By Jennifer Fields
and Mary Kearl
Fad diets are so alluring with their promises of fast weight loss and their skinny celebrity followers. The problem is that they're often unhealthy and make outrageous claims that are untrue. Here's a roundup of the some of the most strict and downright ridiculous diets around and the famous names that champion them.
Eat bananas for breakfast and lose weight? That sounds easy enough. But the Morning Banana Diet -- such a craze in Japan that grocery stores there can't keep the fruit in stock -- involves a little bit more than just eating this favorite breakfast food. On this plan, which is supposed to boost metabolism, you'll eat one or more bananas with room-temperature water for breakfast and have an optional snack at 3 p.m. You can eat anything you want for lunch and dinner. There are no desserts, dinner has to be eaten by 8 p.m. and you have to go to bed by midnight. Does it work? Japanese opera singer Kumiko Mori announced on a TV show that she lost 15 pounds using the Morning Banana Diet. The creator's husband is also said to have lost 37 pounds. We're not sure those two instances count as solid proof of its effectiveness, but this diet certainly rates high on wackiness.
C is for Cookie
We like the sound of any diet that involves eating cookies and promises you'll lose 15 pounds in a month. Sanford Siegal, M.D., is the creator of the Cookie Diet in which followers eat six of his specially formulated cookies along with one meal a day. It's not surprising people lose weight on this diet, considering they're eating a mere 800 calories a day -- a calorie count so low that experts would classify this as a crash diet that is not sustainable. We classify it as just plain crazy.
Kevin Trudeau's book, 'The Weight Loss Cure,' made HCG a household name. HCG, a hormone extracted from the urine of pregnant women, is used to treat reproductive problems, but injections of the hormone are also thought to curb appetite. We suspect any weight loss might be the result of the 500-calorie-a-day diet you're supposed to follow on the plan, not necessarily the self- or doctor-adminstered shots. The FDA denies weight loss claims about HCG, but the hard-to-find shots are still widely sought after. Aside from the obvious ick factor, there are some intense side effects including water retention, mood alterations, headaches, and high blood pressure. Men who receive the injections may get positive results on pregnancy tests.
Who wouldn't go for a diet that promises you can eat whatever you want and as much as you want? But the s have more than one third of your daily sodium allowance. 'Alternate-Day Diet' by James B. Johnson, M.D., has a pretty big catch: You can only indulge every other day; on alternate days you'll be eating a mere 200 to 1000 calories total. Switching between overeating and starving sounds like torture, but does it work? A review published in a 2005 issue of the 'American Journal of Clinical Nutrition' found that non-obese followers of the plan did lose weight on the diet, but they reported high levels of hunger and irritability that would likely prevent this from becoming a long-term plan.
Pain in the Rear
Sure, the Martha's Vineyard Diet calls for mud treatments, but following it is no day at the spa. You'll also be drinking most of your meals and enduring weekly colonics and enemas. Robin Quivers does look great since she tried the detox, but with all those trips to the spa, this diet is heavy on the pocketbook and light on lasting results.
Diet in Vein
Any diet that requires a test of your blood type raises our eyebrows. And depending on the results, you could be stuck shopping for an all-veggie diet or one where the main component is veal. Why? the Blood Type Diet claims certain foods react differently with various blood types. A better idea than eating politically incorrect meat? Cut back on your portions.
Cuckoo for Coconuts
Another contender in the realm of the single-food eating plan is the Coconut Diet. Jennifer Aniston swore by this plan where you load up on coconut oil (Almond Joy doesn't count), which is supposed to boost metabolism and help you lose weight quickly. Most experts agree you should limit coconut in your diet because it's rich in saturated fat which can raise cholesterol, so it's best to avoid this one.
Voluptuous Kate Winslet swears the Facial Analysis Diet helped her drop baby weight. On this wacky plan, a so-called facial analyst proposes a special diet based on food intolerances revealed in the texture of your skin, eyes and hair. But the only reason this diet ever works is because people tend to drink more water, get more sleep and eat more fruits and vegetables while on it.
Beyoncé revived interest in the Master Cleanse when she used the juice fast to slim down for 'Dream Girls.' Drinking a mix of maple syrup, lemon juice, water and cayenne pepper for days is hardly a healthy approach to weight loss. Even Beyoncé said she wouldn't advise anyone follow her diet lead.
Soup's On ... Always
All soup all the time should be the motto of the Cabbage Soup Diet. Sarah Michelle Gellar is a famous follower of the plan in which you slurp soup made from a watery mix of cabbage, peppers, onions and celery for seven days. It's no surprise that you lose weight because you're not eating much, but after your soup fast is over, the pounds pile back on.
If you hate to exercise then you'll no doubt be tempted to try the Cardio Free Diet, which asserts that cardio workouts are bad for your health so you skip them altogether. The diet, which has fitness and nutrition experts up in arms for the author's disregard of mountains of evidence that cardio workouts are essential to good health, is another case of an author making outrageous diet claims to sell more books.
Due to is supposed fat-burning properties, the Grapefruit Diet calls for eating half a grapefruit before every meal and has lured in the likes of Brooke Shields and Kylie Minogue. It sounds easy enough, except that your meals are also miniscule. In total, you'll consume a scant 800 calories a day on this starvation diet -- which is the real secret to its temporary weight-loss results.
Even birth control pills are banned on the Fat Flush Diet, which aims to detoxify your liver and increase your fat-burning potential. Prepare for two weeks without alcohol or caffeine and barely any carbs on it; instead you'll load up on flaxseed oil, a cranberry juice and water concoction and lots of supplements. Not only is there no evidence that the diet results in weight loss, there's no proof that you even need to flush your liver.