5 Fad Diets That Can Be Dangerous for Your Health

Fad diets vow to help you shed pounds quickly and effortlessly. “Most fad diets go something like this: Take a few foods, give them ‘magic’ power, and set a plan to convince people that eating this way and only this way will promote weight loss,” Alexandra Caspero, a nutritionist, told Health. While quick-fix diets may sound tempting, don’t fall prey to their empty promises! These five diets consist of strict rules, poor long-term results, and in some cases, nutritional deficiencies.

1. The five-bite diet

someone taking a bite out of an apple

Do yourself a favor — don’t follow this diet. | iStock.com

Created by Dr. Alwin Lewis, the five-bite diet encourages you to lose weight by eating less. SFGate explains that instead of counting calories, diet participants count bites. This quick-fix weight-loss plan requires you to skip breakfast and then eat five bites of whatever food you’d like at lunch and dinner, according to the article. As long as your drinks are calorie-free, you can have as many beverages as you’d like.

Even if you choose high-calorie foods and take large bites, the Dr. Oz Blog notes that it will probably amount to about 800 calories a day, which is less than half of the daily amount that’s generally recommended. And while the diet encourages you to take a daily multivitamin, the Dr. Oz Blog warns that this diet won’t come close to providing you with the key vitamins, minerals, and nutrients your body needs. Livestrong states that low-calorie diets such as this one can eventually cause deficiencies that lead to anemia, bone loss, decreased cognitive function, and low energy.

2. The raw food diet

raw veggies

Raw fruits and veggies should be eaten, but don’t go overboard. | iStock.com

The raw food diet requires you to eat raw fruits, vegetables, and grains. The idea behind this diet is that heating food destroys its nutrients and natural enzymes, WebMD explains. Since raw foods are often low in calories, fat, and sodium, WebMD acknowledges that there’s a good chance you’ll lose weight and consume several important nutrients while following this diet. But there are plenty of negative drawbacks that come along with the raw food diet. First, WebMD writes that there are also several nutrients — including protein, iron, calcium, and minerals — that you won’t get enough of when following this plan.

Furthermore, Health reports that in some cases, it’s better for you to cook your vegetables; the cooking process kills bacteria and actually enhances some foods’ nutrients. This diet can also be hard on your digestive system. Mindbodygreen explains that plants and vegetables have cellulose and fibrous structures, which are hard for our stomachs to break down. This can eventually cause bloating, indigestion, constipation, malnutrition, and a lowered immune system. Because this diet is so strict, it will be difficult — and expensive — to stick with this plan.

3. The baby food diet

baby food

Baby food is for the babies. | iStock.com

There’s a reason babies and grown-ups eat differently: They both have different nutrient requirements, meaning the baby food diet is extremely impractical for adults. Shape states that the diet involves replacing your typical breakfast and lunch foods with about 14 jars of baby food, which range from 25 to 75 calories each, and then eating a healthy, sensible dinner. There are several concerns that come along with this diet. Everyday Health notes that women should aim for about 25 grams of fiber a day, which is extremely hard to obtain when eating baby food.

The National Fiber Council warns that if you don’t get enough fiber, you may experience problems with irregular digestion. It could also cause you to begin binge-eating. “The lack of fiber, fat, and protein will cause the food to be digested quickly, leaving the person hungry in an hour or two and susceptible to binging later. Also, baby food is very bland and there’s minimal chewing involved, so a person would be left feeling unsatisfied and craving something else,” Dariella Gaete, R.D. and owner of Eat Freely Nutrition Counseling and Consulting, told Everyday Health.

4. The blood type diet

a diet plan

We certainly don’t recommend this diet. | iStock.com

The blood type diet, developed by Dr. Peter d’Adamo, a naturopathic physician, centers around the premise that the foods you eat react with your blood type. The diet states that if your blood type is A, you should follow a mainly vegetarian diet; O’s should stick with meats and try to avoid grains; B’s can eat a variety of foods; and an AB blood type allows you to eat any foods allowed on the type A and type B diets, according to SFGate. An Oprah article warns that following this diet could deprive you of vital nutrients.

For example, those with an O blood type must avoid dairy and grains, which are essential for heart health and strong bones. Weight Loss Resources adds that this diet’s strict rules can make mealtime preparation challenging and time-consuming. Finally, WebMD states that it’s hard to tell whether this diet will promote any sort of weight loss, both in the short- and long-term. This is because no studies have been done that directly compare weight loss and health in people who were on the diet against those who weren’t.

5. The master cleanse


Liquid diets like this one can be dangerous. | iStock.com

A liquid diet that claims to detoxify the body and promote weight loss, the master cleanse diet is meant to be followed over a three- to 10-day period, explains Healthline. There are three phases: ease in, the lemonade diet, and ease out. The lemonade phase is the main component of this diet. During this phase, your only food is a special lemonade drink that you can have between six and 12 times a day.

Health states that the lemonade beverage consists of lemon juice, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper, resulting in a diuretic drink that will cause you to shed water weight. However, Health adds that once you begin eating solid foods, the water weight will return fairly quickly. Healthline warns that you won’t get enough calories when following this diet — it only allows you to consume between 600 and 1,200 calories a day, well beneath the recommended daily amount. Because of the lack of nutrients and calories, those following this diet may experience fatigue, nausea, dizziness, and dehydration.