Fitness and Diet Fads That Don’t Work and Just Might Be Dangerous
Movie stars are (mostly) not medical doctors, dieticians or fitness experts. Working out to keep those abs slim doesn’t magically infuse people with wisdom. And yet, here we are, in an era when celebs are treated as though they know it all.
Everywhere we look, there are endorsements of crazy new (or old) diets and fitness tips. But most of them have little to no value and rarely any scientific backing to recommend them. So, if you’re looking to lose weight, skip these ridiculous fads that could cause a lot of harm.
Extreme Carb Cutting
Probably one of the most-promoted diets out there is the low-carb diet. And while processed carbohydrates — think pasta, store-bought bread, candy bars and pretzels — are definitely not healthy choices for every meal, carbs themselves aren’t a bad thing. Your body uses carbohydrates to perform a number of functions, including producing energy.
Mud Runs and Obstacle Races
Running can be good for weight loss, heart health and overall well-being (save for your joints). And there are loads of races and competitions you can participate in to keep yourself motivated. But one of the fads in recent years involves running through mud and around obstacle courses.
Extreme Fitness Classes
Trying a healthy fitness plan that challenges your muscles and keeps your heart rate up and your calories burning is one of the better things you can do for your body. But then there’s the extreme fitness fad. Be careful with this; super-intense exercise of any kind has been known to cause a condition known as rhabdomyolysis.
Many dieters would love to be able to take a pill and magically melt away excess fat without any extra work. But the reality is that weight-loss pills are pretty much a hoax. There are some that may help with a few aspects of weight loss, but that’s about it.
YouTube Training Videos
One of the easiest ways to get in a workout at home is to put on a DVD or open up YouTube and search for a fitness-routine video. But the reality is that many of the workouts on these videos — specifically YouTube workouts — can be dangerous. Most YouTubers don’t have the educational credentials to put out safe videos.
This popular diet trend isn’t 100% off. Juice cleanses do put some vitamins and minerals into your body if you’re not someone who usually consumes fruits and veggies regularly. But the reality is that juice cleanses do little else. The trend claims that juice cleanses remove toxins from your body — despite the fact that you already have several organs that do this, and they don’t need the juice’s help.
The Macro Diet
While being aware of the macros — grams of fat, protein and carbs — you ingest isn’t a bad thing, only relying on those numbers to determine what you eat can be problematic. A macro diet doesn’t look at the whole picture of your nutrition and doesn’t focus on what types of foods you’re eating.
This is a huge trend in the fitness and diet world that’s been around for a long time, off and on. People with rippling stomachs are routinely all the rage in the fitness-modeling world. But the reality is that many people just don’t have the genetic makeup to develop stomachs like this.
Social Media Fitness and Diet Challenges
One relatively recent trend on social media platforms is all about doing public fitness or diet challenges. The concept is great: Keep each other accountable so that people don’t backslide on their goals or healthy habits.
Drinking “Raw” Water
Some trends are stranger than others, and this is one of the strangest out there. "Raw" water is simply untreated water. There are claims that it’s healthier and full of probiotics and natural substances that provide your body with a host of beneficial health effects, like stronger joints and fewer wrinkles.
The Baby Food Diet
One unusual fad diet that's rumored to have been created by celebrity trainer Tracy Anderson is the baby food diet. It involves eating 14 jars of baby food and only one normal meal per day. While this diet has no written guidelines or records to advertise it, allegedly several Hollywood celebrities have followed it.
Sauna suits, which are made from a variety of waterproof fabrics, allegedly help people lose weight by causing a wearer to sweat more than usual while exercising. In theory, a sauna suit could help increase weight loss by trapping in the heat that exercising causes, making the wearer sweat.
The Cabbage Soup Diet
Both cabbage and soup can be good for your health — if the soup is low enough in sodium. In fact, a good, hearty veggie soup offers a nutritious way to lose weight when it’s full of wholesome ingredients and high-fiber veggies.
Sometimes you just know that your colon is blocked up and needs some assistance. That’s a specific occasion during which a healthy approach to clearing the tubes may be necessary — and you should discuss it with your doctor first. But using colon cleanses to lose weight is a different thing entirely.
