What Makes a Diet a Fad Diet

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From skinny and detox teas and cabbage soup to intermittent fasting and keto… you have probably seen at least one “fad diet” make its way across your phone’s screen this past year.

But what exactly is a fad diet?

First, we can explore the difference between a fad and a trend. According to the Cambridge Dictionary, a trend is “a general development or change in a situation or in the way that people are behaving.” On the flip side, a fad is “a style, activity, or interest that is very popular for a short period of time.”

So by that means, a fad diet is a “stylish” short-lived diet that is popular for just a flash in the pan.

It’s simply a fact that there are SO many diets circulating and while different things work for different people, it’s important to know how to spot a fad diet.

Here are some parameters you can use to tell whether a diet is a fad:

  1. It promotes “fast” weight loss
  2. It places heavy restrictions on foods or food groups
  3. There are “good” and “bad” foods
  4. Inflexible menus
  5. Lack of exercise included
  6. Testimonials promoting the diet

Eat Right states that if a diet “sounds too good to be true, it probably is”. And we wholeheartedly agree. If you can’t picture yourself eating this way for the rest of your life, the diet is probably a fad.

There are some heavy debates on whether or not the keto diet is considered a fad. After all, how long is “too long” for a fad? In the early 2000s, people on Atkins probably assumed this was a diet that was around for the long haul, but people “on Atkins” are few and far between today.

Regardless, both of these diets heavily restrict a major food macronutrient (carbohydrates), and therefore would be considered fads because they are rarely sustainable for the “rest of one’s life”.

What are the types of fad diets?

Foodwatch has a great list of fad diets and their false promises, including:

  1. Single food diets – like only eating hard-boiled eggs. You will lose weight by only allowing yourself to eat one type of food and therefore, undereat for a few days.
  2. Fasts or semi-fasts – skipping meals or replacing meals with juices, lemon water, or teas. You will lose weight by undereating.
  3. Targeted weight loss diets – “butt burner diet” or “hip and thigh diet”. These simply don’t work because you can’t control where you lose weight!
  4. Low carb diets – losing water weight by avoiding carbohydrates. You will lose a lot of water weight right away therefore seeing immediate “success” and gratification, but the weight comes back as soon as you eat a carb.

Overall, it’s clear that fad diets are not for the long haul. Heck, it’s right there in the name!

Now that you know what to avoid when it comes to dieting, you can search for one that is sustainable in the long term, makes you feel happy and healthy, and includes an active lifestyle.

Working with a certified nutritionist or fitness trainer is a great way to go about finding a lifestyle and diet that works for you.

The information in this article is intended for your educational use only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health programs.

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