Fad Diet – How to spot a Fad Diet

Written By: Gloria Tsang, RD

Title: Founding Registered Dietitian

Alumni: University of British Columbia

Last Updated on:

Low carb diets have been extremely popular in the past five years thanks to best-selling books such as “The Zone Diet,” “Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution,” etc. Our discussion board had hence been flooded with numerous messages on this topic.

A fad diet is usually defined as a diet whose popularity comes and goes within a short amount of time. The Atkins Diet, for instance, can be described as a fad diet. First published in the 1970s, the Atkins Diet fell out of favor shortly thereafter.

In recent years, the Atkins diet has become popular again, in part because Dr. Atkins revised his book and republished it a few years ago. True to fad diet form, however, the popularity of the Atkins Diet was once again shortlived. In fact, Atkins Nutritionals, Inc. filed for bankruptcy protection in July 2005.

Ten Signs of a Fad Diet

  1. Promises a large or fast weight loss (more than one to two pounds per week)
  2. Does not include suggestions to consult with your doctor or a registered dietitian
  3. Encourages you to eliminate food groups (such as grains) or eat from a limited selection of foods
  4. Offers rigid menus that don’t consider your likes, dislikes and lifestyles
  5. Neglects active living or lifestyle changes
  6. Provides far fewer calories than what is needed for an energized, healthy lifestyle
  7. Contradicts what most trusted health professionals say
  8. Depends on special products, supplements or treatments
  9. Has miraculous claims
  10. Relies on testimonials and anecdotes rather than scientific evidence

Bottom Line

The traditional weight loss method emphasizing a well-balanced diet with a variety of foods including grains, fruits & vegetables, dairy and meat/fish, low in total fats, saturated fats and trans fats in addition to being physically active can result in long lasting weight loss and improved health. This doesn’t sound too exciting, and let’s face it – fad diets sure do know how to hook us, don’t they? However, the traditional weight loss method stands the test of time for a simple reason: It works!


fad diet, saturated fats, trans fat


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