Fad Dieting


Fad Diets (AKA Food Fads) are diets based on popularity. Most are considered fads even though they have been around for decades because of the spike in usage every couple of years. Most have you consume between 500-1000 calories per day max. They usually promote short-term weight loss, with no real concern for long-term weight maintenance.


There are 3 main types of fad dieting:

  1. Particular food or food group is believed to cure specific diseases.
  2. Foods eliminated from an individual’s diet because they are viewed as harmful.
  3. Eating certain foods to express a particular lifestyle.

Diets often considered Fad Diets are not meant to be followed for more then a specific amount of time. They often promise that you will lose 10 plus pounds in a matter of days. None of it is actual fat loss. It is water weight. You see the results and are in awe! The scale and your clothes show the results too. You are soooo happy you did this diet, because it worked. You have proof!!!!! Feeling all kinds of good about yourself now, you stop the diet or it ends and within a couple of days, you have gained all the weight back. Now, you are feeling defeated. What do you do? You decide to do the same diet again or to try the next greatest weight loss thing, all because you want to feel good again about the weight loss you just experienced! Side effects be damned! And boy are there side effects to these diets!



Here is a list of some of the most popular Fad Diets…


For those of you that know me, I am NOT a fan of dieting…especially Fad Dieting. I am doing this post in hopes that you the reader, will pause for a minute and think about your health a little but more before trying one of these. Are the side effects and risks really worth it?


This diet is a 7 day diet that consists of a short list of fruit and veggies, skim milk and meat with cabbage soup as the main food source, only taking in 800-1,050 calories per day.  Experts agree that any diet under 1,200 calories per day is unsafe unless you’re under a doctor’s care. This diet does not give you enough nutritionally to sustain you long term. Most people get bored with this diet because of the limited foods.

Most common side effects reported with this diet are feeling lightheaded and dizzy, weak, constipated and bloating by day 3, trouble sleeping, headaches and decreased concentration.

Here is an example of a week on the diet…

Day 1

Fruit: Eat all of the fruit you want (except bananas). Eat only your soup and the fruit for the first day. For drinks- unsweetened teas, cranberry juice and water.

Day 2

Vegetables: Eat until you are stuffed will all fresh, raw or cooked vegetables of your choice. Try to eat leafy green vegetables and stay away from dry beans, peas and corn. Eat all the vegetables you want along with your soup. At dinner, reward yourself with a big baked potato with butter. Do not eat fruit today.

Day 3

Mix Days One and Two: Eat all the soup, fruits and vegetables you want. No Baked Potato.

Day 4

Bananas and Skim Milk: Eat as many as eight bananas and drink as many glasses of skim milk as you would like on this day, along with your soup. This day is supposed to lessen your desire for sweets.

Day 5

Beef And Tomatoes: Ten to twenty ounces of beef and up to six fresh tomatoes. Drink at least 6 to 8 glasses of water this day to wash the uric acid from your body. Eat your soup at least once this day. You may eat broiled or baked chicken instead of beef (but absolutely no skin-on chicken). If you prefer, you can substitute broiled fish for beef on one of the beef days (but not both).

Day 6:

Beef and Vegetables: Eat to your heart’s content of beef and vegetables this day. You can even have 2 or 3 steaks if you like, with leafy green vegetables. No Baked Potato. Eat your soup at least once.

Day 7

Brown rice, unsweetened fruit juices and vegetables: Again stuff, stuff, stuff yourself. Be sure to eat your soup at least once this day.

This diet is not meant to be used more then 7 days. Most claim you will lose 10 pounds in the 7 days. Experts say that is not possible. You can not lose 10 pounds of fat in 7 days. Most experts claim it is only water weight.

Grapefruit Diet:


This diet is a low-carb, high protein, high fat diet that usually lasts for 12 days (although there are different variations) 10 days on the diet with the last two days being “break” days. The calorie intake ranges between 800 – 1,000 calories per day. This diet eliminates sweet fruit and veggies, starchy veggies,  grains and cereals and all sugars while encouraging high fat meats (bacon), protein (eggs, red meat, pork, and poultry). You can use all the butter and salad dressing you want and prepare foods in any method, including fried.The only beverages you may drink are grapefruit juice, tea and coffee (must be unsweetened) and 64 ounces of water daily. Any food or beverage not on the diet is not allowed. Snacking is only permitted after dinner. The claim is you will loose 10 pounds in 12 days. Although just like in the Cabbage diet, experts say it is only water weight and not actual fat loss.

Most common side effects are headaches, nausea, dizziness, trouble sleeping, dry mouth, high blood pressure, nervousness, and stroke (not kidding).

