5 Debunked Fad Diets

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There is no shortage of weight loss advice and fad diets that promise to peel pounds off your body in a matter of days. Who doesn’t want an easy solution to the battle of the bulge? Lasting weight loss, however, is about exercising and adopting lifelong healthy eating habits. Too-good-to-be-true fad diets are typically short-term solutions—if they work at all.

5 The Grapefruit Diet

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The Grapefruit Diet doesn’t promise a lot in terms of weight loss. Its allure is that it is based on the “fact” that grapefruit contains a fat-burning enzyme. Too bad there’s no scientific basis in that statement. Grapefruit is good for you, but it’s not a magical fat burner. This diet is also extremely restrictive, allowing only 800 to 1,000 calories per day and narrow food options. Anyone trying to exist on such meager amounts of food is going to drop pounds, but the results are short-lived because you won’t be changing your longterm eating habits.

4 The Cabbage Soup Diet

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Who doesn’t love the deliciously rank aroma of boiled cabbage? The Cabbage Soup Diet involves eating all the cabbage soup you can shove down your gullet—and a few vegetables, meats and fruit—for 10 days. Which additional foods you’re allowed to eat depends on the day. This diet fad promises you’ll drop as many as 15 pounds over 10 days, possibly because of the hours you spend on the toilet after eating all that cabbage. Sadly, once you resume a healthy diet, the weight is likely to come back—and you may risk stomach issues because of a lack of nutrients.

3 The Atkins Diet

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In the 1970s, Dr. Robert Atkins created a diet that cuts out carbohydrates so that your body will burn off fat. Like the Master Cleanse, the Atkins Diet fad just refuses to go away. During its four phases, the first being where you cut out all carbohydrates, you gradually add a few carbs and some other types of food. You can eat all the meat, eggs and butter you want, which is fantastic, but the problem with the Atkins Diet and low-carb diets in general is that you’re trimming off water weight, not fat. Although it promises you will lose up to 15 pounds in the first two weeks, this kind of rapid weight loss never lasts.

2 The Master Cleanse

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Imagine drinking only a 2-liter mixture of water, lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne pepper, chased with a warm glass of salt water right before bed, every day for two weeks. This torturous diet is called the Master Cleanse, a fad that debuted in 1941 and continues to slip in and out of popularity. Apparently, the tasty concoction you chug alleviates the feeling of hunger and you do lose weight, but that’s because you’re taking in zero calories. Once you resume eating, which you must if you want to live, the pounds come back.

1 The 8-Hour Diet

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The 8-Hour Diet instructs you to eat whatever you want for eight hours, as long as you eat nothing for the remaining 16 hours. This diet promises rapid weight loss, but fasting for 16 hours per day is likely to stress your body. When your body is stressed, it produces excessive amounts of cortisol, which is a fat storage hormone that helps build belly fat. Not sounding so fantastic now, is it? While you will lose water, which will drop pounds, you will not lose actual fat.

Renee Miller began writing professionally in 2008, contributing to websites and local newspapers. She is co-founder of On Fiction Writing, a website for writers, and she's published a couple of novels. She views humor and sarcasm like she does bacon and chocolate: there's no such thing as too much.

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