Center for Young Women's Health

Fad Diets vs. Healthy Weight Management



  • Weight loss with fad diets is usually temporary.
  • Fad diets can be harmful to your body.
  • The best way to lose weight and keep it off is by making small changes such as avoiding sugary beverages, watching your portions, and exercising more.

Fad diets are marketed as quick ways to lose weight. The most popular fad tend to change from year to year, but the promises they make don't. Diets such as low-carb diets, the master cleanse, the grapefruit diet, and even the cookie diet are all fads. Read on to learn how to spot a fad diet and find out about healthier ways to manage your weight.


Do fad diets work?

Some people will lose weight while following a fad diet, but most fad diets are impossible to stick to for long. This means that once you stop following the diet, you'll probably gain back the weight you lost. Some people actually gain back all the weight, plus more.


Fad diets don't usually provide enough vitamins and minerals, which can lead to health problems such as anemia (low iron in your blood) and osteoporosis (a condition that causes your bones to break easily when you don't take in enough calcium and vitamin D).


How can you spot a fad diet?

You can spot a fad diet by asking yourself a few simple questions:

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you've probably spotted a fad diet. Advertising that promotes these diets is often very convincing. These ads may draw you in and make you believe that it's super easy to follow the diet and lose weight. Don't be fooled. This type of weight loss plan is really just a quick fix and not healthy way to lose weight.


Are there healthier ways to manage weight?

Yes. There are much healthier ways to manage weight rather than following a fad diet. We lose weight by eating fewer calories than our bodies burn. To lose weight, add calorie-burning activities into your day, and cut down on your portion sizes or the amount of food that you eat. Be sure not to restrict your calories too much, though.


You can make some easy changes to cut back on the calories you eat by:

Simple ways to fit exercise into your day include:

Is there a way to tell if a diet is healthy?

The healthiest way to successfully lose weight is to make small changes that will fit into your lifestyle. An easy way to make sure that a weight loss program is healthy and right for you, is to see if it includes the following:

If your weight loss plan includes all of the above, it's most likely a healthy approach.


Remember to eat a variety of foods from all the food groups. Choose fruits and vegetables from all the colors of the rainbow to get important nutrients for your body. It's okay to eat treats once in a while. Always choose healthy portion sizes and try to do 60 minutes of exercise most days of the week. Making these healthy changes will help you to lose weight, and then keep the weight off.


Updated: 12/10/2012


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