Fad Diets & Weight Loss Programs

Fad diets promise quick, painless weight loss with no effort required. Why, gosh, that sounds almost too good to be true! And of course, it is. Fad diets often work in the short term (anything that flushes excess water out of your system will drop your weight, at least temporarily, by up to ten pounds). In the long term they’re a major cause of “yo-yo” dieting: repetitive weight loss and weight gain. This is also called weight cycling. I swear I’ve lost the same twenty pounds at least five times now . . . (I can use the math to prove that I’ve actually lost 100 pounds, but the mirror’s cannier than I am!).

The number of fad diets is too high to list, but here are three of the more recent ones. If you’re ever in doubt about the validity of a diet, talk to your doctor about it. Some fad diets aren’t just ineffective, a few of them border on the dangerous.

The Atkins Diet

At first sight, the Atkins diet is a meat-lover’s dream: almost no carbohydrates and lots of protein. Atkins believes that carbohydrates cause weight gain (although you might have a hard time selling this to the Japanese and Chinese, who traditionally eat high carb diets and have a far lower incidence of obesity compared to Americans). The Atkins diet does cause people to lose weight, but does so by severely restricting certain food groups (dairy products, breads, fruits, starchy vegetables). Start eating those food groups again, and you gain the weight back. Any diet that concentrates on eating saturated fat products is taking you straight towards a heart attack. And I shudder to think what the lack of fiber does to your bowels . . . .


Liposuction is the ultimate quick fix for reducing body fat. Basically, it’s a plastic surgery technique where body fat is vacuumed out of specific areas. Sounds lovely, doesn’t it? Liposuction is very popular, perhaps because it offers a quick solution to weight gain. The drawbacks? Liposuction is expensive, fat does eventually develop again, and, well, it’s a fairly invasive surgery.

The Hollywood Diet

Ah, the Hollywood diet! Expensive fruit juice by any other name . . . . Basically, the Hollywood diet is a two-day fast, during which you drink only fruit juice (but specially formulated, specially pricey fruit juice). You probably will drop ten pounds of excess water, and maybe a few pounds of fat, but the results are temporary. And you certainly can’t live off fruit juice permanently.

The Cabbage Soup Diet

All the cabbage soup and water you can eat! (Yum!) That, in a nutshell, is the cabbage soup diet. You’re not allowed to eat much else either, so your body isn’t getting the nutrition it needs. Even if the cabbage soup diet were more nutritious, think about this in the long term. Just how much cabbage soup is one person willing to eat? Like any other fad diet that concentrates on one main ingredient, the cabbage soup diet offers quick, and temporary, weight loss. Stop the diet and the weight comes back. Continue the diet, and you’re cheating your body of nutrients. And putting your health at risk.