Sundried conducted a survey and found that 40% of people admit that at one time or another they have tried a fad diet in order to lose weight. But why do people try these extreme weight loss options?
What are the types of fad diets?
A fad diet is a popular diet that promises fast weight loss with minimal effort and quick results. Fad diets are often promoted widely on social media and on television to gain publicity, but will quickly fade away once they are discovered to not work or to even be dangerous. People who are desperate to lose weight or perhaps who think they've "tried everything to lose weight but nothing works" may be tempted to try a fad diet as a last resort.
Any diet that is not sustainable and is not conducive to a healthy lifestyle should be considered a fad diet. There are often questions about more popular and long-standing diets such as the Paleo diet and Ketogenic diet to try to determine if they are fads or not, as many people swear by them as long-term lifestyle choices.
Fad diet examples
There are endless fad diets being created on a daily basis by people who want to try something new. From the baby food diet to the South Beach Diet, they often find fame but for the wrong reasons. We take a look at some of the biggest fad diets as well as some of the craziest.
The Zone Diet
The Zone Diet is a very complicated diet whereby meals are split into 'blocks'. The Zone Diet uses the Glycemic Index (GI) to classify carbohydrates and can be incredibly difficult to follow. Most people would not have the nutritional knowledge, time, or means to follow this diet and therefore it could lead to all sorts of complications.
The Atkins Diet
The Atkins Diet gained notoriety after a spate of deaths left its safety in question. The Atkins Approach is classified as a low-carb fad diet which encourages people to eat a lot of meat and dairy. As such, the true healthiness of this diet was called into question and it lost a lot of popularity.
The Werewolf Diet
This diet is less well known than other popular fad diets. The Werewolf Diet has followers eat according to the lunar calendar by fasting during a full moon and only drinking water. The theory is that the water in our bodies is controlled by the moon in the same way the moon controls the tide and that by following a lunar calendar, you can control how much water weight you gain or lose. This diet doesn't provide any new evidence and is actually very similar to other diets which also promote fasting, doing a 'water cleanse' and not eating after 6pm.
The Five-Bite Diet
This diet is another which seems a little silly at first. The clue is in the name, and this diet states that you can eat whatever you want, so long as you only have five bites of it. Straight away it's clear that the science behind it is creating a calorie deficit, but it seems to go a funny way about it! This diet prescribes skipping breakfast and eating only five bites for lunch and five bites for dinner. This is clearly a very unhealthy way to live, and the five bites you do have could have little to no nutritional value!
Worst fad diets
Sundried asked "what is the craziest fad diet you've ever tried?" Here were some of the responses:
"I tried bulletproof coffee for a while then thought why don’t I just put a ton of double cream in my coffee in the morning. It badly repeated on me at work a few hours later. Didn’t try again!"
- deerheadapparition on Reddit
"The cabbage soup diet, it was horrendous and didn’t do anything apart from make me feel light headed and slightly sick."
- Paul Suett on Facebook
I did the 5:2 diet for 18 months and it actually worked quite well, but it only works if you stick to it religiously and I was very hungry!"
- Daniel Puddick, founder of Sundried
How do fad diets work?
In most cases, fad diets don't work at all. People who choose to follow a fad diet may lose a large amount of weight in a short time, but it is not sustainable and therefore most of the time they will regain the weight they lost, if not more. Losing weight too quickly is dangerous and can not only leave you with health problems, you also risk being left with saggy skin and stretch marks.
The science behind most fad diets is that in one way or another they leave you in a calorie deficit. This is the only true way to lose weight, but it needs to be sustainable. You should never aim for more than a 500 calorie daily deficit, which for most adults means not eating fewer than 1,500 calories a day. Extreme weight loss diets will have you eating below 1,000 calories a day, or even fasting and not eating at all, which will make you lose water weight and perhaps even muscle mass, but not fat. You will also be left feeling tired, irritable, and most of all - hungry! When looking to lose weight, it's important to always consult a healthcare professional or nutritionist who can help you undertake your weight loss journey safely and in a sustainable way.