With the promise of instantaneous and miraculous weight loss, it’s no wonder people are lining up for the latest fad diet. Fad diets may sound like just a bit of fun, but following one could have harmful effects on your health. If a diet contains the following parameters, it should raise a red flag that it may be unsafe.

  • Promise of rapid weight loss

Slow and steady weight loss is more likely to last than dramatic changes. Healthy plans aim for a loss of no more than ½ to 1 pound per week. To lose a pound a week, you need a deficit of 3500 calories, which equals to 500 calories per day. Diets that promise more than that will also cause you to lose muscle and cause a regain of weight1 . Of course it sounds alluring to lose all the weight that you want in one week rather than in a few months BUT, how frustrating is it to lose that weight, gain it back and then have to try again? Slow and steady wins the race.

  • Sets quantities and limitations 

No one wants to eat the same things over and over. After all, variety is the spice of life! Diets that allow unlimited quantities of very limited items (kind of contradictory right?) are boring and not to mention, will lack in the all the essential nutrients you need to be healthy. Avoid diets that target, restrict and eliminate whole food groups. Each food group represents a certain nutrient group and restriction against a food group could cause a deficiency.

  • Follows rigid menus

Remember the last time you thought, I could really go for a shawarma right now? Well, those darn fad diets often make you follow a rigid meal plan that excludes your favourite foods. If you feel like you can’t follow the diet menu long-term, chances are, it’s not for you.

  • Promotes Excessive Exercise

Common sense will tell you that diet and exercise go hand in hand. While diet plays a more significant role in terms of weight loss, exercise is key in maintaining that healthy body weight2. Often fad diets promote excessive exercise which, for a number of reasons depending on the person, it may not be possible or safe to follow these recommendations. When you read the diet and it goes to such extremes – you know it’s not a winner.

Diet is defined as “the kinds of food that a person, animal or community habitually eats3 ” so technically we are all on a diet. Make yours one that includes a variety of nutritious food, is balanced and one that you can enjoy!


Talk to a Registered Dietitian for help to plan a diet that promotes weight-loss while making sure that health remains the first priority.

Jane Skapinker

Registered Dietitian


  1. Dietitians of Canada. Get the facts on fad diets. In Eat right ontario. Retrieved from https://www.eatrightontario.ca/en/Articles/Weight-Management/Get-the-facts-on-fad-diets.aspx
  2. Hensrud, D. (2014). Which is better for weight loss — cutting calories or increasing exercise? In Mayo Clinic.  Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/expert-answers/weight-loss/faq-20058292
  3. Merriam-Webster. Diet. In Merriam-webster.com Retrieved from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/diet

Monday, January 15, 2018 in
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