5 of the most absurd — and not recommended — ways people have tried to lose weight
Diets can seem like a good idea, but more often than not, they're highly flawed. Cutting out entire food groups or trying to subsist on solely one food can be dangerous, yet fad diets are always promising us better bodies, easier and faster than the last ridiculous diet we already know will never work for weight loss.
The $64 billion dieting industry is based on trying to sell a solution to easily fit into a smaller pant size, be it via sipping soup for a week, restricting food intake to Saltines and boiled eggs or popping some mysterious pill before every meal, but as diet trends come and go, here's one trend we continue to see with each new fad diet: They don't really work.
If you're truly committed to losing weight and getting more fit, consult a doctor or registered dietitian to create a personalized eating and fitness plan that can actually result in lasting, positive health benefits.
And just to make sure you don't think that all eggs all the time diet is a good idea, take a look back at some of the absurd ways people have tried losing weight in the past, and, spoiler: They didn't work.
The tapeworm diet
Using your body as a host for a parasite to lose weight? Why not!
The tapeworm diet, invented in the early 1900s, can result in serious infection that can kill you, but that hasn't stopped this diet from dying out in the 100 years since opera singer Maria Callas attributed her weight loss to ingesting tapeworms.
In April 2013, Today reported that an Iowa woman ordered a tapeworm off the internet to try the diet for herself and her doctor used the scary effects of this dangerous diet to publicize why people shouldn't purposefully ingest tapeworms. The tapeworm diet is banned by the Food and Drug Administration, but that doesn't mean Americans and others aren't still trying the diet, scary evidence of how obsessed our culture is with dieting.
After trying several popular diets, Atlanta podcaster Nicole Grays Owens was fed up with their minimal temporary success, and desperation set in. "Being overweight was no picnic," she wrote in an email. "You'll try anything to shed the pounds. Failure after failure led me to the wackiest method I ever tried in an effort to win the Battle of the Buldge: I had my mouth wired shut."
Though the method isn't common, Owens had connections to help her find a provider for the alternative dieting procedure. "A fellow struggler slipped me the name and number of a clinic along with the pricing and what to expect," she said. "I made my appointment and had brackets attached to four of my teeth, two on the top and two on the bottom, then a thin wire was wrapped around them in a figure-eight. That was it. Easy. Painless. Quick." In case of emergency, Owens was told she could cut the wire easily with nail clippers, so she should keep them with her at all times.
Knowing she could only eat what could be sipped through a straw, Owens felt "as though I'd struck gold!" After sipping all of her meals through a straw for a week (the roof of her mouth was cut and yes, milkshakes were part of the "diet"), Owens had enough with the mouth wiring.
"Nothing emergent happened to make me cut the wire, but the constant thought of pizza, my favorite food on Earth, and chocolate, got the best of me," she said. "With two quick snips, off came the wires and in went the food." Needless to say, this diet was not effective, but Owens has since lost 150 pounds using healthier dieting methods.
Can't be beet
"When I was a slightly pudgy teenager my mom and I tried a few diets together," Brad Nierenberg, food blogger at BradTheGourmand.com said via email. "The worst one was called the Beet Diet. Unfortunately my mom did not really know any ways to prepare fresh beets, so the two of us ate pickled beets with every meal for about a week. It was a long and terrible week. The result? I cannot look at a beet, pickled or otherwise to this day though I know they are loaded with vitamins."
According to Livestrong, the beet diet can restrict calorie intake to only 700 calories per day, and while some may notice weight loss effects after a three-day beet binge, it's not an effective for keeping weight off.
The Italian deprivation diet
When living in Italy, New York native and beauty blogger Brittany Hamlett-Concepcion embarked on a "very unhealthy three-day diet that I'll never do ever again," she said via phone. Her best friend convinced her to follow a diet alternating between two meals — three boiled egg whites or a third of a chicken breast cooked in water and raw garlic (no spices) with six steamed asparagus — every three hours. The meal rotation also included drinking a gallon of water the first day, half a gallon the second and just a liter on the third.
Hamlett-Concepcion and her friend kept up the rotation for two weeks and lost weight during the diet, but no, it's not worth it.
Feeding tube diet (without a tube)
This one is as grim as it sounds.
Cristina Alciati, a U.K.-based personal trainer who specializes hormonal fat loss, metabolic damage and autoimmune disorders said via email she's familiar with her clients' "weird queries" when it comes to dieting.
One trend she's seen in advance of the summer holidays in Europe is the "feeding tube diet without a tube." The diet trend blocks out phases of 10 days in which dieters consume three protein shakes a day, then slowly introduce small portions of vegetables and expand on to a more complete, healthy diet, like someone who medically depended on a feeding tube would. "The objective is to throw the body into a state of ketosis in which fat is used as a main source of energy," Alciati said.
Originally developed to induce extreme fat loss in morbidly obese patients prior to having gastric band surgery, this diet somehow became a commercial fad and no, fasting for 10 consecutive days is not a great idea. "The results are usually short lived as your body will be eager to replenish its glucose reserves and some," Alciati said. Rather than depriving your body of food, you're much better off restricting yourself to a purely healthy diet.