The diet industry continues to grow with everything from conversations around the water cooler to celebrity endorsements and quick-fix pills, but which ones work and which ones are just a hoax?
It may be hard to pick a healthy diet you can stick to, and when it’s crunch time and you need to lose those last few pounds, it seems you’ll try just about anything! But don’t give into the hype—many fad diets can cause you harm and are not sustainable for the long-term.
Here are a few diets you should never try, no matter how great they may sound.
Wouldn’t it be a dream to eat cookies and still fit into your skinny jeans or that little black dress? There’s a diet for that.
Promoted by Dr. Sanford Siegel, the Cookie Diet has taken off; people are eating cookies to lose weight and drop inches. Before you reach for your favorite chocolate chip or macadamia nut biscuit, hold on! You need some more information to decide if this diet is right for you (or anyone, for that matter).
The premise of the diet consists of having 500 to 600 calories from specialty high-protein and high-fiber weight loss cookies (purchased from Dr. Siegel’s website, no less).
These “nutritious” cookies are eaten for breakfast, lunch and snacks. For dinner, you’re welcome to enjoy whatever you like, giving you a total of 1,000 to 1,200 calories a day.
Will this method work? Sure, for a short while you may notice your pants fitting a bit looser, but this diet signs you up for disaster.
During the day, you’re depriving yourself of many other nutrients, so you’re more likely to overeat by dinnertime.
Not only will this diet cost you quite a bit (who wants to buy “specialty” cookies?) but it’s unrealistic as an ongoing eating plan. A much healthier strategy is to eat your cookies sparingly as a treat and not as a meal replacement.
The 5-Bite Diet
We all know the importance of portion control when it comes to our meals, but only five bites? That seems a little too few.
The 5-Bite Diet, created by Dr. Alwin Lewis, suggests you skip breakfast and eat whatever you want for lunch and dinner—the catch being you only get five bites.
How big is your mouth?
This diet runs the risk of you consuming a dangerously low amount of calories per day. Even if you take a large bite, your caloric intake likely will still come under 1,000. This falls way below the recommended intake, which is about 2,000 for non-active women and 2,200 for non-active men.
Another complication is skipping breakfast, truly the most important meal of the day. Breakfast gives you the energy you need to be productive and stay awake, kicking your energy production and digestion into gear after fasting through the night.
People who skip breakfast tend to overeat throughout their day. Research published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association revealed those who missed breakfast had a 13% higher rate of being overweight than those who ate a good one.
Although this diet may seem appealing with its “eat whatever you want” factor, you’ll only be enjoying about 10 bites a day.
The Baby Food Diet
This diet seems like it makes sense, in theory: If babies can grow big and strong with this type of food, it should be good for everyone else, right?
Wrong, very wrong. The nutritional needs for a baby are far different than those of an adult.
The diet, circling the internet and created by celebrity trainer Tracy Anderson, endorses low calories by eating baby food like pureed prunes, mashed bananas and mangos, or strained chicken and vegetables for breakfast, lunch and two snacks, and ending your day with a low-cal dinner. Although not intended for weight loss, the diet is recommended for people trying to maintain weight loss results.
There are a few reasons why this diet is a no-go. Firstly, you’re most likely to deprive your body of many essential nutrients while taking in too few calories.
Because you are not taking in enough protein, fiber or actually chewing the food, you may not feel as full and therefore have larger cravings.
Lastly, baby food is not cheap considering what you’re getting. Unless you make it yourself in your food processor or blender at home, don’t shell out money for mini jars of mush.
With dieting and the plethora of programs and regimens to choose from, it’s hard to know exactly what will work. What we do know is that if it seems too good to be true and not something you can do for the rest of your life, you probably should take a pass.
Don’t fall for these get-skinny-quick schemes. The best advice comes down to common sense: Eat healthy, fresh food, plenty of vegetables, and most of all, ensure you’re getting variety and a balance of food groups. You can’t go wrong with keeping it simple.
Jacobsen, M. T., “The Baby Food Diet,” WebMD website, December 16, 2013; http://www.webmd.com/diet/baby-food-diet.
Davis, J. L., “Lose Weight: Eat Breakfast,” WebMD website, August 31, 2010; http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/lose-weight-eat-breakfast.
Fetters, K. A., “14 Fad Diets You Should Absolutely Never Try,” Huffington Post website, July 22, 2014; http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/22/worst-fad-diets_n_5592013.html?utm_hp_ref=diet-and-nutrition.