By Brandi Koskie - DietsInReview.com
At DietsInReview.com we have more than 1500 diet reviews published by our team, and we publish new ones every day, of every week. That's not said to be a plug, but to show you just how many ways there are to lose weight. At the end of the day, it still comes down to calories - those that come in and those that go out.
However, calories in and calories out takes time, and we Americans aren't very good at that whole patience thing. We want it now, whether it be an over-night shipment of a blanket with sleeves or the 100 extra pounds we've packed on over the years. No one wakes up one morning weighing 20, 50, 100 or even more pounds than they did when they went to bed. So using that same logic, no one is going to wake up the next day with that much weight missing.
There are a few diet programs that grew in popularity this year, and each of them, in their own way, wants you to believe that the weight is just going to melt off your body lickety-split. Sure, anyone who tries these weight loss techniques is going to see a smaller number on the scale. They're also going to see that weight come back, they will not have learned any new healthy habits to help them keep off that weight, and they may even do more harm to their health than the minimal weight loss derived.
Read This: Don't miss our Most Popular Diets of 2009!
Without further ado, the most ridiculous, absurd and over-hyped diets of the year.
The hCG Diet
Basically: Daily injections of the female pregnancy hormone, with a prescription via a doctor, or more sketchy ordered off the internet, all while eating a 500-calorie diet.
You could do daily injections of imagination, a 500-calorie diet in and of itself is going to cause you to lose weight. And not the healthy way. Sure, a low-calorie diet is the most recommended way to lose weight, but you have to cut those calories in a healthy and sustainable way, while giving your body the calories it needs. Calories are energy and fuel, and our bodies need those to simply operate, and yes, to lose weight. "[500 calories] is not enough calories to support normal brain function," says registered dietitian Rebecca Scritchfield in "HCG Diet: Look Elsewhere for Weight Loss."
Expert's Take: "We need energy, and calories provide our bodies with energy to survive and thrive. If you don't give your body enough calories, especially from carbohydrate-rich foods (that supply the brain with much needed glucose), it will retaliate by breaking down lean muscle mass to produce glucose to fuel the brain, red blood cells and entire central nervous system," says Elisa Zied, MS, RD, author of Nutrition At Your Fingertips and founder and president of Zied Health Communications, LLC. She continues that "If you don't fuel up by taking in an ideal number of calories each day--for most that's around 2,000 calories a day (though that number can vary based on age, gender, and activity level)--it'll slow down to utilize the few calories you're giving yourself; this slows metabolism, and your body will not be able to function properly at all--you'll have little energy and that'll be the least of your problems! This diet is the ultimate crash diet--just like you wouldn't crash your car on purpose, why would you crash diet with this type of thing/diet?"
Adds Mary Hartley, RD, MPH, and director of nutrition at Calorie Count, "Reputable studies refute the effectiveness of the hCG Diet and respected medical organizations warn against it. Still, it is freely promoted all across the Internet, and so buyer beware!"
The Baby Food Diet
Basically: Replace your adult-sized meals with little jars of baby puree.
Another terribly low-calorie, low-nutrition approach to weight loss that's sadly catching on. Baby food is for babies. Why? Because it has exactly what those little 20-pound bodies need. It does not have what full-grown 150-pound-plus bodies need. Most of those jars have less than 100 calories, a far cry from the 300-500 calories per meal for an adult. If you like vegetables, brown rice and chicken, just eat portions that are appropriate for your age group and provide the calories, fiber and protein that your body needs, not to mention the flavors, textures and aromas that your brain is craving.
Expert's Take: "It's so much better to eat whole fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats - they're more filling and satisfying. After a few days of eating only baby food, I'm certain you'll be craving real food again," says Joy Bauer, TODAY Show nutritionist and bestselling author. "Not to mention, this is super pricey if you're buying large quantities of baby food jars."
The Tapeworm Diet
Basically: You swallow a parasitic tapeworm, which you can find in under-cooked meat or infected animal feces, and wait for it to begin breaking down your digestive system, so that you don't want to eat, and when your health starts to deteriorate you hopefully seek medical intervention before it kills you.
This one literally makes us smack our foreheads in disbelief that anyone would even try this stunt. We're fearful to even daydream about what this could do to our bodies, or yours. It's horrifying that anyone out there would even promote it.
Expert's Take: "This is just plain crazy! Tapeworms are dangerous parasites that can cause serious health problems…they're definitely not a way to shed pounds. AND it's illegal to buy and sell tapeworms in the US!," says Bauer.
The Twinkie Diet
Basically: Live off of grocery store snack cakes, supplement with a few canned veggies, and disregard everything you know about nutrition to burn 27 pounds.
When we heard about this Kansas State University nutrition professor's stunt diet, we just crossed our fingers that the masses wouldn't flock to this sugar-coated gimmick. This professor wanted to prove that the number of calories you consume matter more than the actual nutritional composition of the food. He ate 1,800 calories a day, which will certainly help anyone lose weight. However, he's not going to keep off that weight when he resumes a normal diet, and he wasn't giving his body near the fiber, vitamins and other nutrients it needs to operate.
Expert's Take: "Twinkies are loaded with sugar, bad fat, and junky white flour-they wreak havoc on your blood sugars and increase inflammation throughout your body," says Bauer. "You might lose weight (take in less calories than you burn, and you lose weight no matter what you eat-Twinkies or broccoli), but you'll be doing a big disservice to your body and your health. Plus, it's just not a sustainable diet!"
Did you try one of these? We welcome your commentary on why it did or didn't work for you.
Did you lose weight the old fashioned way this year? We'd love to hear why it worked for you.
Take a look at the new 17 Day Diet, the most popular diet going right now, or try our diet finder to be matched with a plan that works for you.
By Brandi Koskie - DietsInReview.com