Spotting A Fad Diet

by Toronto Health | Posted: March 15, 2021

While the new year is a great time to reset and set health goals it can be overwhelming with all the different diets marketed to you. In this blog post we outline what a fad diet is, list our 5 tips to spot a fad diet and provide some other strategies to improve your health.

A fad diet has been defined by Dietitians Australia as “any diet that promotes fast weight loss or radically improved health, without a scientific basis.” They tend to be overly restrictive, not sustainable, and not always backed by science.

Asking the following questions can help you spot a fad diet:

  1. Does the diet recommend cutting out whole food groups, nutrients or replacing all meals/snacks with a specific product? E.g. cuts out grains, dairy, carbohydrates, gluten
  2. Does it promise quick results? E.g. you can lose 10kg in a week or promises to burn fat while you sleep
  3. Does it promote an all or nothing approach? E.g. has strict rules you need to follow  
  4. Does it include mostly testimonials, before and after pictures or is it endorsed by someone famous but little information on the research behind the product?
  5. Does it involve you having to buying a lot of different “specialty” products such as shakes, drinks, supplements or teas?

It is also important to look into the qualifications and affiliations of the people selling you these products as it is likely they are not qualified health professionals and therefore may not be held to any codes of conducts or ethical standards within their practice.

So what can you do instead? Well instead of trying these diets you could try setting smaller, more sustainable goals to help met your goals.


  1. Increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables
  2. Cutting back on alcohol now that the festive season is over
  3. Reduce your frequency of sometimes foods such as lollies, chocolate, chips, burgers
  4. Try to spend more time outside
  5. Try to sit less and move more

If you would like more information on spotting a fad diet or wish to receive more personalised information on how to improve your health contact our dietitian Erin Clarke.

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