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Try This: Is It a Fad Diet?

Before 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 on February 12, 2014