Top 10 Diets Doing It Wrong

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According to Gallup, 51% of Americans want to lose weight, and about half that number are seriously trying. Whatever we’re doing, though, it’s not working: Americans are about 15 pounds chubbier than they were in 1990. The truth is, we have no idea how many people will succeed at losing weight; but we do know that the most successful dieters follow a simple strategy: eating less, eating healthier, and exercising. Apparently the weight loss cliche – “calories in, calories out” has some truth in it. How boring.

“But hey,” the fad dieters out there might say. “It’s a challenge always counting calories all the time!” If counting calories is hard, we certainly don’t want to try these crazy fad diets. Talk about hard–they require way more effort than just counting calories. In this list, we included the most crazy and dangerous diets we could find.

10. The Tongue Patch Diet

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The tongue is a marvellous matrix of muscles. Virtually inexhaustible, it’s made up of a bunch of muscles that do all kinds of things, allowing us to taste and swallow food–and do important functions like forming words so we can talk. The tongue is pretty awesome. That’s what makes this first diet, um, particularly hard to swallow. As it were.

The tongue patch diet – which entails a stamp-sized tongue patch sewn onto the tongue – isn’t actually a medieval torture device (although it sounds like it should be in a list of “particularly cruel and unusual punishment devices”). No, the tongue patch is a modern cosmetic surgery that allegedly helps people lose up to 30 pounds a month by, well, forcing them not to eat. This patch makes eating so painful that people with tongue patches can only consume liquids.

Risks of a tongue patch include lots of pain, infection of the tongue, looking weird when you start drooling for no reason, and oh–the risk of it dislodging, swallowing it, and choking to death. We’ll pass, thanks.

9. The Cotton Ball Diet

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Perhaps, like us, you went through life thinking that people would never sit down and eat a big bag of inedible organic fibre–like cotton, for example. Like idiots, we certainly thought that. We blindly believe that no one would ever look longingly at a Q-tip.

We were so, so wrong.

Cotton is a natural, breathable fibre that grows on plants and is awesome because it’s comfortable and easy to wash–and we like it so much we produce about 25 million tons of it every year.

For clothing. Not for food.

Now, it’s apparently a thing where some people eat cotton balls as part of a diet strategy. First, to make this dry, inedible fibre tasty, such dieters first soak the cotton balls into something sweet like orange juice. Then they eat the cotton balls.

Naturally, this poses two big issues. First: cotton balls don’t offer humans the life-sustaining nourishment usually offered by other foodstuffs. Second: cotton balls can get lodged in our body, leading to a mass of big cotton blockage in our digestive tracts called a bezoar. This leads to things like choking, gastric ulcers, intestinal bleeding, and gangrene.

The good news? A big cotton bezoar in your gut can help reduce appetite. But since it can lead to tissue death and requires surgical removal, we think you should probably leave cotton for your clothing.

8. The Kimkins Diet

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Very low calorie diets – diets under 800 calories – entail risks like fatigue, nausea, diarrhea, hair loss, heart arrhythmia, stroke, and brain haemorrhage. For that reason, very low calorie diets should be taken up only upon supervision of a doctor. That’s one reason this next diet is particularly crazy.

The Kimkins diet – including its fake testimonials and reports of lethargy, hair loss, irregular heart beat, and fainting – can be all yours for $59.99.

The Kimkins Diet achieved popularity due to an embarrassingly bad 2007 article by Woman’s World Magazine (that the magazine has since apologized for). This diet calls for eating about 500 calories a day and replacing with laxatives–both of which are dangerous practices.

This dangerous dietary regimen is advised – not by a doctor or nutritionist, but – by a morbidly obese gal by the name of Heidi Kimberly “Kimmer” Diaz, a woman who used a picture of a Russian model to fake a 200lb weight loss. She was sued in a class action lawsuit, and has since filed for bankruptcy.

7. Red Bull Diet

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Red Bull may not actually give you wings, but even a single can of the stuff can give you a heightened risk of heart attack and stroke. That’s one of the reasons this next diet is, uh, a little crazy.

23 year-old New Zealand woman Brooke Robertson, hoping to lose a little post-baby weight, took to drinking 14 cans of Red Bull a day. 14 cans. A day. Let’s put that into context:

A 12-pack of Red Bull’ll run you over $18 a day–so, not exactly cheap. Next, 14 cans of Red Bull equals about 1,540 calories a day (even more than the often-recommended 1,200 calories a day for women on a diet). 14 cans of Red Bull has a whopping 378 grams of sugar per day–an amount equal to eating 94.5 sugar cubes a day. Holy moly, that’s a lot of sugar. Especially for someone on a “diet.”

Suffice it to say, Brooke lost about 45kg on this diet–probably from having a raging case of insomnia, jitters, and a massive caffeine addiction. It didn’t end too well, though, and Brooke had a heart attack, a two week hospital stay, and a current heart murmur that won’t go away, as well as constant pain, cramping, and anxiety. Um, no pain, no gain? We think maybe we’ll just cut out the calories next time.

