Top 10 Worst Unhealthy Fad Diets

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Fad diets try to offer a quick fix for fast weight loss, and, even if they work, the result is short-term and the pounds come bouncing back. The biggest problem with unhealthy fad diets is that you shouldn’t stay on any of them for extended periods of time because they are generally unbalanced nutritionally. Many fad diets don’t work at all, and some can be dangerous because they’re based on bad or strange ideas, like “The Sleeping Beauty Diet” where you knock yourself out for several days at a time with sedatives.

10. Caveman Diet (Prehistoric Diet, Stone Age Diet, Paleolithic Diet)

Paleo Recipe CookbookEditor Note: Turns out this diet is actually healthy for you. I have included a link to a Paleo Diet Recipe book – Click Here For Your Paleo Cookbook!

As you might guess, this diet revolves around trying to mimic the diet of the caveman. Allowed foods include lean meat (I suppose dinosaur meat was lean), fish, vegetables, fruit, roots, and nuts; and excludes: grains, legumes, dairy products, salt, refined sugar, and processed oils. All foods eaten are those that can be hunted and gathered. Please tell me why we would want to pattern our eating habits after a caveman? Wasn’t their average lifespan around 15 years old or something??

9. The Pasta Chocolate Diet

Am I dreaming? Pasta AND chocolate? You know the old saying: “If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is” and that’s the case here. You can’t drink anything but water, and the only chocolate you get is up to 1-ounce at the end of the day as an evening snack along with some popcorn, but you do get to eat pasta for lunch and dinner. Prohibited foods include sugar, alcohol, carbonated drinks, coffee, tea, nuts, all junk food imaginable except for popcorn, fried foods, dairy products, salt, and red meat. Do you know how small one ounce of chocolate is? Is it really worth it to not have a steak every once in a while? Most real diets encourage you to have some red meat prepared in a healthy way. This diet offers major food restrictions with a reward of 1 ounce of chocolate each night along with the absence of some very important nutrients.

8. The Chicken Soup Diet

You’re allowed one breakfast per day (only one?), then you can eat as much chicken soup as you want for the rest of the day. This can’t be good. You’re basically living off of cereal, bagels, yogurt, figs, and gallons of chicken soup. This is similar to the “Cabbage Soup Diet” and both diets smell of malnutrition–among other things.

7. The Zen Diet

It’s really a very simple plan–only eat food in its natural state, no red meat, and limit other meat considerably. Some Zen diets forbid all meat and dairy. The biggest problem is that little to no meat means not enough protein necessary for brain chemistry, muscle repair, and bone building; and little to no fat, the good fat, affects the body’s satiety and ability to stabilize blood sugar and decrease inflammation. Bring on the bacon! Image Source

6. The 12-Day Grapefruit Juice Diet

This one really is too good to be true. You can eat till you’re full, you can double or triple the amount of meat, salad or vegetables for each meal, you can fry food in butter and use butter generously on vegetables, and you MUST eat bacon when they say to eat bacon. You can eat any kind of cheese, and you can have mayonnaise and regular salad dressing. But as the name indicates you must drink 8 ounces of grapefruit juice with every meal as it’s supposed to be the catalyst for burning off what you eat as long as you’re eating the right combinations of foods—don’t forget the bacon! You also have to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water every day. The promise, while gobbling down all that cheese, butter, bacon, and mayo, and swimming in water and grapefruit juice, is that you will lose 52 pounds in 2 ½ months. Right. NEXT!

5. The 3-Day Hot Dog Diet

I’m not quite sure why they call this a ‘hot dog diet’ since the only time you actually EAT hot dogs is on the 2nd day at dinner. Otherwise, you’re eating regular diet foods like cottage cheese, tuna, fruit, veggies, and black coffee or tea for 3 days. Correction, you are instructed to have ½ cup of vanilla ice cream every night. Go figure—hot dogs and ice cream? I think they added 2 hot dogs on the menu for the second night just so they could call this a hot dog diet.

