Even though their claims are unrealistic, unhealthy and pretty much hopeless, fad diets are still fascinating and entertaining to learn about. Check out our diet reviews below to learn more about each notorious plan and the results you can expect from attempting to following one.
A List of 13 Popular Fad Diets
The Grapefruit Diet
The Cabbage Soup
The 3-Day Diet
The 3-Hour Diet
The Sacred Heart Diet
The Hollywood Diet
The Beverly Hills Diet
Negative Calorie Diet
Acai Berry Diet
The HCG Diet
List of Popular Diet Plans
The South Beach Diet
The Mediterranean Diet
The Zone Diet
The Detox Diet
A Low Carb Diet
The Macrobiotic Diet
The Perricone Diet
Glycemic Index Diet
As the name suggests, this low-calorie diet consists mainly of grapefruit…at every meal.
Possibly the Queen of Fads, this diet was devised in the 1930s, and was also known as The Hollywood Diet, and Mayo Diet. It has maintained its faddishness over the years due to the supposed life-enhancing ‘magical’ properties the grapefruit possesses. It is believed that when combined with protein foods, the enzymes in grapefruit help to establish a high fat-burn reaction thus resulting in fast weight loss. Any weight lost, however, is a consequence of losing water, not a reduction in fat. The irony is, the conventional 7-day grapefruit diet plan will result in weight loss whether it has grapefruit in it or not! This is purely down to the fact that the caloric intake in this plan is low anyway at between 800-1,000 per day. That is not to say that the grapefruit doesn't have any nutritious qualities, because it does, it is also packed with vital vitamin C, and is very fibrous.
The low glycemic index in grapefruit is also thought to reduce insulin levels in the human body. It is this reaction that gives the dieter a ‘full’ feeling when on the grapefruit diet that leads to less calories being consumed.
Ultimately, weight loss will occur naturally if only small amounts of calories are being consumed daily, so the inclusion of grapefruit at every meal seems a little fatuous (if you forgive the pun). But then you have to include something to give it ‘fad’ status. The grapefruit (possibly the least favorite of all fruits given its’ tart taste) was always going to be an ideal candidate. As part of a healthy diet, yes grapefruit plays its part, but to rely on it alone in the battle of the bulge the common advice among medical professionals is forget it! It is the sheer monotony of such diets, and the seesaw weight effect that leads to many dieters to give up all together.
This is a common trend in all of the most popular fad diets we researched…
Cabbage, cabbage, cabbage, and even more cabbage. Seven days worth to be precise if you intend to follow this fad diet. That is all you will be eating, day and night, and it is highly recommended that you stock up your pantry with the required ingredients because once you start you will soon realize this diet is going to make you extremely gassy! So much so in fact you will find it hard to leave the house for fear of embarrassing emissions in public.
Like the grapefruit diet, all this one is doing is drastically limiting the number of calories you are taking on board which naturally is going to lead to weight loss. However, many healthcare specialists advice against limiting calories much less than 1,200 as they believe you simply won’t be getting enough of the valuable nutrients that exist in food, and that your body requires on a daily basis for healthy living, and functionality.
Does it work for weight loss?
Anyone going on the Cabbage Soup Diet is basically going on a fast. In other words, there is no secret component to cabbage that makes it a ‘wonder veg’ in the fight against weight gain. And much like the grapefruit diet, the sheer monotony of eating cabbage for seven days in a row is enough to turn anyone into a vegetable by the end of the agonizingly dull regime!
And as mentioned before in the article about the most popular fad diets, the serious lack of a variety of nutrients can have a detrimental effect to your health rather than a positive one. You will be missing out on important proteins, calcium, and essential fatty acids. Again, it will leave you wondering, “What was the point?” when you find that after seven days of constant cabbage you revert back to your normal diet, and start piling on the pounds again. Yes, you will lose weight if you follow the cabbage soup diet, but it is no substitute for a more substantial, calorie controlled and exercise-based diet plan.
