The thing about a Fad Diet is... well... just that-- it's a FAD. They are nothing but quick fixes, invented to feed our seemingly endless obsession of losing weight as quickly as possible.
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Not everything in this list of 15 Most Ridiculous Fad Diets are unhealthy. Take the Alkaline Diet for example. While it may be considered a little legit, it is included in the list simply for the lack of scientific basis.
Also, it's quite unlikely that any of these diets will cause permanent danger, especially since their duration is far too short for nutritional deficiencies to develop.
But we all know that serious crash diets will eventually cause nutritional deficiencies, health issues, and eating disorders. Therefore, it would be wiser to avoid them.
Although these diets can help you lose weight, bear in mind that the results are only temporary. The pounds you lose are all just your water weight, not your body fat. Ergo, sooner or later, you will gain back all the weight you have lost AND more.
So don't be fooled. Know that in order to lose weight, you need to eat less calories than what you burn, increase your activity level, and decrease the amount of calories you consume. That's it.
Here's the 15 Fad Diets that made it to our 'Most Ridiculous' list:
Kimkins is low-carb diet created by Kimmer (aka Heidi Kimberly Diaz), who posted pictures of her dramatic before and after photos all over the internet, thereby earning herself millions of subscriptions to her site.
This diet was partly based on the oiginal Atkins diet (1972 version) and is essentially a diet that is very low in fiber, essential fatty acids, and many nutrients.
Kimkins kas several variations, some of which are as low as 500 calories per day. Dominating the diet are lean proteins prepared with minimal fat. Vegetables are optional. Mot more than 20 grams total carbohydrates are allowed per day. Basically, this is a starvation diet combined with the profuse use of chemical laxatives to further lose weight.
And because Kimmer herself didn't lose the weight she claimed-- the after photos were actually grabbed form Russian dating sites-- she is now involved in various legal proceedings as her followers have exposed the false claims made by Kimmer and her minions.
There were no deaths from Kimkins, BUT former Kimkins followers testified on all kinds of health problems as a result of the diet, including hair loss and skin problems.
In January 2009, Diaz filed for bankruptcy.
aka The Detox Diet, Master Cleanse, Lemon Cleanse, Maple Syrup Diet
The Lemonade diet is more of a cleansing diet, wherein much of the weight loss is due to loss of fluid or water retention. It was developed by Stanley Burroughs, in 1941, who has been practicing alternative medicine, with no formal medical training at all. It was originally intended to rid the body of toxins and internal wastes brought on by improper diet, lack of exercise, and negative mental attitude. It was later popularized by Peter Glickman in his book, "Lose Weight, Have More Energy and Be Happier in 10 days".
This has become popular as it was once used by Beyonce to shed off 20 pounds for her movie role in Dreamgirls, although she has been said to distance from it afterwards.
Similar to other cleansing or detoxifying diets, the Lemonade diet tremendously restricts calorie intake to effect weight loss. No solid food will be eaten during the duration of the diet, which takes around 10 days. Instead, the dieter will only have to drink 6 servings of lemonade, which is made by mixing water, lemon or lime juice, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper. And because no solid food will enter your system for days, you will have to take natural laxatives at night and on mornings to ensure adequate bowel movement. These natural laxatives take on the form of senna tea and salt water.
This is effective in that it will definitely make you lose weight. Why? Because you are literally going to starve yourself. But nutritionists have pointed out that this diet plan is deficient in all the essential nutrients: calories, vitamins, minerals, protein, carbohydrates, fiber, and fat.
aka Mayo Clinic Diet, The Sacred Heart Diet, The Cabbage Diet, 7 Day Cabbage Soup Diet
Cabbage soup is good for your health, yes. But having unlimited cabbage soup six times a day? Well, that's another story.
The Cabbage soup diet has actually been around for at least three decades. Despite claims of it being a legit diet plan, both the Mayo Clinic and Sacred heart Hospital (see other diet aliases) have denied any involvement in the diet.
