by Jessica Smith, REDBOOK
Janet Jackson told CNN's Piers Morgan in an interview that she's heard of celebs eating tissues in order to lose weight. Sadly, drastic weight loss measures is nothing new to Hollywood, but with the help of their endorsement, more and more women are trying some truly unhealthy ways to drop pounds.
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Here are some 5 crazy (but true) and terrible fad diets out there (and what you should do instead):
1) Ingesting a tapeworm. It's still astounding that people would even try this to lose weight, but it happens - and more often than you'd think. The idea behind this wacko concept is that the tapeworm absorbs excess calories, causing the host to peel off pounds quickly. And while a tapeworm can induce weight loss, it also can also cause malnutrition, hair loss, seizures, neurological damage, muscle weakness, abdominal discomfort and diarrhea. Not to mention, you'd have to swallow a live worm. All that to lose a few pounds? Um, no thanks.
TRY THIS INSTEAD: Make your body a calorie-burning machine by increasing your activity level all day long. Research shows that folks who fidget are less likely to be overweight, and for good reason. Moving as much as possible during your daily routine helps you burn calories around the clock, and without having to disrupt your day (or intestines) in a major way.
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2) Going on the cotton ball/tissues diet. This insane crash diet actually involves swallowing cotton balls (or eating tissues) as a substitute for real food in order to lose weight.
TRY THIS INSTEAD: The only thing this diet has right is the idea that ingesting something to help you stay full can help you lose weight. But instead of cotton balls (I mean, really, would you want swallow these things?!), increase your fiber intake. Fiber-filled foods help keep things moving smoothly through your intestines (which will effect your scale weight) and often fill you up on fewer calories. Save the cotton for your clothes, and start eating some pears (did you know they contain more fiber than prunes?) instead.
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3) Using diet pills. Celebs like Britney Spears, Kendra Wilkinson and the Kardashian sisters have all made popping diet pills seem chic and effective, and its no wonder why Americans spend over $1 billion a year on diet pills and supplements. Yet there is still no evidence to show that any of them actually work. So why do we spend so much money on them? They offer an easy, quick fix and most have very persuasive ad campaigns. Don't forget that the ads you are bombarded with often feature paid participants who follow strict diet and exercise plans, who lose weight not necessarily because of the pill, but because it's their job to do so.
TRY THIS INSTEAD: A recent study found that WATER (yes, that free, clear liquid stuff) is more effective for weight loss than diet pills and supplements. Simply drinking a 16-ounce glass of water before each meal can help you lose five pounds or more, without changing anything else.
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4) Exercising for more than 2 hours a day. Believe it or not, too much exercise can cause you to gain weight. Over-exercisers are often depleted, dehydrated and have trouble sleeping and avoiding sugar cravings.
TRY THIS INSTEAD: High Intensity Interval Training (aka HIIT). High intensity interval training is short burst of pushing yourself really hard, followed by a rest period and repeated 5 times. An example workout would be warming up for 5 minutes, sprinting for 15 to 20 seconds and resting for 10 seconds, then repeating the cycle 5 times and cooling down for 5 minutes. You can burn up to 9 times more fat with this type of workout, and be done with exercise in less than an hour. Studies show that 2 and a half hours a week of HIIT training is equal to ten and a half hours of long distance training. Which would you rather do?
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5) Going on a juice fast. Juice fasts like the "Master Cleanse" are often touted as a quick way to lose weight by celebs, but are they really healthy? Not only can this be a bad idea for your metabolism and blood sugar levels, it's misleading to think that it will "cleanse" your body (that's what your liver is for). You may lose a lot of weight, but it will all come back (and most people gain a few pounds) after you begin eating whole foods again.
TRY THIS INSTEAD: There's nothing wrong with wanting to clean up your act. If you really want to 'cleanse' your system, try simply cleaning up your eating habits. Focus on eating fresh, healthy foods and filling up on fruit, veggies, lean proteins and whole grains. In the long run, this is the more effective and lasting way to keep off the weight.
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Jessica Smith is a certified fitness lifestyle expert and creator of the 10 Pounds Down DVD series.
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