Diet Fads that Dietitians Hate: Don’t Fall for Quick-Fixes and Trends


In recent years, fad diets like Paleo and Keto have gained popularity, promising quick weight loss by eliminating certain food groups. However, as the LA Times reported, these trends are just the latest in a long history of diet fads that come and go.

Some wilder, and wildly popular, diets over the years have included:

  1. The Atkins Diet: A low-carb, high-protein diet that gained popularity in the early 2000s. It can be dangerous due to its high intake of saturated fats, which can increase the risk of heart disease.
  2. Juice Cleanses: A diet where people consume only fruit and vegetable juices for a few days or weeks. This can be dangerous because it can lead to nutrient deficiencies, loss of muscle mass, and a slower metabolism.
  3. The Grapefruit Diet: A diet that involves eating grapefruit with every meal. It can be dangerous because it is very restrictive and lacks essential nutrients.
  4. The Cabbage Soup Diet: A diet that involves consuming only cabbage soup for a week. It can be dangerous because it is very low in calories and lacks essential nutrients.
  5. The HCG Diet: A diet that involves taking a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin and restricting calorie intake to 500-800 calories per day. It can be dangerous because it can lead to nutrient deficiencies, muscle loss, and an increased risk of gallstones.
  6. The Baby Food Diet: A diet that involves replacing meals with jars of baby food. It can be dangerous because it lacks essential nutrients and is very low in calories.


It’s understandable why people fall for these diets. They seem to work, at least initially. However, research has shown that extreme calorie restriction and intense exercise can lead to rebound weight gain and a slower metabolism. The Biggest Loser contestants, for example, saw their metabolisms slow down significantly after the show, making it difficult to maintain their weight loss. Moreover, these diets lead to nutrient deficiencies, loss of muscle mass, slower metabolism, and other serious health problems, including disordered eating. We’d argue none of these diets are sustainable. This leads to yo-yo dieting, which can be harmful to both physical and mental health. It’s important to remember that healthy weight loss requires a balanced diet and regular exercise, rather than quick-fix solutions.


Most diets fail to address the fact that people come in all shapes and sizes, and that each person’s body is unique. The focus on achieving an “ideal weight” or size ignores the fact that our bodies are beautiful and diverse in all their shapes, sizes, colors, and abilities.


While celebrating body diversity may not be a good strategy for selling diet books, it’s important to recognize that the idea of dieting is much bigger than just losing weight. In America, we often view food as an adversary or prize, rather than as something to bring people together to celebrate tradition and enjoy. In a society full of diet fads and books, food has become our greatest opponent.

Now, where is that diet book? (It does exist, and we’ll link to it at the end of the post.) However, the issue with dieting is that we’re focusing on the trees and not seeing the forest. At the end of the day, there is no such thing as an “ideal weight” or “perfect size.” There’s no magic BMI number or scale reading that can determine this.

All we have is ourselves. And once we get past the distorted expectations of society and our own negative self-image, we can begin to celebrate our health, our relationship with food, and our beautiful bodies. So, let’s skip the fad diets that promote foods like whale blubber and cabbage soup. Instead, let’s make room on our plates for high-quality foods like Grandma’s empanadas, our uncle’s baklava, and other favorite family recipes. Now that’s a diet trend that we can all get behind!

Ultimately, the key to a healthy relationship with food is to see it as a source of pleasure, tradition, nourishment, and community, rather than an enemy or prize. So, instead of searching for the latest diet fad, let’s embrace a more holistic approach to eating that celebrates our beautiful bodies and diverse cultures.

We invite you to read Dr. Linda Bacon and Dr. Lucy Aphramore’s work:


BODY RESPECT: What Conventional Health Books Get Wrong, Leave Out, and Just Plain Fail to Understand About Weight