It’s all about timing with this one. The most current fad diet around, the 3-Hour Diet is the brainchild of fitness journalist Jorge Cruise who became a popular author with his book The 3-Hour Diet: How Low-Carb Diets Make You Fat and Timing Makes You Thin. In essence, Cruise has come up with the idea that eating six meals a day (instead of the customary three), and cutting down on portion size increases the metabolic rate, and hence leads to faster calorie-burn. The theory goes that if careful attention is paid to portions (aiming for 400 calories per meal) then not only will the dieter be taking on board the recommended daily allowance of calories (2,000 for women, 2,500 for men) but those calories will also be burned more quickly.
The main principle is that breakfast should be taken within one hour of rising, and then every subsequent meal be taken every three hours with the last meal being consumed three hours before going to bed. The jury is still out on the science behind Cruise’s diet, and in fact Cruise himself doesn't have any science to go with it. Instead he prefers to ‘visualize’ the meals. But early indications are that this fad of fads does work, with some people reporting weight loss. However, there are some who say they end up eating more when trying to fit the six meals into the day, and henceforth have put on weight. For some it is simply impractical trying to fit six meals into their normal working day.
Nevertheless, Cruise insists it’s all in the timing, and portion size. Get that right, and it could be a winner…and probably one of the most appealing aspects of the diet is the fact that you can still eat candy!
Now this diet makes no sense whatsoever. Basically a very, very restrictive crash diet that sees your weight come plummeting down…only for you to build it all up again when you come off it after the allotted three days. In a nutshell (and that in a way is all you are eating in effect) the 3-Day Diet relies on you eating very little. A handful of this, a cupful of that, a slice of toast, half a banana, a bit of cheese, a lonely boiled egg. Not much fun. It will leave you famished as well as fasted…and quite simply you will be so desperate for some proper food you will more than likely overindulge when let loose in the supermarket aisle, and probably end up eating more than you normally would, and consequently gain weight as quickly as you lost it.
Does The 3-Day Diet Plan Work?
But before you think, “Oh that’s easy, I can do that for three days, I'll give it a go,” the point of this low-calorie diet is that after the three days is up, you revert back to your normal diet for up to five days before going back to the 3-day torment. Now it doesn't take a genius to work out that this is no way to acquire a balanced, healthy weight that can be sustained properly from week to week. All this does is making your stomach a human yo-yo as it veers from level to level. To be blunt, this diet plan is hopeless.
Yes that’s right, you can drink your way to a slimmer being by adopting a liquid diet. But if that seems too good to be true, well you’d be right. The trouble with simply drinking ready-made, specially-prepared low-calorie shakes, juices, and other concoctions is much the same as the other quick weight loss diets highlighted above – namely the dieter will be missing out on certain vital nutrients. And when you miss out on these nutrients, you run the risk of incurring significant health side-effects such as fatigue, and heart disease.
The trouble with low-calorie diets is that the body’s metabolism slows down, and conserves energy if you are consuming less calories than you burn. You will lose weight, but once you start straying from your quick-fix diet, and start eating normally the weight will simply go back on as your body adjusts to the rise in calorie intake. Easy go, easy come…with sometimes more than you started out with! Endeavors to find the ideal quick-fix weight loss solution can often have the reverse effect, and result in more weight being gained than at the time the diet was started.
The other drawback to liquid diets is the lack of fiber that can result from the lack of whole fruit, and vegetables from the diet. Having said that, a liquid meal can be used in conjunction with more conventional meals as part of a diet plan, and liquid diets are used in certain medical situations namely before surgical operations.
But as with any radical change in diet, it is best to consult a dietician before embarking on something like a liquid diet to be on the safe side.
This fad diet is much like the Cabbage Soup diet as it relies on soup as its main component at meal times, with a combination of other foods to supplement it. For some reason it got its name from the Sacred Heart Memorial Hospital but in fact has no link to the place whatsoever, and probably only acquired the name because the hospital used to treat overweight heart patients. When you take into account that those promoting the Sacred Heart Diet claim you will lose 10-17 pounds in the first week, you can perhaps see why it was linked to the hospital.
Does The Sacred Heart Diet Plan Work?
