10 Diets That May Do More Harm Than Good


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Trying to shed that beer gut? Want to fit in to that little black dress? Be it hundreds of pounds or just a few ounces, most people are trying, in some form or fashion, to shed some extra weight. The formula is simple: the number of calories taken in should be less than the calories out. Couple that with a healthy lifestyle that includes plenty of water and some exercise, and almost anyone can look and feel great. Unfortunately, some people are willing to try anything. Whether it's gorging on Twinkies or swallowing sleeping pills, dangerous diets abound. Often nutrition deficient — or just plain weird — these weight-loss plans can do much more harm to the body than good. These ten diets are ones you shouldn't try, and after reading this list, probably won't want to.

  1. The Cigarette-Popcorn-Whiskey Diet

    In his 2006 autobiography, My Life In and Out of the Rough, be-gutted PGA golfer John Daly lost 65 pounds in less than a year on a diet of cigarettes, popcorn, and whiskey.
    Why It Works: Dieters, rejoice! Drunkenly smoking and snacking on the golf course for ten hours a day is exactly the cure for the woes of your weight! Completely deficient in nutrients of any sort, this diet of corn, air, and potentially deadly toxins could be just the ticket to a sexy new you.
    Drawbacks: Cancer. Life-wrecking addiction problems. Decreased golf course prowess. DWIs. Jail. Probable death.
  2. The Twinkie Diet

    Sounds too good to be true, right? Believe it or not, this diet has gained some widespread media attention. After a nutrition professor ate nothing but processed, sugary foods for ten weeks and lost 27 pounds, eyebrows raised worldwide about the Twinkie diet.
    Why It Works: The diet was originally performed as an experiment in basic mathematics. If the number of calories burned is higher than the number of calories consumed, weight loss is possible and will occur.
    Drawbacks: Processed foods are fake foods; they contain many preservatives and chemical elements that do not occur naturally in fresh foods and, in large quantities, could be harmful to the body. Plus, Twinkies taste good, powdered donuts even better. Limiting yourself to a net caloric deficiency could be nearly impossible, especially for those with a sweet tooth.
  3. The Cabbage Soup Diet

    An extremely popular liquid diet, the cabbage soup diet has been around for decades. Every soccer mom and potential supermodel you know has likely gone through a "cabbage soup" phase. On this plan, dieters eat mostly cabbage soup (obviously), and are promised to shed several pounds quickly.
    Why It Works: This diet is essentially a liquid diet, and is highly restrictive in terms of calorie intake. This diet is only designed for short term weight loss goals, and usually only lasts for about a week.
    Drawbacks: All you eat is cabbage soup. Dieters essentially lose only water weight, and usually gain back their losses shortly after ditching the plan. They always ditch the plan.
  4. The Master Cleanse

    This diet is perceived to be highly popular with celebrities as a means of detoxing their bodies and shedding those few extra pounds that they probably didn't have in the first place. As such, the Master Cleanse diet has received lots of press, both good and bad. Essentially, the dieter drinks a concoction of lemonade, cayenne pepper, and maple sugar, and foregoes most other forms of sustenance.
    Why It Works: This diet is a liquid-only diet that creates a calorie deficit in its adopter, as well as spurring loss of water weight. If it worked for Beyonce, it'll work for you, right?
    Drawbacks: Doing a Master Cleanse usually involves lots of talking about doing a Master Cleanse. Be prepared to annoy your friends and loved ones, and be reliant on celebrity news outlets for tips and tricks on how to starve yourself with spicy lemonade.
  5. Breathing

    Breatharianism is a lifestyle diet that consists of breathing and worshiping the sun. At the Breatharian Institute of America's website, you can learn how to adopt the diet, as well as pay $10,000 to attend a workshop to truly that includes a trip to "Earth Prime" in the fifth dimension.
    Why It Works: As you are permanently fasting (this includes water, by the way), this extremely dangerous diet will promote weight loss through a calorie deficit.
    Drawbacks: If you actually commit to this diet and life philosophy, you're probably certifiably insane. Also, Breatharianism has been the cause of at least three deaths, due to severe dehydration and organ failure. It doesn't matter how New Age you are, foods and water must be staples of the enlightened life.

  1. The Sleeping Pill Diet

    Also called the Sleeping Beauty Diet, this fad popularized in the 1970s. The idea is simple: if you're sleeping, you can't physically be eating. Popularized by Elvis, The King took this diet plan to new heights, as he underwent total sedation to sleep for days at a time, under the guise of shedding the pounds.
    Why It Works: The rumors are true: if you're sleeping, you can't be eating.
    Drawbacks: Getting addicted to sleeping pills would be pretty rough. And be sure to watch out for any sequined jumpsuits that make their way into your wardrobe.
  2. The Tapeworm Diet

    This diet advocates eating a beef tapeworm that lives inside a cyst. There's no dieting necessary, you just let the tapeworm eat whatever you just ate, and in several months you should simply poop him out.
    Why It Works: The tapeworm lives in your intestines, interfering with your digestion and the absorption of nutrients. This weight loss tactic purports to help its practitioners lose one to two pounds per week, regardless of calories consumed.
    Drawbacks: This weight loss method is illegal in the United States, and is therefore highly unregulated in the diet market. Besides being prohibitively expensive (you'll have to travel and pay for treatment out of pocket), you'll also willingly have a parasite living in your body. Your mother must be so proud.
  3. The Chewing Diet

    Horace Fletcher was a diet fad guru from the early twentieth century. His diet plan consisted of one idea: chewing. "Fletcherizing," as he coined it, was the idea that people ought to chew their food until it liquefied. Fletcher contended that ingesting only liquefied food, and even chewing liquids — to better mix them with your natural saliva, of course – would aid in digestion and promote weight loss.
    Why It Works: Two words: it doesn't.
    Drawbacks: Fiber does not liquefy, and many of the early proponents of Fletcherizing suffered from constipation and malnutrition. And, although chewing your food like a normal person is a good idea, if your entire diet plan is to chew your food too well, you'd probably be better off just joining a gym.
  4. The Roman Vomiting Orgy Diet

    During the heyday of the Roman Empire, vomiting was sometimes induced (and sometimes involuntary) after long stints of feasting, and often during orgies. Vomunt ut edant; edunt ut vomant, coined Seneca, and Cicero commented in his ancient writings that Caesar would often resort to this "making room for more" tactic.
    Why It Works: Obviously, it doesn't. The Roman Empire is but a shadow of the hegemonic behemoth that it once was. But at least you get to go to orgies.
    Drawbacks: This diet is bulimia: the ol' binge and purge. Simple nutrition and common sense proves that this is neither a safe nor effective weight loss tactic, but instead a deadly eating disorder.
  5. Expensive Diets

    Although many diet plans promise less pounds for for more, be wary of extremely expensive diets. Although most of these are relatively safe and proven effective over time, the harm that expensive diets can do is in your pocketbook. If you're motivated to become a healthier, happier human being, eschew the idea of a "dream diet". No gimmick, shake, or pre-made meal can outshine those truly dedicated to live the healthy life.
    Why It Works: Dollar, dollar bills, y'all. And more in your pocket.
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