Fad diets are diets that claim or promise rapid weight loss through a specific food plan or program, often without any backing by reputable or reliable scientific evidence. These diets are typically geared towards individuals who are looking to lose weight quickly, regardless of the risks or health concerns. Unfortunately, it’s the health risks and concerns that make fad diets bad for most people.
They’re not sustainable
Fad diets, by their very nature, are not sustainable. They offer unproven food plans or programs claiming rapid weight loss and aren’t viable for the long term. This means that even if you lose weight, you won’t be able to keep it off because you won’t be on this fad diet for the long term. So, the moment that you get off this fad diet, you will most likely start gaining back the weight you lost. This is because you didn’t learn how to eat better for the long term, the fad diet only taught you how to eat for short-term weight loss and often via extreme measures.
Additionally, most fad diets only help you to lose water weight and not actual body fat[i]. So, once you get off this fad diet, you will most likely put back on that water weight.
Most fad diets, if not all of them, don’t have a nutritionally balanced food plan. They severely restrict certain foods or remove food groups that often contain essential nutrients. Additionally, these fad diets don’t make up for the loss of nutrients via other foods within their eating plans/programs. So, you can potentially lose out on vitamins and minerals from the removed or restricted foods, without getting any additional foods to help you meet your daily requirements of vitamins and minerals. The same can be said for fad diets that severely restrict carbs, proteins and fat.
Potential Health Risks and Side Effects
Fad diets can pose a wide range of side effects from mild discomfort to serious health risks. The following is a list of well-known fad diets and their potential health risks:
High Carbs, Low Fat – this diet calls for users to consume large amounts of carbohydrates, while reducing fat intake to an extreme minimum.
- Can experience bouts of depression due to not enough fatty acids in your diet
- When the body is starved of fat, the nervous system can’t function optimally which can lead to flu-like symptoms[ii]
- High amounts of carbs can lead to higher levels of blood glucose
High Protein – these type of fad diets are typically used by individuals looking to build muscle and lose weight. However, excessive amounts of protein can lead to the following issues:
- Strains your liver and kidneys
- Can cause kidney stones
- Causes gastrointestinal issues
- Not enough calcium intake which leads to bone health issues
Low Carb Diets – these fad diets severely restrict all foods that are high in carbs. These foods can range from fruits and vegetables to breads and starches. Carbs are essential to many processes within the human body. Without carbs, you may experience the following:
- Keto breath
- Lack of energy, Poor athletic performance
- Increased risk of chronic diseases
- Increased high blood pressure and heart disease
- Dizziness or light-headedness