Harley Pasternak: Three Fad Diets to Forgo

01/29/2014 at 06:00 AM ET

Harley Pasternak Wheat Bread
Getty; Inset: Courtesy Harley Pasternak

Harley Pasternak is a celebrity trainer and nutrition expert who has worked with stars from Halle Berry and Lady Gaga to Robert Pattinson and Robert Downey Jr. He’s also a New York Times best-selling author, with titles including The Body Reset Diet and The 5-Factor Diet. Tweet him @harleypasternak.

Three of the more popular fad diets were in the news this week for the same reason — but it’s not a good one. Turns out, they may not be all they’re cracked up to be.

Science says that wheat does not make people fat. A recent article published in the Journal of Cereal Science (yes, there really is a Journal of Cereal Science) set out to dispel some misleading information regarding the dangers of dietary wheat. Much of the recent “wheat-hating” has been propagated by the diet book Wheat Belly by William Davis, which argues that eliminating wheat from one’s diet helps with permanent weight loss.

After reviewing all of the existing, past and present research in a selection of other journals, Dutch scientists concluded that there is absolutely no evidence to support the assertion that wheat can be linked to the obesity pandemic.

“These outlandish claims fail to take into account that obesity has a multifactorial causation … whole-wheat consumption cannot be linked to increased prevalence of obesity in the population,” researchers wrote.

The Blood Type Diet has been debunked! A few years ago, a diet book called Eat Right for Your Blood Type was published and sold millions of copies. The idea was that you found out your blood type, then tried to match the dietary habits of your ancestors. The author claimed it would improve your healthy and reduce your chance of getting heart disease and various other chronic health conditions.

However, researchers from the University of Toronto (where I went to grad school many years ago) recently examined the data of 1,455 subjects and concluded that “there is no evidence to support the ‘blood type’ diet.”

According to Dr. Ahmed El-Sohemy, who was involved with the study, “the way an individual responds to any one of these diets has absolutely nothing to do with their blood types and has everything to do with their ability to stick to a sensible balanced diet. We can now be confident in saying that the blood type diet hypothesis is false.”

This study is in line with an extensive review published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition last year that also found no evidence to support a blood type diet.

Back away from the steak. A new study out of Spain shows that diets über-high in protein, like the Dukan Diet, increase the risk of developing kidney disease in rats. Moreover, researchers found such diets may even promote kidney stones and loss of calcium.

While the U.S. recommended daily allowance for protein is approximately 20 percent of your daily calories, the study used protein ratios similar to the Dukan Diet (40 percent) and the Paleo Diet (30 to 35 percent). Conclusion? It’s important you eat a balanced diet with lots of vegetables (spinach and broccoli), fibrous grains (think quinoa), lean proteins (eggs or fish) and healthy fats (like Hass avocado).

So, for those of you tempted by extreme fad diets that suggest you eliminate certain food groups or focus on eating one specific food, please use good judgment — and just say “no.”

Tell Me: What’s the craziest fad diet you’ve tried? 

Share this story:

Your reaction:

Add A Comment

PEOPLE.com reserves the right to remove comments at their discretion.

Showing 62 comments

Justin on

Really?! You are going to use the Journal for Cereal Science as your source? That’s like asking the corn refiner’s association if corn syrup is bad for you? Or asking the tobacco industry if cigarettes are bad!!.

mariac on

hey Justin, there are other cereals besides wheat!

Guest on

Justin, find out what the Journal of Cereal Science is before you mock it. There is more to “cereal” than just your morning Cheerios. Cereal is often a reference term for grains and such.

Anonymous on

Justin, I thought the exact same thing when I saw that first paragraph. And I assume that Harley hasn’t actually read Wheat Belly from his commentary. It doesn’t just say wheat makes you fat.

sandi on

Hoping this person is not listened too, you know how rumors get started. But you can’t blame a guy for wanting an extra buck. 😉

karabelle on

high protein, low or no carb diets undeniably work… celebrities themselves use them… sharon osbourn and the AJ on the sopranos to name just 2 are atkins believers.

