Everyone wants to be healthy and active, but it comes to a point where the ends do not justify the means. These are the diets that cause more harm than help, and might even get you a trip to the hospital. And since it seems like there’s always some B-list celebrity toting the next and greatest, here are some fad diets that should finally be put to rest.
The Fruitarian diet stretches back to the days of Leonardo da Vinci and Mahatma Ghandi. They loved the diet because it meant not killing any living thing, including plants. Most of the fruit they ate wasn’t even picked, but fell naturally. And fruit is healthy, right?
Downside: It’s also incredibly restrictive. The fruitarian diet requires that more than 75 percent of your diet must come from fruits. And while fruits offer vitamins and antioxidants, they don’t have the protein, fat and carbohydrates our bodies need to function. While gearing up to play fruitarian Steve Jobs, Ashton Kutcher was hospitalized. He was doubled over in pain after only one month on a fruitarian diet. Better stick to the recommended two cups of fruit a day.
Baby Food Diet
It’s exactly what it sounds like; you cut out two meals a day and replace them with baby food. It’s not hard to see why an adult would lose weight eating the amount of food suggested for a 20-pound baby. Each jar contains 20 to 100 calories and, since it can be disgusting, either comes back up or out the other way very quickly.
Downside: Replacing adult meals with baby food causes nutritional imbalances and malnourishment. To feel full, an adult needs protein, fiber and the act of chewing. Baby food will leave your stomach hungry and unsatisfied, no matter how much you eat. Some people claim baby food has caused mood imbalances and hallucinations. Plus, this diet will cost you—baby food is not cheap!
The master cleanse has been going around for years, especially in Hollywood. Beyonce went on one to lose weight for Dream Girls. The idea is that for ten days you give up solid food, instead drinking four cups of salt water in the morning, a cup of laxative tea at night and 6-12 glasses of lemonade throughout the day. Only this lemonade is made of maple syrup, lemon, cayenne pepper and water. Sounds delicious?
Downside: Yes, you’ll lose weight. You don’t eat, how could you not? But the weight you’ll lose is water and muscle mass, not fat. In the long run, you’ll gain that all back. Plus, if you continue doing cycles of the master cleanse, you could be in for some serious health effects including long term weight gain, a weak immune system and heart and kidney problems. Plus, while on the cleanse you’ll face fatigue, nausea, vomiting, pain and irritability.
The grapefruit diet has lasted since the 1930’s. It claims that a grapefruit contains certain enzymes that get rid of fat quick. What you have to do is eat a grapefruit before every meal, and then cut calories, carbs and foods high in fat and cholesterol. Hmmm the meal reduction seems a little more legitimate than the grapefruit.
Downside: This diet isn’t as dangerous as it is stupid. The simple fact is grapefruits don’t burn fat. Maybe, it’s because the water in grapefruit helps you feel fuller before a meal, but that’s a stretch. I’m thinking this diet was invented by a clever grapefruit merchant in the Great Depression. Good for him.
The Dukan diet has a lot of stages and rules. It tells you what to eat, when to eat and for how long to eat. Basically, it’s all about protein. Protein is filling, takes a lot of time to digest and has few calories. By limiting fat and carbs, your body needs to find another source of energy; stored fat. So eating only meat burns fat.
Downside: Consuming so much protein overworks your kidneys and can exasperate pre-existing conditions. Most people lose 15 pounds in the first week, which is just too much too fast. Such rapid weight loss can negatively affect your heart. Plus the side effects are lethargy, bad breath, dry mouth and constipation.
How to spot a dangerous diet:
New diets are constantly popping up way before they’ve had enough time to be tested and approved. If you’ve started a bunch of diets only to experience the negative side effects a couple weeks in, you’ll know how awful it is. Here are a few rules of what to avoid when checking out a cool new diet. They’ll keep you ahead of the curve when a new fad hits:
- Avoid any diet that promises a quick fix
- Avoid any diet that lists “good and “bad” foods
- Avoid any diet that blames specific foods for weight problems
- Avoid any diet that gives you rigid rules for eating
- Avoid any diet that eliminates a food group