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Fad Diets: How to Spot Them & What Really Works

By Elisa - Jenny Craig

Reviewed by Monica Ropar, Nutritionist

Expert Reviewed

Fad diets are nothing new and seemingly pop up every few months, declaring yet another food group to avoid or elixir to drink. But what has stood the test of time on the journey of weight loss is the tried-and-true, and most importantly, healthy, philosophy of eating a well-balanced diet while staying active. We tapped our Jenny Craig Nutritionist, Monica Ropar, to help explain the fad diet phenomenon and talk about what really works.

It seems as more and more scientific testing is conducted around weight loss and nutrition, food trends have been popping up as quickly as the next fashion line. From juice ‘cleanses’ to shunning bread—it can be confusing to figure out what’s simply a fad—or if it’s a plan that can deliver long-term results and health benefits.

What exactly is a “fad diet?”

Usually, a fad diet takes an extreme, “quick fix” approach to losing weight—typically eliminating certain food groups altogether.


Most of the time, if you do achieve results and return to your regular routine, you’ll likely see the scale tick back up—and just like that, you’re back to square one. Why? Because fad diets aren’t sustainable. And as you return to your normal eating habits, you’ll likely return to your original weight, or worse, gain back even more from feeling deprived.


How to spot a fad

By spotting a few key terms, you’ll likely be able to identify a fad diet from a program that yields long-term results. Watch out for plans that cut out entire food groups, promise extreme results in a few days or claim certain foods will accelerate your progress.2



What really works

There are a few areas to consider when evaluating a weight loss program that will work. First, ensure the plan is nutritionally sound. You should have a good balance of protein, a variety of vegetables and fruits, healthy carbs, and healthy fats to cover all essential and health-promoting nutrients. Secondly, does the program set realistic goals? Usually, losing 1-2 pounds (or 1% of your current weight) per week is considered a reasonable goal.3 However, you may lose weight more rapidly when you first begin a program as your body adapts to a new way of eating. Let it motivate you to keep going!




Another thing to consider: does the program provide help when it comes to changing your habits? If you’re considering losing weight and want to learn how to keep it off, having an accountability partner or personal weight loss consultant can make all the difference in your results. In fact, one study conducted over a two-year period found that a weight loss program with structured support yielded greater results than a program that relied on self-help.4


Finally, can you maintain your new, healthy lifestyle once you aren’t trying to lose any additional weight? Sustainability is key. If a program teaches you healthy portion sizes and how to eat a well-balanced diet that you can continue on your own, you’ll be setting yourself up for success.


Are you looking for a sustainable weight loss program? Jenny Craig can help you achieve your goals. With a personal, dedicated consultant and a balanced meal plan, our program is designed to set you up for success! Contact us today to book your free appointment





[1] https://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/fad+diet

[2] https://www.webmd.com/diet/guide/the-truth-about-fad-diets#1

[3] https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/in-depth/weight-loss/art-20047752

[4] https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/196342

Monica Ropar, Nutritionist 

bio-photo-monica.pngMonica has over 15 years of experience with Jenny Craig, as an expert nutrition and program resource. She develops content, training, tools and strategies for the program to support clients throughout their weight loss journey, and offers inspiration, weight loss tips, lifestyle strategies and motivation. Monica holds a Bachelor of Science degree with a double major in Dietetics and Exercise, Fitness & Health from Purdue University and continues to stay current on weight management research, consumer trends and healthcare developments.

Favorite healthy snack: raw veggie sticks with homemade hummus


Elisa Hoffman



Elisa is a content marketing manager for Jenny Craig with over ten years of experience working in the health and fitness industry. She loves sharing her passion for living a balanced and healthy lifestyle. A San Diego native and an endurance sports enthusiast, you can usually find her swimming, biking along the coast highway or running by the beach in her free time. Elisa holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from California State University Chico.

Favorite healthy snack: mozzarella string cheese with a Pink Lady apple



This article is based on scientific research and/or other scientific articles and was written by an experienced health and lifestyle contributor and fact-checked by Monica Ropar, Nutritionist at Jenny Craig.


Our goal at Jenny Craig is to provide the most up-to-date and objective information on health-related topics, so our readers can make informed decisions based on factual content. All articles undergo an extensive review process, and depending on topic, are reviewed by a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) or Nutritionist, to ensure accuracy.


This article contains trusted sources including a scientific, peer-reviewed paper. All references are hyperlinked at the end of the article to take readers directly to the source.


Edited by Elisa - Jenny Craig

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