Everybody you know is looking to lose weight quickly. It may be for a specific event like a wedding, or to improve appearance, or simply to achieve results without any actual effort. Diets and diet products may seem like just the thing you need in such situations. These so-called miracle workers, don’t work in reality. In fact, they do you more harm than good.
You’d want to stay away from these quick fixes and weight loss trends.
The Fluid Diets
1. Meal Replacement Shakes
In these diets, meals are replaced with shakes that are formulated to give you nutrients, protein, and fiber. However, some versions of these diets recommend a dangerously low daily caloric intake. One suggested a daily intake of 440 calories.1 In comparison, the average caloric intake for a healthy woman should be around 2000 calories and for a healthy man, 2,500 calories. Most nutritionists advise that one should not dip below 1,200 calories a day and strongly advise an absolute lower limit of 800 calories per day if you’re really in a pinch. Previous versions of these diets have even resulted in deaths due to sudden weight loss. These deaths were caused by a thinning of certain heart fibers, which is a common result of sudden starvation.2
Here are the problems with this so-called ‘quick fix’:
- Rebound weight gain is extremely common after discontinuing the diet.3
- Drinking shakes for meals doesn’t promote healthy eating habits.
- Most people feel a sense of dissatisfaction from not having something to ‘sink their teeth into’, literally.
- As a result of this, people end up binge eating more than they did before the diet.4
- It can be unsafe if undertaken without medical supervision and with such low caloric intakes.
2. Juice Cleanses
This method is another example of the obsession with fluids. It can range from 1 day to 3 weeks during which the only foods allowed, are fresh juices, clear liquids, raw fruits, and vegetables. It may even involve sipping on only a specific liquid throughout the day such as beet juice or fresh orange juice. The main goal is rid your body of toxins and accumulated fat.
This is why this method may not quite work:
- While it may seem successful, the majority of lost weight is most likely water.
- This kind of diet doesn’t cultivate healthy eating habits either.
- These cleanses may result in muscle loss due to lack of protein.
- There are mechanisms in place for your body to rid itself of toxins. Detox may be an unnecessary regime.
- There is no evidence that these diets benefit weight loss or healthy weight maintenance in the long run.
- This is also a low-calorie diet which may not provide you enough energy for the day and leave you feeling fatigued.
3. Carb Blockers
These pills are supposed to inhibit the function of alpha-amylase, an enzyme used in the breakdown of carbs into sugar.5 It has been shown to result in moderate weight loss in people that ate plenty of carbs. However, there are quite a few downsides.
Here is why carb blockers may not be the miracle pill they’re marketed to be:
- The pill only slows down the action of the amylase enzyme and not the actual digestion of the carbs.
- Studies show that the pill only causes a negligible decrease in the carbohydrates broken down and calories consumed.6
- It can have side effects like bloating and diarrhea in some people.
- These pills cannot be your only remedy for weight loss as they are not very reliable.
4. Fat Burner Pills
It already sounds too good to be true. And it is. The active ingredient in these pills is caffeine which has been shown to boost metabolism. However, these pills may also contain other ingredients which can cause more harm than good.
This is why they shouldn’t be an option in your diet plan:
- Some of these pills contain usnic acid which has been linked to liver damage.7
- DNP is another ‘weight loss aid’ that may be used in these pills. It is an extremely dangerous industrial chemical which has been linked to deaths resulting from overdoses.8
- There haven’t been enough studies to prove that they are as effective as they claim to be.
- The same effect may be safely obtained by simply consuming a moderate amount of strong coffee.
5. Raspberry Ketones
Raspberry ketones are a substance found in raspberries and other red berries that are responsible for the actual flavor of the berry. In fact, the substance is synthetically produced to be used as a flavoring in commercial foods, as well as cosmetics and fragrances. Ketones are marketed as a weight loss solution for its supposed ability to increase the level of certain hormones that boost metabolism.9
Here is why those claims may not be quite true:
- Research shows that it may boost weight loss in obese people only when combined with other supplements, exercise, and healthy eating practices.10
- Another study noted that there was no significant difference between metabolic rates in those that consumed ketones when compared to those who took a placebo pill.11
- Research conducted on rats showed that weight loss occurred with the use of very high doses of ketones. There may be unpredictable consequences if administered in the same proportion in humans.12
6. Eating Only One Kind Of Food
This sounds like it would be a great deal on the surface. You’re allowed to eat as much you want of one kind of food. This can be eggs, fruits, or vegetables. It’s called monotrophic eating. The logic is that you tire of eating that one type of food quickly and automatically end up decreasing your calorie count,
Here’s why this is not as easy as it sounds
- No one food contains all the nutrients you need to function on a daily basis.
- It is impractical to keep up in the long run as the monotony will bore you and ignite cravings.
- No studies have confirmed it’s actual effectiveness but most people who have tried out this method claim that there is usually weight gain once the diet stops.
