By Maui R. Drilon for Yahoo! Southeast Asia
From swearing off carbs after 6 p.m. to swearing off carbs forever, throughout the years, we've tried, sworn by, and given up on countless diets. In our eternal quest to lose that post-pregnancy weight or those last 10 pesky pounds, we've been easily persuaded by diets that claim to "miraculously shed the pounds". And sure, for some, weight loss happens almost instantly. But most of the time, the pounds come bouncing right back…and sometimes, with a vengeance.
The truth is, most diets work because they're basically low-calorie diets—and what really causes weight loss is eating fewer calories than what you'll have to burn. So if you embark on a crazy, unbalanced diet that calls for insane amounts of grapefruit juice or cutting out a certain food group altogether, you're bound to lose weight…at least for a few weeks. Then your body breaks down from the lack of nutrient intake, you get sick, and you give up what was the latest diet fad—leaving you stuck with a few extra pounds, horrible food deprivation, and a failure complex.
Another reason many diets don't work is because people treat it as an "event", rather than a lifestyle. People see the word "diet" as an evil, sacrificial thing they have to keep up with for a few weeks—during which they have to deprive themselves of certain foods. But that shouldn't be the case. A "healthy and balanced diet" consists of all food groups, but in reasonable amounts. You don't deprive yourself of food. Ask any nutritionist, and the best diet to follow is the good old food pyramid.
Of course, that hasn't stopped people from inventing the most bizarre diets. See which of these five you've heard of, considered, or even tried!
The Grapefruit Diet. Originating in the 1920s, and also known as the "Hollywood Diet" and "18-Day Diet", the Grapefruit Diet asks that you eat a grapefruit with every meal of the day. A revamped version says you can substitute this with eight ounces of grapefruit juice with every meal. Apparently, a study done by the Scripps Clinic found that enzymes in grapefruit not only help reduce insulin levels, but it also encourages weight loss.
Although a low-carb diet (you can't eat sugar, cereals, veggies and fruits), those who went on this program were encouraged to eat food high in dietary fat (we're talking bacon, eggs, and butter for breakfast), with the premise that grapefruit helps burn body fat when paired with these kinds of foods. While you might lose some weight in the first week, cutting out carbohydrates, veggies, and other fruits from your diet deprives your body of the nutrition it needs. Grapefruit juice can also prevent your body from properly metabolizing certain medicines, including sedatives and heart meds.
"Detox" Diets. While cleansing your system once in a while is a good thing, doing it for more than a week can do more harm than good to your body. In fact, unless a doctor writes up a prescription that you need a colon cleanse, getting one voluntarily is not necessary.
Nevertheless, Hollywood managed to turn "detoxing" into a "diet". One of them is made up of a liquid diet constituting water, lemon juice, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper—to be consumed six to 12 times a day. You can't "make up" for an unhealthy lifestyle by undergoing detox treatments. Skip the detox sessions and just stick to a healthy diet and lifestyle.
The Cookie Diet. Sounds divine, but when something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. The Cookie Diet states that when hungry, you should eat one of six varieties of cookies especially concocted and cleverly marketed for this diet. The rest of the day, take in eight glasses of water, one meal that consists of six ounces of protein, and a cup of vegetables.
The cookies contain natural hunger-suppressing proteins like oats, rice, whole wheat flour, and bran—but they lack other nutrients that the body needs. So why doesn't the diet work? It's basically a low-calorie, low-carbohydrate diet, and since Cookie Diet-ers consume only 800 calories a day, they're bound to lose weight in a few weeks. The downside is, 800 is way too low a number to maintain your energy levels, plus you're not really getting enough vitamins and nutrients—one cup of veggies is a long way from the recommended five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day.
The HCG Diet. While other diets call for you to cut back on sugar, fat, and carbs, the HCG Diet actually asks you to only consume 500 calories a day, and that you inject yourself with human chorionic gondaotropin (HCG), a hormone that the placenta produces during pregnancy—which, by the way, is collected through pregnant women's urine.
Those who swear by this diet claim that the hormone helps suppress their appetite, while still giving them the energy to get through the day despite running on only 500 calories. First off, if you're only ingesting the dangerously low amount of 500 calories a day, you're sure to lose weight. Second, recent research shows that the HCG hormone, when used for weight loss purposes, is nothing but a placebo…it really doesn't help in metabolizing fat or giving you energy.
The Tapeworm Diet. Probably the unhealthiest and most disgusting diet hands-down, the tapeworm diet entails the dieter to ingest a tapeworm to lose weight. Being parasites, tapeworms leech off whatever food you eat, which means you can eat everything and anything you want and not get fat. But they also absorb necessary vitamins and nutrients that your body needs.In any case, it's making a comeback, thanks to the internet. Now dieters can easily purchase "tapeworm diet pills", which are basically tapeworm eggs harvested from cows. They drink these pills, and wait for the worms to do their "job". Once the dieter has reached her "desired weight", she takes an antibiotic and a laxative, and flushes out the worm from her system. It doesn't take a genius to tell that this "diet" isn't only gross, but you're also putting your life at risk by having a parasite live inside you (one that can grow up to 60 feet, by the way).