What Is a Fad Diet? Plus, the Best and Worst Plans, per RDs

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Fad diets are alluring — especially if one of your goals is weight loss — and they make big promises about your future. But what are fad diets, and why do registered dietitians tend to advise against them?

“Fad diets are more of a quick fix for weight loss or an acute issue,” says Alyssa Smolen, RDN, who is based in Essex County, New Jersey. “These differ from therapeutic diets, such as the Mediterranean diet or DASH, which are intended to be a long-term lifestyle change,” she says.

It can be tough to tell a fad diet from a sustainable lifestyle diet, especially because in many cases, both have “diet” in their name. But that doesn’t make them the same thing. Here’s how to spot a fad diet, according to Leah Reitmayer, RD, a sports dietitian in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

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