Fad Diets

Fad Diets and Diet Plans Reviewed

Fad Diets come and go with the seasons. Some hang in there for years and some get resurrected every few years or even decades. Just what is a fad diet? That’s entirely dependent on who you may be talking to, since it’s a highly subjective area and many have an opinion.

Some fad diets are just a rehash of older versions, some go far out into unknown (and unproven) territory. Some start out as a fad and develop into a long lasting successful method of weight loss for many.

Some fad diets reviewed here are no longer in the fad diet domain, since they have proven to be effective for many dieters.

Some similarities in Fad Diets are many offer a very quick fix. That’s what makes them so popular is that people are always looking for an easy and fast way to lose weight. And it appears that some can do that for some people.

Unfortunately, most quick results are a matter of water loss or and extreme measures that won’t keep the weight off. So people lose the weight quickly but soon gain the weight right back.

One thing is certain, for every fad diet you have devoted followers who swear by the effectiveness. You also have the opposite side, those who condemn the diet, and are concerned about the health risks associated.

In my search for a good diet plan that could help me achieve my weight loss goals, I checked out and also tried many of these so called fad diets. I have reviewed some of the diets I experimented with or at least did some serious research on below. Most of the diet plans reviewed are well known and some go back over 30 years.

I’m no expert, just another person looking for a solution to losing weight. But I have spent the last year experimenting and trying different weight loss plans. You can read more about my success (and failures) here: Diet Plans.

I’ve reviewed the Top Fad Diets and Diet Plans below to provide a little more information. The way I determined the top ten was to look at the most researched diet plans on the Internet in the past 30 days. I’m sure this list changes due to new fad diets appearing and others dropping off the radar.

But it’s a good starting point for anyone wanting to know a little more about each diet. I tried to stay informative but don’t have the space or time to totally detail every aspect. If you want more information just Google the diet name and I’m sure you’ll find plenty.

And I did cheat, there are actually 11 diets listed below. Looking at the search numbers, I had a hard time leaving out number 11, the searches quickly dropped after number 11.


Top Ten Fad Diets and Diet Plans Reviews

South Beach Diet

The South Beach diet was designed by a well know cardiologist in Miami, Florida, hence the South Beach Diet name. Arthur Agatston, the cardiologist, came up with a good carbohydrates and good fat list along with a list of bad carbohydrates and bad fat.

The basic philosophy of the diet is that the bad carbohydrates and bad fats contribute to cardiovascular disease and should be avoided. Dr. Agatston wrote a book outlining the technical aspects of his theory and outlines the basic requirements.

The South Beach Diet consists of three phases.

The first phase is limited to consuming the good carbohydrates and good fats. Many common food items such as candy, dairy products, sugar, bread, fruit, cereals, and grains are off limits for two weeks.

The 2nd phase allows some of the items mentioned in the first phase to slowly be added back into the meals. Small amounts are recommended.

The third phase is entered after the desired weight is attained. This allows 2-3 servings of fruit and cereals per day but still limits bad carbohydrates and bad fat.

This is a diet for life, requires some serious re-evaluation of food consumed, and probably lifestyle changes. You have to dedicate yourself to this type of diet and it requires some effort to avoid many common foods. The first phase is difficult for many, some even experience stomach and bowel problems.

But if you have severe health problems, especially risk of heart disease, then this would be a good choice.


Atkins Diet

The Atkins Diet is the granddaddy of the low carbohydrates diets. Dr. Atkins was the first doctor to go against the common beliefs of dieting. Most doctors were recommending high carbohydrate and low fat diets at the time this diet was introduced.

The diet is based on the theory that if you take away the carbohydrates, the body will be more inclined to burn the stored fat. It gets pretty technical but that’s the bottom line. At the time this was a radical approach.

This is another three phase diet, with a serious first two week approach. That’s where most of Dr. Atkins critics complain about his methods. And when you see the list of what is recommended for the first two weeks, you’ll certainly understand their concern.

The first phase is meant to shock your system and kick start the ketosis (this is a very technical area – part of the controversy of the first phase – but basically gets the body to start burning fat). You can actually test for ketosis by using test strips to see if you have started the process.

The first phase creates this scenario by limiting you to 20 grams or less of carbohydrates per day. That means you will be eating a lot of meat. Therein lies the next issue many have with the diet. Eating a lot of meat means you also consume a lot of saturated fats, which is against most opinions on weight loss.

But the catch-22 is that if you trigger the ketosis, you will lose weight quickly since you are burning stored fat. So many people love this diet and have very quick results. Maybe not the healthiest way to achieve weight loss but there is instant gratification.