7. Crash Diets
There are some amusing examples of fad diets and crash diets. For example:
- The five-bite diet: You can eat anything you wish to but only five bites per meal.
- The baby food diet: One or two meals are replaced with several jars of baby food at one-hour intervals throughout the day.
Jokes aside, while these diets sound fun and doable, they’re not the best way to go about weight loss. Here’s why these fad diets remain just that, a fad:
- They are not formulated with a scientific basis.
- They may work in the short run and actually produce results but as with most of the other ‘quick fixes’ on this list, they get monotonous and soon cravings and hunger kick in.
- It results in weight gain after discontinuing the diet.
- The person is more likely to feel guilty after the weight gain and try out another crash diet. This spirals into an unhealthy cycle of weight fluctuation.
The healthy route to weight loss may not be the fastest or the most convenient but it’s the one that will give you the best and most long lasting results. People who put aside this mindset of a quick fix find it easier to continue on a well-balanced diet because it gives them enough energy for their day, involves a variety of foods and a healthy amount of regular physical activity. It’s more than just a cosmetic fix. It strengthens your body from the inside and keeps it healthy.
|↑1||Wadden, Thomas A., Albert J. Stunkard, Kelly D. Brownell, and Theodore B. Van Itallie. “The Cambridge diet: more mayhem?.” JAMA 250, no. 20 (1983): 2833-2834.|
|↑2||Isner, JEFFREY M., HAROLD E. Sours, ALLEN L. Paris, VICTOR J. Ferrans, and WILLIAM C. Roberts. “Sudden, unexpected death in avid dieters using the liquid-protein-modified-fast diet. Observations in 17 patients and the role of the prolonged QT interval.” Circulation 60, no. 6 (1979): 1401-1412.|
|↑3||Chang, Julia, and Sangeeta R. Kashyap. “The protein-sparing modified fast for obese patients with type 2 diabetes: what to expect.” Cleveland Clinic journal of medicine 81, no. 9 (2014): 557-565.|
|↑4||Wadden, Thomas A., Gary D. Foster, David B. Sarwer, Drew A. Anderson, Madeline Gladis, Rebecca S. Sanderson, R. V. Letchak, Robert I. Berkowitz, and Suzanne Phelan. “Dieting and the development of eating disorders in obese women: results of a randomized controlled trial.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 80, no. 3 (2004): 560-568.|
|↑5||Mosca, Maurizio, Concetta Boniglia, Brunella Carratù, Stefania Giammarioli, Valentina Nera, and Elisabetta Sanzini. “Determination of α-amylase inhibitor activity of phaseolamin from kidney bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) in dietary supplements by HPAEC-PAD.” Analytica chimica acta 617, no. 1 (2008): 192-195.|
|↑6||Brugge, William R., and Michael S. Rosenfeld. “Impairment of starch absorption by a potent amylase inhibitor.” American Journal of Gastroenterology 82, no. 8 (1987).|
|↑7||Durazo, Francisco A., Charles Lassman, Steven HB Han, Sammy Saab, Nancy P. Lee, Marvin Kawano, Bob Saggi et al. “Fulminant liver failure due to usnic acid for weight loss.” The American journal of gastroenterology 99, no. 5 (2004): 950-952.|
|↑8||Grundlingh, Johann, Paul I. Dargan, Marwa El-Zanfaly, and David M. Wood. “2, 4-dinitrophenol (DNP): a weight loss agent with significant acute toxicity and risk of death.” Journal of Medical Toxicology 7, no. 3 (2011): 205-212.|
|↑9||Ohashi, Koji, Daisuke Yuasa, Rei Shibata, Toyoaki Murohara, and Noriyuki Ouchi. “Adiponectin as a target in obesity-related inflammatory state.” Endocrine, Metabolic & Immune Disorders-Drug Targets (Formerly Current Drug Targets-Immune, Endocrine & Metabolic Disorders) 15, no. 2 (2015): 145-150.|
|↑10||Lopez, Hector L., Tim N. Ziegenfuss, Jennifer E. Hofheins, Scott M. Habowski, Shawn M. Arent, Joseph P. Weir, and Arny A. Ferrando. “Eight weeks of supplementation with a multi-ingredient weight loss product enhances body composition, reduces hip and waist girth, and increases energy levels in overweight men and women.” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 10, no. 1 (2013): 22.|
|↑11||Salacinski, Amanda J., Steven M. Howell, Danielle L. Hill, and Steven M. Mauk. “The Acute Effects of Nonstimulant Over-the-Counter Dietary Herbal Supplements on Resting Metabolic Rate.” Journal of dietary supplements 13, no. 4 (2016): 368-377.|
|↑12||Morimoto, Chie, Yurie Satoh, Mariko Hara, Shintaro Inoue, Takahiro Tsujita, and Hiromichi Okuda. “Anti-obese action of raspberry ketone.” Life sciences 77, no. 2 (2005): 194-204.|