Here is an example of the diet…


Half of a grapefruit or 8 ounce of grapefruit juice, a cup of tea or coffee, 2 eggs and 2 slices of bacon.

Lunch :

Salad with any dressing, meat prepared any way, 1/2 grapefruit or 8 ounces of grapefruit juice


Meat or fish cooked in any way, red or green vegetables, coffee or tea and half of a grapefruit or 8 ounces of grapefruit juice.


A cup of vegetable juice such as tomato juice or skim milk.

Israeli Army Diet:


This is an 8 day diet made popular in the 1970’s.  It was promoted as being based on the diet used by the Israel Defense Forces for new recruits but had no connection whatsoever with the Israeli Army. This diet is where you literally eat only the named foods for 2 days. Nothing else. There is no mention of specifics of the variety, how much to consume or how to prepare the said foods. Only that you eat the exact same thing for 2 days straight and eat nothing else. An example would be the Day 1-2 with the apples. You would have to choose one kind of apple and eat it the same way for those 2 days. No variation is allowed. Black coffee, water and tea are the only beverages allowed in this diet. There is no real calorie count for this diet. Like the others it promises that you will lose 10 pounds in a week but just like the others you will not actually lose fat, only water weight gain.

Days 1 and 2 Apples

Days 3-4  Cheese

Days 5-6 Chicken

Days 7-8 Greens


HCG Diet:


HCG AKA Human Chorionic Gonadotropin is a hormone produced during pregnancy. Medically, it is primarily used for treating fertility issues. However, the HCG I am talking about is used as a diet. You are said to lose 2 pounds a day on this diet. To make it more fun, there are now 2 versions of this diet.

Common side effects are formation of gallstones, headaches, fatigue, irritability, restlessness, depression, fluid retention, enlargement and rupture of ovarian cysts, blood clots, testicular tumors, ovarian hyper-stimulation syndrome (OHSS), early puberty when used on young boys, breast tenderness and swelling, multiple births in pregnant women, extreme constipation irregular heartbeat, and an imbalance of electrolytes.

Version 1 (AKA The Simeons Protocol 1950’s) :

The Original HCG Diet version involves daily injections of HCG  along with a 500-calorie diet AKA (VLCD) Very Low Calorie Diet (which must ALWAYS be maintained on this diet) and should contain 200 grams of fat-free protein and a very small amount of starch.

You are only allowed one vegetable per meal.

The juice of one lemon daily is allowed for all purposes such as eating or using in food and on food as a garnish.

Salt, pepper, vinegar, mustard powder, garlic, sweet basil, parsley, thyme, marjoram, etc., may be used for seasoning, but no oil, butter or dressing.

Tea, coffee, plain water, or mineral water (2 liters of water per day is recommended) are the only drinks allowed, but they may be taken in any quantity and at any time.

The fruit or the breadstick may be eaten between meals instead of with lunch or dinner, but not more than four items listed for lunch and dinner may be eaten at one meal.

No medicines or cosmetics other than lipstick, eyebrow pencil and powder may he used without special permission.

  • No use of lipstick, powder and lotions as are entirely free of fatty substances. Brilliantine (a hair-grooming product intended to soften men’s hair, including beards and mustaches, giving it a glossy, well-groomed appearance) may be used on the hair but it must not be rubbed into the scalp. Aspirin and birth control are allowed.

No massage of any kind.

No exercise of any kind is allowed.

You can only use the HCG hormone for 23 and 46 days. The diet also did not allow exercise of any kind. There had been no published guidelines on how to dose the HCG hormone; as a result, most providers of this diet are generally using random dosing of the prescription hormone.

Injections are administered daily, for no more than 40 days. The VLCD is continued for 3 days following the end of the injections to avoid any weight regain. There are no injections during menstruation on the HCG diet, however the VLCD is continued.  Once menstruation is over, dieters must reinstate the daily  HCG injections.


Tea or coffee in any quantity without sugar. Only one tablespoonful of milk allowed in 24 hours. Saccharin or Stevia may be used.

Lunch and Dinner:

100 grams of veal, beef, chicken breast, fresh white fish, lobster, crab, or shrimp. All visible fat must be carefully removed before cooking, and the meat must be weighed raw. It must be boiled or grilled without additional fat. (Salmon, eel, tuna, herring, dried or pickled fish are not allowed.) The chicken breast must be removed from the bird.

  • If you show an aversion to meat, 3 egg whites and your choice of one egg boiled, poached, or raw egg, or 100 grams of cottage cheese made from skimmed milk may occasionally be used instead of the meat.

