10 Fad Diets to Never TryPosted on Jul 13th 2011 12:00PM by Emma Gray
While it's great to know what we should be doing to make healthy eating choices (especially since 66 percent of adults in the U.S. are overweight or obese), it's clear that societal pressures to look a certain way (read: thin) push people to look for quick fixes to their weighty woes.
"[Sometimes] people are desperate. And that's a case in point," says Cheryl Forberg, R.D. and resident nutritionist for NBC's "The Biggest Loser." This desperation may contribute to the proliferation of "fad diets" -- those weight loss plans that spur news headlines, but do little for your health -- in the U.S.
Founding director of Yale University's Prevention Research Center and HuffPost Blogger, David Katz, M.D., M.P.H., FACPM, FACP, has a rule of thumb when it comes to assessing the validity of a diet: "If it's not something a parent can share with a child, it is apt to be a very questionable approach."
We spoke to some experts to put together a list of 10 diets that decidedly break Dr. Katz's golden rule. Are there any other diets that you think we should have included?
Cabbage Soup Diet
The Cabbage Soup Diet is a quick fix -- you can only follow the diet plan for seven days at a time. During that week, you can only eat fruits, vegetables and, of course, cabbage soup (staying true to the diet's moniker).
Although followers of this diet often do lose weight, according to Forberg, most of that loss consists of water weight. Not only will the pounds come back on easily, but ultimately, who wants to eat cabbage soup for a week?
The Grapefruit Diet is also built around limiting calories by greatly minimizing the foods that one is "allowed" to eat. This eating plan, which has been around since the 1930s, sets out a specific set of foods that dieters can eat for meals, which include unsweetened grapefruit juice, black coffee, non-starchy vegetables and some fish and meats.
This diet is hooked on the belief that grapefruit possesses a "fat-burning" quality -- on top of being a source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C and dietary fiber. "The problem with [this] idea is that no science supports [this] claim, and the weight loss the diet triggers is due to the low calorie intake. This ... can rarely be maintained," says Connie Diekman, M.Ed., R.D., L.D., FADA, director of university nutrition at Washington University in St. Louis.
Although it's been around since the 1950s, the HCG Diet has received quite a bit of press over the past year. Requiring dieters to take in only 500 calories a day -- while the lowest intake recommended by the U.S. Committee on Dietary Allowance is 1,200 calories -- HCG couples caloric restriction with injections of the human choriogonadotropin (HCG) hormone. The hormone is supposed to stimulate weight loss. However, the FDA has approved the hormone treatment for women having fertility issues at this point, but not for weight loss.
Although some experts, such as Dr. Oz, have stated that the diet plan should be researched further, others argue that it is wholly dangerous. "[The HCG diet] features hormone injections ... that are as useful as Dumbo's feather, but that justify a very high cost. The real reason for weight loss is a starvation diet ... which can, in fact, be lethal," says Dr. Katz. Forberg cautions against trying any diet where the caloric intake is so low that exercise is inadvisable. "You don't want to lose your muscle," she says.
Sleeping Beauty Diet
The images conjured up by the Sleeping Beauty Diet's name turn out to be fairly accurate. The plan encourages people to sedate themselves for a few days to "sleep off" weight. The King of Rock 'n Roll himself, Elvis Presley, reportedly was a fan of this diet plan.
While there is evidence that suggests that sleep deprivation hinders weight loss efforts, the answer isn't to jump to the other extreme -- especially when you need sleep aids to do it.
To continue reading and find out what the other six diets are that made the list, visit The Huffington Post's health and wellness destination site, Healthy Living.