Diet Overkill: 25 Of the Most Ridiculous (and Ineffective) Popular Diets

Some people will do anything to lose weight, even if it means defying common sense, nutrition, or even their doctor. But just because your best friend's cousin lost 20 pounds by drinking hot-peppered lemonade doesn't mean you should do the same. These 25 diets are not only ridiculous, they're ineffective and even dangerous.

  1. Atkins: Although wildly popular, and quite effective for some people, the Atkins diet is just not sustainable for most dieters. This diet cuts out healthy foods like fruit, and adopts a limited list of foods that are often high in fat and otherwise unhealthy. Above all, this diet's extreme restriction makes it incredibly difficult for most people to stick with it.
  2. The Subway diet: Substituting large, unhealthy meals with a wholesome sandwich is certainly an effective way to lose weight. However, the execution of the Subway diet is what makes this one a failure. This may come as a surprise to some, but not every sandwich at Subway is a dietary winner. You can't eat 14 meatball subs a week and expect to see pounds come off. For this diet to succeed, you'd have to eat very specific items from Subway's menu and keep up a strict regimen of exercise. This diet is useless because it's just as easy to make your own sandwich and take a walk.
  3. Cabbage soup diet: Also known as the "Russian peasant diet," the "Sacred Heart diet," and "TJ miracle soup diet," this diet consists of eating a low-calorie cabbage soup for 7 days. It's generally claimed to cause weight loss of 10 pounds within a week, although most experts believe that sort of weight loss is not possible. Most of the weight lost on this diet is water, so it's not permanent. It's also problematic because of a high sodium content, extremely low protein, feelings of weakeness, and increased flatulence.
  4. The tapeworm diet: Almost too disgusting to detail, this diet involves swallowing cysts that you've dissected out of beef carcass. The plan is to allow the tapeworm to live in you for up to 10 weeks, and then take prescribed medication to kill it. It should go without saying that this is perhaps one of the most dangerous diets you can adopt. It not only requires you to ingest a parasite, it encourages unhealthy eating habits, which are almost guaranteed to make you gain every pound back once the worm is gone.
  5. The cereal diet: Like the Subway diet, the cereal diet is silly because it requires you to buy a specific food substitute, and eat it on a regular basis. This diet isn't effective because of the high quality nutrition cereal offers-cereal is generally full of sugar-but rather because you're required to measure the amount of food you're eating. No matter what your diet, monitoring and carefully measuring food to restrict calories will make you lose weight. You don't need a special cereal to do so.
  6. The low fat diet: Nearly everyone has purchased a low or no fat product because we believe that somehow it's healthier and will help keep the pounds off. But the dirty trick about the low fat diet is that these products aren't healthier at all-often, you trade fat for more sugar, sodium, or calories. Sometimes, serving sizes are skewed to make an otherwise unhealthy food look better than before.
  7. Hallelujah diet: Reverend George M. Malkmus was diagnosed with colon cancer, and instead of getting treatment, he changed his diet to "the original diet God gave mankind." Although the diet consists mainly of good staples like fruits and vegetables, you can't just eat produce you'd pick up at the store. No, this diet requires that you mail-order direct from the Reverend's farm because the general American food supply is devoid of nutrients. Ironically, this diet has been found to cause nutrient deficiencies, and due to its high-fiber and beta carotine content, is less than ideal for cancer patients.
  8. South Beach Diet: Although it's created and promoted by a cardiologist, the South Beach diet is less than ideal. This diet takes you through phases of high restriction and lower restriction, constantly keeping your body on a roller coaster of losing and maintaining weight. Once you begin to regain pounds, you go back to the more restricted phase. Yo-yo diets such as this one are not only ineffective, they're dangerous to your heart and overall health.
  9. Slim Fast: Again, another product-based diet that offers little more than ineffective substitution. In the short term, you will probably see weight loss, but Slim Fast's shakes and bars are not mentally or physically satisfying enough for the diet to be sustained, especially when you consider that there are healthier, cheaper, and tastier alternatives out there.
  10. The chocolate diet: As studies have come out promoting chocolate as a supplement to a healthy diet, the chocolate diet has come out as well. This diet focuses on decreased calorie consumption with liquid chocolate diet shakes. It acts as a vitamin replacement, and although effective in the short term, has not been found to stimulate metabolism or burn fat, as the diet claims. Rather, any weight lost is a direct effect of decreased caloric intake.
  11. The Fiengold diet: Dr. Benjamin Feingold created a diet free of chemicals believed to cause ADD and ADHD. This included not only food, but also certain drugs and hygiene items. Although this diet is not physically harmful, and can be helpful in some instances, it's generally not wise to adopt this regimen. Critics warn against teaching children that food can dictate performance and behavior, and depriving them of appropriate professional help from health care providers.
