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Top Ten Fad Diets

written by: Jenni781 • edited by: Diana Cooper • updated: 12/29/2010

A quick and dirty guide to the top ten fad diets. Includes information on what each fad diet is, pros and cons to each diet and where they originated.

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    What is a Fad Diet?

    It is no secret that most adults in the United States struggle with their weight. Below you will find my list of Top Ten Fad Diets that are out there. People will go to great lengths to lose weight and these top ten fad diets are just a few of some creative ways people try to drop weight quickly. Beware of these diets however, because the weight loss often doesn't last. Some people have found great success with fad diets but I wouldn't have huge expectations. Try lifestyle modification instead of restricting your diet. Embrace the idea of moderation and learn how to have your cake and eat it too!

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    The Cookie Diet

    There are a couple of variations of the cookie diet but the main theme throughout the cookie diets remain the same. The cookie diet focuses on fiber and protein as a way to keep you satisfied through the day. They figure if you are satisfied then you are less likely to eat. Everyone loves cookies so the idea of having a meal replacement or snack as a cookie intrigues a lot of people. However, these are not your mothers homemade, warm, soft cookies. In the cookie diet they take the place of your snacks but also your meals. Recommendations are to eat 4 to 6 cookies throughout the day to keep yourself full. The only real guess work you have is what flavor to indulge in. This program may be helpful for initiating weight loss but what happens when you are invited out to dinner or really want a nice meal?

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    The Atkins Diet

    Atkins stresses a low carb, high protein diet which causes your body to go into ketoacidosis, which is theorized to help you burn more fat. On Atkins you can eat as much meat as you want but must cut out breads, cereals, pasta and other high carb foods.

    Proteins are known for keeping you fuller longer, so you probably will not be starving on this diet but you may find your body dreaming about those carbs you are missing.

    For sweet eaters this may be a good diet to try because it can break your impulsive sweet eating but most likely will only result in a short lived weight loss since at some point most people reintroduce the foods that are originally cut out of the diet.

    One concern is Atkins may lead to heart disease if too much meat high in saturated fat is consumed for a long period of time. Also because of Ketoacidosis it is also theorized that your brain may not work at full potential causing confusion and forgetfulness while on this diet. Your brain functions best with carbohydrates but will function on "survival mode" if ketones are the only thing available.

    Consult a medical provider before starting this diet.

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    South Beach Diet

    The South Beach Diet was minted by Dr. Arthur Agatston in an attempt to help his cardiac and diabetic patients with their overall health. He was looking for something to help his patients lose weight and improve serum blood levels of particular markers. His diet plan worked so well that others in the Miami area took notice. He offered it to the public and published a book detailing the inner workings of his diet. There are 3 phases of the South Beach Diet. Phase 1 is designed to kick start weight loss and eliminate cravings. During phase one you must eliminate all sugar and refined starches. Phase 2 is meant to make you lose weight steadily. Phase 3 is centered around Lifestyle Maintenance. The toughest part of this diet is going cold turkey on refined starches and sugars. Usually when people go cold turkey once you reintroduce them to your diet people go overboard. This diet may work for some and not for others but is worth a try if you think you are mentally tough enough to get through the sugar withdrawal.

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    Macrobiotic Diet

    The Macrobiotic diet is more than just a diet, it's a lifestyle. The macrobiotic diet was first made famous with Gwyneth Paltrow. This top ten fad diet encourages locally grown fresh fruits and veggies. No meats are consumed and fish is eaten in limited quantities. This is a great diet for someone that enjoys fresh fruits and veggies and for someone that can afford fresh produce. There is mention of other organic products too so don't be surprised if things get a little pricey. But if you enjoy fresh fruits and veggies, starting your own garden and reading up on the background of Zen and the Macrobiotic diet may be for you!

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    Cabbage Soup Diet

    If you truly enjoy the taste of food this diet may not be the right fit for you. The Cabbage soup diet comes with strict meal plans and diet restrictions. Through the dieting phase you must consume an exact amount of food and cabbage soup of course. Feedback from those who have tried the diet often praise the diet for results but do mention how it was a struggle to get the cabbage soup down. If you are looking for a mental toughness challenge along with some weight loss this may be the diet for you.

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    Jenny Craig

    Jenny Craig offers a line of their own food products as well as group and individual support. It is a fee for service program so the cost is more than say the Cabbage Soup Diet. What is great about Jenny Craig is it works on behavior change and lifestyle modification so you learn to prepare healthier foods and how to incorporate exercise and other healthy activities. This is the type of fad diet that can be sustained even after your initial weight loss. The information you learn from Jenny Craig can be applied for a lifetime. If you don't mind really confronting your weight problem and getting to the root of it definitely take a look at this program. However, don't feel obligated to buy every food item they offer, its a marketing ploy more than anything and helps them make a profit on you.

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    Weight Watchers

    Weight watchers seems to be one of the more logical and moderate fad diets out there. Weight watchers is not only great for initiating weight loss but for maintaining weight loss. Many people have taken the tools they have learned from this program and applied it after they completed their weight loss goal and maintained that weight over many years. If you are looking to lose and maintain that weight loss over time, weight watchers would be a good program to try. It teaches moderation and small lifestyle changes like switching from white bread to whole wheat bread and increasing physical activity to give you not only a diet plan but an overall lifestyle change towards a healthier life. Like Jenny Craig, they also offer a line of food products. Don't feel obligated to buy everything they make, some snacks are okay but you are really just paying for their advertising.

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    Nutrisystem is a diet program where pre-portioned food is sent directly to your home. Their food includes meals, snacks and desserts, so if you are having trouble with portion control this may be a good program to try. Nutrisystem takes the guess work out of preparing meals. Only tough thing with nutrisystem is it doesn't take life events like birthday parties or dinners out into account. Also it doesn't teach you how to prepare healthier foods for yourself. If you don't stick strictly to their food your results may vary. This diet could be a good jump start to weight loss but I find it hard to believe someone could stick with this diet for a long period of time. Also this is a fee for service program so you must shell out some dough for their foods.

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    Slim Fast Diet

    The Slim Fast Diet is comprised of meal replacement shakes to be consumed in place of meals. This diet would work best for someone who is very busy that is skipping meals or is flying through the drive thru for meals. There are a couple of flavors of shakes but the variety is limited. Each shake is fortified with vitamins, minerals and other important nutrients. So in terms of overall nutrition it's not bad. But just like some of the other top ten fad diets listed, its long term use is limited. Also because the Slim fast diet includes meal replacement shakes, you miss out on actually eating your food! Slim fast shakes are definitely healthier than the drive thru but I don't know how much the Slim Fast diet will change behaviors that got you to your overweight status in the first place.

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    The 3 Day Diet

    The 3 Day Diet has been around since the 80's. This diet promises weight loss of 10 pounds after following a strict 3 day diet that is laid out for you. You must stick to the exact plan or your weight loss could vary. There is no scientific evidence that this diet works but something must be working if this fad diet has survived since the 80's. This diet, a lot like the other fad diets may help you lose water weight but aren't actually helping you lose any fat weight. When you return to your normal eating patterns expect to gain the weight you may have lost right back.

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