Obesity Fad Diets

Many fast fad diets and quick-fix weight loss programs abound, claiming easy, no-fail weight loss. Some are yo-yo diets where weight returns when the diet ends, some severely restrict caloric intake, and still others proclaim the superiority of one particular food item or group.

Although fast fad diets aren’t considered healthy and they generally aren’t diets that work, they still attract the attention of people everywhere.

Identifying Fast Fad Diets

How can you distinguish fast fad diets from diets that work? Here are some warning signs of fad diets:

  • Claims of rapid weight loss
  • Diets that severely restrict or advocate one food group
  • Large, general claims based on little evidence
  • Programs that appear to rely on “chemical reactions”
  • Scientific-sounding claims made without scientific evidence.

Do Fast Fad Diets Work?

Generally speaking, there is no “miracle diet.” Fad diets “work” by claiming that fluid loss is equivalent to weight loss, but little actual fat is lost. In fact, many of these will put your health at risk. Some of the better-known fad diets, including the high carb diet, the low carb diet and others, are outlined below.

Low Carb Diets

Low carb diets allow large amounts of fat and protein to be consumed while severely restricting carbohydrates (most pastas, fruits and breads).

When the body doesn’t get the energy it needs from these carbohydrates, it breaks down fat and muscle (the first step towards starvation). Substances called ketones form in the bloodstream. Although low carb diets suppress appetite, they may also increase:

  • Fatigue
  • Fluid loss
  • Nausea.

High Carb Diets

Unlike low carb diets, a high carb diet claims to reduce weight by restricting fat consumption and increasing complex carbohydrates. Naturally, the role of carbohydrates in weight loss is hotly contested between supporters of low carb diets and supporters of high carb diets.

The Grapefruit Diet

This fad is based on the assumption that grapefruit contains fat-burning enzymes. You eat half a grapefruit before every meal and your daily calorie intake to roughly 800 calories. This is a dangerously low amount, especially when combined with the suggested amount of caffeine-based drinks. Scientifically, fat-burning enzymes have not been found in grapefruit.

The Cabbage Soup Diet

This is another short-term, weight-reducing program. During the cabbage soup diet, you eat only this soup for a week. This is supposed to help you lose 10 to 15 pounds. The recipe used for this diet can’t provide the body with all the necessary nutrients it needs, leaving many people feeling weak and lightheaded after only a few days.

Diets That Work

Fast fad diets rely on the hope that weight loss can occur easily and quickly. In truth, the only diets that work are those that make permanent, long-term changes to eating habits and exercise.


Diets in Review. (n.d.). Cabbage soup diet. Retrieved May 25, 2010, from http://www.dietsinreview.com/diets/Cabbage_Soup_Diet/.

Fad Diet. (n.d.). Information about fad diets. Retrieved May 27, 2010, from http://www.faddiet.com/.

Healthy Eating Club. (2004). Weight loss diets: Low, moderate or high carbohydrate? Retrieved May 25, 2010, from http://www.healthyeatingclub.com/info/articles/body-shape/lowcarbevidence.htm.

Mayo Clinic. (2010). Low-carb diet. Retrieved May 25, 2010, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/low-carb-diet/nu00279.