Everyone wants a quick fix when it comes to losing weight. We're so ready to buy into the diet of the week that we don't care about anything but the pounds melting away. We pretend that a diet based on science fiction is as legit as a diet based on science, and that eliminating entire food groups qualifies as a healthy eating plan.
So to help you make smart decisions moving forward, we thought we'd take you on a stroll down the memory lane of fad diets.
Ghosts of Diets Past
1. Cabbage Soup Diet: Claims that patients can lose as much as 20 pounds in 7 days by eating only a cabbage-based soup. Obviously this is not a long-term weight loss solution, but eating less than 1000 calories per day is sure going to be effective over the short term. And don't forget the not so subtle side effect: gas and bloating!
2. Grapefruit Diet: The theory was that grapefruits have a fat-burning enzyme, and that if you eat a grapefruit at every meal you'll quickly loose weight. This diet also allows you to eat some protein, vegetables, coffee and tea, but limits total calories to about 800! I'm sure we can all agree that starvation does not have a high rate of success. Also, it is now known that grapefruit can interact with certain prescription medicines.
3. Atkins: Created in the 1970s by Dr. Robert Atkins, this diet focuses on drastically reducing carbs, and eating foods high in protein. Proponents say that they feel great and lose weight fast, but critics point out that the reliance on protein sources such as steak, bacon and whole milk products is way too high in saturated fats, and too low in fruits, whole grains, calcium and fiber. There was also some speculation about how Dr. Atkins really died. Just saying...
4. Blood Type Diet: Based on Peter D'Adamo's bestselling book, Eat Right 4 Your Type, the diet claims that eating certain foods, and avoiding others based on your blood type way will not only bring about weight loss, but can also help prevent allergies and infection. Never mind that there is no scientific proof that this approach actually works.
5. French Women Don't Get Fat Diet: How can you resist a diet that lets you drink wine, and eat baked camembert, butter and chocolate? French Women Don't Get Fat is actually not a diet, but a book and lifestyle promoted by Mireille Guiliano, bestselling author and former President and CEO of Veuve Clicquot. Mireille says that women should forget about counting calories and having food guilt, and instead focus on portion control and eating for pleasure. This means enjoying high quality fresh foods, and not scarfing down a meal in your car or while watching TV. Bon appetit!
6. Human Growth Hormone Diet (HGH): Human Growth Hormone is produced naturally by the pituitary gland to help maintain the body's metabolism. Back in 1990 a study found that injections of synthetic HGH resulted in a significant gain in muscle mass, and a loss in body fat without any change in diet or exercise. The Holy Grail of diets! Even though many more studies have since shown the hormone to be unsafe, synthetic HGH continues to be sold as a weight-loss tool, and can easily be found on the internet.
7. Low Fat: This is the fad diet that identified fat as the enemy, and ended up altering the eating habits of Americans for decades. By avoiding all fats and focusing on "fat-free" foods, we actually consumed more sugar (many products such as the Fig Newton removed fat, but then added more sugar for better taste). This fear of fat also put a population at risk by cutting out the good healthy fats that our body and brain need for optimum functioning.
We've Come A Long Way, Baby
Most of the fad diets long passé worked because of severe calorie restriction, but the weight was quickly regained. Now armed with more knowledge about nutrition and human behavior, we understand the link between poor eating habits and increased risk of chronic disease.
The hard truth is that permanent weight loss is based on permanent diet and lifestyle changes. We know this deep down, but it probably won't stop most of us from falling victim to the promise of the next new weight loss promise: the purple-only food diet anyone?
What's the craziest fad diet you've tried?
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