Get The Skinny On Fad Diets!

Searching for a new diet to help you shed the pounds and incinerate the fat? Cut through the lard and get the skinny on the most popular diets and why they do – and don’t always work.

Article Summary:
  • Different nutrition approaches work for different people at different times in their lives.
  • Eating small meals more frequently can help some people control binging and overeating.
  • The Warrior Diet is one of the newer diets based upon intermittent fasting.

Confused about which diet to try? I'll help you sort through the popular fat loss diets and choose the one that's right for you.

If there's one thing that's a constant in the world, it's that diet fads will come and go. Back in the 30's and 40's the diet trend was smoking (seriously, smoking was thought to help you lose weight because you'd be puffing instead of eating!).

The 50's fad was prayer. Ask God to be slim and maybe it would happen! The 60's pushed support groups and oh, The Cabbage Soup Diet. Diet pills were all the rage in the 70's; the Scarsdale Diet dominated the 80's and was dethroned in the 90's by Dr. Atkins, which still proves to be popular today.

So here we are in the second decade of the twenty-first century. At last count there were over 300 diets being used today, everything from the Glycemic Impact Diet to the Bistro MD Diet. Do any of these diets actually work? Possibly. But most are merely gimmicks to fatten someone's wallet and they will do little to help those of us with a serious desire to shed the pounds and cut the fat once and for all.

Not surprisingly, there seems to be controversy and confusion among the bodybuilding and fitness crowd - especially newbies - as to what is the proper way to eat to lose fat, gain lean mass and achieve your goals. In fact, the camps on the various ways of eating seem to be so divided that verbal warfare has broken out among the ranks.

The simple truth is that different approaches work for different people at different times in their lives. Arguing with people that one diet is "the only kind to follow" is an exercise in futility as there will always be someone who will denounce your logic.

The wisest thing to do is to educate yourself on the popular diets and determine which one makes sense for you, your lifestyle and your goals. Obviously we can't cover all the eating plans in this article, so what we will cover are the most popular diets among bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts.

There Seems To Be Controversy And Confusion Among The Bodybuilding And Fitness Crowd As To What Is The Proper Way To Eat To Lose Fat, Gain Lean Mass And Achieve Your Goals.
Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
There Seems To Be Controversy And Confusion As To What Is The Proper
Way To Eat To Lose Fat, Gain Lean Mass And Achieve Your Goals.

Popular Fitness Diets

1. The Six-Small- Meals-A-Day Bro-Science Diet:

Known by names such as The Body for Life Diet and The Eat Clean Diet, this diet is extremely popular with bodybuilders. So much so, in fact, that it has been nicknamed "Bro-Science" by its opponents (Bro-science meaning the way not-so-bright bodybuilders approach eating).

What it really is, is a change in eating habits, not just for a short term, but for the rest of your life, during which you eat six to eight small meals per day, limit sugars, processed foods and trans-fats, and instead consume lean protein, complex carbs, grains, legumes, nuts, veggies and fruit.

Several years ago there was much hype about this type of eating plan that claimed that eating frequently would cause your metabolism to rise. Unfortunately, there do not appear to be any studies published which are conclusive that frequent meals do in fact have a thermogenic effect, other than the fact that the metabolism does rise somewhat while food is being digested.

What has been researched and proven is the fact that eating small meals more frequently can help some people control binging and overeating versus sitting down to three large meals a day. If you never feel "starved," you won't fill your face with more food than you need.

And it goes without saying that eating unprocessed, nutritious food goes a long way to promote health, vitality and boost the immune system.

Eating Unprocessed, Nutritious Food Goes A Long Way To Promote Health, Vitality And Boost The Immune System.
Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
Eating Unprocessed, Nutritious Food Goes A Long Way To
Promote Health, Vitality And Boost The Immune System.


