Fad diets are as popular as ever for losing weight both in a time crunch and for the long haul.
But more often than not, they are known for a rapid weight loss and quick fix.
While many are not evidence-based and fall short of their promises, few stand to be promising.
Numerous studies have found those few to produce effective weight loss results.
Furthermore, they are likely to be nutritionally sound, health-minded, and sustainable.
Here are 10 fad diets that actually work for weight loss.
1. Carb Cycling Diet
Carb cycling is a dieting approach where you cycle between high-carb and low-carb dieting days.
This can be done on either a weekly or monthly basis.
The goal is to time carb intake to when it brings the maximum benefits and curve it when it’s not needed.
On the carb days, you can eat carbs like rice, quinoa, potatoes, and even bread just as long as you add in intense workouts.
On-off, carb-days lay off starchy and sugary carbs and opt-in vegetables, fats, and protein. These will also be your off gym days.
Carb cycling typically is used to burn fat, improve physical performance and overcome a weight loss plateau.
2. The Military Diet
The military diet is a 1200 low-calorie, 3 Day Diet Plan that promises to help you lose 10 pounds in less than a week without exercise.
It’s not a new diet, but the 3 Day Military Diet is still one of the most popular fat diets around.
This in part is due to the diet’s simplistic approach.
To start the three-day diet, you simply follow their premade 800-1200 low-calorie meal plan for 3 days and eat your way for the next 4 days.
Their 3 Day Diet Meal Plan comes with breakfast, lunch, and dinner with no snacks between meals.
While each day’s total calories are set under 1,500 calories, items on the menu are as random as can be. On some days, you’ll be eating hot dogs and ice creams, while others involve steak, banana, and eggs.
Amazing right? That’s how the diet got its nickname “ice-cream diet”. Or, you may have even heard of it as a “banana diet” or “egg diet”.
3. The Paleo Diet
The paleo diet takes dieting back to the ancient hunter-gatherer Paleolithic days. It limits food choices to only the foods that the cavemen hunted or gathered.
This includes meat, seafood, and vegetables, fruits, and nuts.
Foods like dairy, grains, and legumes are off-limits on the Paleo.
Because of the diet’s strict restrictions on food groups, critics call it a fad diet. Despite the strictness, the Paleo diet is completely healthy and nutritionally balanced. It encourages whole, unprocessed manmade foods.
4. The Keto Diet
The keto diet is a very popular high-fat, low carbohydrate diet designed to force your body in ketosis. Ketosis is a metabolic state, in which your body’s fuel source switches from glucose to fat.
This means, in ketosis, you burn fat to fuel your body and its functions.
But in order to reach this point of ketosis, you have to limit carbs intake to 5-10% of daily total calorie intake. This can be anywhere from 20 to 50 grams per day.
By depleting the carbs, your body’s primary energy, this diet creates a state of ketosis, where fat is used as fuel.
This persistent use of stored fat as energy leads to drastic weight loss and extreme fat burn.
Despite the diet’s medical origin and extensive research, a ketogenic diet has been known as a fad.
What’s behind the criticism towards keto is its extreme carb restrictions.
Nonetheless, the diet is well studied and proven to be healthy and effective for losing weight quickly.
5. The 5:2 Diet
The 5:2 diet also called the fast diet, is a type of intermittent fasting known as alternate-day fasting.
The diet is split into two phases: 5 days of eating and 2 days of fasting. By restricting your calories to 500-600 a day during the fast, you can lose a substantial amount of weight.
Due to this extreme calorie reduction during the fast days, the 5:2 diet can be seen as a fad diet, but it’s really not.
There are countless health benefits to short-term fasting supported by research. It helps from fat burning, weight loss to brain functions.
6. The Dash Diet
DASH short for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.
It’s an eating plan based on foods low in sodium, and rich in potassium, calcium, and magnesium. Eating nutrient-rich foods help lower blood pressure.
The Dash diet was first developed to treat hypertension or high blood pressure. The idea came when researchers found hypertension was rare in those on a plant-based diet.
On the Dash diet, you’ll be eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Added sugars, fat, and red meat are off-limits.
Since the diet restricts a certain group of foods, Dash’s been called fad when it’s really not.
By limiting a group of foods that may raise blood pressure, the Dash diet helps to balance many areas of health.
It has shown to aid weight loss, prevent heart diseases and cancer, and improve general health.
7. Atkins Diet
The Atkins diet is one of the most popular low-carb diets around. It’s one of the longest-running diets, created by Dr. Robert Atkins in the early 1970s.
It’s popular for one reason – fast weight loss without hunger.
The Atkins is split into 4 stages, each given a specific level of carb tolerance.
The first stage is the extreme-low carb phase where daily carb intake is mere 20g. Instead, you’ll be eating protein and fat all you wish.
This puts the body into a state of ketosis, where fat instead of carbs and glucose is used for energy. Which evidently leads to increased fat burn and weight loss.
As you advance, carb allowance goes up in increments of 5g. By adding carbs in bits, you find your own carb tolerance level and adjust your eating for your weight loss goal.
For its carb restriction, there is an element of the “fad” diet. But time and time again, research has proven its benefit for long-term weight loss.
8. The Dukan Diet
Looking at the initial stages of the Dukan Diet, it’s easy to see why it is often classified as a fad diet.
Like Atkins, the Dukan diet comes in 4 stages.
But unlike the Atkins, what you eat most is protein. So much so that the first stage is almost entirely of lean-protein foods.
The rationale behind the high-protein diet is that it boosts metabolism. A diet high in protein is also known to reduce appetite, which can lead to rapid weight loss.
As you move up in phases, you add other foods to your diet. By the time you reach the last phase, all foods are added. Though protein-rich foods and vegetables are still the preferred choices.
With the rigid dieting rules, it’s one diet that consistently succeeded in weight loss. In one study, female Dukan dieters lost on average 33 lbs over 10 weeks.
9. The Zone Diet
Compared to other trendsetting diets, the Zone diet is only famous in the close dieting niche.
Created by Dr. Barry Sears in the mid-1990s, the Zone diet is known for its balanced macro ratio.
On the Zone diet, your meal consists of 30% lean protein, 30% healthy fat and 40% high-fiber carbs. By keeping this ratio, the diet claims to produce weight loss and overall health.
It’s also shown to reduce inflammation, prevent insulin resistance, and reduce blood sugar.
In one 6-week study, those on the Zone diet lost more weight than those on the low-fat diet.
10. Vegan Diet
Vegan diets have become very popular among people looking to lose weight.
It’s one diet both sides love to debate and disagree.
On one end, supporters emphasize the nutritional values of plant-based foods. While the other argues its unbalanced and extreme way of eating.
But most importantly, a vegan diet can be as healthy or unhealthy as you want it to be. In essence, it’s all about food choices. Eating mounts of meatless processed foods won’t lead to weight loss or better health.
Yet, picking nutrient-packed, healthy plant-based foods can benefit your health and weight loss.
This is well documented in many studies. With healthy vegan choices, you can reduce certain risk factors for chronic diseases. It can also lose far more weight than those on low-fat diets.
The key is to include all macros: protein, fats, and carbs available from plant sources.
Fad diets continue to be popular trends, and new diets will always be created to meet the desire of people who want to lose weight fast.
Though most fad diets tend to be unhealthy and don’t have any evidence supporting their claims, there are few that have been proven legitimate.
We summed up 10 of those that really live up to their claims and actually support a healthy life.
But be noted that just because a diet works for weight loss in the short-term, it doesn’t mean it’s sustainable or effective in the long term.
For permanent weight loss, it’s always best to adopt a healthy lifestyle that support supports healthy weight and clean eating.