One type of vegetable only to be chosen from the following: spinach, chard, chicory, beet-greens, green salad, tomatoes, celery, fennel, onions, red radishes, cucumbers, asparagus, cabbage.

One Grissino bread stick or one Melba toast.

An apple, orange, or a handful of strawberries or one-half grapefruit.

  • 2 small apples are not an acceptable exchange for “1 apple.”

If you have more than 15 pounds to lose, the treatment takes longer but the maximum amount of shots given in a single course of this diet is  40 injections.  As a rule, dieters on this diet are not allowed to lose more than 34 lbs. at a time. The treatment is stopped when either 34 lbs. have been lost or 40 injections have been given. The only exception made is in the case of grotesquely obese patients who may be allowed to lose an additional 5-6 lbs. if this occurs before the 40 injections are up.

Version 2 ( The New HCG Diet):

The new diet consists of 3 phases.

Loading Phase

  • 1500-2000 calorie diet daily for two days.
  • High fat foods
  • HCG daily injection

Maintenance Phase (Day 3 – 20)

  • 500 calories daily for women for 22-40 days and 750 calories daily for men depending on your needs
  • No sugars or starches
  • Daily injections of HCG about the same time of day each time
  • Expect a loss of 1-2 lbs. daily
  • Drink 2 liters daily
  • No makeup/lotions containing oils
  • Must be strictly followed

Protocol Phase

  • Continue following the 500 calorie diet for 3 days after completing your injections.
  • After you have completed those 3 days, you must complete the 3 week maintenance diet. This diet is extremely important because it will reset your metabolism. This 3 week diet will start on day 24 of the 20 day diet or day 44 of the 40 day diet.
  • When completed, start slowly introducing sugars and starches.

Exercise should be monitored closely as you run the risk of burning too many calories and could possibly put your body into starvation mode.

You have to avoid any make-up that contains oils.

Foods and beverages allowed on the new HCG Diet are…

Fruits And Veggies

Any non starchy veggie and 2 Servings of any fruit along with one lemon daily (EXCEPT bananas, pineapple, or grapes)

Meats (8 ounces max per day of lean protein)


Chicken (white meat only)

Lean ground beef

Lean pork

Turkey (white meat only)



Eggs (3 egg whites and 1 egg yolk only)

Lunch meats

Low fat cottage cheese



White fish (must be non oily types only)


Canned tuna (packaged in water only)


2 servings per day (may not exceed 40 calories per day)

Brown rice crackers

Melba toast or rounds

Grissini breadsticks

Gluten or wheat free pretzels



Herbal tea



Apple Cider Vinegar


MCT Oils (Medium Chain Triglycerides are fats that are naturally found in coconut, palm kernel oil, and camphor tree drupes)

Seasonings / Spices

Any as long as they do not contain sugar.

Blood Type Diet AKA Eat Right For Your Type Diet:


This diet was created by a naturopathic doctor named Dr Peter J. D’Adamo in the 1990’s. His belief is that your blood type determines your susceptibility to certain illnesses and how you should exercise. The right diet for your blood type comes down to lectins, food proteins each blood type digests differently. If you eat foods containing lectins incompatible with your blood type, you may experience inflammation, bloating, slower metabolism, and diseases. The best way to avoid these effects, according to Dr.  D’Adamo, is to eat foods meant for your blood type. Best part of this diet is that there is no claim of losing any weight actually. Like NONE. Yet it is a popular fad diet.

The gist of this diet is that there are 16 food groups (such as meats, dairy and eggs, grains, and spices) divided into three categories.

Highly beneficial foods

Neutral foods

Taboo foods

The idea is to eat moderate portions from the beneficial and neutral lists and steer clear of items on the taboo list and exercise all based on your blood type — A, B, AB, or O. There is no calorie counting, no measuring portions. Everything is based on your blood type.

There has not been any scientific studies done to determine what, if any, side effects this diet causes. However, most doctors do seem to agree that it is an unhealthy diet and should be avoided.

Blood Type A

Called the cultivator blood type because it is believed that this type dates from the dawn of agriculture. Their diet consists of soy proteins, grains, and organic vegetables, no meats at all and encourages gentle calming, mind-balancing exercises include practices such as yoga, walking or Pilates.

Blood Type B

Called the nomadic blood type, this blood type has a tolerant digestive system and can enjoy low-fat dairy, meat, and produce. This blood type is the only type able to thrive on dairy products. This type should avoid wheat, corn, and lentils in their diet and does well with moderate levels of cardio exercise that require concentration, such as tennis or swimming.