  • Small meals spread throughout the day can help promote weight loss and curb overeating and snacking
  • Eating unprocessed, natural foods provides quality nutrition
  • Diet is well balanced and includes the adequate intake of essential fatty acids


  • In order to follow this diet you must plan to give up all processed foods, which include refined carbohydrates, sugars, prepared foods and alcohol
  • Meal planning is imperative, some people find eating six meals per day to be inconvenient

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2. Atkins Or Ketogenic Diet:

The diet made famous by Dr. Atkins in the eighties is also commonly called The Ketogenic, or Keto Diet. In this eating plan, emphasis is placed on a diet high in fat and protein with little to no carbohydrates being consumed. It is very common among bodybuilders when preparing for a competition and used as a cutting diet. It is also widely used as a method to help those with Epilepsy.

The thought process behind this type of diet is that by eliminating carbs, you will force your body into a state of ketosis, at which time ketones are used as a fuel source - rather than glucose.

Ketosis is basically defined as the build-up of ketones in your bloodstream wherein your body produces ketones for fuel. When this happens your blood ketone concentration is higher than your glucose concentration.

Ketosis drastically lowers insulin; which in turn causes your pancreas to start producing glucagon. After this happens while on a ketogenic diet, it is believed that your body will basically go into a dramatic fat burning mode.

Ketones are by products of fat metabolism and are an alternative source of fuel for the brain, heart, skeletal muscle and other oxygen requiring tissues to utilize in times of starvation, carbohydrate restriction or extended periods of exercise. While on a ketogenic type diet your liver is in charge of taking fatty acids away from fat stores and using the fat for energy.

By restricting your carbohydrate intake while on a ketosis diet and in fact eliminating them on a ketogenic diet and eating enough fat and protein you'll put your body into ketosis within a few days.

By Eliminating Carbs, You Will Force Your Body Into A State Of Ketosis, At Which Time Ketones Are Used As A Fuel Source.
Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
By Eliminating Carbs, You Will Force Your Body Into A State Of
Ketosis, At Which Time Ketones Are Used As A Fuel Source.


  • Most people who stick with the diet see significant weight loss after the first week
  • There are no calorie restrictions so hunger generally is not an issue
  • Meat and dairy lovers can dine on roast beef and all the butter they like


  • Fatigue and irritability are common during the first few weeks
  • Metallic taste in the mouth and subsequent bad breath
  • Without carbs you will experience some nutrient deficiencies
  • Digestion may become sluggish without the fiber normally ingested from eating carbs
  • High fat content may contribute to higher cholesterol
  • Increased uric acid and ketones that can cause kidney problems, gout and headaches
  • Weight tends to come back within 6-12 months of discontinuing diet

Have You Had Any Success With A Keto Diet?

3. The Warrior Diet:

The Warrior Diet is one of the newer diets based upon intermittent fasting, or IF. As in the Six-Meals-a-Day Diet, it also revolves around eating unprocessed, organic foods that are nutritious and wholesome.

The gist of the diet is that you under-eat, or fast during the day and then consume a large evening meal. The theory behind it is that under-eating during the day maximizes the Sympathetic Nervous System's (SNS) fight or flight reaction to stress, thereby promoting alertness, generation of energy, fat burning and the capacity to endure stress.

Then, by overeating at night, you maximize the Parasympathetic Nervous System's (PNS) recuperation effect on the body, thereby promoting calm, relaxation, digestion and the utilization of nutrients for repair and growth.

This feeding cycle stimulates the production of cellular factors such as Cyclic AMP or GMP, which stimulate hormone synthesis and fat burning during the day, as well as protein synthesis and growth during the night, respectively.

During the day, you don't have to skip food entirely. You can snack on fruits, vegetables, and limited amounts of protein (nuts, plain yogurt, whey protein, etc). The idea is not to feel like you are starving, so if you experience hunger pangs, you can certainly have a snack.

Then in the evening, you reintroduce food by starting with uncooked organic vegetables (for the enzymes), followed by chicken or fish as your main dish, and then some fats or carbs if you still feel hungry. It is believed that you minimize the impact on your insulin response by doing this.

Calorie counting is not recommended, instead, when you consume your evening meal, you continue to eat until you are no longer hungry. Sticking to organic foods and using spices, herbs, and oils, you detoxify your system.

Ori Hofmekler, the man behind the Warrior Diet, says that there is evidence that humans are nocturnal eaters, inherently programmed for under-eating and toiling during the day, followed by overeating and relaxing at night.

