Skip to main content UVA Health logo of UVA Health
Healthy Balance

Fad Diets Q&A: The Truth Behind the Hype

fad diet: drink broccoli

I’m a sucker for fad diet advertisements. And it’s hard to escape them. They’re everywhere, from the grocery aisle to TV to Facebook. Fat-melting miracle pills, body-shaping supplements, diet plans that are easy and fast and require no exercise at all.

Such amazing claims! If you’re like me, you can’t help but fixate on them. Crammed between pictures of anorexic celebrities and mountains of shiny candy, these diets seem like they could be real. If one of them works, I could eat the candy and look like a celebrity, no problem.

There are actually quite a lot of problems with most fad diets. But I want them to work. Like many at this time of year, I’m embarking on a challenge to get fit and lose weight.

The fit part is key. As a woman in my late 30s, I know that heart disease is the number one killer of women. It’s time to get in good shape.

Could Any of These Fad Diets Help?

The short answer? No, according to nutritionists Carole Havrila and Katherine Basbaum. Havrila works for the UVA Cancer Center, while Basbaum is a clinical dietitian for UVA’s Heart & Vascular Center.

Fad diet books tout quick weigh-loss plans.
Fad diet books tout quick weight-loss plans. How many do YOU own?

Their advice? When it comes to weight-loss, “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” Basbaum said.

So, which diets deliver and which offer empty promises and calories?

Our nutritionists’ answers will answer your fad diet questions, including:

Do you have a diet tip that really works? Let us know in the comments below.

Reply & View Comments Search Submit

Subscribe for Updates

Get stories & health tips every week