8 Overrated Diet Trends That Are Draining Your Wallet

Save yourself time and money by avoiding these pricey, overhyped fad diets.

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Updated May 28, 2024
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If you’re trying to get healthier, odds are good that improving your diet will be part of the process.

However, for every person trying to clean up eating habits, there’s an elaborate — and often ineffective and costly — fad diet waiting to trip them up.

Save yourself time and keep more money in your wallet by skipping these overrated fad diets.

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Juice cleanses

Drobot Dean/Adobe senior woman drinking juice reading newspaper

Juice cleanses have a reputation for helping you shed a few pounds quickly and for “cleansing” and “detoxifying” your body.

While juice cleanses do help you temporarily shed water weight, you are unlikely to keep the weight off for long. In addition, a juice cleanse can spike your blood sugar and lead to health issues.

Not only that, but it’s costly. On the low end, juicers cost around $40 upfront. According to the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, you might also spend as much as $50 per day on fruits and vegetables or bottled juices.

South Beach

monticellllo/Adobe nutritional fresh food at table

The South Beach diet is one of the more popular fad diets. With this weight-loss regimen, participants avoid most carbohydrates and focus on higher intakes of protein and good fats.

Some people have found the South Beach diet to be effective. However, the cost of books, meal plans, and special groceries related to the diet quickly adds up. Finder.com estimates that the diet can cost as much as $4,000 annually.

A wiser use of that money might be to consult a dietitian who can formulate a diet plan for your specific needs.


timolina/Adobe baked salmon and asparagus

The paleo diet is another popular trend. It eliminates grains, legumes, dairy, starches, and added sugars or salt.

What you’re left with is an abundance of meat, fish, and eggs — all costly items when consumed in abundance. As a result, paleo dieters can expect to shell out around $3,000 a year on food, according to Finder.com.

In addition, the Mayo Clinic says there are no long-term studies that show the possible benefits (or risks) of this diet.

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kenary820/Adobe atkins diet note besides fresh food

The Atkins diet aims to reduce carbohydrate intake and amplify healthy fats and proteins. Many people subscribe to Atkins-branded food products or delivery services to make their diet easier.

As a result, this is one of the most expensive diets, costing more than $4,300 annually, according to Finder.com.

Many studies have cast doubt on the ability of low-carb, high-fat diets (such as Atkins) to help people keep weight off over the long haul.


vaaseenaa/Adobe balanced diet with keto diet note

Few people haven’t at least heard of the keto diet, if not given it a try. This diet is another low-carb, high-protein approach to weight loss.

Keto encourages the consumption of high-fat dairy and a lot of meat and fish. As such, most of your grocery budget goes toward high-fat proteins and dairy products.

Expect to pay an annual cost of more than $2,400 for this diet, according to Finder.com. The keto diet is another weight-loss regimen that experts have criticized for potentially raising health risks without delivering long-term results.


Monkey Business/Adobe woman checking out grocery package

Optavia is a popular weight-loss program focusing on low-calorie meals delivered to your door. What you gain in convenience, you might sacrifice in quality and cost.

For one, this diet plan is somewhat controversial, and it implements a lot of processed foods. It also costs anywhere from $400 to $500 per month for one-on-one coaching and meal deliveries.

It's also important to note that Optavia coaches are not required to be certified nutrition experts.


Yulia Furman/Adobe fresh eatables for whole 30 diet

Whole30 is a 30-day diet that requires participants to strictly limit the foods they do and don't eat. Foods to avoid include dairy, grains, sugar, and alcohol.

The diet’s boosters say it will change the way you think about food, as well as altering your sense of taste. However, experts stress that no studies support these claims to date.

If you participate in Whole30 consistently, expect to spend an average of more than $2,600 per year, according to a Finder.com estimate.


Tanya Keisha/Adobe gluten free products at riga mall

If you have celiac disease or severe gluten intolerance, you should probably adhere to a gluten-free diet, ideally at the direction of a doctor or dietician.

However, if you can tolerate gluten, it might not make sense to waste time and money eliminating it from your diet. In fact, an unnecessary gluten-free diet can cause nutrient deficiencies.

A gluten-free diet can also be costly, as you might need specialty flour, breads, and other items. A 2019 study out of Columbia University found that gluten-free products are up to 183% more expensive than standard products.

Avoiding eating gluten-free unless it’s medically necessary can help you to keep more money in your bank account.

Bottom line

Monkey Business/Adobe couple preparing healthy meals at home

There's nothing wrong with focusing time, energy, and money toward eating better and supplying your body with the nutrients it needs.

However, trendy fad diets are not the solution. Aside from being expensive, they can often do more harm than good. 

Take the money you would spend on a juice cleanse or a weight loss plan and consider using it to consult with a certified dietitian or nutritionist. 

They might even help you save money on groceries instead of wasting cash on foods for fad diets that don’t work.

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Author Details

Lucy Clark

Lucy Clark has considerable experience writing about real estate, as well as homes and gardens, home value, and more. She is savvy and resourceful, and she aims to ensure others can be, as well.