6. Corset Diet

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For about 400 years – particularly during the Victoria era – corsets were a fashionable way of dress for women (and, er, some “Dandies”), despite being viewed also as an “instrument of torture” and female oppression.

For a woman on the corset diet, she’ll start out wearing corsets about 2-4 hours a day, and work up to an impressive 12 hours, upping by 30 minutes a week. Apparently, Jessica Alba swears by it. What could be wrong with that?

Well, the problem with corsets is that it can crush people’s ribs and internal organs. But what’s a little crushed organs if you can lose weight? Except it also restricts oxygen, and can damage the liver, spleen, and kidneys (it turns out that those organs need oxygen). Sorry, Jessica Alba–we’ll stick to the doctors and registered dieticians on this one.

5. Ear Stapling

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Acupuncture can be traced back to China about 2,500 years ago. One assumption of acupuncture is that our bodies have various “acupuncture points” that can provide relief. There is contradictory evidence of the efficacy of acupuncture.

A loose derivate of acupuncture is ear stapling. During this procedure, small staples are placed in the inner cartilage of the ear, and left in for several weeks (or several months). Allegedly, this helps to stimulate appetite control.

So what’s the problem? This procedure is often performed by people without a medical license. Sometimes it’s performed in the back of people’s cars, or at state fairs. And it carries significant risk of infection and permanent disfigurement–and there is no proof that it works.

4. Feeding Tube Diet

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One of the grossest diets out there is the feeding tube diet (a.k.a. the K-E – or Ketogenic Enternal Nutrition – Diet). This diet was created by Dr. Oliver Di Pietro. It involves carrying around a bag of fluid, and wearing a nose drip.

A nose drip. That runs from the nose to the stomach. For ten days. Gross.

The feeding tube diet promises that people can lose up to 20 pounds in ten days… and virtually guarantees they’ll look disgusting while doing it. Risks include bad breath, constipation, tiredness, emotional challenges, regaining the weight, and well–the absolute grossness of the nose tube that connects to your stomach. Pass.

3. Clen

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Forget cocaine and Adderall. The next insane drug that celebrities are rumoured to be taking by the truckload is a hormone growth stimulant called Clenbuterol – “Clen” – which is approved as a steroid to treat respiratory illnesses in horses.

Horses. Not humans. It’s not even approved for animals that will enter our food chain.

Now used by some particularly crazy dieters and athletes, its side effects include nausea, dizziness, drowsiness, tremors, vomiting, palpitations, and arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat)–and can cause poisoning. Unless you’re a horse, you’ll probably want to stick with good ‘ol cocaine–or better yet, pass on drugs altogether.

2. hCG Diet

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The hormone human choriogonadotropin is produced in the human body early in pregnancy. It’s that hormone that’s detected in the pregnancy test sticks we pee on. In drugs like Novarel, this hormone is indeed extracted from the pee of pregnant ladies.

Side effects include: headaches, restlessness, tiredness, and pain from the needle injection site–as well as the less common swelling of ankles, mood changes, and more.Oh, and it’s not proven as an effective weight loss solution. For some reason, though, that hasn’t stopped desperate people from using it.

hCG was prescribed by a guy named Dr. A Simeons in 1954. The problem is that it didn’t work to help the dieters lose weight until the dieters nearly starved themselves. So, along with 125 units of hCG injected daily for 8 weeks, the dieters needed to follow a rigid low-calorie diet totally about 500 calories a day.

If you follow this diet, you’ll probably lose weight. That’s because you’re eating 500 calories a day, on a risky diet that doesn’t provide people with RDA of protein. The hormone itself doesn’t help, with studies showing that hCG just isn’t effective in aiding weight loss.

1. Breatharianism

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This one is more than a little crazy. So, imagine a world where you can live on sunshine alone–no food, no water, just the natural prana breeze. Sound nice? Well, I guess, if you didn’t love ice cream or pecan pie or anything. Nevertheless, this is the reality as alleged by breatharians–people who believe they can live on prana – mainly sunlight – alone.

Naturally, not eating results in weight loss. And then, eventually, you die. A self-described breatharian prophet, Jasmuheen, claims not to have eaten real food for years. Do you find that a little hard to believe? So did a TV station, who challenged her to prove it. Turns out–she can’t live on air alone, and she became dangerously dehydrated after only 48 hours–forcing the supervising doctor to shut down the challenge.

Perhaps breatharians will count that in the win column–after all, Jasmuheen can claim the air was too polluted to get her prana. I guess we’ll never know for sure. I’m personally curious why there are so few John C. Reily-looking breatharians out there who are virtually gorged on prana–just absolutely stuffed and bloated from prana. I mean, there’s a whole lotta sunshine out there, right? Instead, we have multiple cases of breatharians dying of something that looks suspiciously like starvation.  So, dieters of the internet world: skip this crazy fad and maybe just cut calories a bit–for a start.

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Kelly Doyle tweets sometimes, so check her out.


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