THERE’S a reason why fad diets are so popular, not just in January, but all year round.  

For many people they work and can provide quick results.  But they are unsustainable in the long term and more often than not people pile back on the weight at an even greater scale in between the cycles of fad dieting.  Hence the name ‘fad’’, which means a short lived crazed enthusiasm for something that isn’t going to work.  

Diets to avoid include (but are not confined to) alkaline, Atkins, blood type diet, cabbage soup fat burning diet, detox, Dukan diet, ketogenic, maple syrup, paleo, warrior and zone diet.  These will be promoted all month long, so please don’t be reeled in.

These fad diets promote fast weight loss without robust scientific evidence behind them to support their claims.  Many of these can lead to weight loss – usually through loss of lean muscle and fluid instead of body fat.  This is a common theme in low carbohydrate diets.  

Carbohydrate foods contain a lot of water and when you cut them out you will weigh less on the scales, as scales measure everything and not just what you want to lose. 

You don’t need to do this.  Fad diets can’t be followed long term as many people become fed up with rules and limits with regards to food intake.  When food groups are demonised, this can make people create a negative relationship with food and if they eat the food, they may become stressed and anxious.  This sort of relationship with food can often lead to disordered eating and then, in turn, an eating disorder. 

If you are following a fad diet and you are hungry, but ignoring hunger cues, this can lead to cycles of weight loss followed by weight gain.  Following a cycle like this can also affect our relationship with food, leading to feelings of failure, rather than developing the skills and confidence to manage diet and weight in a healthy manner.

You should stick to the NHS-approved Eatwell Guide – this tells you all you need.  

Lee McCusker (BA; MSc; MSc; MSc; ANutr; SENr) is a registered nutritionist from Belfast and can be found on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.  Email: attentivenutrition@