People have been concerned with weight loss for centuries. The problem is, losing weight the healthy way requires time, dedication, focus, and perseverance – which means people will always look for a quicker, easier shortcut! It’s tempting to believe there’s a “magic” answer to weight loss, especially with the promise of immediate results. Over the years, diets come and go. Here’s a list of 13 of the craziest fad diets we’ve heard of.
The Cabbage Soup Diet requires you to eat an incredibly restrictive menu consisting primarily of low-sodium cabbage soup.
The truth: Cabbage contains only 40 calories per serving. What this diet is really telling you to do is cut your calorie consumption down to a dangerous amount. You might lose weight temporarily, but you’ll feel miserable while doing it. As soon as you return to eating normally again, the pounds are likely to return, likely in excess of what you originally weighed. If you want to use cabbage as a food to lose weight, try adding a few cups to your regular lunch or dinner.
The Sleeping Beauty Diet was Elvis Presley’s favorite way to lose weight1, sleeping for days at a time hooked up to an IV full of glucose to survive.
The truth: Sleep depravity is linked to gaining excess weight, but inducing yourself to sleep for days in a row is dangerous. You are essentially starving yourself and sleeping to avoid feeling the negative health effects that starvation has. Instead, try having your nightly sleep on an empty stomach and refrain from eating a few hours from bedtime.
The Tapeworm Diet is truly as bad as it sounds: the intentional ingestion of a tapeworm to lose weight. This began in the 1900’s, and while effective, is very hazardous to your health. Not to mention it’s illegal in the US to import or sell tapeworms!
The truth: These are parasites that drain your body of the nutrients it needs to function. You can legitimately die from a tapeworm infestation. You might lose weight, but is it worth the risk?
The hCG Diet is based on human choriogonadotropin, a hormone produced in early pregnancy. Supposedly, eating 500 calories a day and getting injections of this hormone will result in drastic weight loss. While the FDA has approved using hCG as a fertility treatment, the lack of evidence it might help with weight loss has kept them from approving it as a diet drug.
The truth: Of course restricting your caloric intake to 500 calories will result in weight loss, with or without the hormone injections!
The Twinkie Diet began as an experiment2 to prove calorie counting is the most important aspect of a diet. The professor who performed the study lost 27 pounds eating nothing but Twinkies (and other junk food) for 10 weeks.
The truth: Yes, eating a lower amount of calories will eventually result in weight loss – but at the cost of giving your body the nutrition it needs to function at its best.
The Baby Food Diet instructs adherents to eat baby food for two or even three meals per day.
The truth: The diet works because of the calorie restriction, and while baby food might provide babies with nutrition, it’s only a fraction of the nutrition that grown adults need to remain healthy.
The Chewing Diet – also known as Fletcherizing – is simple: chew food until it’s liquefied, and then spit it out.
The truth: While the process of chewing food thoroughly - up to 45 times - before swallowing, the man who came up with this diet, Horace Fletcher, the man this diet is name after3, did not advocate actually spitting out food. Chewing slowly and thoroughly has been linked to eating less, but spitting out your food is an unhealthy behavior with potentially compulsive tendencies. Like so many other diets, depending on how much you chew and spit, you're likely robbing your body of necessary nutrition.
The Vision Diet requires participants to wear blue-tinted glasses while eating under the premise that doing so will make your food look less appetizing, resulting in eating less.
The truth: This diet isn’t an effective way to encourage people to lose weight; it has no documented success rate, and the tinted glasses could harm your vision!
The Ear Stapling Diet puts surgical staples on pressure points along the cartilage of your inner ear that curb appetite.
The truth: Ear stapling is intended to act as a sort of acupuncture that stimulates the pressure point that controls appetite. This method might work but it has not been proven as an effective method to lose weight.
The Cotton Ball Diet suggests eating cotton balls before a meal to fill up your stomach so you eat less.
The truth: Eating cotton balls is as effective as drinking a lot of water before a meal or filling up on celery. It will make you feel full, but cotton balls aren't intended for eating and may cause digestive complications.
The Master Cleanse Diet is a 10-day detox diet consisting of drinking a mixture of lemon juice, maple syrup, cayenne pepper, and water.
The truth: You’re consuming next to no calories, so you will lose weight. The maple syrup provides your body with simple carbs in order to keep it running, but that's a low-quality diet that doesn't have all of the nutrients your body needs to function and maximum capacity.
Cigarette Diet suggests smoking instead of eating. This was actually a selling point used in the 1920’s to promote cigarettes.
The truth: This method might result in some weight loss, but the other medical conditions smoking is associate with are definitely not worth it.
Too Good to Be True
Just like get-rich-quick schemes are always too good to be true (and someone inevitable ends up getting scammed), the same is true with fad diets. You might lose a few pounds, but your body won’t be better for it and you might actually do lasting damage to your health. The best recipe for weight loss? Learning how to eat right and exercise. The only “quick fix” we know is that adding a protein shake to your diet does help you lose weight the healthy way.