Fad Diets: What Are They + What Can You Learn From Them?

Fad Diets: What Are They + What Can You Learn From Them?

BOHO Core’s health coach, Michelle Baer, is a med student at the VCU School of Medicine with a masters degree in nutrition. She’s coming to us today with a boatload of knowledge on fad diets – the good, the bad, and all the interesting facts in between!

Keto Diet

What is it?

A true ketogenic diet puts your body into a state of ketosis – a metabolic process where the body relies more on fat for energy instead of sugar.  This diet limits your intake of carbohydrates significantly, such that your body’s stores of glucose (sugar) are depleted so your body burns fat.

The nutrient breakdown is centered on high fat, moderate protein and low carb with the following breakdown: 80% of your daily calories from fat, 15-20 % from protein and less than 5% from carbohydrates (this means less than 25 g of carbs a day assuming a 2000 calorie per day diet!).    

Yes, a true keto diet means no pasta, bread, or anything else we traditionally consider to be a carbohydrate, but it also requires tracking intake of fruits and vegetables to keep yourself under the strict carbohydrate limit. For example, two cups of broccoli has about 12 net carbs – half of your daily limit on the keto diet!

The good –  The keto diet has been an effective means of weight loss for many.  It’s proven beneficial to those with certain chronic diseases by reducing symptoms and improving insulin resistance.

The badThis diet must be followed strictly to be effective.   To reach ketosis, you must consistently maintain a carbohydrate intake that is no higher than 5-10% of your total calories, which can be restrictive and frustrating for many.


What is it?

The paleo diet focuses on eating foods consumed by our ancestors during the Paleolithic era – i.e. protein, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and healthy fats.  It focuses on eating whole foods when you’re hungry and avoiding processed foods.

There is no strict calorie counting or any protein/fat/carb ratios to keep track of.   While you can find many lists online about what you can and cannot eat, overall the guidelines for this diet are to get rid of processed foods and replace them with nutrient-rich, whole foods.

The Good:  Eliminating processed foods and refined sugar is a win for your body.

The Bad:  Paleo diets can be high in saturated fat and cholesterol because it does not restrict the sources of protein or fat.


This diet excludes all foods that contain the protein gluten.  This is not the same as a carb-free diet. Gluten is found in grains such as wheat, barley, and rye.  This diet was originally designed for individuals with celiac disease, who have a gluten-protein allergy that causes inflammation and damage to their intestines.

The good:  If you have celiac disease or gluten-intolerance, obviously this diet is a great choice for you.   For the general public, this diet can provide a framework that encourages cutting back on processed foods and calorie-dense meals, however…

The bad:  Going gluten-free is not necessarily more healthful or more likely to lead to weight loss than other diets.


The raw food fad diet requires food to be uncooked or heated to less than 140 degrees Fahrenheit.  It is made up of primarily fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts.

The Good:  Encourages a nutrient-rich diet centered around fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts

The Bad:  Raw food diets lack important vitamins and minerals such as B12, vitamin D, iron and zinc!  Also, not cooking your food can be hard on your digestive system and isn’t for everyone. It is also a food safety concern and can be an extremely challenging lifestyle to follow.


This diet is inspired by the eating patterns of those in Greece, Italy and Spain with a focus on fresh produce and healthy fats found in oils and fish.

The Good: Research has shown that a Mediterranean diet can reduce the risk of heart disease and has been associated with lower levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol.  It is comprised of nutrient-rich foods that are high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, which are all great for promoting good health.

The bad: As with any diet, it is important to be mindful of food choices and portion sizes.  Just because this diet offers many health benefits, overindulgence can still result in weight gain and have a negative impact on your health.   


BOHO Core’s Take: Everything in moderation.

All of these fad diets have become trendy because they have helped some people achieve their health and weight goals.  However, that does not mean that every diet is for everyone. When choosing the diet that is best for you, it is important to consider your health goals as well as your lifestyle.   The best diet for you is one that is sustainable and provides nutrient-rich foods that are healthful. Regardless of the eating style you choose, make sure you are getting all of the nutrients you need to fuel your body while being mindful of portions.

If you want to learn more from Michelle and the other health coaches at BOHO Core, join them for one of their Body Lab sessions happening at 7:45 p.m. at the BOHO Cycle Studio Church Hill location every Tuesday in October. Each session is $15 and consists of a presentation on a health topic followed by a question and answer session. The series is sponsored by Health Warrior who will be on site with samples of the new plant-based protein powders.

Click here for the full details!


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