by Julie Cornelius, MS

Have you heard of the Ketogenic Diet? How about the Whole30?

These are just a couple of examples of fad diets. Fad diets are ones that promise quick weight loss without exercise. They are unhealthy and research shows that even though they can lead to weight loss, its not weight loss that is kept off long term.

So how do can you tell if a diet is a fad diet? Here are a few questions to ask when you see a diet advertised:

  • Does the diet promise quick weight loss?
  • Does it sound too good to be true?
  • Does it promote a specific product?
  • Does it suggest “good” or “bad” foods?

If you answer yes to any of these about a particular diet, it is a fad diet. There are hundreds of different ones out there and a lot of potential problems with them:

  • They do not lead to long term weight loss. You might see some weight loss, but it is not likely to be maintained long term.
    • Healthy weight loss means slow weight loss. This type of weight loss does require some patience, but research shows that slow weight loss is much more likely to be maintained. Only about 2% of people who lose weight on fad diets actually keep the weight off.
  • They can increase the risk for heart disesase, high blood pressure, osteoporosis and other chornic diseases because they restrict important nutrients
    • Nutrients are the things in food that help to keep our bodies going. Vitamins and minerals play countless roles in our body to keep us alive. Carbohydrates, fats and proteins give us energy and build the tissues in our bodies. Without a balance of these various things, our risk for disease increases. Participating in fad diets, especially for multiple periods of time can have serious effects on long term health and risk for chronic diseases.
  • They reduce athletic performance by restricting nutrients and causing dehydration and loss of electrolytes.
    • Fad diets greatly restrict certain nutrients. Rapid weight loss also leads to a higher percentage of the weight loss from muscle rather than fat. When working to improve athletic performance, the last thing anyone wants to do is lose muscle.
  • A low carbohyrate diet can lead to ketosis, an unnatural state that can cause a number of different health problems.
    • I won’t go into too much detail about this point. If you would like to read more about the unhealthy effects of low carbohydrate and ketogenic diets, read my previous blog posts on the topic: Post 1 and Post 2

The best approach to weight loss, especially for athletes is a lifestyle approach that focuses on healthy food, getting the right nutreints at the right times and figuring out what will work to make sure it is a long term change. Fad diets are hard to follow and call for drastic measures. The approach I take is easier and something you can stick with for the long term. It doesn’t cut out food groups, but instead teaches how to eat each one in healthier amounts. Are you looking to lose weight? A healthy approach leads to 1-2 pounds of weight loss per week. In just two months, that could be 8-16 pounds. Over 6 months, that could be 25-50 pounds!

Sound like something you are interested in? Send me a note to talk about the different options we have available!



Julie CornelIMG_1601ius, MS is Co-founder of Potential Energy Training & Nutrition. She has an extensive background in nutrition and graduated from the University of Arizona in Tucson, AZ with both her Bachelors of Science and Masters of Science in Nutrition.  She has worked in fitness studios helping clients achieve their nutrition goals, spent two years teaching college nutrition courses, and was the founder of Julie Bar, an energy bar company. Julie is a long time cyclist and mountain biker who loves being outdoors. Julie helps individuals to meet their nutrition goals, whether it is eating to win an endurance mountain bike race, losing weight, or just eating to be healthier. Connect with Julie:

Skip the Fad