Kate on

Since staring the paleo diet 6 months ago, not only did I lose weight and keep it off (side note: the paleo diet isn’t even about weight loss in the first place – it’s about reducing inflammation and getting healthy because *gasp* heaven forbid anyone eat in a way that makes them feel better instead of making them stick thin), I’ve noticed clearer skin, more energy throughout the day, I’ve been PRing my workouts left and right, my seasonal allergies disappeared, I used to get sick at least once a month – I haven’t been sick at all since starting paleo, etc. One idiot eats nothing but steak for every meal, (which goes against paleo rules) develops heart disease, and all of a sudden paleo gets a bad rep – 50% of my plate is always full of fresh vegetables for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and the rest of the plate is filled with whole nutrient-dense meat, fruit, nuts, and seeds. Why should I forgo this, what does wheat have to offer me that I can’t get from the foods I’m already eating?

MFB on

After doing a million diets for as long as I can remember, I’ve learned: not everything works for everyone, find what lifestyle works for you in getting you to the healthiest YOU, and too much of anything isn’t good, so ditch any extreme diet!
In my humble little opinion : )

Peep on

Interesting the “debunking” of a diet that help millions of people with inflammation and celiac disease. I personally suffered 20 years of migraines and went thru every treatment and gained 50 lbs. Eliminating wheats/grains, processed foods and sugar changed my life. There is something too reducing inflammation by diet. I am saving money on pills that don’t work, I have permanent weight loss, I eat good carbs in veggies and natural sugar in fruit and I am healthy enough and in less pain so I can get out of bed and exercise. No diet is one size fits all, but Harley shouldn’t say it’s crap based on Cheerio Science. It’s a loss of money for a lot of food manufacturers so that’s why it’s “debunked”.

Kestrel on

I have been planning on going on the Paleo diet when I return from vacation in mid-February. I had a gastric bypass, lost very little because of an error the surgeon made (long story but he cut the wrong way and I have a smaller stomach but a REALLY small opening into it) and now my diabetes has returned. I am always feeling ill, I have developed arthritis, I have headaches and muscle aches and just plain feel like crap a lot.
Because of my surgery, many diets don’t work well for me. Starches, beans and cruciferous veggies are torture. I tolerate no dairy and no more than 15g of sugar an hour which means no protein shakes, etc. I am chronically dehydrated and have such low iron that I need blood transfusions via IV. I SHOULD BE ENCOURAGED TO TRY SOMETHING. Don’t tell me what everyone else tells the world. IT ISN’T WORKING. Eating only cabbage or grapefruit is stupid, I see why a one-food-only diet should be discouraged. But to say a diet is a fad because you *think* steak is bad for you? Isn’t it better than pie? Isn’t trying to eat anything with knowledge and intent the goal?
The Paleo diet makes sense to me. A good friend couldn’t lose any weight despite running 5 miles a day. He started Paleo and *poof* went 35 pounds.
Let’s find out what really works, not just what doesn’t. Honestly, if 1/3 of the county is obese, we are a largely unhealthy lot and 97% of dieters gain the weight back then we need to stop saying that fresh veggies, beans, whole grains, free range chicken and cold water salmon will make everyone thinner. We have a few million people walking around proving that THAT diet does not work.

Ann on

Actually, if you read the study on the Blood Type Diet, it appears that the study participants aren’t even following the Blood Type Diet – the study participants were eating mac & cheese and hamburgers. Also, El-Sohemy owns a company called Nutrigenomix which is a rival company of D’Adamo’s. Regardless of what you think of the Blood Type theory, the study itself wasn’t well done and there is a clear conflict of interest.