4. The Magnetic Diet

The foundation of this diet is in understanding which foods attract either health or disease to the body. Contaminating magnetism supposedly attracts disease to the body and includes refined sugar, cholesterol, and white flour. Invigorating magnetism include fruits, whole grains, vegetables, lean meat, and foods containing antioxidants. In addition to only eating invigorating magnetism foods, the diet advocates doing meditation and re-programming the mind towards engaging in more healthy habits. Um, to me, it sounds like a new-age, catchy name for what we already know—eat a balanced diet, reduce sugar intake, reduce stress, and train your brain to replace bad habits with healthy choices.

3. Blood Type Diet

Developed by Dr. Peter D’Adamo, ND, you basically eat or avoid eating foods according to your blood type, and this is supposed to help you lose weight. For example, this diet specifies that blood type B people should avoid corn, wheat, lentils, tomatoes, chicken, peanuts and sesame seeds, and they should eat goat, mutton, venison, eggs, green vegetables, and low fat dairy. However, the Mayo Clinic doesn’t think much of this diet and they say that “eating or avoiding certain foods according to your blood type isn’t thought to have any favorable influence on weight or health” and they also feel that this diet plan is unlikely to meet your nutritional needs at all. Again, another diet that leaves you malnourished in the end as well as very tired if you’re a B blood type person who has to go out and start hunting and shooting all of your food.

2. The Air Diet

The Air Diet of the Institute for Psychoactive Research doesn’t require you to avoid any foods or change your current diet or exercise habits—you just breathe. Hmmm. How novel. Instead of focusing on what you eat or how much you eat, you focus on breathing. The idea is that if you practice rhythmical breathing, then you breathe more air. The more air you breathe, the more weight you lose. The best part is that you can do this anytime, anywhere—while driving, laying in bed, working, walking, having sex, and so on. I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure I’m breathing when I do all of those things. Whatever. NEXT!

1. Tapeworm Diet

This must be the most disgusting diet ever thought of, and there is evidence that “tapeworm diet pills” were marketed from 1900 – 1920’s. Basically, you ingest beef tapeworm eggs (beef tapeworm is supposedly the best choice), and then you take medicine to kill the tapeworm after you’ve lost the desired amount of weight. It doesn’t take a genius to know this diet is both ineffective and unhealthy. You’re not changing your eating habits with this “diet,” so all the weight will come back once the worm is gone, and it’s extremely unhealthy to have a parasite living in your body sucking all of the nutrition out you.

by Pam Roberson

Looking for a safer diet plan? Check out one man’s Medifast Diet Review.


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51 Comments

  1. I think it is of the utmost importance for people to understand that weight gain is something that can be overcome even if everyone in your family has yet to defeat it.

  2. Nice try with the "witty" bit about cavemen eating dinosaur meat, but humanity didn't exist until millions and millions of years after dinosaurs.

    Don't be ignorant.

    • Get over it guys on

      Wow. Since when is it so terrible to make a comment? Athiest said one thing- so the whole lot of you gang up and say he’s taking things too seriously? It’s ONE person’s comment.. If you hate it so much don’t fuel the fire by calling him out & drawing attention to it. 10 against 1 is never fair. All you had to do was dismiss the comment, but you all were personally offended instead.

  3. "The biggest problem is that little to no meat means not enough protein necessary for brain chemistry, muscle repair, and bone building; and little to no fat, the good fat, affects the body’s satiety and ability to stabilize blood sugar and decrease inflammation. "

    …lies and propaganda!

    • I second that. I haven't had the tiniest bit of meat in the past 7 or 8 years and I'm now writing my theses for my psychology masters degree and philosophy bachelors degree, so my brain chemistry is just fine. I also dance at an advanced level so my muscles seem to be repairing themselves whenever needed as well…

    • The only people who are protein deficient are people who are actually starving to death. I'd love to get off meat but it's so addicting. I did give up pork though, that stuff is the worst.