As for the diet itself, it is essentially no more than another low-calorie diet that in the long run is hard to sustain over time as a regular healthy diet. In other words you are talking about soup every day, which let’s face it, can only becoming boring within a very short space of time. Sometimes these diets start off sounding good, and doable, but in the end just become depressingly boring. This Sacred Heart Diet is actually not bad from a nutritional point of view, as the soup is combined with a different important food every day (for instance brown rice for all of one day, and then maybe just fruits the next), so that the vital vitamins, and minerals, and fiber will be ingested, and broken down.
However, it takes a diamond hard will to stick to such a diet or to make it work, and can lead to frustration, and even a negative reaction to healthy eating as people have been known to throw in the towel, and simply give up trying to eat healthily. Eating should be fun, and enjoyable, not a pain in the butt…or indeed gut!
According to legend, pop idol Beyonce Knowles lost 20 pounds in weight following this diet when preparing for the movie Dream girls in 2006…but really that is no surprise given the fact that all you eat/drink for two weeks is lemonade and nothing else. What is surprising perhaps is that this diet has been around for 50 years, and is still high on the fad diet list for those seeking fast weight loss.
But, again, there is no mystery to this as all you are doing is drastically reducing your calorie intake every day. It’s fasting in other words, starvation to put it even more bluntly. And of course that naturally makes it a potentially dangerous diet.
The Lemonade Diet has also been promoted as the Master Cleanse detox diet by those extolling its cleansing properties in the fight against bodily toxins that can cause weight gain. But although it works, anyone following Beyonce’s example could find themselves experiencing a health backlash as this diet lacks all the essential nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, protein, carbohydrates, fiber and even calories, and fat.
The Master Cleanse system involves drinking the following concoction - two tablespoons of freshly-squeezed lemon juice, two tablespoons of grade-B organic maple syrup, 1/10 teaspoon cayenne pepper, and 10 ounces of filtered water – 6 times a day for up to 2 weeks! Anyone embarking on this drastic, and possibly misguided journey on the road to a slimmer physique, is undoubtedly going to experience headaches, dizziness, and fatigue, and probably diarrhea, nausea, or constipation.
There is also the danger that you will end up losing lean muscle mass, rather than fat, as the body starts burning this first when faced with a serious lack of calories to work on. Fat is actually the last to go, making this diet counterproductive when it comes to achieving a healthy balanced weight.
As a quick-fix method of losing weight, sure, it works – as can be evidenced by watching Beyonce in Dream girls. But as a long term method of weight watching it is hopeless, impossible, and downright dangerous.
There are two types of Hollywood Diet. One is actually just another name given to the Grapefruit Diet (as discussed in the link), and the other is the Hollywood 48-Hour Miracle Diet that is a specially prepared over the counter juice drink used for fasting. What both systems have in common is the focus is on low-calorie intake…and that they are both fads!
A fad diet, is a diet that is popular, fashionable, of the time, and is all about losing weight fast. As already mentioned, the Grapefruit Diet has been popular since the 1930s, whereas the 48-Hour Miracle Diet is the newest fad based on the same principle. What makes it even more faddish and attractive is the fact it comes "ready made" in a bottle. All you have to do is mix it with water, and sip over the next 4 hours. Do that for two days, and bingo, goodbye weight.
Does the hollywood diet work?
Billed as a ‘jumpstart’ to a better, long-term diet plan, the 48-Hour Miracle Diet probably works, and seems to have a balanced range of juices, and botanical extracts that will provide the essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants your body needs each day…but as we have seen before, it is bound to lead to significant, quick-fire weight loss as basically all you are doing is drinking for two days. No food is allowed on the 48-Hour Miracle Diet if you are going to achieve the 10 pounds weight loss as advertised on the product label, and to be fair the manufacturers do advise that after completing their liquid diet a ‘sensible eating plan,’ and regular exercise should be adopted.
Of course, what makes the Hollywood 48-Hour Miracle Diet the greatest fad around at the moment is the fact that it has the word ‘Hollywood’ in it, and is promoted as the ‘Secret of the Stars!’ But really, come on people, there is no secret to it at all – it’s just another calorie-reduced product aimed at the lazy dieter.
One of the most famous celebrity fad diets of all time, The Beverly Hills Diet has been as popular as it has been criticized.