In phase two you slowly add 5 grams of carbohydrates a day until you stop losing weight. So you continue this phase until you have reached your desired weight.

In the last phase you enter the maintenance stage. This has a closer “normal” amount of carbohydrates. You’ve slowly raised the amount of carbohydrates to what your body requires, which is still lower than you were consuming initially.

This is a controversial method of losing weight, but many people get fast results and it remains very popular since it was introduced. Once again that first phase it tough, and requires serious changes to your eating habits.

And if you are a vegetarian. Forget it. People who have health problems or have a high risk to saturated fats should always consult their doctors before stating the Atkins Diet. And this is also a permanent change in lifestyle and eating habits. You will need to limit your carbohydrates forever to keep the weight off.


Fat Smash Diet

Think of this diet as Hollywood and Reality Television meets healthy eating habits. The Fat Smash Diet was introduced to the masses by Ian K. Smith on VH1’s Celebrity Fit Club. This became a very popular cable TV show that had celebrities competing on weight loss.

The Fat Smash Diet is a 90 day program based on low calories, exercise, and educating about healthy eating habits. It also includes 50 recipes and tips to help manage the weight loss efforts.

The Fat Smash Diet has four phases and does not require any calorie counting. There is a list of good foods along with advice on adopting long term good eating habits.

The first phase in 9 days and is designated as the detox period. This phase helps you cleanse your body and develop better and healthier eating habits. Like many of the first phases of most diets, you are severally limited in your choices of food.

The second phase is a three week period that involves 4 to 5 small meals per day. Additional foods are slowly added back in to your diet. Preparation is kept simple and exercise is often.

The third phase slowly adds additional foods and still maintains the methods learned in the two previous phases.

The fourth phase adds back in some of the more fun foods (pizza, beer, potatoes) and establishes the main principals of weight maintenance. Exercise, portion control, eating 4-5 small meals, and portion control.

Take away the celebrities and reality show, and most experts agree that it is a sensible and healthy way for people to lose weight. The only drawback is the first phase is tough, like many others. And the denial of common foods lasts all the way to the fourth phase, which is well over 2 months.


Cabbage Soup Diet

The Cabbage Soup Diet has been around since email and the Internet. There are several sources that the diet could have come from but none have been verified.

In some references it was linked to a fast diet solution for people who were going to have surgery and wanted to lose some weight before their operation. Other references were to the Mayo Clinic for similar reasons (see the Mayo Clinic Diet below for more on other diet rumors).

Regardless of where it came from, most doctors and nutritionists recommend against the Cabbage Diet. The extreme nature (very low caloric intake) can cause health problems and slow down your metabolism to a very low level.

Plus very few people could eat the cabbage soup for the recommended 7 day period, even if they loved cabbage. But many still try, it often comes along with very unrealistic promises of weight loss (like 10 pounds or more).

Here’s the recipe and instructions:

Cabbage Soup Diet Best Recipe


6 large green onions

2 green peppers

1 or 2 cans of tomatoes (diced or whole)

about 10oz mushrooms (1 container)

3 carrots

1 bunch celery

1/2 head cabbage

1 package Lipton soup mix

1 or 2 cubes bullion (optional)

1 48oz can V8 juice (optional)

Season to taste with salt, pepper, parsley, garlic, curry, etc.


  1. Slice the green onions.
  2. Remove the seeds from the green pepper and chop into bite sized pieces.
  3. Sauté the onions and peppers in a large pot with some cooking spray.
  4. Cut the cabbage, carrots, celery and mushrooms into bite-sized pieces and put them in the pot. Also add the can(s) of tomatoes.
  5. Add 12 cups of water, the Lipton soup mix, and bullion (if desired).
  6. If you want a spicy soup, add the desired spices.
  7. Cover and simmer on low heat for about 2 hours or more.

During the 7 days, you can eat as much of this soup as you want.


As for the rest of the food that you can eat on the Cabbage Soup Diet:

Day One: Eat as much fruit as you want (except bananas) in addition to the soup. Nothing else.

Day Two: No fruit today, but you can eat as many raw or cooked vegetables as you want, in addition to the soup. Eat a lot of leafy green vegetables and no dried beans, peas, or corn. At dinner, eat a baked potato with butter.

Day Three: Eat as much soup, fruits, and vegetables as you want. No potatoes.

Day Four: Soup, bananas and milk. You can have up to 8 bananas and as many glasses of skim milk as you want.

Day Five: Eat 10-20 ounces of beef and up to six fresh tomatoes. Drink extra water today. And don’t forget to eat your soup. You can eat broiled or baked chicken instead of beef (but no skin on the chicken). If you prefer, you can substitute broiled fish for the beef on one of the beef days.