      • Im an Active Vegan "5 years" that owns my own nation wide health company, and trains daily in both martial arts and gym. finishing off a degree currently in enginerring robotics and then to follow in Nutrition and Health with Pyschology. hmmm…

        Yeah I can feel my brian and bones dieing as we speak. this is sarcasim.

        another hit and miss.

        People the Vegetarian lifestyle is a great healthy way to live.

  4. When I took Biology in College and I told my mom about the tapeworm and that we had them in formalin, she told me to get a live one so she could swallow it to lose weight. I am unsure to this day if she was joking or not. 🙁

    I really hope she was joking. I am not in relating this story.

  5. Actually the paleolithic diet makes a lot of sense since it attempts to reduce our diet to the things that we are originally 'adapted' to eat – meat, fruit, veg, honey etc. This cuts out just about all the most unhealthy things in modern life with remarkable precision and i personally think that it is one of the few dietary regimes that actually make any sense at all! Also, if you consider the many many allergies and food intolerances that are rife round the world, then the paleolithic diet cuts out just about all of them! So it really does seem that it is the things we have added to our diet recently that are the hardest for us – ergo that the paleolithic is just about as healthy as you can get! It's nothing to do with being a caveman! Only about discovering our fundamentals in a more natural way than most!

    The main problem with it though is that it is just about the most anti-social diet you can have if you do it religiously – even worse that being a vegetarian. "Sorry – i cant have those potatoes. do you have a little liver for me?" isn't going to make you popular! Just goes to show – never say never!

  6. My Research class dissected the book 'Eat Right For Your Type' book. I don't have the results in front of me now. I remember less than 20% of his cited sources were even remotely reliable, "remotely" being the key term there. The majority of the research he cited had studies that
    A. Had nothing to do with diets and blood types,
    B. Had research that disproved a connection between certain diets and blood types,
    C. Were outdated medical research from 50-100 years ago,
    D. Were extremely difficult, if not impossible to find, example: a lecture from a college class in the 1920's.
    He also used Nazi propaganda from the 1930's as "research" and had other silly sources of information, known to be false.
    After digging through all the materials he referenced, we discovered that the percentage of valid research studies was under 5%, in the most generous level of critiquing. In reality, his book was a work of fiction that he created himself and he didn't have credible evidence to back his theories up.

  7. ok so if all of these diets are "fads" which is YOUR diet? if you say you 'have no diet,' you are wrong. everyone eats food, therefore you have a diet. what do you eat? most likely you are eating many foods that are killing you. truthfully, the "caveman diet" or paleolithic diet as it is correctly called is the best one for you on this list, and is truly not a "fad," considering we evolved on this diet for thousands of years.

  8. Why do people consistently confuse “diet” with “weight loss diet”?

    Also, I agree with the comments that the section on paleo is misinformed and not witty at all. No, cavemen didn’t live at the same time as dinosaurs, and no they didn’t die at 15. Evidence shows that before agriculture brought massive amounts of grain into our diets, humans WERE taller and stronger. Modern children raised paleo mimic these findings. Please do your research.

  9. Wow! Shouldn't you research before you write and publish? The Paleolithic diet is not a fad and is very healthy. The average lifespan of humans was pretty young-like thirty to forty. This was not because of diet, though. Many people lived into their sixties, seventies, even eighties. Average life was so low because for about every person that lived to be eighty, another died at birth. People also died because they did not have the medical advantages that we have today. No emergency rooms, no surgeons to perform c-sections, nothing like that to help when you were injured. They also did not have other luxuries that we have to protect us from predators or the climate. We do know that they were stronger, had better dentition, and did not suffer from autoimmune diseases brought on by modern diet. So do some research.

  10. Off base about the Paleolithic diet as a few others have mentioned. The short lifespan was not due to poor diet, but lack of acceptable treatment like we have today. How many people have increased cholesterol levels and are over-wight but can survive because of modern technological advances. That is a true and beneficial diet that can and has worked.