Tammy on

Sorry but my husband and I are on the wheat-free diet and we have seen a huge success. We haven’t had drastic weight loss but we have felt less sluggish and seem more mentally alert. If we do have wheat it gives us a headache and intestinal problems. We are “fad diet” people but evidence has proved itself to us that wheat-free works!

neil on

Expect to take a beating on this one.

scoobygert on

well, screw it, let me go back to migraines, swollen hands and feet and constant pooperhea!! Lemme at those cookies and breads!!!!!!

Jenny on

Ummm…I have been wheat-free for over a year–not to lose weight (in fact I haven’t lost much at all), but to get my gut feeling better–and it definitely works for that! The only way to lose weight on it is to follow the plan of eliminating the wheat and NOT replacing it with different carbs and avoiding sugar. Sugar is really the cause of diabetes/insulin resistance and thereby the cause of obesity, heart disease, etc. THAT is a proven fact, over and over. So, no, a calorie is not a calorie–some are worse than others. Fats (good ones, plant based ones, mostly) and protein are not harmful. Carbs/sugar is more harmful.

chays77 on

I lost 30 lbs and have kept it off for 18 months simply by eliminating wheat. Dr. Davis is correct and so are many other doctors out there advocating for eliminating wheat.

mazbrite on

The Wheat Belly diet changed my life! I think you will find a growing number of people have benifited greatly from going glutin free. The weight loss is effortless and cravings, acne, digestive issues, brain fog disappear. Sorry I do not think you know what you are talking about.

alex on

I started wheat-free 11 months ago out of desperation to avoid being put on a statin. Since then I’ve lost 12″ off my waist and over 50 pounds. My blood work continues to improve. HDL is up above the low point finally and still climbing. For the first time in 49 years I am in control of my body and not the other way around. I can count on one finger the number of times I’ve managed to lose this amount with no difference in activity as measured by fitbit. I have not worn a size 40 jean since 1995. Looking forward to see the results in another 11 months from now. If anyone is obese they should seriously consider eliminating wheat (and truly wheat-free read the labels as you’ll find wheat in soy sauce, tomato soup, ice cream, etc) for 8 weeks and just see what happens. The worst that can happen is nothing changes.

Rick Bauer on

You’re an idiot. Stay away from steak? Stay away from Harry Pasternak.

Kim on

This is the dumbest article I’ve ready. So the wheat pushers don’t think it’s bad for you, huh? Excellent work there, Mr. Pasternak.

Since going gluten free, my IBS symptoms have cleared up, I have more energy, I’ve lost weight and most importantly, the inflammation around the two ruptured discs I have in my back has dramatically improved. I no longer suffer every day in pain. BUT if I do have gluten, I know very quickly because my back acts up. Yeah, I’m sure it’s just a fad…

bruce on

So a guy selling diet books says competeing diet books suck, go figure.

Shellie on

So wheat is Ok? So apparently celiacs is just a Myth then? So My own observations and experiences with elimating wheat is a Lie too then Harvey? My IBS is gone! I lost 67 Lbs you hack! I’m sure the Cereal companies pay you a Lot to come up with these conclusions!

Wheat Belly Believer on

108,000 people liked the Wheat Belly page on facebook, and I would venture a guess that a majority of them have seen positive results from following this program…myself included. I have not only lost weight, but my knee joint pain is gone. Others have noticed a reduction in the medications they need, or a complete stoppage to taking their medication because of disappearance of the symptoms, because of an over-all improvement in health. I would say that is overwhelming evidence to support the wheat belly “claims” . As was stated in the book, this goes against all that we have been taught in the last several years, but to say that it is wrong, when so many support it and have seen positive results is very close-minded.

Tatum Roberts on

It’s not about losing weight it’s about a change of lifestyle and being so desperate to feel better you change your diet because you have a gluten (wheat) intolerance or celiacs. I challenge Harley to research both of those, as I have been doing for the last year! I have had to change what I eat, all the way to skincare!!

