Fad Diets

 By Mizpah Matus B.Hlth.Sc(Hons)

The definition of a fad diet is very subjective.

Many people use the term to deride what they consider is a poor weight loss diet.

However fad diets are simply a weight loss diets that become very popular (often quickly) and then may fall out of favor (sometimes just as quickly).

A list of fad diets can vary depending on the author.

Just because a diet is called a “fad” does not necessarily mean the diet is a failure.

However, some can be dangerous because of their very low calorie levels and the poor nutrition they promote.

Potentially Dangerous Fad Diets

Acai Berry DietThe acai berry has gained extreme popularity since being promoted on the Oprah Show.
3 Day dietThere are many incarnations of 3 day diet floating around. These kind of diet are popular due to the promise of instant gratification. There is never any long term success with such a diet.
Cabbage Soup Diet This diet is not sustainable but continues to fall in and out favor.
Mayo Clinic Diet (unofficial)This diet is not associated with the Mayo Clinic, but they do have an official diet reviewed here.
HCG DietThis diet has exploded in popularity in 2009, but is it a legitimate way to lose weight or should the HCG diet be considered an unhealthy fad?
Negative Calorie Diet Based on a concept with little science to back it up.
Hollywood dietLow in Calories and involves drinking a “miracle juice”.
Apple Cider Vinegar DietPromotes using ACV to lose weight but too much can be harmful.
Sacred Heart DietVery low in calories and revolves around soup recipes.
Beverly Hills DietThis diet supposedly reveals the rich celebrity’s diet secrets.
Grapefruit DietThis diet says that grapefruit burns fat, but grapefruit can interact with medication, so beware.
Tapeworm DietIt is undeniable that people will resort to extreme measures in a desperate attempt to shed those extra pounds. But ingesting tapeworms in order to lose weight is not only a radical method but also an extremely dangerous one.

Other Fad Diets: Popular but not Necessarily Dangerous

17 Day DietVery popular in 2011 and continues to dominate.
AtkinsAlthough written in the 1970s, Atkins Diet Revolution became a huge phenomenon only in the last few years.
Dukan DietThis low carb diet came from France and shot to popularity.
HCG DietThis diet has exploded in popularity in 2009, but is it a legitimate way to lose weight or should the HCG diet be considered an unhealthy fad?
Paleo DietThis diet rejects modern eating and urges dieters to eat as their ancient ancestors did.
Liquid Amino DietA low calorie diet combined with using amino acid/herb drops.
Low Fat diet Very popular during the 1980s and 1990s.
Low Carb dietExperienced a huge surge in popularity during 2003-2004 – but interest began to decline towards the end of 2004.
Zone DietMany consider the Zone diet to be a fad diet – however this diet continues to remain popular with many.
South Beach DietThe South Beach continues to be one of the biggest selling diet books of all time. Enthusiasm for the diet has not yet faded, and it maybe unfair to call this a fad.
Fat Loss 4 IdiotsThis diet is supposed to be so simple that anyone can lose weight.
Blood Type DietThis diet urges people to only eat the foods suited for his/her blood type.

Other Definitions of a Fad Diet

Some nutritionists define a fad diet by a series of questions rather than assessing popularity:

  • Recommendations that promise a quick fix
  • Dire warnings of dangers from a single product or regimen
  • Claims that sound too good to be true
  • Simplistic conclusions drawn from a complex study
  • Recommendations based on a single study
  • Dramatic statements that are refuted by reputable scientific organizations
  • Lists of “good” and “bad” foods
  • Recommendations made to help sell a product
  • Recommendations based on studies published without review by other researchers
  • Recommendations from studies that ignore differences among individuals or groups
  • Eliminated one or more of the five food groups
 By Mizpah Matus B.Hlth.Sc(Hons)
Last Reviewed: July 9, 2014
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