There are many diets and food products marketed as the key to weight loss, good health or sport performance. However, they may not work or be healthy for you.

About fad diets

Fad diets are popular diets that claim to offer a quick fix to your health issues. Some claim to:

  • help you lose weight
  • be good for your mood, skin or sports performance

There may be little to no evidence to support these claims.

These diets can also be restrictive, which means there are limits on:

  • the kinds of food you can eat
  • the amounts of food you can eat

Fad diets that are restrictive can be harmful to you even when you follow them for a short period of time.

Why fad diets that are restrictive may be harmful

There are many negative short- and long-term consequences of fad diets.

These diets may be harmful to your physical health if they cause you to:

  • cut out many healthy foods
  • be in a cycle of weight loss and weight gain
  • eat too few calories to fuel your daily activities
  • become so focused on food that it begins to:
    • control your life
    • prevent you from enjoying daily activities

Speak to your dietitian before changing your diet or starting a supplement to determine if it is right for you.

How to spot a restrictive fad diet

You can determine whether the fad diet you are considering is restrictive or unrealistic by asking yourself a few questions:

  • Is the diet very low in calories?
  • Will it be hard to fit into your lifestyle?
  • Would this diet be hard to follow in the long term?
  • Does it promise fast weight loss or results that seem too good to be true?
  • Do you need to buy special foods or supplements from a specific company?
  • Do you have to cut out certain foods or types of foods that you enjoy forever?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, the diet you are considering may be restrictive.

If you are sick or have a health condition, your dietitian may recommend a special diet to help manage your symptoms. This is different from a restrictive fad diet and usually involves medical supervision.

Make healthy dietary changes you can maintain

You can make healthy eating habits easier to maintain over the long term by:

  • finding options that fit your daily routine
  • choosing healthy foods that you enjoy and reflect your preferences related to:
    • taste
    • budget
    • culture
    • lifestyle

Making healthy foods and drinks a regular part of your eating pattern can help you:

  • meet your nutritional needs
  • maintain your overall health
  • achieve and maintain a healthy body weight

In addition to what you eat, it is also important to think about how you eat. This includes:

  • being mindful of your eating habits
  • noticing your hunger and fullness cues
  • planning and preparing healthy meals and snacks

Remember that everyone’s health goals and individual needs differ. It is important to find healthy food choices and habits that are right for you.