HormoneSynergy Inc. on

The journal of cereal science? Hilarious. The editor in chief? ?F. MacRitchie.. University of Kansas Agriculture, Grain Science and Industry. Board members? US Department of agriculture members. Not exactly unbiased. I guess all our patients and thousands of others who have given up grains and wheat, lost weight, lowered the risk for cardiovascular disease and improved their cognitive performance are all the result of placebo.

Anonymous on

You are a trainer not a doctor, you don’t have the degree the slam dr. Will davis

Missy Monypenny on

Do not disregard things you do not understand.
The terrible effects of wheat are true & effect thousands
of people. Myself & countless others have finally
Found the solution to losing weight & better health
because of Wheat Belly by Dr William Davis. Before
I read this book I struggled as a professional dieter
Dieter. For 28 years I was on a roller coaster of lose
& gain continuously. I was on every diet that came out.
Did I lose yes but gained it back with a lil more every time! I could Never maintain the loss because I was addicted to wheat! And wheat makes u hungry! Do u wonder why you can’t stop at 1 cookie or why u get hungry 2 hrs after a big bowl of shredded wheat or nourishing oatmeal! It’s because it’s increases your appetite not satisfies it. When I gave up wheat & sugar in Late 2011 it changed me forever! 93lbs thinner & still
Going I have Wheat Belly to thank for it. Go check it out for yourself & read countless stories of regained health
& weight loss for many professional dieters like myself! Find Wheat Belly on Face Book & at Amazon for the book. Harley,you really should have done some of your
own research before you dissed this health benefit,
Should we count how many celebs have lost weight by ditching processed food?

Anonymous on

this is pure garbage. not even worth printing. shame on you people.com!

paleo for life on

From a weight loss perspective Paleo works because you don’t eat processed foods or sugars. Sugar is the main culprit in the obesity “epidemic”. I don’t eat grains but I also can have wheat without adverse side effects. I don’t think grains in general are bad in moderation (for some people) however they tend to be highly processed, nutrient poor in small quantities and loaded with sugar. I choose to eat foods that are nutrient dense and will allow me to maintain my 90 lb weight loss. It works for me and I don’t crave grains or processed foods but everyone is different 🙂

eating4optimalhealth on

this is a joke! All science points to wheat, sugar, and carbs as the ONLY cause of our unhealthy population.
Wake up and read the evidence. It is sites like this that are the main problem.

Anonymous on

Wheat belly is the most successful diet I have heard of. Listen to the people who have effortlessly seen results rather than companies who have a different agenda from peoples health.

Gayle on

WOW….really? Are you kidding me? People magazine, where do you find these people? I have been doing the wheat belly diet for 5 months now. Not only have I lost weight, my joints do not hurt and I have a much clearer mind.

It was written by a preventative cardiologist who has done far more research than the Journal of Cereal Science. Before any journalist prints anything about health, they really need to do more research than what this guy has done. Boooo People Magazine.

Petros on

For me, the extreme fad diet is the Standard Western Diet, that made me sick, diabetic and obese. What happened when I implemented the paleo diet of Dr. Richard K Bernstein’s Diabetes Solution? I lost 50 lbs, and most of my diabetic symptoms have been greatly attenuated. I feel good. It’s been a year. The extreme diet would include 6-11 servings of grains as recommended by the food pyramid. Elminating wheat and all other carbohydrate rich foods has healed me. What is extreme about that?

Bryan on

I cut out wheat and other grains that are high on the glycemic index. After 6 months, I’m down 57lbs, swelling, bloating and intestinal distress gone, sleeping soundly through the night, psoriasis gone, skin cleared up, more energetic and less susceptible to mood swings with weather change. N=1. That’s all the science I need. Ignore this ignorant shill.

