Diets Too Good to Be True

Some of the country's leading nutritional specialists tell us what diets we should avoid and which ones actually …"I'm on a diet;" common words heard spoken from another's mouth, especially at the start of a new year. While dieting to lose weight will never fade, diet trends come and go. These days, between Atkins, Jenny, and the Cave Man, there are more and more weight loss programs to choose from, and sometimes the truth behind each one can get lost in the shuffle.

10 Diets That Don't Work

Human beings' bodies all work in different and mysterious ways, but there is one thing that we thrive on when it comes to leading a healthy lifestyle: food. Along with exercise and dietary supplements, most popular diet trends revolve around developing a strategy for eating the right foods that will help you lose weight, but the truth is that some of them don't work, and that's where The Daily Meal's Cook editors come in. To help you decide what food diets are right for you, we asked some of the country's leading nutritionists to weigh in on popular diet trends and inform us when some are, quite literally, too good to be true.

Healthy Foods You Should Add to Your Diet

Bacon lovers: did your eyes light up and taste buds sing when you heard about the Atkins diet? We're sorry to have to tell you that the meat-heavy diet is only effective in the short-term. Think you're doing yourself a favor when you skip the pasta at dinner? You may be avoiding some heavy carbs, but you're also missing out on important and essential nutrients, too. From longstanding diets that you know well (and very well could have tried) to under the radar ones that are just arriving on the scene, our experts shared their thoughts on each one and told us which were in, and which were out.

20 'Healthy' Foods That Are Actually Unhealthy

Credit: Flickr/SweetonVegOut: Vegan
Author of Six Weeks to Sleeveless and Sexy and co-star of TLC's Freaky Eaters, JJ Virgin is known as one of the nation's leading experts in fitness and nutrition. Her 25 years of experience in the industry has taught her, among other things, which diets work. A popular one that has been around for centuries is the vegan one, and Virgin has her doubts about it. Because a lot of vegans rely on food-substitutions she feels that they subject themselves to a lot of over processed and unnatural foods that are carb-heavy, low in protein, and high in sugar. The perfect recipe for weight gain.

Credit: Flickr/Ropoppy/Flickr/AlishaVIn: South Beach Diet
Shemek is a fan of the South Beach plan because it relies on good carbohydrates and fats (the stuff we like to eat) to promote successful weight loss. She warns that the initial stages can be challenging for some, but relying on a diet of lean dairy, lean potatoes, fish, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains can be very rewarding in the weight-loss department.

Credit: Gary K SmithOut: Raw Food's Diets
Los Angeles nutrition consultant Lauren Schmitt studies diets on a daily basis through her work at Healthy Eating and Training, Inc. One diet that always has her eyes rolling is the 100 percent raw vegetable diet. Many people cannot tolerate eating a diet that is 100percent raw. Their digestive system rebels [against it], she says.

Virgin agrees with Schmitts sentiments, and also points out that this diet is highly popular with celebrities, who have expensive private chefs that are making their raw foods taste really, really good. You might be in for a different story if you were to actually try it, warns Virgin.

Credit: Thinkstock/iStockphotoIn: Flexitarian Diet
The Flexitarian diet works to try and give you the benefits of becoming a vegetarian, without making you give up meat altogether. Thankfully for most steak-lovers, Shemek believes that it works. "The diet is excellent in its approach to weight loss for vegetarians and it is effective in creating optimal health. It uses plant-based proteins and creates the flexibility of choosing different meals that can work for the whole family. Adding meat very occasionally is still allowed on this diet," she says.

Credit: JupiterimagesOut: Long Term Fruit and Vegetable Cleanses
Along with the popular detox diet trends that Shemek told us about, Schmitt mentioned another cleanse that has becoming popular, which is the long term fruit and vegetable cleanse. "The human body is smart and can adequately cleanse itself. If we were truly toxic as you may read in literature promoting cleanses, we would die. The body benefits from high intake of fruits and vegetables for nutrients and fiber, but needs more than just produce. We need adequate protein and complex carbohydrates [as well]," she says.

Credit: Thinkstock/istockphotoIn: Food-Tracking
Similar to Volumetrics, in that it doesn't set a strict standard of foods but rather tracks the foods you're already eating, food-tracking approaches such as electronic methods can be very effective. Schmitt told us that research has proven that the individuals who rely on electronic methods, such as My Fitness Pal or Livestrong apps, to track their food intake are more successful with losing weight compared to those who don't. "By journaling one's food, it opens up one's eyes to the amount they are consuming and they can correct the meals or snacks that are too large or not balanced properly. Some people find that they eat a great array of food but that they just eat too much," she explains.

Credit: Jeffrey HamiltonOut: hCG Diet
The hCG diet, which stands for Human Chorionic Gonadotropin, is a diet based on hormonal injections and low-calorie meal consumptions. Beyond the fact that the daily injections are quite costly, Schmitt raises the point that low-calorie meals of most vegetables and lean protein don't give you enough daily nutrients that you need in order to maintain a healthy diet and comfortable weight. While you may lose weight in the beginning, the low-nutrient diet will eventually convince your body to gain the weight back.

Credit: ThinkstockIn: Healthy Plate Method
Schmitt explained to us that the Healthy Plate Method is done by dividing your plate into four quarters: one filled with a lean protein, one with a whole grain carbohydrate, and the final two with vegetables and fruit. First used with diabetics, this method helps control blood sugar and promotes weight loss. You don't need any books, apps, or scales, just the memory of a straightforward plate diagram when you're sitting down for a meal.

Credit: Thinkstock/F1 OnlineOut: Low-Carb Diet
We know this one, and we know that so many people think that if they skip the bread basket at dinner they're doing themselves a serious favor. Well, even though it is good to cut here and there, Schmitt agrees with us that this is actually a very poor plan to try to stick to. Besides the fact that you're missing out on key nutrients that carbohydrates like rice, quinoa, and sweet potatoes have, the truth is that people have a very hard time following a lifetime of low-carb meals. Once they finally cave and jump back on the carbohydrate-wagon, their bodies freak out and the weight lost comes right back. An even, well-balanced meal of protein, vegetables, and carbohydrates, is the best way to push your body into shedding some pounds.

Credit: Thinkstock/iStockphotoIn: Exercise
It has to be said, that for many food-lovers like us, there are just some foods that we absolutely cannot live without. Schmitt understands that, so she reminded us that really the only true "diet" you could ever be happy with is maintaining a healthy exercise program. Go ahead and indulge on that crème brulee, just make sure to walk it off the next morning.

More Diets Too Good to Be True and What You Should Be Doing Instead

- Anne Dolce, The Daily Meal

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