Blood Type AB

The “modern” blood type AB has a sensitive digestive tract and should avoid chicken, beef, and pork but enjoy seafood, tofu, dairy, and most produce. The fitness regimen for ABs is calming exercises like yoga

Blood Type O

Considered the Hunter of the blood types. Their digestive tract retains the memory of ancient times. This blood group is supposed to eat a higher protein diet and should steer clear of grains, breads, and legumes. This blood type must do vigorous  intense, physical cardio exercise like contact sports and anything that raises the heart rate to get a quality workout.

Confused yet? Let the food chart Dr. Lam  created help to break it down….

Simpler List
  Diet Profile Allowed Limited Food to avoid for Weight Loss purpose Food that help with Weight Loss
Type O High Protein:
Meat eaters
kidney beans
navy beans
Brussels sprouts
mustard greens
red meat
Type A Vegetarian vegetables
kidney beans
lima beans
vegetable oil
soy foods
Type B Balanced omnivore meat (no chicken)
Type AB Mixed diet in moderation meat
  red meat
kidney beans
lima beans

Diet Pills and Herbal Diets:


Everywhere you go, in almost every magazine you look through, on almost any online web site you visit, on most radio and satellite music channels you listen to you will see or hear ads for diet pills and herbal supplements geared towards weight loss. It is over a $40 billion a year business.  Dietary supplements are exempt from FDA regulation. They do not undergo rigorous tests for safety and effectiveness that are required for normal drugs. And there is no guarantee that what is stated on the label is actually in the product.

In recent years, the FDA tested the contents of many supplements claiming to be “all natural.” The agency found that nearly 70% of those supplements contained ingredients such as:

  • controlled substances
  • seizure medications
  • prescription drugs
  • drugs not approved in the U.S.

Here are the most common forms of diet pills:


  • Is a sugar that comes from the hard outer layers of lobsters, crab, and shrimp.
  • It blocks the absorption of fats and cholesterol to prevent their absorption.
  • Side effects include mild stomach upset, constipation, gas, nausea, and increased stool bulk.


  • Is a mineral that enhances the action of insulin.
  • Decreases appetite and increases calories burned.
  • Side effects include headache, insomnia, irritability, mood changes, cognitive dysfunction, skin irritation, dizziness, nausea, impaired thinking / judgment, and coordination, and insomnia. High doses have been linked to more serious side effects including blood disorders, liver or kidney damage.

Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA)

  • Is a supplement containing chemicals found in the fatty acid linoleic acid.
  • Reduces body fat and acts as a suppressant.
  • Common side effects are upset stomach, nausea, and loose stools


  • Is derived from the konjac plant.
  • Reduces body fat and acts as a suppressant.
  • Must be taken with at least 8 ounces of water or it could lead to choking and/or blockage of the throat, esophagus, intestine.

Green Tea Extract

  • Is an herbal derivative from green tea leaves
  • Decreases appetite, and increases calorie and fat metabolism
  • Common side effects are dizziness, insomnia, agitation, nausea, vomiting, bloating, gas, and diarrhea.

Guar Gum

  • Comes from the seed of the guar plant.
  • Blocks absorption of dietary fat and acts as a suppressant.
  • Common side effects are abdominal pain, gas, and diarrhea.


  • Is a plant that grows in the Kalahari Desert in Africa.
  • Decreases appetite
  • Not enough research to determine side effects


  • Is an herb that is approved by the FDA as a laxative.
  •  Upset stomach, nausea, or cramping, diarrhea, or weakness may occur.


  • Is an herb that contains the stimulants ephedrine, pseudoephedrine, phenylpropanolamine.
  • Dietary supplements containing ephedra have been used for weight loss, increased energy, and enhanced athletic performance. The FDA banned dietary products with ephedra after the herb was linked to serious side effects. The FDA’s ban does not apply to traditional Chinese herbal remedies or to products such as herbal teas and can still be legally purchased in the U.S.
  • Common side effects are heart attack, arrhythmia, stroke, psychosis, seizures, and death.

Bitter Orange

  • Is a tree native to Africa and tropical Asia, also grown in the Mediterranean, California, and Florida.
  • Increases calories burned.
  • Common side effects are ischemic stroke, irregular heartbeat, heart attack, and death.

Xenical (AKA Orlistat)

Alli is the OTC version of the prescription drug orlistat (Xenical)

Decreases absorption of dietary fat.

Common side effects are oily spotting in your undergarments, oily or fatty stools, orange or brown colored oil in your stool, gas with either a discharge or an oily discharge, loose stools, or an urgent need to go to the bathroom, inability to control bowel movements, an increased number of bowel movements, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, rectal pain or weakness, dark urine, clay-colored stools, itching, loss of appetite, or jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes), problems with your teeth or gums, cold symptoms, flu symptoms, headache, back pain, and mild skin rash.