Jeani Mertens on

Well, if giving up wheat is a fad then I’m sticking with it. Not only have I dropped weight but I feel amazing. Really? Your source is the Science of Cereal. Who paid you to put out this article. Sorry but going Wheat Free works, just look at the thousands of people who post at wheatbellyblog for their success after giving up wheat and sugar. My inspiration to continue to live WHEAT FREE.

jopincar on

I wonder how much this guy got paid by the grain industry to post this BS? I’m in the best shape of my life since going low (almost no)-carb and never eating gluten. My wife has lost 65 pounds over two years. The best part of the Wheat Belly diet is that you eat whenever you want and you never feel hungry or crash post-meal. I can go out and run 3 miles 20 minutes after dinner now. When I was eating wheat/carbs, I could never do that.

Sarb on

You have zero idea what you’ve just stated… how much money were you paid by Monsanto???

Monica on

I have been back and forth on going wheat free. I’m proof that what Dr. Davis put in his book is true. I was wheat free for a few months and I lost weight, no headaches, no egg burps, acne was clearing up…….I fell off the wagon and I got sick to my stomach, felt horrible all over again. Wheat Belly is not a fad! It helps

Michael on

Dear Mr Pasternak,
I am yet another person who gave up eating wheat and saw a series of chronic symptoms (awful digestion, bloating, foggy head, etc. etc) disappear almost overnight. Without resorting to abuse (tho’ I’d like to), your article is very poorly informed. Kindly desist from such disinformation, or your celebrities might start thinking badly of you.

hara214 on

I just got finished with my Whole30 cleanse (paleo).I am a type one diabetic and was able to lower my insulin intake by 30%. I lost 10 pounds but that was not the point. I will never go back to my food comas! Paleo is no fad and the foundation is veggies with healthy protein especially including fish!

Jan on

It’s no surprise to see such a flagrantly inaccurate tribute to an anti-wheat diet….just look at the advertising base of this magazine…..Big-Food, Big-Pharma…..thse guys WANT to keep you fat, sick and drug dependent!


I eliminated all wheat, breads, flour/starch and sugar from my diet by basically following the Wheat Belly recommendations. I guess the 28 pounds I lost, elimination of my former stomach problems, drop of my blood sugar to normal levels, and return to the energy I had when I was 15 years younger… all within a 4 month time span…. was just a ‘fad’. And I’m still keeping it all off 10 months later ….. Making healthier food choices is only a threat to the processed food industry.

dvdchris on

so I guess my sustained 50 lb fat loss and vast reduction in years long struggle with IBS and costochondritis was all a fad too…

Terry says Harley Hardley Knows on

You Haven’t Got a Clue! Hop into my shoes of years where Doctors say nothing shows up in tests… Nothing is wrong. Sorry we can’t help you.
My hands and arms were numb, Every Bone Ached, The worst IBS. That means diarrhea at least 5 times a day. Fatigue, dry skin, pimples, weight gain, bloating, and Foggy Brain. I’m 55 and for a year now I’ve been off of grains. Thank you Dr. Davies and Wheat Belly because that is what I read and thought hmmmm lets give it a try. I eat lots of Veggies, less fruits and protein. I can bake with Coconut, Almond, Quinoa flours…. ground flax… I feel GREAT!!!!! I’ve never been overweight. Pain from Grain! You have no clue what you are supporting!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous on

I guess Harley needs to defend his 5-factor diet – why else speak out against lifestyle choices that have worked for so many people? I have been wheat free for 1.5yrs now and feel incredible. That’s 10x better than what I felt doing his 5-factor plan. Btw…he fully supports the use of splenda…that’s when I stopped listening to him.

Todd on

You are an idiot if you think gluten free is a fad. You really need to shut the hell up.

Meg on

The US recommended daily allowance? Since following the standard American diet, Americans have become fatter and FATTER and F A T T E R.
Since following a Paleo diet I have seen positive changes in each of my four family members. There is no going back for us. This is not a fad.

Mark on

Been living la vida low carb for over 6 months, lost almost 70 lbs and gained back my health and my youthful feels.

That was some fad diet… now back to the pizza and bagels… NOT!!!