Invented by Judy Mazel in 1981, this diet quickly topped the best sellers list when it was first published, and went on to sell a million copies in the first year. Endorsed by the likes of Englebert Humperdinck, and actresses Sally Kellerman, and Linda Gray, the diet book quickly became a favorite among serious dieters. Following Mazel’s death in 2007, a revised version of the book was published in 2009 as The New Beverly Hills Diet that maintains the same principles, although features a shorter plan of action.
Unlike the quick-fix diet, this one actually required the long haul of 6 weeks to complete. Starting with 10 days of nothing but fruit in a carefully staged plan, the 42-day regimen is highly restrictive. But it worked for Mazel who was 180 pounds before forming the diet with a dietician that led to a massively successful drop in weight to 108 pounds.
The main underlying concept of The Beverly Hills Diet is in fact based on the main principles of Food Combining (Hay System) in that it is combinations of foods that cause weight gain, and that it is the clash of proteins, and carbohydrates when eaten at the same time that causes digestive problems, and leads to build-up of undigested toxins that then remain in the body as fat. According to Mazel, fruit is self digesting, and is broken down within 20 minutes in the stomach, whereas carbohydrates take 3 hours to digest, and protein up to 10 hours.
At first glance this seems logical, but just like the Hay System, the Beverly Hills Diet has been discredited for its lack of actual scientific proof to substantiate the authors’ claims about food combining. Some healthcare professionals have severely criticized the diet for its lack of nutritional balance, and heavy reliance on fruit in the initial stages. Again, similar to other fast-weight diets, the Beverly Hills Diet is essentially a low-calorie diet. It’s just not so fast!
Yes, you read that correctly. There is such a thing, although currently use of this diet is officially banned in the US. Quite right too, for not only has this got to be the most extreme form of dieting, it is also the most grotesque, and, most importantly, dangerous.
What is the Tapeworm Diet?
For those who don’t know, a tapeworm is a parasite. It is most commonly found in raw meat and infected feces. It causes painful illness in humans, and can result in death…especially if it gets into the brain, which is highly possible.
For the purposes of dieting, the main principle is simple. You swallow the tapeworm (which can be quite long), and wait for it to wander through to your digestive system where it stays to have some free lunch, at your expense. The theory is the tapeworm will be sharing your breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, thereby helping you to get rid of some calories. In other words, you can eat as much as you like because you have got a partner in crime inside you sharing the workload, and helping you to shift those excess calories. “Oh wow!” I hear you scream with joy. “That’s cool!”
But also potentially deadly. That’s because your body will immediately look to fend off this foreign invasion causing a war of nutrition! As your body tries to propel the invasion, the tapeworm may look to decamp, and make its way into your bloodstream…which can then lead to your brain, which, let’s face it, is not really where you want it to be, and is where you will not be able to get rid of it.
All in all, although it is fair to say having a tapeworm inside you will help you lose weight, it is also definitely the riskiest diet you can try.
Although this diet is banned in many countries, anyone wishing to pursue this course of action can make their way to Mexico where it is currently available for $1,500 a shot. Although after taking the course of treatment it may you be who wishes they had been shot for trying it!
As one intelligent person bluntly put it, why pay $1,500 for the treatment when you can simply lick a dog’s bum, and get a free tapeworm! I dare say this is a diet fit for those who enjoy the frolics of Johnny Knox and the Jackass TV crew. Or is this one dare that even they would not contemplate?
This is a bit of a misleading concept as no food has negative calories, although one stick of celery is said to only contain 5 calories. The main idea behind this diet then is that some foods take more calories to burn then they actually possess themselves. For instance, taking the stick of celery as an example, supporters of the Negative Calorie Diet believe digesting the celery will use up 95 calories to burn the 5 calories that the one stick of celery possesses. The stick of celery uses that many calories because the celery is stringy, and requires a lot of energy to eat it, and digest it. On that basis, there is a negative net calorie loss of 90. Compare that to a piece of cake composed of 400 calories which takes only 150 to digest it, leaving a net gain of 250 calories, and you can see why the theory seems a good one.
But in truth the Negative Calorie Diet becomes a member of the fad diets because there is no scientific proof one way or the other to support the theory. In principle a diet comprising mainly of vegetables and fruits will have health benefits, most nutritionists, and dieticians will tell you that you will be missing out on numerous important vitamins, and minerals, protein, and carbohydrates that the body requires for health.
