10 Famous Fad Diets: Pros and Cons

10 Famous Fad Diets: Pros and Cons

Nearly half of U.S. adults try to lose weight throughout the year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some will take a balanced approach, changing lifestyle habits and improving their diet to reach their goal in a slow and steady manner. Others, however, attempt what’s called a fad diet, or a popular diet plan that’s designed to help you lose weight quickly, according to one study.

The hallmark of a fad diet is restriction, says Melissa Rifkin, RD, who is based in Mount Kisco, New York. To produce quick weight loss — something most fad diets claim — you generally have to eliminate certain foods. “Fad diets tend to be extremely restrictive, causing followers to miss out on certain food groups or nutrients, which can deplete our body,” she explains. Unfortunately, many people tend to give up on these diets quickly when they begin to crave the foods that are on the “do not eat” list, a natural response to inflexible dietary rules.

Fad diets come and go, but some have stood the test of time, reinvented themselves, or exploded in such popularity that it’s easy to remember them. Here is a sampling of 10 of the most famous fad diets of all time — plus if any are worth actually following.

1. Atkins Diet

Atkins is all about low-carb eating, and the modern Atkins program allows you to choose your carbohydrate goals, from 20 grams (mimicking the ketogenic diet), 40 grams, or 100 grams per day. Stricter carb goals produce faster weight loss. Although a famous diet, many people find it’s just not sustainable, says Leah Reitmayer, RD, a sports dietitian in Fayetteville, North Carolina. “Carbs are your main energy source. I don’t recommend low-carb because your body needs this macronutrient. If you’re trying a diet to be healthy, why take out the key nutrients that your body needs to be healthy?” she says.