it often makes little sense. The reality is that gimmicks may be good for sales, but they’re not likely good for your waistline. So, avoid diets with absurd gimmicks.

3.Very Strict Program

I believe in making big changes in your life to lose weight and improve your health. However, I don’t believe in crash diets or very low-calorie routines. Often, fad diet are extremely strict. Since there is no real method to them, all they usually do is tell you to cut your calories down very low. For instance, this very low-calorie diet requires you to eat 200 – 800 calories each day.

If this seems crazy to you, it’s because it is. This is truly insane and may lead to various adverse effects on your health. You can lose weight without going through agony and starvation-style diets.

4. Promise of a Huge Weight Loss In A Short Time

If a diet plan is promoted as a way to lose an insane amount of weight in a very short time, it is likely a fad diet.

The reality is that most of this weight loss will be water. You won’t lose a lot of body fat, which is what you really want. In addition, it may be very hard to maintain this weight loss into the future.

5. Little Or No Call For Exercise

Fad diets are all about being easy and simple. This is why most of them don’t call for any exercise or very little of it. It tends to make things seem hard and who wants that, right?

Now, you can lose weight without exercising. All you need to do is maintain a good diet plan. So, not all exercise-free programs are fad diets. However, if any of signs 1 – 4 also apply, it increases the chance that this is indeed a fad diet plan that you’re considering.

Fad diets are not the answer. They often lead to short-term results at best. You need to follow a sensible eating plan and do regular workouts to achieve real results. Forget about gimmicks and fads. Have patience, work hard, and you will look and feel better.

Image: Stuart Miles /

Tags: , , , ,

About the Author

Jonathan Dunsky lost 30 pounds and has kept them off for over 12 years. He blogs at World Of Diets where he writes about fitness, nutrition, and weight loss tips for men and women.

17 Enlightened Replies

Trackback  •  Comments RSS

  1. Phil says:

    Fad diets are for people who are looking for a quick way to loose waight but beware once you stop the pounds will pile back on, the only way to loose weight and keep it off is a sensible diet and plenty of exercise

  2. Fitness Weapons says:

    Great article. I always advise my clients against fad diets. Unfortunately, I find many clients looking for quick fixes; some simply don’t want to do the work it takes to reach their fitness goals. Your point about little or no exercise was so poignant…and simple exercises can do the trick. Good stuff!

  3. Laura Miguel says:

    I have to agree that going into a overly strict diet is one of the worst ideas ever. What I don’t get is why a lot of people are so into this kind of eating habit when it only diminishes their well-being. Someone has to break this misconception soon.

  4. Corey says:

    Fad diets will always be around because we are looking for a quick fix. Logically we all know it takes eating healthy and exercise to maintain our weight, but in the back of our minds we just hope “this one” will work really fast really easy and I won’t have to sweat!

    Healthy easting with exercise is the way to go.

  5. Paul says:

    As long as people keep trying to find a quick fix then there will always be a market for fad diets, the word weight loss should be removed from the dictionary and be replaced with healthy, as that is all you need to remain slim. no processed food, cook from scratch and a bit of exercise, it’s not rocket science and it’s what most slim people do and don’t actually realize that they do it.

  6. Christine says:

    The most frustrating fact in all of this is when you get bitten by the harsh reality, like when I was too obsessed of losing weight through every way possible. And this is where I got into fad diets that did not help me at all. Thanks for bringing this to attention.

  7. Mike says:

    As long as people are trying to lose weight, there will always be fad diets popping up. Proper nutrition and consistent exercise are the foundation to losing weight.

  8. Hey Jonathan!

    These signs are so true. If something is too good to be true, it probably is.

    I agree with you, that having a sensible eating plan and exercising is the key to maintaining a healthy weight and body.

    Thanks for your post!


  9. jan says:

    Jonathan how did you lose 30 pounds? I lost 26 pounds and half of those found me again! But I have kept the other half off for more than a year now and seem to be holding. Fad diets will always be popular because people always want to lose weight quickly, yesterday in fact. I did the cabbage soup diet many, many years ago and lasted a day. I re-learned good eating habits at Weight Watchers which was fantastic but for some of us it seems to be a lifelong struggle.

    • I simply watched my diet, workout out often, and changed my mindset.

      I decided that I was going to make a change and made a promise to myself to succeed no matter what.

      • jan says:

        Good for you – I don’t hear a story like that too often! It takes a lot of determination to change by yourself and to change your mindset. I went to Weight Watchers which was one of the best things that I have ever did because it helped me to change my relationship with food back to “normal”.

  10. Mhikkai says:

    Exercise is not the only reason we can lose weight.. Healthy eating is a big help too.. Thanks for this!

  11. Zukidaru Ru says:

    hello, you can do it very well, but you must hardwork…

    now simple, you only learn from your experiences…

  12. Julie says:

    So many people look for the easy way out, but you need to exercise and diet to lose weight. Its what helped me to lose inner thigh fat.

  13. nando eriawan says:

    that’s right, If we want to lose weight, we shouldn’t in hurry to be success in diet or it will affect our body. just less some food that harms the body like the increasing of weight as a habit, and someday we will get what we want, that is losing weight.