5 Reasons Why Diet Fads Never Work. Here’s What Does

Do you keep trying new diets? Changing food habits frequently or abruptly  may harm health - The Economic Times

A fad diet is a very confusing word.  It can mean the type of food we eat or a temporary weight loss meal plan that most of us refer to!

If we consider it as a weight loss program, the diet does not work.  Here are five reasons why fad diets don’t work.

Fad diets showcase the wrong kind of weight loss.

Let’s put it aside: many fad diets are popular because they work for a few weeks or months.  People lose 10-15 pounds pretty quickly (as the diet promises), but that’s all they get.  Your diet may be losing weight, but it may not be fat.  Weight loss could be a loss of fibre, a loss of muscle mass, or even a simple loss of water.

This is because fad diets are, in general, deprivation diets.  There is no fast fad diet that can promise you significant weight loss and a balanced, complete intake of nutrients.  That’s why most diets you’ll hear about turn into a villain (or savior) from certain ingredients or macronutrients.  No starches, no carbohydrates, just grapefruit or acai berries – these are the dietary restrictions many people go through on a fad diet.

Will eating less starch and carbohydrates (or just grapefruit) help you lose weight?  Obviously!  This is what hunger would be like.  Submitting to strict dietary restrictions will not guarantee long-term health.  It will only prevent your body from the balanced amount of nutrients it needs, creating long-term health problems.  Be very sceptical of any diet that overemphasized or slanders a particular type of food.

Fad diets make dieters more sensitive to weight gain.

When you instantly deny your body the food it needs, whether it’s bread, pasta, or dairy, you’re potentially speeding up your cortisol levels (based on the strength of the craving).  Cortisol is the “stress” hormone, which gives out glucose into the blood for immediate use by large muscle groups.  It also stores insulin processing, causing “insulin resistance”, the main problem in type 2 diabetes.

High cortisol levels condition your body to develop visceral (under the muscle) fat, starve your glucose cells, and force your body to send constant hunger signals to the brain, causing you to overeat.  Now, if you can resist your cravings, your cortisol levels drop, and you become more used to your lifestyle, reducing your chances of gaining weight.

However, remember that Fad diets should be temporary.  This indicates that once you are done with the diet and reached your ideal weight, you will begin to respond to your cortisol rise with increased food intake.  Research shows that 83% of dieters tend to regain their weight after a fad diet, but that’s not the only problem.  The fad diet also leads to a question known as the “weight cycle”, which is when the body loses and gains weight over and over again.  Ironically, the weight cycle of fad diets makes your body fat faster and easier, regardless of your body genetics.

This means that even if you lose 20 pounds every time you are on a diet, you will regain those 20 pounds (and then something) a little easier each time.  Over time, you will end up weighing more than you ever have been during trendy diets.

Fad diets don’t break your bad habits (ignore them).

Diet is a short-sighted strategy that does not lead to lasting changes.  Although some foods are healthier than others, it is neither realistic nor healthy to give yourself a list of foods to eat “always” or “never” without addressing the root causes of your eating behaviours.  For example:

Can you say “no” to office baked goods or do you succumb to temptation every time?

Do you wake up early enough to make a healthy breakfast, or rush to a drive-thru or a quick bowl of cold cereal?

Can you honestly say that you’ve ever been able to go on a diet for more than a few months without giving up?

Fad diets are impractical

Actress and health celebrity has been offering a popular type of diet for years.  The diet plan requires dieters to eat foods in groups and includes rules such as “if you eat protein foods, wait 3 hours before eating carbohydrates” or “eat only fruit on an empty stomach”.

These rules may result in short-term weight loss, but what kind of flexibility does it offer?  Is this a plan diet that an average person can stick to?

With so many different diet plans, promotions and fads out there, it’s always tough to know which one to follow. In times like these, it might make sense to search through social media to find influencers that have already posted their weight loss and health journey. However, try to stay away from any that are paid spokespersons, as you want truly legitimate stories.

Most diets work because they limit the period and ways you can eat to a rigorous routine.  But if its weight can only be lowered through body manipulation, eating habits and military precision, then it’s unlikely it can be sustained for years.  Even if your diet promises some freedom with what you eat, it probably limits the amount you eat a lot, causing the same problem.

Fad diet can make metabolism go down

Did you know that the way to losing weight is maintaining your correct metabolism?  Before trying the next fad diet, pay attention – you are missing out on a proven weight loss technique!  When we are stuck eating (or not eating) the same things over and over again, our metabolism begins to slow.


If you are concerned that a weight loss program may be a fad diet, do some research, look for the science behind the diet’s claims. For the latest information and resources on each of the topics listed above, be sure to check out this fad diets list from US News.

Outside of other well known sites and blogs, be sure to visit social media and follow the top influencers as well. A good solution is to work with a registered dietician or nutritionist to create a sensible diet that is effective for you.