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News Room: Press Releases

Fad diets: Recipes for disaster

Wouldn't it be great to lose 30 pounds in 30 days and still enjoy the foods you love to eat? Don't be sucked into the false claims of fad diets. Any super quick weight-loss plan is a recipe for failure.

Fad diets are attractive because they capitalize on our desire to lose weight quickly. And just as quick as they hit the mainstream, another "new and revolutionary" one replaces them.

April Schetler, a Virtua dietitian, is bothered by the false claims that are advertised about fad diets. She says the clinical and scientific research that supports these diets is very misleading.

"Losing a lot of weight in a short period of time is not healthy, and it's nearly impossible to sustain," she adds. "The promises these companies make are nearly superhuman. The before and after photos are unrealistic, and people buy into these claims. It's not the proper way to lose weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle."

While losing weight is no picnic, the best way is to adopt a healthy lifestyle which includes learning how to eat properly. Schetler recommends individuals visit for guidance.

The United States Department of Agriculture recently replaced the iconic Food Pyramid as a simpler and more visual icon to help individuals and families decide on healthier meal choices. The new icon is a multicolored symbol designed for people to see visually how much room on a plate each of the food groups — fruits, vegetables, grains, protein and dairy — should occupy. provides the following teaching points to get consumers on the road to a better and healthier diet:

Balancing Calories

  • Enjoy your food, but eat less
  • Avoid oversized portions

Foods to Increase

  • Make half your plate fruits and vegetables
  • Make at least half your grains whole grains
  • Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk

Foods to Reduce

  • Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals - and choose the foods with lower numbers
  • Drink water instead of sugary drinks

Visit for more information, including essential food groups, sample menus, recipes, nutritional information, interactive tools and much more.

"Learning to eat the right foods and to eat in moderation is important," says Schetler. "For the long-term, you should lose one to two pounds per week. Anything more than that is difficult to sustain. Slow and steady wins the race, but you have to put the time in. It will be worth it in the long run."

If it's a fad, it's probably bad
Should we eat foods that are low in carbs, fat or calories - or all three? Should we take a "magic" weight-loss pill or powder every day to help shed the excess pounds? Here are some popular fad diets along with reasons why you should avoid them.

Low-carb diet

  • Claim: Lose up to 15 pounds in two weeks by cutting carbohydrates from your diet
  • Drawback: Your brain and vital organs need carbohydrates to function properly. Drastically reducing carbs will make you tired and not as sharp.

Cookie diet
  • Claim: It's a safe, fast, and affordable approach to weight loss and weight maintenance that hundreds of doctors throughout North America have used to help their patients lose weight.
    Drawback: The cookie diet plan provides 1,000-1,200 calories per day. The average adult male needs a minimum of 2,000 calories per day, and average female needs 1,800 calories to sustain normal body processes.

Cabbage soup diet
  • Claim: Lose up to 10 pounds in 7 days.
    Drawback: For 7 days straight, you are only allowed to eat fruit, vegetables, and of course ... cabbage soup. The diet lacks in many nutrients found in whole grains, dairy products, lean proteins, and unsaturated fats. Some people on this diet often complain of feeling faint, weak and also have trouble concentrating. In addition, the weight you lose is mostly water weight and will come back immediately after resuming a balanced diet.

Detox diet

  • The Claim: Lose 21 pounds in 21 days by removing toxins from the body.
  • Drawback: Detox diets can eliminate good bacteria and nutrients that individuals need. Many health experts say that these detox diets can weaken the body's ability to fight infections and inflammation. Plus, the body does a perfectly good job of getting rid of toxins on its own.

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