The Lemonade Diet AKA Master Cleanse AKA Maple Syrup Diet AKA Cayenne Pepper Cleanse:


No solid foods or any supplements are allowed. You consume 6 or more servings of the “elixir” or salt water flush and drink one cup of laxative tea every morning and evening daily for 4-14 days. This diet promises you will lose 20 lbs in 10 days and cleanse your body of toxins all while consuming less then 500 calories per day.

Master Cleanse

2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice or lime juice
2 tablespoons grade-B organic maple syrup
1/10 teaspoon cayenne pepper
10 ounces filtered water

Salt Water Flush

2 tsp of salt
1 quart of water
Drink in the morning and take an herbal laxative tea at night.

Side effects are hunger, headaches, fatigue, dizziness, sluggishness, diarrhea, nausea, constipation, tooth decay, heart palpitations, and dehydration.

After following this fast for 4-14 days, dieters are urged to slowly ease back into eating solid food, starting with items such as vegetable soup, followed by fruits and vegetables.

What happens when you go off of the fad diets and get back to eating the way you are used to?


Weight gain:

Most people gain not only the original weight loss back, but more almost immediately. This is because the original weight loss was actually water weight. Most people will go back to the same way they originally ate, giving them a short term solution to quick weight loss with no guarantee of any long term weight loss.

Altered Metabolism:

When you go on a fad diet, you throw your body out of whack. Sometimes, that can be a quick jolt to your body and a great way to jump start your metabolism. However, when you fad diet over and over again and you do not change your eating habits or your exercise regimen, you are actually altering your metabolism and can cause permanent damage.

Nutritional Deficiencies:

Many detox and cleansing diets are nutritionally imbalanced. Over time, lack of certain nutrients can cause health conditions. When you remove basic food groups from your diet you are limiting the intake of nutrition your body needs. This can cause serious health issues down the road including hair loss and muscle loss, depleted bone mass,  high cholesterol level and increased risk of cardiovascular problems including coronary heart disease, anemia, diabetes, cancer, teeth loss, organ damage and failure, and death.



I have been working on this post for about 3 months. It took on a life of it’s own. Sources used for this post were insane!

Here is the cliff notes version of  all the sources….Do not ever say, I do not do my research!!!



8 Replies to “Fad Dieting”

  1. looks like you put a lot of work into this ! WOW
    people need to fast intermittently not diet – but our fast food and fast results society has no time for real food and is addicted to all the chemical junk food and prepared ready to microwave “nonfoods”
    most people who change to real and organic foods have as side benefit: weight loss – amazing, huh

    1. You are correct about me putting a lot of work into this post. I get so tired of people I know and love doing different fad diets only to get frustrated when they do not work. Hopefully, I broke it down enough for people to see WHY they don’t work. I obviously agree about changing to the unprocessed world of real foods and the weight loss.

  2. Nice post. I really liked your three bullet points on the definition of a fad diet. Seems like “everything” is “harmful” in one way or another…good teminder to seek moderation and balance.

    1. In my opinion, moderation and balance are definitely key. However, not with fad diets. The side effects and long term health issues caused by them is just NOT worth the quick and non lasting weight loss.

  3. I appreciate all of your research! I have a special kind of anger for fad diets/starvation after battling anorexia and living underweight for too long. The side effects are real and so not worth it in the long run…great, enlightening post! I hope people will take it as seriously as they should 🙂

    1. Thank you so much! I get so tired of the frustration of people I know and love when these fad diets do not work for them and so they move on to the next one and then the next. I also completely agree about the side effects being real and not worth the risk. My goal with this post was to hopefully get people to think twice before doing them.

  4. In defense of the lemonade diet – this is unfortunate wording as it’s actually part of the “master cleanse” which is designed simply as a short term detox rather than a weight loss diet. As you say, weight that is lost is often water though in the case of this particular cleanse it is also caused by the elimination of a log of ‘backlog’ if you get my meaning! I think it’s still a useful thing to do perhaps once a year for a few days just to give the digestive system a rest.

    1. It actually depends on which study, research paper, cleanse company, nutritionist, doctor, or health guru you choose to listen to about whether or not ANY form of cleanse is actually good for the body or not. Half will tell you that is just what the body ordered while the other will tell you it actually does more harm than good on your digestive system and body in general. It is up to what you believe. I personally do not believe in cleanses. But that is me. Others I know swear by them. I have no issues with that at all. It is up to the individual.

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