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Kati Mora: Four Ways to Identify a Fad Diet



Warmer weather often inspires individuals to begin thinking about changing up their current eating practices. Often times this inspiration is the result of a well-planned, up-and-coming summer trip or the desire to be more active. Although this motivation can begin to cultivate positive change, the time frame we envision for the change to take place isn’t necessarily all that realistic.


Despite the temptation to jump onto the latest diet craze or to drastically modify current eating habits to try and meet our goal by summer’s start, most experts would agree that this type of approach to achieving a healthy lifestyle just won’t cut it. In fact, most quick fixes tend to short-change your efforts and may actually impact your health negatively in the long-run. In some cases, trying to achieve a certain goal in too short a time frame could even backfire; this is especially true when it comes to achieving a healthy weight.

If you aren’t quite sure how to identify a quick-fix diet approach or “fad diet,” there are a few tell-tale signs that may help indicate that a plan might not be all that it is marketed to be.

It’s a short term fix.

One of the easiest ways to identify a fad diet is to look at its time frame. If it promises that you will achieve your goals in what seems like an unrealistic time frame, odds are good that its results won’t be long lasting. When it comes to promises of quick weight loss, don’t be surprised if the plan encourages excessively restricting calories, eliminating many possible nutrient-rich food groups, skipping meals, or relying on some sort of supplement, pill, or powder for supposed success. Remember, there are lots of ways to lose weight, some not all that healthy, and often if you lose weight too quickly or drastically, the weight will come back after your meal plan normalizes.

It’ll be fast and easy.

Many fad diets promise to be easy to implement, requiring you to make no real immediate change to your eating habits or level of daily activity. If you find yourself faced with a plan that offers such promises, be on alert. Odds are good that this is a fad diet and won’t help you achieve the results you are looking for. Often these sorts of claims are identified with plans that offer some sort of “magic pill” promising success. To date, there is no such magic cure for achieving weight loss or to improve overall health. These types of dietary aids also tend to be poorly regulated and can often be rather expensive. So instead of spending money on a rather unreliable “magic cure,” consider putting that money to better use through the purchase of more nutrient-rich foods that can be beneficial in building up a well-balanced meal plan that can ensure better, more long-lasting results.

It promises major weight loss in a short time frame.

A plan that emphasizes losing weight at a rate of more than two pounds a week may not necessarily be in your best interest either and a plan touting such results may be another red flag. Losing weight too fast could mean that you are actually losing muscle mass versus fat and this can have some major consequences on your overall metabolism. By slowing metabolism down, it may actually be harder to keep weight off in the long run.

Relies on testimonials versus scientific proof.

Another great way to identify a fad diet is to examine how it works. Many fad diets tend to rely on anecdotal proof versus scientific literature to back up their results. Keep in mind that personal stories are often really inspiring, but it doesn’t mean that the fad diet has been well-tested or works for the majority of people. Before and after photos can also be easily manipulated, so don’t put too much stock in what you see. Instead, keep an eye out for plans of action that rely on multiple and extensive scientific research. Scientific studies take into account many variables and can help us better identify safe and effective ways to approach our healthy eating goals.

Although choosing a quick-fix or fad diet plan may seem like a reasonable way to achieve short-term goals, remember that making drastic changes to any eating plan can have long-term effects whether accounted for or not. Make your change really count by choosing a meal plan that is well-balanced, realistic, and maintainable. It may not be as flashy or as trendy as a glamorous new diet happens to be, but the return on time invested will be far more valuable than any trend passing by.

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