How to Spot Fad Diets and Why They Don’t Work

There are countless fad diets out there with all sorts of names. The Whole30, Atkins, the alkaline diet, the blood type diet, fad diets come in many different forms.

Some are straight up quackery, some are quackery hiding behind shady science, some are straight up and dangerous and most just don’t work. The video above does a great job of showing you how to spot diet snake oil.

Quick and easy weight loss is a pipe dream, but it sure is attractive and it sure does sell. Back in the day quack diets were easier to spot, these days they do a great job of hiding quack diets with pseudo-scientific terms and fancy branding.  This video by TED-Ed suggests looking out for these red flags:

  • The diet focuses on intense calorie restriction
  • The diet focuses on removal of food groups
  • The diet only allows you to eat very specific foods
  • Allowed foods are proprietary bars, powders, drinks and other products available from the diet creators
I would add one bullet to their list: any diet that is endorsed by celebrities, a self-proclaimed “health guru” or that makes regular appearances on Instagram is bullshit.

Admittedly, mane of these diets do work, at least for awhile.  Any diet can  work  if you restrict  calorie intake with strict rules, elaborate rituals (no eating between x hours, or no carbs after 6pm), or by  eliminating entire food groups. If you’re eating fewer calories, you will lose weight. Hell I could put you on a one McDonald’s cheeseburger a day diet and you will lose a lot of weight.

What works in the short term doesn’t translate to long-term success and it certainly doesn’t equate to good health. Fad diets are not sustainable and they instill in participants terrible eating habits.

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