Ron on

Great!! Maybe you can help me find the 35 lbs I lost last year from eliminating wheat. Educate yourself. This thing we call wheat is not wheat. It’s a hybrid substance that has no nutritional value. Take your whole grains and raise your blood sugar level.

Ron on

Let me add one more thing. People like this goof are dangerous. To use an industry trade group(which is what they are) as evidence for nonsense is not only wrong but some people will believe this junk science and cause harm to their health. Wheat is POISON. My advice to this young man is to shut up until you educate yourself.

Bron on

Craziest diet I ever ate? Whole grain, white grain, any grain. Sugar in any form. Lots of fruit. All contributed to my increasing waistline, my brain fog, my IBS, my skin conditions all over….

Anne on

Wheat made me fat and sick. No gluten for 10 years and paleo for 5 years. Yes, this way of eating is sustainable in spite of what the “experts” say. This is not a diet, this is my life.

dana on

I went on the cabbage soup diet and ate only that for 3 days and my blood sugars plummeted to 34. I am not diabetic and the norms are 70-110. To say the least I was weak and if I didn’t find out. . It could have been a lot worse.

Kit on

I think he forgot to include one fad diet in this article… How bout Harley Pasternaks ‘Juice Diet’ what a load of absolute bollox that one is. This article is appalling.

Nanci on

Encourage you to read “Grain Brain” by Dr. Perlmutter — too much evidence to eliminate wheat and sugar. I am grain free not for weight loss or to get rid of any medications but to have better overall health and brain health!

Dragon Lady on

Hmmm, I have followed the blood type diet for years. Lots of lean red meat, compliant vegetables, avoiding wheat for the most part. I have perfect cholesterol readings, blood sugar in the normal range, and I don’t have high blood pressure. It might be useless to Harley, but as for me, and thousands more, it works!

genodiet4u on

Shanda on

Oh yeah, it’s totally a fad, not science. It’s only coincidence that I’ve lost 60lbs., interstitial cystitis, irritable bowel, anxiety, depression, panic attacks, acne, memory loss, stress, and low energy had disappeared since removal of wheat and junk carbs. I also eat steaks, so I guess I should be fat, sick and nearly dead, right? FYI: meats in general, including red meats, actually increase bone and muscle mass, and have all the vitamins naturally, that they try to “add” to bread because people on a low fat diet don’t eat much meat. I don’t think you’ve done enough research on any of this before you wrote this. Also I don’t think you know anything about biology or physiology. I’m, sorry my friend, but you’ve been scammed by bad science. Do some more research, then maybe we’ll talk. 😐

Laura on

I just read an article that proves that the institution that tested the blood type diet used a tracking system that didn’t require the participants to follow the diet the way it should be… I just lost 9 lbs in 6 days following the blood type diet. And I’m 135 lbs. Hard to beat that. I wasn’t hungry and I feel great.

Me on

Too bad that someone who would be believable is getting paid to spread disinformation.

Amber on

I’ve tried the wheat free diet. I wanted to see if it would help my migraines. It did. I also lost weight without exercising (I’m disabled, so I can’t). And I felt better about life in general, with my depression lessening. I am not sure I agree with your dismissing the wheat free diet. I know it also helps autistic children. It truly does. Jenny McCarthy openly talks about how much it helped her autistic son.

Tempe on

I call B.S. and I call B.S. on the article about gluten free being a “popular” diet. After suffering for years, and not being positive celiac disease…someone suggested going “gluten free” for a week. Guess what, that changed my life!! No wheat, barley or anything that has copious amounts of gluten. I eat whole grains, pasta, bread, beans, gluten free grains and feel amazing. Also, you can have small portions of gluten, but it builds in your gut until you’re in pain.

Sign up for our daily newsletter and other special offers.
    Choose your newsletters
Thank you for signing up! Your request may take up to one week to be processed.
    see all newsletters