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Fad diets

Texans team nutritionist Roberta Anding is a frequent contributor to You can send her a question by clicking on her name above.

Here's how to spot a fad diet:

  • Eliminates an entire group of foods
  • Promises more than 1-2 pounds of weight loss per week
  • Sounds too good to be true
  • Gives unreasonable testimonials from clients or experts without credentials
  • Involves buying expensive books, pills, or prepackaged meals
  • Draws simple conclusions

What should you do?

  • Get 30-90 minutes of physical activity in every day
  • Eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
  • Avoid soft drink and other high sugar beverages
  • Watch your portions, eat when you're hungry and stop when you're full
  • Eat all foods in moderation
  • Don't skip meals


Description: Recommends consuming a high fat and protein diet with a low carbohydrate intake. Has different phases that gradually work up to a slightly less restrictive carbohydrate intake.

Pros: - Followers normally see a greater rate of weight loss than with other types of diets when followed correctly

Cons: -Eliminates fruits and many vegetables that provide fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals.

-Initial weight loss is water weight, which can return back quickly

-Over time, some studies have shown the excess protein may lead to a decreased bone mass

-Difficult to follow long term

South Beach

Description: A low carbohydrate diet, that recommends eating carbohydrates such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. * *

Pros: -Emphasizes healthier fats and carbohydrate choices

-Recommends a variety of fruits & vegetables after the second phase

-Encourages eliminating foods high in sugar and less nutritious carbohydrates

Cons: -Eliminates fruits and many vegetables during the first phase. * * -Promises large amount of weight loss in the first 2 weeks that is difficult to maintain

The Zone

Description:Recommended calorie breakdown is 40% carbohydrate, 30% fat, and 30% protein. The staples of the diet include meat, fruits, and vegetables.

Pros:-Allows for some fruits and low starch vegetables

- Emphasizes "good" fats (monounsaturated fat)

Cons:-Difficult to eat recommended fat, carbohydrate, and protein ratio at every meal

  • Expensive to follow because of the recommended large quantities of high protein foods
  • Limits vitamins and minerals that are found in restricted foods                                        

    Sources: The American Academy of Family Physicians: *[*](
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