  11. 7. Caveman Diet (Prehistoric Diet, Stone Age Diet, Paleolithic Diet)

    is the healthiest way to live. it is not a diet it is a way of livng I am an active vegan, own a health food company and am in meetings continuesly with health advices, nutritionalists, doctors and such. this is no triend diet, it is a diet that is the current amount of proteins to fats to carbs to fibre, and i mean good sources of this. with a lower omega 6- omega 3 ratio. 1-1 or 2-1, or even 5-1. while most "americans" have upwards of 30-1. the writter of this article obviously has no nutritional background and is completly ignorant on the subject. there has been a nutrional convention in Sydney Australia just a month ago on the benefits of the Paleolithic Diet, and the limiting of cereals.

    It does seem that people reading this have more of an idea of the truth about nutrition then the moran that wrote this.

    so Pam Roberson before you write articles that you have no background to or formal knowledge of do some research, you are one of the main courses of this word vomit that I hear daily about what is good food and what is bad.

    I would hope that you will delete this from the article, and do some research.

  12. zombiefishstix on

    I agree on all of those except the Paleo diet. Sorry, you are way off base on that one! The average lifespan of a caveman was short, not because he or she ate poorly (since when is lean meats, veggies, nuts, & fruit a poor diet anyhow?!)…the majority of them did not live a long life as we do, because they did not have modern medicine (or any for that matter), and they were not at the top of the food chain! How many of us have to worry with getting eaten by tigers while getting groceries?

    Oh, and cavemen & dinosaurs did not live in the same era…doofus. Get your facts straight before lumping in an effective & healthy way of living with a bunch of fly-by-night (media hyped) “diets”.

    Get some real info. Great names on the subject are: Robb Wolf, Gary Taubes, & Mark Sisson (just a few among many).

  13. So you explaned the dietsin detail, but didn’t explain why they were unhealthy for you, save for a one-liner dismissing them as mere nonsense, without a real explanation. And some of your explanations make as little sense as some of these diets. Not eating meat means you don’t get any good fats? Even though nuts and many vegetables are chock full of them? Little to no protein, even though beans a spinach are rich in protein? Granted, meat and milk proteins have a higher BV. I’m not even a vegenazi or anything–I just finished my Veal leftovers from Mamma Lucia’s–I just think your reasoning for much of this article is not well thought out, and is explained very haphazardly and incompletely.

  14. You guys do know that the person who created this list was not declaring what he thinks is the “cave man diet”, but just explaining what the makers of the diet implied it to be, right?

    • Maybe you should take the quick minute to re-read the comments on the diet, Holly. You must have missed the comment on dinosaur meat. Nevermind the completely ignorant statement on life expectancy, which the author is blaming on the diet and not the fact we did not have modern medicine and therefore had much higher infant mortality rates, amongst other things.

  15. The fact that “The Zen Diet” and “The Pre-Historic” diets are on the lists makes this whole article trashy. I’m glad that there are people who use their own minds and refuse to take these articles seriously. The material in many of these articles are unresearched and lean too much on opinions instead of facts.

    • Just like the ideas and thoughts of most people in the world. To be fair, this was written a long time ago (in Internet years) and today I would not have published it as is. Live and learn.

  16. Being written just a couple years ago is no excuse for not doing basic research on the 2 diets you included that should be nowhere near the other ridiculous ones you listed.

    Maybe you should post an eleventh one, covering the standard American Diet. You know, the one where we eat food that is completely unnatural for us to eat, like grains. Even the majority of meat that we eat is farmed and fed food that is completely unnatural for the livestock to eat…yup, grains again. Fish- like salmon- that are meant to eat krill and other fish are fed corn and soy. Cows meant to eat grass are force fed as well, with Americas favorite food, grain.

