Fad Diets and What You Need to Know


With the summer just around the corner, many of us are trying to lose those last few pounds. We are all going to do small things that we think are going to help us; whether it be cutting out carbs, running daily or going on a diet. Specifically, a fad diet.

Fad diets are popular diets that promote rapid weight loss. They are considered to need little effort and a quick fix to losing weight. Usually the diets are: fat-free, low-carb and/or high protein.

Major health organizations, such as the American Heart Association, American Diabetes Association and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, say these diets lack many necessary nutrients. A person may see weight loss while on the diet but rarely are there any long-term health benefits.

There are many different types of fad diets, so let’s look at three diets that differ from each other in many ways:

  • The Master Cleanse
  • South Beach Diet
  • Keto Diet

The Master Cleanse

The Master Cleanse was created in the 1940’s and is considered a liquid diet. Other people refer to it as the Lemonade Diet. This diet regained popularity in 2006 when Beyoncé used it to lose weight for her upcoming tour.

The diet consists of freshly squeezed lemon juice, rich maple syrup, cayenne pepper and water. It is recommended to drink no more or less than 6 to 18 glasses a day. There is no food involved during the actual diet.

There are three phases in the Master Cleanse. Phase-One is easing into the diet. This will last three days, eating very light foods and eating mainly vegetables to not upset your stomach. Phase-Two is the actual diet, it can last from ten days to two weeks depending on the person’s preference. During this phase the only thing consumed will be the lemon water mixture. Phase-Three is easing out of the diet. For three days after completing the diet, it is suggested to eat very light foods and to reintroduce your body to more complex foods.

The only health benefit found with this diet is weight loss. The Master Cleanse is considered to be a very extreme diet and can be hard on your body.

The South Beach Diet

The South Beach Diet was created in 2003 by Dr. Arthur Agaston. The diet is lower in carbs, higher in protein and healthy fats. Dr. Agaston says that the purpose of this diet is to help change the balance of foods you are consuming, to encourage weight loss and create a healthier lifestyle.

This diet is supposed to be more long term. The beginning of the diet is a lot more restrictive compared to the end that is supposed to be a life-long change. There are certain carbs and fats that are restricted to help with weight loss. It is an easier diet to stick with long term and can help with changing eating habits. Adding exercise to this diet will boost your metabolism and help prevent weight-loss plateaus.

The South Beach Diet has three phases. Phase-One lasts two weeks, during this time almost all carbs are cut out (pasta, rice, bread and fruit) and no alcohol. What is allowed is lean protein, high fiber vegetables, low-fat dairy and foods with healthy unsaturated fats. Phase-Two is long-term, adding back whole-grain bread, whole-wheat pasta, brown rice and fruit. It is suggested to stay in this phase until you have reached your goal weight. Phase-Three is maintaining the changes you have made to your life and eating habits.

The health benefits found with this diet are weight loss and a healthier life-style if done properly. This diet can be a long-term diet if the person decides it is reasonable for them to continue.

The Keto Diet

The Ketogenic (Keto) Diet was created in the 1920’s to help treat epileptic patient’s symptoms. This diet puts your body into Ketosis. Ketosis is when the body becomes a fat burner rather than a sugar burner. Most of our bodies use sugar as the fuel source to stay energized. This will instead use fats as the fuel source for your body.

While there is no need to count calories on this diet, you can only consume twenty to fifty grams of carbs a day. It will take a few days for the body to reach Ketosis, but once it has, most people lose weight and body fat rapidly.

Here is a list of foods that are allowed on this diet:

  • Seed                                                         
  • Oils (palm, coconut)
  • Nuts (almonds, walnuts)              
  • Lard and Butter
  • Avocados                                     
  • Beef and Pork
  • Tofu                                                          
  • Bacon
  • Olive Oil
  • Leafy greens
  • Berries

This is a very restrictive diet. Compared to the South Beach Diet, the Keto diet is hard to maintain. Most people find rapid weight loss at the very beginning, then it begins to plateau, and they struggle to stay consistent.

Fad diets overall are only short-term solutions and can be difficult to maintain. The Master Cleanse and Keto can both be diets to help kickstart your weight loss journey, while the South Beach Diet is one that is more reasonable long-term.

“Changing dietary habits are challenging, but challenging your changes is what will pay off in the end.” Deciding to change your diet can be difficult and challenging, but these changed can only benefit you in the long run when done correctly. Bettering yourself for yourself will always end in positive ways.

Whenever deciding to lose weight, check with your doctor or dietitian for help in developing a plan that works best for you. For more information on a healthy diet, call a HealthNet health center near you and ask to make a FREE appointment with our dietitian, Karen! Our dietitian can help you with weight loss, diabetes, cholesterol and much more!