Saturday, November 4, 2017

Fad Diets: Are They Healthful, Helpful, and Honest?

By Hallie Schwartz
I recently met with our staff nutritionist, Michel Harris. While engaging in a lively discussion about the misconceptions in nutrition, Michel exclaimed, “Fad diets are not put out by the scientific community!” This sparked my interest, and I began doing some of my own research on fad diets.  
            “Today’s high prevalence of obesity, combined with less than satisfactory results using traditional weight-control methods, has helped foster the popularity of fad diets” (Saltzman, Thomason & Roberts, 2001). But, how healthful, helpful, and honest are fad diets?
            The high satiety value of eggs is well documented, and, additionally, eggs are truthfully a great source of protein. As such, the Egg Diet has become quite the fad. The plan is simple: you eat eggs with every meal. In the short term, if you’re eating mostly eggs, you are likely to lose weight. However, any weight lost could easily be put back on after returning to a less egg-centered eating plan. In the long term, it is not realistic for an individual to stay interested in such a singular eating plan. Further, an extremely limiting diet, such as the Egg Diet, could likely lead to bingeing. Additionally, eggs are also very high in cholesterol. Finally, according to the “Egg Diet Review” on, “Eating too many eggs can cause flatulence and bad gas, which is negative for everyone.”
            Like the Egg Diet, many other plans promote low-carbohydrate, high-protein intake. Researchers Saltzman, Thomason, and Roberts assert that while these diets may lead to weight loss, the potential effects on cardiovascular, bone, and renal health are concerning (2001). These diets vilify carbohydrates. Yet, carbs are the body’s—and specifically the brain’s—main source of energy! The take-home message here is that CARBS ARE NOT BAD! Quite the contrary, actually—carbs are necessary. 
            Environmental Nutrition is an awared-winning, independent newsletter on food, nutrition, and health. In the July 2017 issue, they described diet trends and popular fad diets as “mostly hype.” Based on studies over the past 40 years:
1. Juicing leaves out much of the fiber and nutrients of whole fruits and vegetables and is high in calories and low in satiety.
2. Tropical oils (such as coconut and palm) are high in saturated fats and raise blood cholesterol levels.
3. Gluten-free foods are often highly processed, over-priced substitutions for whole grains, which are high in nutrients and fiber.
            According to Michel, with new and trendy fad diets surfacing, it is more important than ever to be aware of the sources from which you are getting your diet-related information. Websites ending in .com are often unreliable. Consider visiting, the official website for The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Make sure you have all the info you need to know how healthful, helpful, and honest your diet truly is.
Hallie is a graduate intern at The Awakening Center and currently finishing her master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Roosevelt University. Hallie is passionate about working with clients who are in recovery. She has worked with clients in recovery from domestic violence, substance dependency, and eating disorders.


Egg diet review. (2017). Retrieved from 
Diet trends are mostly hype. (Cover story). (2017). Environmental Nutrition, 40(7), 1.

Saltzman, E., Thomason, P., & Roberts, S. B. (2001). Fad diets: A review for the primary care provider. Nutrition In Clinical Care, 4(5), 235-242.