15 Outrageous Fad Diets & What They Are Really Doing To You

Each month, over 1 million searches are made online in the hopes of finding a quick fix to weight loss problems. With over 50% of Americans being overweight, these numbers are not surprising. What is surprising, though, is how many people turn to quick weight loss fads to try and drop 10 to 30 pounds in a single month.

Some of the fad diets are kind of silly and rely on beliefs rather than science. If a person believes enough in the diet, maybe something will happen. This is the placebo effect. Other fad diets are known to be quite dangerous. They might require the dieter to eat too few or no calories over a long period of time in order to lose weight. Some of these diets promote the use of drugs that may or may not be linked to weight loss, and some require dieters to inhale poisons that can lead to cancer or death.

Of all the diets that have come and gone, there are fifteen that have either survived through the decades as a quick diet fix or that are fairly new on the scene. Each falls into its own niche of “why on earth would someone do that to themselves” when the best solution to weight loss lies in portion control, eating healthy foods, and daily exercise.

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15 Corset Training


Kim Kardashian did it and now Khloe Kardashian is doing it. Waist training is popular once again. Before the bra was patented in the early 1900s, women wore corsets. Doctors believed that it was essential that women wore them to hold their organs in place. Today, the corset is worn to promote weight loss. While the corset does not, by itself, cause weight loss, its tightness around the midsection can reduce the amount of food a person eats. Because it is so tight, many people who have worn a corset have felt sick after eating. Their stomach can’t expand as they eat, and it leaves the wearer feeling like they need to throw up.

14 Cabbage Soup Diet


Imagine spending a week eating cabbage soup almost exclusively. Could you do it? Or, more importantly, should you do it? Of all the fad diets on this page, the cabbage diet has to be the tamest one, but it still belongs on a list of ridiculous diets. While people have claimed to have lost up to ten pounds in a week while eating only cabbage soup, the critics are quick to point out that the weight will quickly be gained back on after they return to their normal diet. The only weight people are losing on this diet is water and muscle weight. No fat weight is lost. Also, the strict drop in caloric intake may cause people to suffer from severe headaches and lightheadedness. The loss of energy also hampers a person’s ability to exercise.

13 Sleeping Beauty Diet

Wouldn’t it be great if you could go to sleep for a few days and wake up thinner? That is the whole idea behind the Sleeping Beauty diet. Made popular back in the 1960s and 1970s by Elvis Presley, people wanting to lose weight would go on a strict diet of sleeping pills to sleep off extra pounds. This diet is rife with health hazards and could cause an addiction to sleeping pills and malnutrition. Even after the weight is lost, it does not stay off and will be quickly regained after the dieter returns to her normal eating and drinking habits.

12 Ear Stapling

If you want to experiment with weight loss fads that don’t work and you are into body piercings, then look no further than ear stapling. For this “diet”, people get sterilized, medical staples punctured into their ear cartilage. In a practice that supposedly mimics acupuncture, it is believed that the staples penetrate the pressure point associated with the appetite and reduces a person’s feeling of hunger. There is no scientific backing for the claims and some report that it might work for a few days or weeks as a placebo, but it would inevitably fail as a long term diet plan.

11 Cotton Ball Diet

What if you could fill up your stomach with something that has next to no calories and takes the edge off of your hunger? That’s what girls as young as nine-years-old are doing to fit in with America’s obsession with skinniness. YouTube videos show girls and young women dipping up to five cotton balls in lemon juice, orange juice, or some other liquid and swallowing them in the hopes of feeling full and losing weight. The real problem with this fad is that most cotton balls are not made from real, organic cotton. Instead, they are made from synthetic cotton, polyester fibers, and the stomach cannot digest these types of cotton balls. The chemically treated fibers sit in the stomach and eventually form a bezoar that can cause obstructions or blockages and will need to be surgically removed.

10 The Air Diet

Who doesn’t love the smell of freshly baked desserts, but would the smell be enough for you to live on? The air diet, practiced by breatharians, involves practitioners going through the motions of preparing to eat. They will put food on their plates, cut it, and then lift it to their mouths. But the food stops there. Instead of placing the food in their mouths and eating it like a sensible person, they inhale the flavor of the food. When they are done, the food returns to their plates, uneaten. If they really must eat something, they are allowed to consume a water and salt soup (may as well be stone soup). This diet fad gained popularity in 2010 and is reportedly practiced by the “real life Barbie,” Valeria Lukyanova.

9 Drunkorexia Diet

Here’s a fad diet that is sadly gaining popularity among middle aged women. Women are reducing their caloric intake from food in order to take in those calories from alcoholic drinks. By doing this, some women are finding that they can have daily alcoholic drinks and not gain the weight commonly associated with too many cocktails and beers. The problem with this is that women are becoming alcoholics in the process. Their dependence on alcohol increases their risk of breast cancer, inflammation of the liver, and other health problems.

