What are fad diets and how do I spot one

Fad diets are nutrition plans that are typically popular for a short amount of time — sometimes promoted by celebrities — that often eliminate entire food groups from the diet. These diets may or may not promote healthy eating and weight loss. Unfortunately, these popular diets are not always the best option for many people and don’t end with long-term weight control. You should generally avoid fad diets and focus instead on portion control, cutting down on empty calories (like sweets and sugary drinks) and increasing exercise. While there’s no set approach to identifying a fad diet, many have the following characteristics:

  • Recommendations that promise a quick fix.
  • Dire warnings of dangers from a single product or regimen.
  • Claims that sound too good to be true.
  • Simplistic conclusions drawn from a complex study.
  • Recommendations based on a single study.
  • Lists of “good” and “bad” foods.
  • Recommendations made to help sell a product.
  • Elimination of one or more of the main food groups.

How can I lose weight and keep it from coming back?

When you are working to lose weight and keep the weight off, there are a few tips you can keep in mind, including:

  • Setting realistic weight loss goals, such as a one- to two-pound weight loss per week. Those who lose weight slowly, by eating less and exercising more, tend to keep their lost weight off. Even a half pound weight loss per week would result in a 25-pound loss over one year.
  • Eating fewer calories by cutting down on portion sizes. An easy way to portion a plate is to put fruits and vegetables on half, starch on one quarter of the plate and protein on the other quarter of the plate.
  • Aiming for at least five small handfuls of fruits and vegetables per day.
  • Not skipping meals. This slows down metabolism and can lead to increased hunger and binging.
  • Choosing foods high in fiber, such as whole grain breads, cereals, pasta, rice, fruits and vegetables. These foods will give you more chewing satisfaction, while the higher fiber content may make you feel fuller on fewer calories.
  • To ensure that you are eating healthy, keep an accurate food journal. Write down everything you eat or drink. Be honest and accurate. The food journal will help you learn about your eating habits and help you assess the food choices you are making.
  • Eating a variety of foods. Include all food groups to get all the nutrients you need.
  • Limit eating out and especially fast food.

Planning ahead. Plan meals for the week, create a grocery list, and keep healthy foods available to you in your kitchen and pantry, while avoid purchasing foods that are less healthy.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 04/17/2020.


  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Losing Weight. Accessed 4/29/2020.
  • US Department of Agriculture. Healthy Weight. Accessed 4/29/2020.
  • US Department Health and Human Services, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Aim for a healthy weight. Accessed 4/29/2020.
  • US Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Types of Bariatric Surgery. Accessed 4/29/2020.

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