The downside to this diet arises mainly because although it is generally accepted among healthcare professionals that the process of eating food does use energy, there have been no studies to verify this. Much depends on the individual metabolism of the dieter, and as such it is hard for anyone following the Negative Calorie Diet to measure how much energy their bodies are expending on any given food.
The fact that the ‘official’ Negative Calorie Diet is only available as an e-book from a website of the same name promptly gives this fad status immediately.
It doesn't get any more faddier than with the Acai Berry (found in Brazil, and pronounced ‘Ah-Sigh-Ee’), and that’s because a certain Oprah Winfrey professed to using it as part of her weight control diet in 2005, and subsequently the US public went Acai Berry bonkers, in an effort to mimic the well-known celebrity.
It was someone called Dr. Perricone who first adorned the virtues of the acai berry, and placed it as No. 1 on his list of top ten super foods when he appeared on the Oprah Show that so wowed the well-known talk show hostess.
Does the acai berry diet work, or is it a scam?
But really, the acai berry is nothing more than another healthy berry in the cranberry/blueberry mold. And there is no diet as such, as it is more a case of making the most of the antioxidant properties of the acai as part of a general dietary plan.
As with other fad diets/foods, the quick-buck brigade jumped into action and within minutes a string of websites selling alleged acai berry products were up, and running, and scamming the public in a blink of an eye. To add to the scamminess of it all, many of these websites feature Oprah’s much-loved endorsement as part of the marketing although she has absolutely nothing to do with these sites.
Such is the way of the fad.
As for the acai berry itself, yes it has certainly been found to be a high source of antioxidants, but as for being useful in helping to achieve weight loss it is hard to say as the jury is still out on this aspect. Supporters of the berry say it helps with cleansing, and detox, as well as general digestion, that it boosts immunity, promotes cardiovascular functionality, and mental clarity. It is also claimed that the aging process is slowed, vision is enhanced, and insomnia can be fought. As far as weight control is concerned, it is the essential fatty acids, and amino acids existent in the acai berry that help metabolism, and reduce appetite.
But in truth, there is no hard research or medical evidence to support these claims…and perhaps most importantly of all, for some people, using the acai berry does not come cheap at between $40-$80 a month depending on the supplement purchased.
What is the HCG diet? Are there side effects? Well, it involves self-injections, dangerously low levels of calories, and has no proven weight loss effects whatsoever.
The HCG of the title refers to Human Chorionic Gonadotropin – a hormone that is found in the urine of pregnant women! Now, although it is generally said that eating the placenta following birth is quite nutritious, and some new moms find it helpful during the postnatal phase, using the urine of pregnant women is another matter…and probably only being promoted as a super weight loss cure in the traditions of other fads, and in light of the placenta revelations. Those who promote HCG info claim that the hormone suppresses hunger, and encourages fat in the body to burn fuel. But that is all it is – a claim. As yet there is no medical evidence to support it, and on the contrary HCG has been found to be used in conjunction with anabolic steroids, and is actually on the lists of illegal drugs in sports.
Like other fad diets in our list, the HCG is just a fad, and not a very good one at that, because the truth is any weight lost using HCG will occur simply because the diet limits the dieter to 500 calories a day! And as we have already seen, this tiny amount of calories will lead to weight loss as a matter of course, and has nothing to do with the hormone itself. In fact the oral drop version of HCG has been said to contain none of the hormone in some brands.
But what makes HCG attractive to those struggling to control or lose weight is the fact that using this diet is a surefire way to lose weight and involves no exercise as part of the plan. To the lazy dieter bent on the quick fix the HCG must appear like a Godsend. But the truth is that is purely because if you are only ingesting 500 calories a day you will be physically incapable of doing any exercise, as you won’t have the energy! Duh.
The HCG diet is nothing more than mumbo jumbo, and expensive mumbo jumbo at that at $140 a month, and is laced with more dangers than benefits. Quite frankly, it is one for desperadoes, and is best consigned to the deserts of Mexico along with the tapeworm diet.