8 Cigarette Diet

A popular diet fad back in the 1920s, smoking cigarettes in order to lose weight remains popular among women today. The idea behind this diet is that nicotine can suppress the appetite and help us control our eating habits. The only real problem with this is that smoking can cause a host of other problems, such as lung cancer, yellowed fingernails, and the loss of teeth. Maybe cutting back on unhealthy foods and exercising isn’t such a bad thing. It sure beats the side effects of smoking cigarettes.

7 5 Bite Diet

The 5 bite diet almost makes sense as far as fad diets go. The basic premise is that we skip eating breakfast in the morning. For lunch, we may eat five bites of anything we want and, for dinner, we can have another five bites of whatever we want. We can only drink no-calorie liquids such as water, diet drinks, or black tea with no sugar or lemon. After three days, hunger pangs should lessen as our stomach shrinks, but by only taking a total of 10 bites of food a day, we are denying essential vitamins, minerals, and proteins our body needs to be healthy. While the diet recommends that we take supplements to make sure our body is getting the essentials, as soon as we have lost the extra weight, we are supposed to return to our regular eating habits. This means that we will regain all the weight we have struggled to lose. The better way to go about this would be to learn healthier eating patterns. After all, if we can torture ourselves with 10 bites a day for 30 or 60 days, we should be able to learn about properly portioning our food, eating less calories found in fresh vegetables, fruit, and meat, and avoiding the hunger pains altogether.

6 Tapeworms


Would you swallow a parasite egg if it meant you might get thinner? Tapeworms were all the rage in fad diets back in the 1920s when women would swallow a capsule containing a tapeworm egg. They believed that this tapeworm would hatch, latch on in the intestines, and begin eating the food they ate. Not only did these women play host to parasites, they may have also experienced stomach pains, bloating, and weakness. And, to top it off, there is that rare occasion that having tapeworms can kill a person. In spite of the dangers and yuck factor that goes along with this diet, people are still purchasing tapeworm eggs online in the hopes that these little buggers will eat away their fat.

5 Fletcherism

We can thank Horace Fletcher for this strange diet. Fletcher believed that the key to weight loss was in how you chewed your food. Each mouthful of food would require up to hundreds of chews before the juices could be swallowed. The remaining fibers in your mouth, however, had to be spit out. Practitioners believed that by chewing the food so much, you were gaining only the beneficial essences and vitamins from the food and that by spitting out the rest, you were ridding yourself of the bulk that put on weight.

4 HCG Diet

The HCG diet is yet another starve yourself diet, but with a twist. People on this diet consume a mere 500 calories a day. They top off the unhealthily low caloric intake with daily injections of HCG, a drug approved by the FDA as an infertility treatment. Supporters of this diet believe that the injections help them drop the pounds, but there is no proof that hCG accelerates weight loss.

3 Apple Cider Vinegar

People use apple cider vinegar for beauty and some drink it for the health benefits. Now people are saying that it helps them lose weight. The trick is, they say, to drink a bit of it before sitting down to eat a meal. This is supposed to help curb a person’s appetite and can cause an upset stomach. While drinking apple cider vinegar in small amounts doesn’t generally cause any harm, continued use can damage teeth enamel because it is highly acidic. It can also cause a sore throat and, in some cases, lower potassium levels.

2 Freegan Diet

The freegan diet began in the United States and has spread over to European countries. Its most basic rule is that you can eat anything that is free and vegetarian. Freegans may dumpster dive for their food several times a week. On occasion, they will also gather natural foods from the wild or from parks. Many people become freegans to make a statement and to stop good, unused food from going to waste and filling up the landfills. They often dumpster dive outside of high quality food stores and the dumpsters outside of charity shops. Whether this helps a person lose weight is debatable. There is always the risk of food poisoning or eating food that has spoiled. However, the exercise required for dumpster diving and walking the woods in search of naturally growing food may prove a benefit, in spite of the diet.

1 Hard Boiled Eggs

A hard boiled egg can be made in a pinch and one egg has only 60 to 70 calories. It sounds like the perfect diet food and, for Nicole Kidman who needed to lose weight for the movie “Cold Mountain,” the diet worked perfectly. Kidman ate one hard boiled egg for breakfast and two hardboiled eggs for dinner. That is about 210 calories a day and it is a very extreme way to lose weight. The diet deprives you of essential minerals and vitamins you would otherwise gain from eating vegetables and it is nearly impossible to maintain an exercise routine while on the diet because you will not have the energy to work out. The diet can also cause constipation and gas, keeping your friends and love ones at a far distance.

Sources: abcnews.go.comshape.combbc.comhuffingtonpost.com

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