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Try This: Is It a Fad Diet?

girl eating carrotBefore you decide to follow a weight loss plan, make sure you're choosing a healthy, nutritional diet and not a trendy fad diet. How can you tell? Use these checklists to see what that diet plan really is.

What a Healthy Weight Loss Plan Looks Like

If the diet or food plan you're considering is healthy, it should include most -- if not all -- of these elements:

  • Has both a balanced nutrition plan with a variety of foods and includes ongoing exercise
  • Has a goal of slow-and-steady weight loss of about 1/2 to 2 pounds (maximum) per week
  • Encourages your doctor's involvement, especially if you've never exercised before or if you are hoping to lose a substantial amount of weight
  • Is based on common sense -- limits fat, sugar, and the overall amount of food you eat, and encourages you to exercise more

What a Fad Diet Looks Like

The diet or food plan is probably unhealthy if it has any of the following:

  • Bans specific foods or entire food groups ("no carbs")
  • Requires you to only eat certain foods (like the grapefruit diet, or the cabbage soup diet)
  • Requires special foods, pills, or supplements for weight loss to occur. Remember, just because products are sold in stores doesn't mean they are always safe for you to use.
  • Offers quick weight loss but no long-term plan to keep the weight off after you've lost it
  • Tries to sell you on the diet based primarily on "before" and "after" photos or celebrity endorsements
  • Sounds too good to be true

Did you realize how common fad diets are?

See why fad diets don’t work and can even be dangerous: The Weight Loss Myth of Fad Diets

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Renee A. Alli, MD, FAAP on February 12, 2014

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