A fad diet or diet cult is a diet that promises weight loss or other health advantages, such as longer life, and usually relies on pseudoscience rather than science to make many of its claims. In many cases, the diet is characterized by highly restrictive or unusual food choices. Do they work, do they help you to lose weight? Maybe. Will the weight stay off? Well, if the diet were possible to maintain, then maybe. But so much depends on you. So much depends on your activity level. So much depends on … so many variables.
Many fad diets are so highly restrictive, even going so far as to omit entire food groups. Is this a diet that is sustainable? Not really. Below I list a brief description of the more popular fad diets, and some good and bad details about each. Going into the list, though, know this: weight loss happens in the kitchen. All of the exercise you do will help you build an amazingly strong body, but it will not greatly impact your numbers on the scale with one caveat: the more muscle you have on your body, the more metabolically active your body will be (read: it will burn more calories even in rest than would a body of completely identical structure and make-up with less muscle).
What is it? A diet composed of high-fat, low-carb (ketogenic which means it puts your body into a state of ketosis, where through various biological processes, it will begin to reduce insulin levels and burn fat for energy instead of carbohydrates, and it will produce ketones for energy for your brain.)
Pro- A few studies have shown that the ketogenic diet may promote weight loss, lower blood sugar and increase insulin sensitivity in diabetics. There is also evidence that it can reduce seizures in children with epilepsy. And some studies suggest that the keto diet may slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, but the research on this is far from definitive.
Cons- Besides causing bad breath, uncomfortable digestive issues, and (generally) short term fatigue and weakness, as well as insomnia, a truly ketogenic diet is very hard to stick to. It’s a pretty extreme eating plan to follow all of the time, and while it may help with weight loss in a controlled study, it’s not so easy when you’re out in the real world trying to navigate office cupcakes, happy hours, dinner parties and more. A diet that makes you miserable just isn’t going to work for you. Also, it is very difficult to actually be in a state of ketosis (i.e., when your body burns through fat for energy instead of glucose). A few bites of bread here and sips of wine there, and boom—you are out and not reaping the benefits. The dreaded ketoflu —the initial period of the diet during which your body is adjusting to its new carb-free existence and symptoms like fatigue, brain fog and nausea are common, though generally once the ketoflu lifts, most feel more focused.
What is it? In its purest form, the paleo diet allows you to eat only those foods that humans ate when they first roamed the planet millions of years ago. In brief, you’ll be following a strict diet comprised only of foods that can be hunted and gathered. You’ll lose weight because any time you restrict entire food groups, your calorie intake tends to be lower. And whenever you burn more calories than you consume, you'll have weight loss.
The focus on lean protein, fruits, and vegetables over calorie- and sodium-rich processed foods can also contribute to weight loss, though this diet wasn’t created to be a weight loss diet. Includes lean meat, eggs (6 a week), fish, fruit, non-starchy veggies, nuts and seeds. No processed foods. No dairy. No cereal grains, no l