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Best Fad Diets

What are the best fad diets? It's a question I'm often asked. Unfortunately, I'm not really in favour of fad diets, so it's a difficult one to answer.

It's not that I'm against all fad diets on principle. But if there's one message I'd like you to take away from my website, Obesity, it's that there's no silver bullet. No one shot cure ... no best fad diets.

That's the message I hope you take away from this article.

Your ideal weight loss solution should comprise a basket of cures, each chosen to suit your specific needs. A diet, fad or not, may be one ingredient of that basket. But one size does not fit all.

However, if you are going to choose a fad diet as part of your weightloss basket, you should at least be aware of the advantages and disadvantages of each.

In this article, I'll outline some of the main categories of fad diets and some of the pros and cons of each.

High-Fat, Low-Carbohydrate Diets

Millions of Americans have joined the low-carb craze and started high-fat, low-carb diets such as the Atkins Diet and the Zone Diet. They are made up of about 60% fat, 10% carbohydrate, and 30% protein. These fad diets say you can eat high amounts of fat and protein while getting very low amounts of carbohydrates in the form of vegetables.

The main premise of the low-carb diet is that a diet low in carbohydrates leads to a reduction in body's production of insulin.

The end result is that fat and protein stores will be used for energy. So you stuff yourself full of unlimited amounts of meat, cheese, and butter, and only eat a small portion of carbohydrates.

But here's the catch...

People who start the diet usually lose a great amount of weight, but it's not permanent weight loss. Instead of burning fat, they lose water and precious muscle tissue.

Furthermore, these diets are low in several nutrients and contain excess amounts of cholesterol and saturated fats, substances that increase the risk of heart disease.

Plus, regardless of what they claim, the enormous amounts of protein put a strain on your kidneys.

Not exactly a promising contender for the best fad diets title!

Moderate Fat Diets

Next, there are the moderate fat diets. Moderate fat diets include diets like Weight Watchers, the USDA Food Guide Pyramid, Herbalife and Jenny Craig.

These diets are made up of about 25% fat, 60% carbohydrate, and 15% protein. They encourage the intake of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and essential fatty acids found in foods like olive oil and salmon.

These diets are usually nutritionally balanced if the dieter eats a variety of foods from all categories. For example, Weight Watchers operates on a point system where foods get a number of points based on calorie, fiber, and fat content.

Dieters get a specific number of points they can use for the day. While it's not encouraged, they may choose to spend most of their points on carbohydrates instead of balancing it out. This could lead to deficiencies in nutrients such as calcium, iron, and zinc.

Herbalife counters this shortcoming with a range of nutritional shakes and vitamin products.

If followed properly (and backed by judicious supplementation), these diets are probably the most successful for losing weight and keeping it off... A possible contender for the best fad diets title.

Low and Very Low-Fat Diets

Finally, you have your low-fat and very low-fat diets. Fad diets in this category include the Dr. Dean Ornish's Diet and the Pritkin Plan, among others. They are made up of about 13% fat, 70% carbohydrates, and 16% protein.

These diets are mostly vegetarian diets and don't recommend eating a lot of meat. Like the low-carb diets, you can eat unlimited amounts of certain foods. Because you can't eat a lot of meat, these diets are deficient in zinc, vitamin B12, and essential fatty acids.

Also, it is so restrictive that people find a hard time staying on it for life and end up gaining their weight back.

So, that's a brief outline of some of the main fad diet categories. And, yes, you're right I haven't told you definitively what I think are the best fad diets. But read the above carefully and you'll see I've nudged you in a certain direction.

That's as far as I'm prepared to go without knowing more a bout your specific circumstances.

This is really something you need to decide for yourself. Your needs will be different from others.

While rapid weightloss diets are generaly inadvisible, perhaps you have valid reasons for needing to lose weight fast. In which case, maybe a low-carb diet, despite its many disadvantages, is what you need right now. You can always switch to a different program later.

The choice is yours...

But don't decide right now.

To help you make a better informed choice, I've devoted a page on my website to fad diets with links to summaries of the more popular ones -

And be sure to browse the rest of the site while you're at it. You might well find something else that suits your needs better than even the best fad diets.

Alan Cooper is a journalist with 20 year's experience and the publisher of, a site with the ambitious aim of being a "one-stop-shop" for impartial information on obesity and weight loss solutions - including fad diets, prescription weightloss pills and natural weight loss aids.


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