This cabbage soup is made from cabbage, onions, green peppers, Lipton soup mix, and V-8 juice.
The diet goes like this:
Day 1 - All fruits, except for bananas, and cabbage soup
Day 2 - Veggies and cabbage soup, with baked potato with butter
Day 3 - Fruits and veggies, and cabbage soup, but no potatoes
Day 4 - Bananas, skim milk, and cabbage soup
Day 5 - 10 to 20 ounces of steak and six fresh tomatos and cabbage soup
Day 6 - 2 or 3 servings beef steaks with green leafy vegetables, no baked tomato, and cabbage soup
Day 7 - Brown rice, unsweetened fruit juices, vegetables, and cabbage soup
While this Cabbage Soup diet seems to be an effective short-term weight-loss solution, it obviously lacks in nutrition and high in salt. In fact, the diet does not recommend any exercise, behavioral tips, and speaks no advice on changing bad habits. What this diet has is just a strict list of what to eat each day of the week. And meals need to be eaten at home, because these foods won't be found on most restaurant menus.
And by the way, there is nothing magical about cabbage or cabbage soup that promote weight loss. It's the low-calorie nature of the diet plan that does the trick.
aka Hollywood Diet, Mayo Diet
Indeed, grapefruit increases metabolism. In fact, studies have shown that grapefruit, when eaten with carbohydrates in the same meal, may hinder the breakdown and digestion of carbohydrates.
The diet, which has been around since the 1930'2, promises a 10-lb weight loss in 12 days by eating grapefruit with protein, which is believed to magically trigger fat burning.
While grapefruit is nutritious, low-calorie, and loaded with Vitamin C and fiber, it is definitely not a fat burner.
Grapefruit diet only allows 3-4 meals a day and a typical meal plan looks like this:
Breakfast - bacon and eggs, with grapefruit juice
Lunch - meat, salad, grapefruit juice or half a grapefruit
Dinner - meat, salad, veggies, and grapefruit
Bedtime snack - 8 ounces of skim milk
So basically, the diet is high in fat, high in protein, light on starchy carbs, but high in fiberous carbs. Most of your carbohydrates will come in the form of fructose, which is found in the grapefruit juice.
The problem with this diet is that you will only be eating around 800-1,000 calories a day, which is generally far-below the recommended daily intake of calories required just to support an average person’s basic energy needs each day. Therefore, if your goal is to lose body fat and spare the muscle, this diet will probably do more harm than good.
aka Acai Berry Diet, The Rachel Ray Diet, Acai Burn, Acai Berry Detox, Acai Diet, Acai Berry Cleanse, Acai Ultra Burn, Acai Berry and Colon Cleanse
The Acai Berry Diet was started when celebrity doctors, Dr. Oz and Dr. Perricone, recommended on the Opra Show that the Acai Berry is agood fruit to eat. Days after, a bunch of bogus blogs from women named Jenny, Linda, and Susan, sprang up on the internet, claiming they have managed to put up a diet using a combination of Acai berry extract and colon cleanses that allowed them to lose a lot of weight.
Acai Berries contain antioxidants. Yes. But upon analysis, it has actually shown a much lower antioxidant content compared to common foods like blueberries, blackberries, grapes, red wine, pomegranates, and black tea. There is even no evidence that Acai Berries can effect weight loss. If it does cause weight loss, it's only because of calorie restriction, like most fad diets do.
There is no specific acai berry diet. Rather, dieters use acai berry along with other weight loss plan they prefer to follow. Often, it is paired with a colon cleansing product or with other nutritional ingredients that are said to enhance weight loss.
Acai Berry supplements are available as capsules, powder, puree, or juice, which can cost around $40-80 per month depending on the dosage taken. So yes, it is expensive.
aka The General Motors Diet, The GM Diet, General Motors Weight Loss Program, GM Weight Loss Program
The diet declare that it was developed by General Motors in combination with the USDA and Johns Hopkins to help GM employees lose weight and get in a better shape. The program was said to be designed for a 7-day diet with a target weight loss of 10-17 lbs per week.