Day Six: As much beef and vegetables as you want today and soup.

Day Seven: Eat as much brown rice, unsweetened fruit juices and vegetables as you want with your soup.

I’m fond of cabbage, but this diet would probably change that. Most weight loss experts agree that you will lose weight but most of it will be water and come right back. I’ve never spoken to anyone who liked this diet who have tried it. Some cabbage farmer somewhere is probably the source.


Dash Diet

The DASH Diet was created to reduce blood pressure, and is recommended by several respected health organizations such as the American Heart Association and the National Institute of Health (NIH).

Dash stands for Dietary Approaches To Stop Hypertension. It’s a lifestyle changing and adopting healthy eating habits style diet.

You can learn more and even get menus, recommendations, and a book about it at this web site: http://dashdiet.org/

The kicker is that I’ve heard it’s hard to adopt such a rigid plan for many people. Many complain of eating too much to fulfill the diet requirements.


Mayo Clinic Diet

According to the Mayo Clinic, there is no diet they recommend as their own and claim no knowledge of the Mayo Clinic Diet that has spread all over the Internet and emailed to many people.

They even commented on it in their Medical Edge Newsletter in the July 2005 edition. “Versions of a Mayo Clinic Diet have been circulating for decades. Most push grapefruit, eggs, cabbage soup or meat and promise dramatic weight loss. None of these diets is associated with or has been endorsed by Mayo Clinic.”

Who knows how this started, but here is the generally accepted fake Mayo Clinic Diet that often is referenced.

This is a 12 day diet plan, with 10 on and 2 off. The main catalyst is the 1/2 grapefruit with every meal. And due to the nature of the food groups, it is believed to enhance the fat burning process of most people.

12 days on – 2 days off



1/2 Grapefruit or 4 oz. Grapefruit Juice (unsweetened)

2 Eggs (any style)

2 Slices Bacon


1/2 Grapefruit or 4 oz. Grapefruit Juice (unsweetened)

Meat (any style, any amount)

Salad (any kind of dressing)


1/2 Grapefruit or 4 oz. Grapefruit Juice (unsweetened)

Meat (any style, any amount) (fish may be substituted for meat)

Vegetables (any green, yellow, or red vegetables cooked in butter or any seasoning)


Bed Time Snack

1 glass tomato juice or 1 glass Skim milk

Vegetables Allowed

Red onions, green onions, bell peppers, radishes, cucumbers, broccoli, spinach, lettuce, cabbage, carrots, peas.

Vegetables to Avoid

White onions, potatoes, celery.

Supposedly the more you eat of the recommended choices, the more weight you will lose. Does it work? Most people have stated that they did lose weight but that might be attributed to the grapefruit at each meal. It is a know fact that grapefruit can be beneficial in burning calories.

Many like it since it is simple and easy to follow. But most weight loss experts say that other than the grapefruit, there’s really no benefit. And the Mayo Clinic has definitely disowned it in every way.


Zone Diet

The Zone Diet by Dr. Barry Sears suggests you eat a diet that consists of 40% carbohydrates, 30% protein, and 30% fat. If you create that ideal balance of food, you will be in the “Zone” and feel better and be healthier too.

It’s like Zen dieting in that you try to achieve a hormonal balance that your body needs to function, no more or no less. In order to achieve this balance, you need to follow the diet exactly.

Each carbohydrate, protein, and fat must come from very specific foods and it is recommended you eat even when you are not hungry to maintain this level. Preparation and planning are the key to success on this diet.

But that’s also the difficult part, since many requirements are exact and must be prepared in advance. People who have the time to dedicate to this type of strict requirements have reported success. But not everyone has that kind of free time to commit.

Many healthy eating habits and proper types of food are incorporated into this diet plan. And people have claimed a huge impact on feeling good and even improving on health problems. But it does take a real dedicated effort.


Flat Belly Diet

The Flat Belly Diet is designed to lose weight where many of us have it, around the belly or midsection. Liz Vaccariello, who is an editor at Prevention Magazine, and Cynthia Sass, a nutrition expert for the same publication collaborated on this diet.

This is primarily directed at women, and the diet book has may girly advice tidbits directed at readers. The diet is modeled after a Mediterranean style menus with very little meat (once in 30 days) and lots of wholesome unrefined foods.

The secret to the diet, according to the authors, is including the addition of monounsaturated fat with every meal. Items like olives, nuts, seeds, soybean, chocolate, flax, and sunflower oils are incorporated into each meal.