    I could go on and on, and even touch on other Standard American Diet myths and standards, such as the myth that eggs are unhealthy and raise cholesterol. Or that coconut oil is the worst oil you could even think of touching, when in fact the complete opposite is true…..that myth is truth though when applied to vegetable oils. How about the biggest boogeyman of all, FAT? You can eat a ton of fat from healthy properlyu fed animals and high fat produce like nuts and avocados and you will actually lose weight.
    Why is obesity sky high, despite decades of people avoiding ist like the plague in place of higher carb foods? Why are autism rates beyond reason, degenerative diseases? Why are Americans about the most pathetic nation of people that have ever walked the planet, despite eating this modern optimized diet? My typical diet is lean and fatty meat from grass fed cows or wild caught salmon and other fish, lower sugar fruits, tons of vegetables, as much butter as I want from grass fed cows, and….well, that actually pretty much it. I dropped 75 pounds of fat that I fought years to get off with the typical diets in the matter of months. My cholesterol was 178 last year. This year it went up one point, but my ratio of HDL to LDL skyrocketing into the beyond optimal area. Every other blood test was right in the middle of where it should be.

    All that while eating the primal/caveman diet. Please look into it more, maybe even try it. If you have no weight to lose, great…but see how you feel eating the way we did for the vast majority of our existence :).

    • Thank you for your post! Not sure that guy that made this list has done any research at all on the paleo diet.

      “Please tell me why we would want to pattern our eating habits after a caveman? Wasn’t their average lifespan around 15 years old or something??”

      Sounds very educated…..

  17. It’s very misleading to include the Zen Diet, the Magnetic Diet, and the Paleolithic Diet on this list. The others are definitely unhealthy (except for maybe the chicken soup diet? If it was made with lots of vegetables, I don’t really see how it’s super unhealthy for you, as long as you keep the sodium down), but those are examples of how we should be eating. Even though there’s an editor’s note for the paleolithic diet, at the very least you should take it off the list. I mean, you could keep this a running list and keep updating as crazy fad diets pop up (and get rid of the ones that are on here that ARE healthy).

  18. You completely discredited yourself when you put the paleolithic diet right at the top. You very obviously either lack research skills or decided it wasn’t worth the time to find support for your claims and wrote your article off intuition. Diet and nutrition are vital things; especially with obesity being the issue it is. Give them some weight (heh).

  19. I have friends that have successfully lost weight on the grape fruit diet- but I hate the taste of grapefruit.
    The blood type diet also works, eat for your blood type- it has worked for me.
    Otherwise- the rest definitely sound too good to be true, pasta and chocolate diet would be like heaven for me. two greatest things- chocolate and Pasta!

      • back in the ’70’s some rock stars were saying they stayed thin by using cocaine and therefore fasting two or three days a week.. Does that mean we should snort or smoke?

        Also as others have said a diet is not about weight loss, it is about health.

  20. The three day diet has worked for many people though and it is also allowed to be repeated ( three days on four days off rule) research on this diet shows no harm? For a quick kick start for people it seems to have had a positive outcome. Cant comment on the other’s as I have never even heard of most of them. And that last one is just outrageous!!!!.

    • I agree, and a possible modified paleo diet is quite good, or strict if you please. I eliminated all processed foods, sugar, alcohol, grains, etc. not to loose weight, but because my immune system doesn’t tolerate these foods. I have chronic Lyme disease and Celiac which has created other auto immune diseases.. Eliminating gluten is not enough. Also I don’t tolerate most raw foods, recently, but I have heard of others having to do this as well.

      Recently I have gone back on some whole grain, non processed. Like wild rice. I need some carbs because I became so underweight, not a desired outcome for an already skinny person. pumpkin, etc. is a good and healthy source of carbs

  21. the zen diet is completely fine. i don’t eat meat and i get plenty of protein. do your research before making false claims.

  22. Don’t be idiots people…you can get protein without meat. Check all your facts before you think your super smart and publish something in a list that is 100% false. More research has shown the benefits of living WITHOUT meat then with it.

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