8 Dangerous Fad Diets That You Should Never Try
Beach season may be behind us, but that means we can’t let our bodies go. From the candy snacks of October to the holiday feasting of November and December, we have more reason to watch our weight now than ever before.
It’s tempting right now to try to hop on some kind of fad diet to help lose weight or just avoid those extra pounds heading into the new year. Unfortunately, some fad diets aren’t just ineffective. Some are downright dangerous!
Which fad diets should you avoid at all costs? Keep reading to discover the answer!
When it comes to fad diets, the Atkins diet may be the most well-known. This is the diet where you avoid carbs whenever possible and focus instead on things like red meat. It sounds simple: since “bread makes you fat,” as Scott Pilgrim discovered to his horror, then cutting it out should help us cut weight…right?
Well, there’s good news and bad news. Cutting carbs almost certainly will help you lose weight. But since this diet calls for you to consume so much red meat and unsaturated fat, it could lead to you experiencing issues like high cholesterol and even heart disease. In other words, this diet could put your very life in danger!
With the spooky month upon us, you might be tempted to check out the werewolf diet (sometimes also called the lunar diet). This “diet” consists of fasting (drinking only water and juice) during the entirety of a full moon or new moon and therefore dropping a few pounds.
While the werewolf diet has a fun name, it’s not very effective. For any kind of fasting (such as intermittent fasting) to be effective, you need to stick with it for more than one day. With this diet, you may actually see a lower number on the scale at first because you avoided food for 24 hours. But that weight will sadly come back as soon as you start eating again.
Despite having such an odd name, the idea behind the alkaline diet is very simple. This diet calls for you to cut out alcohol, caffeine, dairy, meat, sweets, processed foods, and artificial foods. In their place, you focus instead on consuming more veggies, fruits, seeds, and nuts.
This diet might help you lose weight in the sense that eating more fruits and veggies and less candy and processed foods can help you shed pounds. But there is nothing accurate about the pseudoscience that the diet will affect your body’s pH level and help you lose weight that way. So, don’t expect magic weight loss from this one, but you can find ways to integrate it into a healthier overall diet and lifestyle.
Raw food diet
By now, you may have noticed that many of these fad diets take a sensible idea and then take it to a crazy extreme. And perhaps the best example of that is the raw food diet. This is a modified vegan diet with a special twist: you don’t cook the food before you consume it!
However, this diet isn’t really effective for a few different reasons. First, the primary claim by raw food enthusiasts that cooking takes out necessary nutrients is mostly incorrect. For that matter, cooking veggies can remove some of the bacteria you would otherwise consume. Thanks to the potential bacteria, this diet can be dangerous, but it is mostly impractical because it takes so much time. Unless you have hours of spare time each day to devote to things like dehydrating, rehydrating, blending, juicing, etc., you won’t be able to keep this diet up.
Remember when we said fad diets take decent ideas about weight loss and take them to an insane extreme? The five-bite diet is a bit like that. In this diet, you are supposed to skip breakfast and only eat lunch and dinner. In this way, it’s like intermittent fasting. But here’s the twist: for lunch and dinner, you can eat anything you want… but only five bites of it.
When you literally eat only 10 bites a day, it means you probably aren’t getting all of the nutrients you need. In effect, you are starving yourself. And even if these weren’t factors to consider, eating only 10 bites a day means that you are ultimately wasting a ton of food.
Of all the diets we are discussing, keto is the one with the most pseudoscience behind it. The idea is that you cut carbs and eat a special diet (mostly consisting of meat) with a specific goal: to put your body in a state of ketosis. Eventually, your body is supposed to start burning fat for energy instead of carbs, helping you lose weight like gangbusters.
However, there are a few problems. It’s almost impossible to know when your body has actually achieved ketosis or not. And even if it does, the process can cause strain and harm to your internal organs. Finally, cutting carbs for a long enough time can actually lead to premature death!
Blood type diet
If we had to pick the wackiest idea for a fad diet, we’d probably nominate the blood type diet. The idea behind this is that you adjust your diet based on blood type. For example, if you have blood type A, you’d need to become a vegetarian. If you have type O blood, you’d cut wheat and dairy and focus on fruits, veggies, and lean meat.
What’s the problem? Let’s start with the obvious: there is no scientific basis for the idea that you need a special diet based on blood type. And while some of these diets may help you lose weight (something that happens, for example, when many people become vegetarians), the truth is that the recommendations of this diet can be as impractical and restrictive as they are arbitrary.
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In recent years, there has been a general nostalgia for the past. And the paleo diet rides this nostalgia back millions of years and asks you to eat like a caveman. Specifically, the diet calls for you to cut out carbs and eat fruits, veggies, lean meats, fish, seeds, and nuts. Basically, you’d eat the kind of stuff that a caveman could reasonably hunt and consume in a day.
The dangers of this diet mostly come from how all-or-nothing it is. For example, this diet doesn’t call for simply restricting carbs and dairy but cutting them out altogether. This can lead to nutritional deficiencies in your body that impact potential weight loss and cause further health problems. All the food prep is also time-consuming and may cause you to second-guess why eating like Fred Flintstone sounded like such a good idea in the first place!