The promise is up to 15lbs of weight loss, aimed right at the belly. And no exercise required. I believe that would get the attention of any prospective dieter.

The diet is based on a 28 + 4 day plan. There is a jump start period of four days that involves drinking up to 2 liters per day of “Sassy Water”, which is a concoction of spices, herbs, citrus, and cucumber. I tried some, it tasted terrible to me.

The diet book details 11 women who are volunteers to try out the new weight loss methods. Not a large group by any means. But they do have some good success stories and provide some positive feedback on the diet.

The Flat Belly Diet has been criticized by some medical authorities who state there is no proof of the connection of consuming monounsaturated fat and loss of belly fat. And some of the other recommendations such as gum chewing, bulky raw foods, drinking carbonated drinks, alcohol, coffee, tea, and acidic fruit juices is pure speculation.

But like most popular diets, there is a dedicated following and many say they have had excellent results.


Grapefruit Diet

This is the fake Mayo Clinic Diet mentioned above, only under the Grapefruit Diet name. There are many variations, some tilting towards the Atkins style and other variations. But the common element is the eating the grapefruit half with every meal. See the Mayo Clinic Diet for details.


Suddenly Slim Diet

The Suddenly Slim Diet was created by the makers of herbal diet supplements. It’s a basic 10 day diet that’s designed to combine elements of food and diet supplements to increase your metabolism and burn more fat.

The Slim ‘N Up supplement helps to replace energy and reduce hunger. Body FX milkshakes are made up of nutrients that supposedly increase metabolic function and burn fat. Reneu offers a cleansing formula designed to cleanse and detoxify the body.

The Suddenly Slim Diet also contains information and instructions on creating a more healthy diet. Like many diet pills, they combine basic elements of a healthy diet with their supplements to help with the weight loss efforts.

They can be more convenient that some of the more sophisticated diets, especially since there is no calorie or carbohydrate counting. This makes it easy for busy people and those less inclined to preparing intricate meal plans.

There is a large following of this diet plan who have had good success and it’s been around for over 25 years. The three key supplements don’t contain any of the more recent radical ones that can be dangerous like ephedra (which has been linked to raised and irregular heartbeats).

I’ve never read any negatives about it and the people I know that have tried it were successful.


3 Day Diet

The 3 Day Diet is one of diets referred to as calorie crash variety. This is where you greatly reduce your intake of calories and hopefully lose weight as a result. The only problem is that it’s hard on your system and results don’t last any longer than the diet.

The 3 Day Diet also makes some pretty strong (some might say unrealistic) promises in that they claim you can lose up to 10lbs in the three day period.

But if you still want to try it, here’s the basics:

Day One

Breakfast: Black coffee, tea, or water; 1/2 grapefruit or juice; 1 slice toast with 1T of peanut butter

Lunch: 1/2 cup tuna; 1 slice toast; black coffee, tea, or water

Dinner: 3oz. any lean meat; 1 cup green beans; 1 cup carrots; 1 cup vanilla ice cream; black coffee, tea, or water

Day Two

Breakfast: Black coffee, tea, or water; 1 egg (any style); 1 slice toast; 1 banana

Lunch: 1 cup cottage cheese or tuna; 5 saltine crackers; black coffee, tea or water

Dinner: 2 beef franks or hot dogs; 1/2 cup carrots; 1 banana; 1 cup broccoli or cabbage; 1/2 cup vanilla ice cream; black coffee, tea, or water

Day Three

Breakfast: Black coffee, tea or water; 5 saltine crackers; 1 slice cheddar cheese; 1 apple

Lunch: 1 hard boiled egg; 1 slice toast; black coffee, tea, or water

Dinner: 1 cup tuna; 1 cup carrots; 1 cup cauliflower; 1 cup melon; 1/2 cup vanilla ice cream; black coffee, tea, or water.

This is pretty hardcore on the limiting of calories. Even though it is only 3 days, some people might have a hard time with such a reduction of energy. And much of the loss in weight might be water, since it’s so short term you don’t have much time to burn fat.

And then on the fourth day what do you do? You’re probably starving so you may just go crazy and eat so much that you cancel out the weight loss. I guess if you want to fit into that dress or suit that feels tight for a special occasion, this could help. Otherwise it would be better to pick a longer term diet that relies on healthy eating habits rather than crash calorie diets.


Related Articles:

Need help with your weight loss? Click here: Weight Loss Tips

Learn more about Fad Diets. Click here: Fad Diets

Read my diet reviews, click here: Diet Reviews

The content on this site is presented only for informational purposes and does not replace medical advice from a practicing physician.

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