The Truth About Fad Diets

Have you ever heard your friends brag about being on an amazing weight loss diet?  Maybe you felt out of the loop, wondering what these “miracle” diets are all about, and why you’re missing out on the perceived benefits.  Fret not! We’re here to reveal the truth behind these diets and whether or not they are all they’re cracked up to be.

“Fad” diets often promise quick weight loss results while restricting food groups such as carbohydrates. They sometimes promise that food can change your body chemistry or even your genes. Fad diets often contradict government regulated food guides.

Instead of going through each Fad diet and pointing out the pros and cons of each one, we’ve put together a list of “truths” for you to use as a reference and point of comparison whenever you come across a diet that piques your interest.


Here goes:

  • Weight loss does not result from eating a specific ratio of carbohydrates, fat or protein, but rather results from expending more energy than you take in
  • Some diets claim to “reset your genetic code” but genes are inherited and you cannot alter your genetic code with what you eat
  • Your brain depends on glucose for energy, and the primary source of glucose is carbohydrates, not protein, so watch out for high-protein, low carbohydrate recommendations
  • Balanced eating does not limit or overemphasize certain foods (some examples of this are: “eat cabbage soup only” or “legumes are bad”)
  • Carbohydrates are not toxic, unhealthy or dangerous, but to avoid weight gain, it’s important to pay attention to portion size and try to consume them as whole, natural sources such as such as brown rice, oats, whole-wheat pasta and whole-wheat bread, barley, or quinoa.
  • Caution is warranted in the use of injections that claim to promote rapid weight loss. Long-term weight loss plans include a restriction of total calories, and a regular exercise program.
  • Many of the so-called “magic” weight-loss plans include herbal laxative nutritional supplements that sure, will make your bowel movements more regular, but they are not reducing calorie intake. The reason? Absorption of nutrients occurs mainly in the upper small intestine and laxatives act on the lower large intestine, so these types of weight loss pills will not diminish nutrient absorption or reduce calorie intake. Not to mention, they often result in diarrhea, cramping, and nausea.
  • Good nutrition is an important component of weight loss – dropping weight without consuming essential nutrients from all food groups, is not sustainable or healthy
  • Nutritional supplements won’t help you lose weight in themselves, but they may help support energy and can help ensure you’re getting all your vitamins to support a healthy, balanced diet


So the next time you’re contemplating a new diet plan, keep this list on hand and ask yourself whether or not the diet claims are sound. At the end of the day remember that Fad diets, like any trend, come and go and are not usually based on scientific evidence.



(1) Wartian Smith, P. (2008). What You Must Know about Vitamins, Minerals, Herbs & More. Garden City Park, NY: Square One Publishers.

(2) Whitney, E., Rady Rolfes, S. (2005). Understanding Nutrition. Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadworth.


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