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What's the Deal with "Fad Diets?"

Fad Diets

Modern “fad diets” have been around since the 1930s, when liquid diet drinks were marketed and the historic “grapefruit diet” gained popularity. Extreme diets such as the “Drinking Man’s Diet,” consisting of large quantities of meat and alcohol, or the infamous Master Cleanse Beyonce used in the mid 2000s, may sound insane. However, each year, people spend tens of billions of dollars on fad diet programs. This makes sense for two major reasons. 

1. The population exists: Going by standard BMI charts, statistics show that in the US, ⅓  of the population is overweight, and another ⅓ is obese.

2. Misleading guarantees: Void of the concept of patience, today’s society wants results yesterday. This is why fad diets, which promise a “quick fix,” or “fast results,” gain so much traction. 


These diets fall into one of five categories:

  • Low-carb diets

  • Low calorie, high fiber diets

  • Liquid diets

  • Food specific diets

  • Fasting techniques 

Chances are, you know someone who is going “keto,” gluten-free, or a devout intermittent faster. Do they see results? 

Sure. These diets may be effective when followed properly, however they are usually not sustainable long-term. Since your body is usually deprived of so many food groups, once you “go off” the diet, you tend to binge-eat on the previously “forbidden foods.” Side note: Many food companies are creating “gluten-free” versions of cookies, crackers, and pastas. They may be gluten-free, but they are far from calorie free. 

Medically-Supervised Diets

Medically assisted weight loss programs are supervised by a physician, dietitian, and clinical psychologist. Rather than creating rules to eliminate certain food groups from one’s diet, these programs use a more comprehensive approach with a strong focus on the patient’s behavior in regards to food. 

People who have a BMI of 30 or a BMI of 27 and at least one weight-related disease such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure may qualify for medically assisted weight loss programs. 

While the patients are supervised by the physician, they work closely with a dietitian to modify these behaviors and create a long-term, realistic food plan. Data shows that the combination of exercise, diet, and behavior modification results in an average of 3-5% weight loss. Fad diets will produce results on the low end of this spectrum because they do not focus on behavior or exercise. 

If you were to add a medication to the equation, the results increase to 9-15% weight loss. The objective of the pharmacotherapy is to reduce hunger and cravings while the patient is on their new diet and exercise plan. Contrary to claims you see through marketing efforts, there are no pills that exist that will speed up your metabolism. 

Medication is only offered after a thorough medical history examination. This would include a discussion regarding any current medications the patient is taking, having an EKG, or any necessary lab work. 

While fad diets may offer a “quick” solution to unwanted pounds, the results are temporary and in many cases, dieters may regain the weight they lost in addition to extra pounds. Medically supervised diets are designed to create a long-term weight loss solution by incorporating behavioral modification. You have the benefit of accessing the support of healthcare professionals to help you reach your goals safely.

To learn more or schedule a consultation with Dr. Korman, contact us here or call the office: 310-577-5540.

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