There’s a reason why fad diets are just that – fads. While they may start off great, promoting rapid weight loss and melting the fat off, they are completely ineffective in the long run. In fact, many who jump on the fad diet bandwagon end up not only gaining back the weight they lost, but a few extra pounds in the bargain.
Unfortunately, the United States is a prime market for the diet industry. With skyrocketing obesity levels and widespread weight-related illness, many people are desperate to shed the pounds. Folks are grasping at straws, so when a miracle cure comes along, they’re ready to try it – even with little to no scientific data to back up its claims.
So what’s the deal with fad diets? Let’s take a look at some of the common (yet untrue) claims of fad diets, as well as some of the worst diets out there.
Don’t Believe the Hype
You’ve likely seen the claims. Perhaps you’ve even been suckered in by them. Unfortunately, they’re generally either misleading or completely untrue. Here are a few popular ones:
- Lose up to 10 pounds in the first week!
Steer clear of any diets that promise weight loss of more than two to three pounds per week. Rapid weight loss is (more often than not) simply water weight. You’re not losing fat, which is what really matters, and that’s why this claim is a big red flag.
- Burn belly fat with cabbage soup!
While it would be dandy if eating a certain food would magically melt the fat away, the body simply doesn’t work that way. While certain foods do aid the metabolism, there is no magic food – soup or otherwise – that will help you lose weight on its own merit.
- Drink only juice and never diet again!
Really? Again, any diet that requires eating or drinking one magic food is a bad idea. For starters, how long can your body possibly maintain itself on a diet like that? And what happens when you switch back to a normal diet?
- Eat anything you want and still lose weight!
If that were the case, we’d all look like Olympic athletes. This is simply a case of too good to be true, and if something is too good to be true, it’s generally not true. Weight loss very often requires cutting out certain unhealthy elements of the diet, so a diet that promises that you can keep eating cookies, chips and cake every day should send you running the other way.
- Lose weight while you sleep!
Oh, if only this were true. But it’s not. Sure, good sleep habits contribute to weight loss, but the simple fact is, weight loss requires exercise.
A Look at the Worst of the Worst
There are hundreds of fad diets out there, ranging from the reasonable to the ridiculous. Some are simply silly, others are downright dangerous. There are a few, however, that have hung on despite being ineffective. Like bad pennies, these diets keep cropping up every few years – often due to one celebrity or another jumping on the bandwagon.
- The Grapefruit Diet
Adherents of this diet follow a strict plan involving a lunch and dinner of lean meat and vegetables, supplemented with grapefruit. Grapefruit is great, and it does contain enzymes that aid weight loss; however, a diet based on 800 calories per day based largely around grapefruit is neither healthy nor effective. In fact, such a large quantity of grapefruit has been known to react badly with certain medications.
- The Leek Diet
Mirelle Guiliano, author of the best-seller French Women Don’t Get Fat, set off a trend of cleansing the system by eating only cooked leeks and leek broth for a full weekend. Since leeks are a mild diuretic, adherents of the leek diet do lose excess water weight. Unfortunately, they don’t lose much else, so the Leek Diet is essentially a weekend of deprivation for no reason.
- The Cookie Diet
Here’s one that is as silly as its name, yet it has claimed such celebrity fans as Guy Ritchie and Snooki. The diet was developed by Dr. Sanford Siegel, which suckered loads of people into thinking it was a valid rapid weight loss solution. While the cookies do contain hunger-suppressing ingredients like bran, oats, and whole wheat flour, they really don’t provide sufficient daily nutrition. Even the one daily meal that is allowed consists of no more than six ounces of seafood, chicken or turkey and one cup of vegetables. Because the diet is so nutrient-poor, dieters often end up low on energy.
- The Baby Food Diet
This concept, which was made popular by designer Hedi Slimane, has garnered quite a celebrity following, including Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon. The idea is that one or two baby-sized portions of puree per day, helps to slim down the waist line. Sure, little pots of nutrient-dense food provide more nutrition than some other diets; however, the portions are meant to sustain babies and are insufficient for fully grown adults.
- The Cabbage Soup Diet
Jaime Pressly and Sarah Michelle Gellar may swear by this diet, but its side effects of this bleak diet range from sugar cravings to mood swings and low energy levels. And no wonder! Adherents are allowed only veggies, fruit, skim milk, low fat yogurt, tea, and coffee for seven days straight – along with cabbage soup, of course. Bananas can be added on the fourth day, as well as brown rice and lean meat on the sixth; however, this extremely low-calorie diet is all but ineffective in the long-run.
- The Lemonade Diet
Also known as the Master Cleanse, this diet has celebrities coming back again and again. The lemonade diet is a purely liquid diet, based on a mixture of water, lemon juice, cayenne pepper, and maple syrup. Sure, you might drop the pounds quickly, but the lack of nutrients means seriously neglecting your health. As Beyonce – one time adherent of the Master Cleanse – noted, it might just make you evil as well, as folks on this diet often end up extremely irritable.
Forget Fad Diets
You may be trying to trim down for bikini season, but stay away from fad diets. Doctors suggest that instead of following a fad, stick to losing weight the old fashioned way: healthy eating, plenty of water, and increased physical activity.