The Facts on Fad Diets

Fad diets range in their procedure and they range in the spurious science that they claim to be based on – the only thing that is universal among them is the fact that they don’t work and that they are a waste of your time and your high hopes.

The problem with fad diets is apparent from their definition – they are ‘fad diets’ which suggest that they are flash-in-the-pan trends that won’t last and presumably don’t have much meat on them (in some cases literally). That literally is what a fad diet is – and if it worked it wouldn’t be a ‘fad’ it would be ‘science’.

Essentially we all know how to diet, and there is just one simple rule for losing weight – all you have to do is to eat your food in the same ratios that you know to be ‘normal’ (that means not eliminating anything – even fats or carbs) but eating less of it and leaving less of it on your plates.

But why don’t fad diets work? What is it about them that makes them doomed to failure? Here we will look at some of the common errors made by fad diets.

Triggering the Fasting Response

When your body thinks it isn’t getting enough food it responds simply by storing more of the food that does come in as fat. In other words it’s like a squirrel hiding its nuts for winter (what’s actually happening is that your mitochondria are becoming more effective thus resulting in their being able to get more energy from the same amount of carbs) and this then makes it much much harder for us to lose any weight. Worse, it means that when we then do eat a normal diet again our weight will suddenly yo-yo.

Yo-yo-ing Weight Is Bad for You

Losing and gaining weight that quickly is very bad for your body. Essentially what this does is to force your heart to work much harder (as you gain the weight) thus becoming larger and stronger, and then suddenly putting it in a position where your body is much smaller meaning it’s pumping too hard and it withers relatively, before suddenly rocketing up in weight again and leaving it with no time to adapt. This ultimately puts you at risk of various heart problems – particularly if you have other conditions associated with obesity such as high cholesterol.

Misunderstanding of Science

Many of these fad diets simply fail to understand the basic science on which they claim to be founded. My parents once went on a diet where they weren’t allowed to eat carbs and protein at the same time, the reason being that the diet stated carbs could only be converted into fat if you ate protein at the same time. I would have kicked up a stink and told them to stop but in my defence I was about five.

First of all, your body doesn’t only have protein in your body when you’re eating it – that protein is stored all over the place ready for use and it’s only after a long time that it’s either excreted or stored – waiting for a few hours between lunch and dinner isn’t going to cut it. At the same time though most protein contains at least some carbs and vice versa – is broccoli a protein or a carb? Well it’s classed as a carb but it certainly has protein in it (how do you think vegetarians avoid falling apart?), and likewise what about beef? That’s of course a protein but it has fat and carbs included. In other words this diet is utter nonsense because it’s impossible apart from anything else.

They’re Too Strict

Fad diets are also practically flawed in that for the most part, no one is likely to stick to them. Fad diets tend to require that people eat only syrup for week, or that they don’t eat any carbs at all – and even if that was at all advisable, it would still be essentially impossible for anyone to stick to that and enjoy any kind of normal life – by giving themselves an impossible task they have right away doomed themselves to failure. Surely it would be easier to just stick to a generally more healthy diet?


One big aspect where fad diets go wrong is simply in the fact that they don’t provide you with enough nutrition because you are ruling out entire food groups. This then leaves your body without the carbs it needs to run your basal metabolic functions (like blinking), without the calcium you need to build strong and healthy bones, or without the B12 you need for brain and nerve function. In short it’s not healthy to completely eliminate anything from your diet, even for just a short amount of time.

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