During the first seven days of the GM Diet, no alcohol will be allowed and you must drink 10 glasses of water each day.
Day 1 - All fruits except bananas
Day 2 - All vegetables
Day 3 - A mixture of fruits and vegetables of your choice. No bananas. No tomatoes.
Day 4 - Bananas and milk
Day 5 - Beef and Tomatoes
Day 6 - Beef and vegetables
Day 7 - Brown rice, fruit juices, and all vegetables
If you look at the meal plan more closely, you will notice how similar it is to the Cabbage Soup diet, especially since the diet includes a "GM Wonder Soup" which is made of water, onions, peppers, tomatoes (fresh or canned), cabbage, celery, and Lipton Onion Soup Mix.
And exactly like The Cabbage Soup Diet, the GM Diet includes no exercise, severely restricts nutrition, and may even cause metabolic slowdown.
7. The Banana Diet
aka Morning Banana Diet, Asa Banana Diet
The Banana Diet was created by Japanese Pharmacist, Sumiko Watanabe. Like other mono-food fad diets, it is based on the principle of limiting calories and food choices to discourage over-eating. Watanabe further claimed of putting her husband on this diet, because of which he has lost 37 pounds.
The diet is extremely easy to follow since it just requires eating only bananas and drinking room temperature water for breakfast. They believe that doing this leads to weight loss, regardless of what is consumed for the rest of the day.
If it works, then it must be because having bananas for breakfast fills you up in the morning, discouraging you from eating as much as lunch and getting rid of sugary desserts.
aka 3 Day Tuna Fish Diet, Alabama Diet, 3-Day Cardiac Diet, Alabama Cardiac Diet, Birminghan Hospital Diet
The Tuna Fish Diet claims to be a diet for people who will be undergoing cardiac surgery. However, the cholesterol, sodium, and fat content of this diet is relatively high, which is quite contradictory to what was originally claimed.
It promises a 10-pound weight loss in 3 days.
One such promoter of the Tuna Diet, professional bodybuilder Dave Draper, proposes the tuna diet plan as a way to lose weight and retain muscle tone.
The tuna diet plan is as follows:
Breakfast - One-half grapefruit and a slice of whole grain toast with or without peanut butter, water or coffee, but no sugar or milk
Lunch - Tea, half-cup tuna on toast or whole grain bread, no milk or sugar
Dinner - Three ounces of tuna, one cup of greens and one cup of carrots, water, tea, or coffee
Dessert - One apple or one cup of vanilla ice cream
Ironically, tuna fish, which is in fact very healthy, only plays a fairly minor role in the entire diet. It basically just includes a mere 1/2 cup of tuna per day. Most of the time, you are either going to starve yourself.
Following a tuna fish diet can cause fatigue or an upset stomach, mainly because of the extremely low-calorie nature of the diet. The weight you lose during the tuna diet is basically your water weight.
aka alkaline acid diet, acid alkaline diet
The Alkaline Diet, while not really a diet in itself, recommends that increased acidity in the body can promote the development of chronic disease, weight gain, and other disorders. Therefore, it follows that an increase in alkalinity will treat chronic disease or effect weight loss, and also reverses ageing. However, all these claims are not supported by any direct clinical study.
All that is really required is eating more of alkaline foodstuffs and less of the most detrimental acid foods as you can see from this sample meal plan:
Breakfast - Homemade carrot juice, scrambled eggs on toast, and sliced tomato
Lunch - Ham, roast potatoes, and green peas
Snack - Pancakes with mashed banana and peanut butter topping, and coffee
Dinner - Brown rice, tinned fish, and spinach
Evening snack - Yogurt
The diet focuses on reducing the consumption of caffeine, alcohol, simple sugars, etc. Instead, whole grains, complex carbs, and whole fruits and vegetables are recommended. Doing so can result in weight loss, because over-processed, higher-calorie foods are replaced by more nutritionally-dense, lower-calorie fresh foods.