Researchers believe that the human genome is programmed for a late Paleolithic world. As hunter/gatherers we're better adapted to pre-agricultural food- i.e. chemical-free fruit, vegetables, roots, sprouted legumes, nuts, seeds, fertile eggs, marine food (wild catch), and dairy from grass fed animals.

The other principal behind the Warrior Diet is that by combining exercise with under-eating, you will amplify the beneficial mechanisms of both - increasing our ability to utilize energy, improve strength and resist fatigue.

The Warrior Diet Is One Of The Newer Diets Based Upon Intermittent Fasting.
Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
The Warrior Diet Is One Of The Newer
Diets Based Upon Intermittent Fasting.


  • If you reduce your caloric intake on a regular basis you will lose weight
  • The only foods you need to cut from your diet are processed, high fat and sugary foods
  • By eating organic, clean foods you will boost your immune system and increase overall health


  • If you follow the diet as instructed and purchase organic foods it can be expensive
  • Some people may tend to overeat the evening meal after under-eating during the day
  • You may experience headache, shakiness, weakness and lack of concentration during your under-eating hours due to the fact that your blood sugar levels have dropped after a long night's sleep

4. Eat Stop Eat:

Eat Stop Eat is also an IF-based diet, similar to the Warrior diet. The difference is that rather than fasting on a daily basis, you fast two days per week. With Eat Stop Eat, the science behind the diet is that by fasting for two days out of a week, you reduce your caloric intake by 10-20%, or 2400 to 4000 calories, resulting in weight loss of about a pound per week.

It's a pretty simple concept really. Pick two days a week to fast and eat sensibly the other five days. Some people swear it works wonders, while others say after about three weeks the body grows accustomed to being starved every couple days and weight loss becomes minimal.

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  • Just like the Warrior Diet, if you do decrease your calorie intake you should lose weight
  • You don't have to give up any specific foods
  • You can choose any two days you like to fast
  • You may save on your grocery bill by cutting two day's food per week out during shopping trips


  • Easy to fall off the wagon due to being extremely hungry on fasting days
  • Starvation days may cause dieters to overeat on non-fasting days
  • You may experience headache, shakiness, weakness and lack of concentration during your under-eating hours due to the fact that your blood sugar levels have dropped after a long night's sleep

5. Fast-5 Diet:

There is also a diet floating around called the Fast-5, in which you fast on a daily basis for 19 hours. In this diet, you have a window of five hours per day in which to eat whatever you wish. The window can be at any time, but it is the only time that consumption of food is allowed.

In This Diet, You Have A Window Of Five Hours Per Day In Which To Eat Whatever You Wish.
Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
In This Diet, You Have A Window Of Five Hours
Per Day In Which To Eat Whatever You Wish.


So, which diet is going to work for you? To get to the heart of the matter, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health financed a two-year study of 811 overweight people. The research was conducted by experts at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston and the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, part of the Louisiana State University system.

What they learned was simple: "To lose weight, it comes down to how much you put in your mouth - it's not a question of eating a particular type of diet," says Frank Sacks, a lead researcher and professor of cardiovascular disease prevention at Harvard. A decrease in calorie intake equals a decrease in weight.

In the study, the dieters lost an average of 13 pounds over the six-month period, no matter which diet they were on, and after two years had kept off an average of nine pounds.

Bottom line: if you want to shed fat and uncover the muscle hiding underneath, you need to restrict your calories. Choosing one diet over another really is a moot point. Instead, choose one that allows you to go through your days without feeling overly hungry and most importantly, choose one that you can stick with for the long haul.

Recommended Articles:


  1. Volume 348:2082-2090, May 22, 2003, Number 21 A Randomized Trial of a Low-Carbohydrate Diet for Obesity Gary D. Foster, Ph.D., Holly R. Wyatt, M.D., James O. Hill, Ph.D., Brian G. McGuckin, Ed.M., Carrie Brill, B.S., B. Selma Mohammed, M.D., Ph.D., Philippe O. Szapary, M.D., Daniel J. Rader, M.D., Joel S. Edman, D.Sc., and Samuel Klein, M.D.
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Copyright Sue Wilkerson 2010

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