Why Fad Diets Don’t Work

Recently fad diets have been getting pretty popular. With so many dieting options out there you can bounce from one to the other without ever stopping to reflect on if they work. Because surprise surprise, they don’t usually work.


Intermittent fasting, Keto, Paleo, Attkins, and Macrobiotics are all examples of popular diets. All of these diets fall into this new hybrid category I like to call ‘lifestyle diets’I’ve never been a fan of dieting and due to past eating disorders am really not a fan of restricting food. However, that doesn’t mean I’ve not tried my hand at more ‘lifestyle based’ diets.

Lifestyle diets are quite popular at the moment as most of them boast results for putting in little work. You get to eat the “fun” foods still, just with modifications…or starving for 16 hours….or with no carbs. You get the point, it’s t r e n d y!


Need for Ease

A lot of fad diets are labeled as being ‘easy’. Whilst accessibility is obviously needed in health and wellness ‘easy’ often means ‘ineffeftive’. An example of this is Keto or the Ketogenic diet. In keto you basically eat a shit ton of fat, and almost no carbs- this forces your body into ketosis, aka burning fat for energy.

So pretty straight forward right? You eat a metric fuckton of bacon, avocados, and coconut oil then you magically lose weight!  Yeah, that’s not how it works. But it is how it’s marketed. One of the biggest marketing ploys of keto is that you can be unhealthy whilst doing it. People don’t flat out say that, but their recipes for a 7-cheese bacon ‘lasagne’ do.

When it comes down to it keto actually requires a lot of patience and practice achieving the right amount of macros to stay in ketosis, and also eating healthy fats. So having 7 slices of bacon a day may be easy and marketable, but it isn’t healthy. And most likely won’t lead to a positive outcome for the diet.


Water Weight

At the start of most diets you do actually lose weight, to be specific you lose water weight. This tricks pretty much all of us into thinking we’re seeing ‘real results’ from the diets. It’s also part of the reason marketers can get you hooked. ‘See it’s working already, you just need to keep buying our products!’.

However once that initial water weight is lost you’ll likely have one of two results a) you gain it back,  b) you don’t lose any more. Once your body is used to your new diet/weight your metabolic rate slows down. Meaning that fad diets that don’t really do anything, they pretty much stop working. 

You’ll have lost a bit of weight and either gain it back or remain at a new constant. Next time you start a fad diet keep in mind that your initial weight loss isn’t reflective of the diet itself, but your metabolism and sodium levels. Nothing like a bit of science to ruin to sex appeal.


There’s too Much Choice

As I mentioned earlier, there is so much choice. It used to be that you’d do the one diet in Women’s Health mag and once it failed you’d go back to snacking on Ben & Jerry’s and move on with your life. But now there are so many options it essentially never ends.

If one diet fails then you can move onto the next, usually meaning that you don’t take any of them all that seriously. Sure you were paelo for two years, then raw vegan, and now you’re juice cleansing. That’s great Linda, but it seems like it made zero different to your life. Why did you do it? Because the choice was there and well…why not!

Jumping back and forth between diets, never commiting to one but always trying (to some extent) makes us feel like we’re achieving something. It gives us a sense of satisfaction for knowing that our will power is so strong that we’ll be willing to flat out refuse that slice of pizza because well ‘We don’t do carbs’.


Quick Fixes

Fad diets rely on our need for quick fixes, we want results and we want them fast. Whether we admit it or not we often gravitate towards them because we don’t want to put the effort into a whole lifestyle change. So grabbing into a trend the promises fast results seems way better.

But those results don’t actually exist, and at this point I feel like a lot of us know that. We just hope that this time it’s different. Instead of commiting to exercising, eating healthy, and taking care of our mental health we’d rather have a quick solution. We don’t want to deal with fixing our issues. 

We just want to be slimmer, or more attractive, or whatever our goal weight is. Quick fixes that affect the outside but not the underlying internal issues. 

Drinking apple cider vinegar for a week won’t be a permanent fix for your weight loss. Real weight loss takes time and effort, and typically doesn’t involve drinking gallons of vinegar (bonus!). Although you may want quick results keep in mind that they don’t actually exist in the long run. It’s quicker to NOT waste your time.


They Don’t Need to

People who market within fad diets know that the diets don’t actually need to work. What do they need is for people to quite literally buy into their diet.

To sell the dream they just need one outlier who it actually worked for. Once they have that they have everything they need to sell you their vitamin pills, or shake kit, or whatever. You spend a shit ton on their products, they get the cash and move onto the next person. What they don’t need, is for your life to genuinely be improved.

Okay, so maybe I’m being a tad cynical as I write this on Monday morning. I’m sure there are some (small) diet marketing brands that genuinely care about their products. They care enough to send you all 10 extensive studies about why their diet and products ‘definetly work’ and all the other prodcust ‘defiently don’t’. But at the end of the day, they’re marketing an often unattainable lifestyle or diet outcome.


In the long run fad diets won’t help you lose weight or become much healthier. If there was an easy way to have a healthy lifestyle then everyone would be doing it.

Finding your own balance of nutrition and exercise that work for you will be the key to having a happier and healthier lifestyle. It might not be as marketable and might not involve gummy bear supliments, but the good things in life never do!


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