Remember, our bodies need acidic foods and alkalizing diets do not address essential nutrients, failing to pay attention to things like Omega 3 and other essential fatty acids.
The Special K Diet revolves around the idea of substituting a bowl of cereal and skim milk for a meals a day. Basically this involves eating a bowl (45g) of Special K with ½ cup of low fat milk for breakfast then another for lunch OR dinner, for two weeks.
It is effective, yes. And again, like mot of the fad diets, it's all because of the restriction of calorie intake. In this case, it means substituting any high calorie food with a low calorie food. But the idea is so general, there's really nothing so special about this diet.
But substituting in any lower calorie food for a higher calorie food can result in weight loss. You could do the same by substituting in plain instant oatmeal for the pancake breakfast or burger for lunch. Remember, calories-in/calories-out. It’s not that hard. There’s really nothing special about Special K.
Also, the lack of variation in this diet may lead to boredom as well as potentially compromised nutrient intake.
The Special K cereal is even not based on whole grains and is not a good source of fiber. Therefore, to meet daily minimum fiber requirement, it is necessary to consume fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. It is also high in GI and sugar content, which can trigger an increased appetite.
The HCG diet was concocted by Dr. Simeons in 1971 through his book, Pounds & Inches A New Approach to Obesity.
HCG stands for Human Chorionic Gonadotropin Hormone, which is the hormone excreted in the urine of women that marks pregnancy and in certain tumors that marks cancer, and is used in some anabolic steroids.
HCG has been proven to be effective in treating boys with Frohlich’s syndrome (also known as Adiposogenital Dystrophy), which is a rare childhood metabolic disorder characterized by obesity, growth retardation, and retarded development of the genital organ. However, there isn't much of an evidence that HCG promotes weight loss.
The HCG Diet promises 26 pounds of weight loss in 26 days. The heart of the diet consists of extreme calorie restriction of around 500 calories per day from lean protein plus a daily injection of 125 mg of HCG hormone (although this can also be taken orally). Since the HCG is believed to prevent the body from breaking down muscle for energy, fat reserves are burned. Or so the proponents of the diet say.
Recommended foods are lean protein (fish, turkey, chicken, beef), celery, asparagus, spinach, tomatoes, onions, strawberries, grapefruit, oranges, apples, and tea.
Aside from paying around $140 for the HCG drops, additional costs can also be expected for recipe guides, books, and meal plans.
Side effects like headaches, risk of blood clots, restlessness, and depression have been reported.
Probably the most important of all, HCG is not approved by the FDA.
First of all, there is no food with a negative calorie value. Although it can be possible to achieve a ‘negative’ calorie effect, allowing you to lose weight.
The Negative Calorie diet, claiming to effect 14 pounds of weight loss in a week, works on the principle that certain negative calorie foods contain extra amounts of vitamins and minerals to speed up metabolism. In other words, when eating these foods raw or slightly cooked, your body burns more calories digesting and processing them than what is in the actual food itself.
Here's a list of foods with 'negative' calorie value:
Fruits - apple, cranberries, grapefruit, lemon, mango, orange, pineapple, raspberries, strawberries, and tangerine
Vegetables - asparagus, beet, broccoli, cabbage (green), carrot, cauliflower, celery, chili peppers, cucumber, dandelion
endive, garden cress, garlic, green beans, lettuce, onion, papaya, radishes, spinach, and turnip
The thing with this diet is it does not restrict how much you can eat. You can eat until you're satisfied, but not stuffed. You can't also have any alcohol, sugar, honey, or sugar replacements (except stevia).
Unfortunately, this diet has been discredited, explaining that the calories your body burns in fueling the digestive cycle are, in fact, minuscule compared with the calories in the food itself.