  12. The Weight Loss Cure They Don't Want You to Know About: This diet gives the tapeworm a run for its money. Why? The weight loss "cure" consists of nothing more than ingesting the urine of pregnant women. Whether this is effective or not really doesn't matter-there is absolutely, positively, a better way to lose weight than injecting yourself with pee.
  13. The blood type diet: This confusing diet requires that you eat according to your blood type. For example, if you're a blood Type A, that means vegetables are your ideal food. The main reason why this diet works at all is because-you guessed it-you're limiting what you eat. Of course, this can be achieved through portion control, and you can eat what you feel like whether you're a "hunter," "nomad," "cultivator," or any combination thereof.
  14. The Hollywood diet: It should be obvious that drinking nothing but juice is bound to leave you hungry and unsatisfied, but many continue to attempt to use this quick-fix detox program as a way to permanently lose weight. Unfortunately, that's just not going to happen. This juice has a high sugar content, and nearly all of the weight you'll lose is water, which will come right back.
  15. The Grapefruit diet: This horrible diet is simply unsustainable, offering little nutrition calories, or taste. Even worse, excessive consumption of this acidic citrus fruit could lead to a stomach ulcer. Additionally, grapefruit juice is dangerous when mixed with some medications.
  16. Russian Air Force diet: With this diet, you can put a number of herbs, sauces, and spices on your food, but you'll have a hard time finding a place for all of those extras to land, considering breakfast is coffee, lunch is two eggs and a tomato, and dinner is salad and tiny portion of meat. This simple caloric restriction is just not sustainable, leaving dieters hovering near starvation, and it has a high sodium content.
  17. The master cleanse : Also known as the lemon water detox diet, this concoction can't even really be called a diet because you're not eating anything. With the master cleanse, you'll subsist on lemon water with cayenne pepper and maple syrup. Incredibly temporary, any weight loss resulting from this detox will come back almost immediately.
  18. The macrobiotic diet: This diet consists primarily of grains, vegetables, and beans, specifically avoiding processed and refined foods. It also requires thorough chewing before swallowing to avoid overeating. Although this is overall good diet advice, the problem with the macrobiotic diet is that it's often presented as a "cure" for cancer, while many long-term macrobiotics have developed and died from cancer.
  19. The Kimkins diet: This Atkins with a twist requires that dieters follow a strict caloric restriction, which as you must know by now, is nothing special. Additionally, this diet is wrapped up in scandal, as the creator claimed to have lost 198 pounds in 6 months, but later gained it all back, and tried to hide this fact from other dieters.
  20. The magnetic diet: This diet follows the concept that all foods have magnetism that attracts either health or disease. It requires that you drink only water and eat specific foods with "invigorating magnetism," and follow an eating schedule that creates a caloric deficit. Despite all of the quackery surrounding the diet, it's actually a very simple method of eating nutritious foods like fruit, vegetables, and whole grains, combined with portion control and exercise.
  21. The hot dog diet: Also known as the three-day diet, this diet is ridiculous because it doesn't recommend that you eat healthy food-in fact, you'll eat ice cream as well. Instead, you'll eat carefully counted portions of food, resulting in the oh-so-familiar calorie restriction that so many ridiculous diets feature.
  22. The apple cider vinegar diet: The apple cider vinegar diet succeeds only in making dieters not want to eat at all, mostly because you're just not likely to be hungry after downing straight vinegar. You drink a few teaspoons of vinegar, which is supposed to supress your appetite. The secret is not that apple cider vinegar is particularly helpful for weight loss, but because reducing portions and exercising are.
  23. Dr. Siegal’s cookie diet: The cookie diet from a doctor is a lot less appealing than it sounds. Like Subway, Slim Fast, and other weight loss fads, this diet requires that you eat specific foods that must be purchased separate from a regular diet. These cookies are high protein, but there's really nothing special about the diet except that it's extremely low in calories. What's more, you're likely to get very tired of eating cookies day in and day out.
  24. Wu-Yi Tea diet: Although it's presented as a natural cure endorsed by Oprah and Rachel Ray, that couldn't be farther from the truth about Wu-Yi tea. There's absolutely nothing special about this particular tea. It's just oolong tea, and it offers no more benefits than the tea you can pick up at your grocery or health store.
  25. The Martha's Vineyard diet: Just like the Hollywood diet, this detox requires that you drink nothing but juice for a specific period of time. Again, this will only help you lose weight in the short term, and you'll gain every pound back once you realize there's more to life than drinking vegetable juice all day.