The Most Popular Diets of All Time-Do They Work?

Shannon Slabaugh
Shannon Slabaugh

If you start to pay attention, you may notice that diets have a way of periodically making their way back into popular culture. Perhaps with a slight name change or variation, familiar diets re-introduce themselves into society, promising immediate fixes and instantaneous results. However, at the core of most diet fads aren't new scientific results that have found massive weight loss linked to some "superfood." At the core of many diet fads are the same, unproven, promises of dramatic weight loss. Lets take a look at some of the most popular diet fads over the years. 

Detox Diets and Juice Cleanses

Juice cleanses may seem like a relatively modern diet trend. I mean, it wasn't until recently that juice bars started emerging. Now, it seems relatively easy to sign up for a 3-5 day juice cleanse and either have the juices shipped to your door or available for pick-up at a nearby store. How did this trend start? 


Juice cleanses have been changed around a time or two. Originally they started back in the 1940's with the famous "Master Cleanse" also known as the "Lemonade" diet. This diet claimed significant weight loss in very short periods of time. "The diet consists of 4 cups of salt water each morning, a cup of herbal laxative tea at night and six to 12 glasses throughout the day of the "lemonade" – a concoction you make from fresh lemon or lime juice, maple syrup, cayenne pepper and water" ( 

From the Master Cleanse, more traditional juice cleanses have evolved. Juice cleanses typically consist of 5-6 juices that involve fruit and vegetable heavy juices, activated charcoal, at least one nut milk beverage, and the option of a cayenne pepper lemonade. Juice cleanses typically total about 1000-1200 calories per day. Often times you will hear things like "reset your body","cleanse out the toxins", and "lose up to 10 pounds" associated with juicing. To be clear, your body naturally cleanses itself. You are more than likely not storing additional weight due to toxins in the body. 

While a juice cleanse is certainly more sustainable than the Master Cleanse, juice cleanses should not be used in excess. The best way to incorporate juices into a diet are as a supplement for micronutrients. If you don't get enough vegetables in throughout the day, adding a vegetable heavy juice would be beneficial. 


Apple Cider Vinegar Diet

I'm sure you're familiar with the apple cider vinegar trend. Many will claim that taking a shot of apple cider vinegar before eating will suppress your appetite, lower your blood sugar, kill bacteria in your stomach, and lead to various other health benefits. When did this become a trend? And more importantly, is there any science behind it? 

Vinegar being used as a remedy actually dates all the way back to 1200 BC. In 400 BC, apple cider vinegar was introduced by Hippocrates as a remedy for colds. Since then, apple cider vinegar has come and gone in waves. While it's been credited for a variety of health benefits, there still isn't a direct correlation between apple cider vinegar and weight loss. 

Weight Loss Shake Diets


Another form of popular diets have been shake diets. Shake diets typically consist of substituting 1-2 meals a day with "shakes" and then eating a sensible dinner. These diets picked up traction with Slimfast in the 1970's and have continued with other companies attempting to sell a meal replacement, weight loss shake. More recently, we have seen companies such as Herbalife, 310 Shakes, and Shakeology dominate the market with promises of quick weight loss.  Of course, these diets are not sustainable for long periods of time and should not be used in excess. If you're going to use a meal replacement, make sure it hits your macros and calories.

Low Carb Diets

51YZN6OF8DL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgSurprisingly, low carb diets have some of the most extensive history behind them. Low carb diets actually date back to 1862 when William Banting started a diet that eliminated starch, sugar, beer and potatoes. This diet helped Banting lose a substantial amount of weight. Banting went on to rave about the benefits of this diet and is credited for creating the first ever popularized diet. 

Since the origins of this diet, low carb has taken on many different forms. The very popularized diets Atkins (made in the 1960's) and South Beach Diet (made in 2003) have both utilized the common principles of a low carb diet. Because of the rising popularity of these diets and the initial success many users receive on a low carb diet, carbs have become a highly scrutinized macronutrient. 

Currently, we are seeing low carb take on another form, Ketogenic. The keto diet has gained a ton of momentum within the last year. However, the origins of the keto diet actually date back to 1920's when a doctor by the last name Peterman invented the diet to treat patients with epilepsy. 

It's no surprise that we are seeing the keto diet trend today as it is a more intense version of the already popular and socially accepted low carb diets of the past. The keto diet aims to eliminate carbohydrates from a diet so that the body stops running off of glucose (carbohydrates) for energy and starts utilizing ketones (fat) as energy instead. 

But so far, there is no significant evidence that the elimination of carbohydrates provides any substantial health benefits or more weight loss, beyond calorie control alone.  

Best Diet for Weight Loss: What We Recommend 

It can be extremely tempting to hop on the bandwagon of the latest diets promising extreme results in a short period of time. However, when it comes to losing weight quickly, we recommend following a healthy, balanced diet. Fad diets sell the promise of immediate results and often preach an unsustainable diet in the process. While fad diets may seem to be the latest and greatest in the science behind dieting, there is no miracle path to weight loss. Weight loss can only be achieved and maintained long term with a healthy and sustainable diet. 

 For a diet that is backed by science check out our meal plans : 




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