The weight loss gained on the Negative Calorie Diet comes from consuming low calories. Like any fad diet, it is very unlikely that any diet consisting of a certain group of foods will have any ‘magical’ properties.
Apple Cider Vinegar was originally used as a health stimulant for cure of migraine headaches, diabetes, chronic fatigue, arthritis, high blood pressure, and many other ailments.
And in 1950's, Dr. Jarvis from Vermont wrote the book, 'Folk Medicine', which introduced Apple Cider Vinegar as a weight loss agent. Dr. Javis further asserted that regular consumption of the tonic would cause fat to be burned rather than stored. Others also claimed that the pectin in the vinegar will bind cholesterol and remove it from the body.
However, these claims are nothing but speculations.
Basically, the Apple Cider Vinegar Diet is based on the idea that consuming a few teaspoons of apple cider vinegar prior to meals controls the appetite and reduces cravings. So it therefore follows that in order to complete the diet, you have to take 1, 2, or 3 teaspoons of apple vinegar before each meal. And because apple vinegar is strongly acidic, any more than 3 teaspoons is not recommended. Apple cider vinegar diet pills are also available for easier consumption.
Also, most of the recommended meal plan in this diet are based on low calorie meals. That is probably the main reason why this kind of diet can work.
Besides, apple cider vinegar were proven to damage tooth enamel, parts of the digestive tract, and the esophagus because of its acetic acid content. Not only that, excessive consumption can have a negative affect on potassium and bone density levels, and even cause problems with drug interactions.
So instead of using these supplements, why not skip it altogether and just go on a low calorie diet and exercise, at least, 20 minutes, three times a week instead?
In some places in Mexico, a radical method for losing weight is being offered. The diet involves ingesting tapeworms (ergo, its name) in order to lose weight.
For $1500, what they provide are beef tapeworm cysts that have been microscopically identified, to ensure that those are not pig tapeworms, which are very dangerous. They believe that tapeworm interferes with your digestion and absorption of nutrients, allowing you to consume more calories and still lose weight.
However, what they have not taken into consideration is that the parasite also competes for vitamins and other important nutrients, which may result in a nutritional deficiency. And needless to say, ingestion of tapeworm is extremely harmful. It can result in the formation of cysts in the liver, eyes, brain, and spinal cord with potentially lethal consequences.
According to some scientists, tapeworm infestation can result in a loss of 1-2 pounds per week. And once the target weight is reached, an antibiotic is given, which then kills the tapeworm so it can be expelled.
And needless to say, ingestion of tapeworm is extremely harmful. It can result in the formation of cysts in the liver, eyes, brain, and spinal cord with potentially lethal consequences.
All in all, this diet procedure is extremely risky and can cause a wide range of undesirable effects, including death. And dieters will most probably regain all the weight they have lost when the tapeworm is expelled.
The Beverly Hills diet is based on the principle that in order for our bodies to digest food properly, we would need enzymes which can be found in certain foods. Otherwise, when food is not digested, it would be converted into body fat. And by doing this, the author of the diet, Judy Mazel, claims that a total weight loss of 15 pounds in 35 days can be achieved.
The diet makes use of a technique called conscious-combining, wherein the main food group of the diet is fruit although there are days when you are only allowed to eat vegetables,, or fruits, and on other days, some starchy carbohydrate. Mazel asserts that it is not what or how much we eat that makes us fat; rather, when and in what combinations the food is eaten.
Here is an example meal plan:
Breakfast - 8 ounces of prunes or dried apricots
Lunch - Eat-all-you-can strawberries or sandwich with avocado, tomato, lettuce and sprouts
Dinner - Baked Potato or three veggies with rice
Drinks - Water, coffee, or tea
While the Beverly Hills Diet promotes the intake of fruits and vegetables, it is still dangerously low in daily calories, proteins, and many many other nutrients. Also, the theory on which this whole diet was based is completely unproven. In short, it was not based on established scientific principles.