Getting a Thigh Gap
One positive thing the fitness community has embraced over the past decade is the idea that "healthy is the new skinny." So, instead of expecting men and women to be supermodel-thin, we’re supposed to focus on getting healthy and fit instead. It sounds better, but there are still some unrealistic expectations with this.
“Clean” Eating Overindulgence
Cleaning eating sounds like the perfect solution to all the madness that our food world has become. But there’s more to this whole thing than just eating clean. In fact, one of the biggest issues with this fad is the idea that because a food is "clean," you can eat as much of it as you want.
The Grapefruit Diet
Grapefruit is good. It’s loaded with vitamins A and C and has some potassium. But when you design your diet around one food only, even if it’s a good food, you’re opening yourself up to health issues.
Arsenic Diet Pills
Diet fads have been around for a long time, and one that dates back to the 19th century is diet pills. The fad that swept the country back then involved using arsenic pills to try and boost the metabolism similarly to the way amphetamines do.
Waist trainers aren’t exactly new, but they’re experiencing a resurgence in popularity. In the days of yore, people also wore waist trainers — or corsets. Remember Scarlett O’Hara and her 17-inch waist? Corset. The results of using a corset? Broken ribs, damaged internal organs and painful back problems throughout life.
The Cotton Ball Diet
This is one of the stranger fads out there. The idea is that a person doesn’t eat while doing the cotton ball diet, but rather dips cotton balls into orange juice, smoothies or lemonade. Then, they eat the cotton balls to get some flavor while "feeling full" thanks to the puffs of fluff.
The HCG Diet
HCG is a hormone that a woman’s body produces during pregnancy. And it’s been part of a diet fad for years now. Severely restricting calories and taking HCG is supposed to make you lose weight in a "healthier" way. The reality is, though, that the method is dangerous.
The Blood-type Diet
This is a unique one that sounds like it’s something scientific — but it’s not. The idea behind the diet is that you eat specific foods based on your blood type. The diet concept comes from naturopathic doctor Peter J. D’Adamo.
The Fasting Diet
A lot of fad diets try to cash in on ideas that sound good on a superficial level. The logic of this diet is that by fasting you can reduce your calorie intake, which will lead to weight loss. While this could show results initially, it’s not at all sustainable for long-term weight-loss.
The Breatharian Diet
Here’s a unique one that’s hard to believe anyone would attempt to follow: the breatharian diet. It’s like being a pescatarian or vegetarian, only you don’t eat fish or veggies. You "eat" air. And that’s it.
10,000 Daily Steps
Pretty much anyone who cares about their weight-loss journey or health in general has heard that we should all walk 10,000 steps each day. That’s several miles, which is a pretty decent distance to get in each day. But as it turns out, the 10,000-step goal was an arbitrary number chosen by marketers, not by medical professionals.
The Apple Cider Vinegar Diet
Here’s another popular diet and health trend that just won’t go away. On it, you’re supposed to mix cayenne pepper, honey and apple cider vinegar together and drink it to boost your metabolism, change your health and drop weight without any additional effort.
The Military Diet
This diet has absolutely nothing to do with the military, so the name is a misnomer. Folks looking for a diet plan that’s healthy and useful for building muscles should look elsewhere. This crazy diet allows a random selection of foods, like hot dogs and cottage cheese, for three days.
The Tapeworm Diet
Here’s another wild one that hopefully you’ve never considered. It involves ingesting tapeworm larvae. The idea originated in the early 1900s and has somehow stuck around. Tapeworms are parasites, and you don’t want parasites in your body.
The “Sleeping Beauty” Diet
The idea behind this one is that you can’t eat if you’re sleeping. And sleeping is good for the body. So, supposedly, there can’t be anything wrong with this idea. The gist is that you sleep more, which prevents you from spending time eating.
The Carnivore Diet
Here’s an interesting one. Besides eating the obvious — meat — the other approved foods for this diet are dairy, fish and eggs. You can think of this as being the anti-vegan diet.