How to Identify a Fad Diet

Learn to choose a quality diet plan that’s safe and right for you with these 3 tips.

By: Amanda Palmer

With countless he-said, she-said diet plans and miracle weight-loss programs, of course it’s difficult to understand what will work for you. The truth is, there’s no magic to it. Read on so you can quickly identity (and ditch) those fly-by-night fad diets.

Diet Basics
The human body requires a significant amount of fuel to run properly. The better the fuel, the better the performance.

The adult body needs daily portions of vegetables, fruits, grains, dairy, fats and protein. If there’s a diet forbidding any of these groups, it’s a fad.

Everything that goes into your body should have a purpose. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health lay it out: Proteins for recovery and amino acid production; vitamins and minerals for clearing toxins and upping organ function; dairy for calcium; grains for fibre and glucose, which fuels your brain; and fats for energy and healthy skin.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics goes further to support slow, steady weight loss. So if you see something with the words “rapid” or “fast” in it, walk away. When a person loses weight quickly, they not only lose muscle, bone density, and water, they also usually gain the weight back, plus some.

Diet Red Flags

  • If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Pills, powders, and liquid meal replacements are red flags, which can drain your wallet.
  • Without complete nutrition, you can expect headaches, nausea, intense cravings, light-headedness, gas and water retention.
  • If a diet promotes weight loss without exercise, it’s a fad. Taking a 20-minute walk after dinner or waking up before dawn to run a few miles — it all counts. Movement burns unused calories that would otherwise settle into tiny storage units called fat cells.

The Bottom Line
Losing weight does not happen overnight. Practicing proper eating habits is a learned skill. Look for eating plans that include all food groups, promote exercise and teach you about health and nutrition. Knowing how to shop for, plan and prepare meals is a game-changer. In the end, your diet turns into your lifestyle. Slow and steady always wins.
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