9 Downright Dangerous Fad Diets

Every few months, there seems to be a new diet craze that comes out of the woodwork. The problem with these fad diets? They’re restrictive, not always backed by science, and can in fact be downright dangerous. We get the appeal, though; eating fruit, veggies, and drinking plenty of water to lose weight isn’t the most exciting thing in the world, so it makes sense that people seek more thrilling options.

But for serious (and seriously healthy) weight loss, your best bet is to stick to the simple, proven methods—and avoid these dangerous diets at all costs.

Five-Bite Diet

Can you imagine only eating 10 bites of food a day? Experts say it’s an eating disorder waiting to happen and isn’t even a little bit healthy. Surprisingly, it was created by an actual medical professional—Dr. Alwin Lewis, of Burbank, California—and involves skipping breakfast, then eating only 5 bites of food for lunch and 5 bites for dinner.

Yes, you can eat anything you want, but it’s still so low-calorie that this—and other crash diets—can really mess up your body, causing everything from heart palpitations to a decrease in your immune function.

Baby Food Diet

If you had to guess, what age group is baby food made for: babies or adults? If you guessed babies, you’re right, obviously—but you might be surprised to learn there’s an actual diet plan where grown-ups are getting their calories from Gerber jars. Fitness guru Tracy Anderson reportedly first made the Baby Food Diet a thing, and it sounds all sorts of gross: Instead of eating real, wholesome food, you replace breakfast and lunch with 14 jars of baby food (pureed peas, included!) that are incredibly low in calories and won’t give your body everything it needs to stay healthy.

Cotton Ball Diet

This diet has “dangerous” written all over it, but people still continue to think it’s safe and effective. Here’s how it goes: instead of eating, you chow down five cotton balls dipped in orange juice, lemonade, or a smoothie as a meal to make you feel full. Not only are those cotton balls filled with dangerous chemicals, but experts also say eating them could severely obstruct your intestinal tract—something that can be life-threatening. Use them in the bathroom and keep them far, far away from your dinner plate.

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HCG Diet

If you desperately want gallstones, an irregular heartbeat, depression, and fatigue, try the HCG Diet. It involves severely restricting your calories and using HCG—a hormone produced during pregnancy—to make you lose weight. Not only does the Food and Drug Administration recommend avoiding using HCG for weight loss at all costs, but you should also know that this method simply doesn’t work. All it does is put your body at risk for health issues in the future.

Tapeworm Diet

Some people are so desperate to lose weight that they’re willing to swallow an actual tapeworm to get the job done. Yes, really. Of course, you’ll lose weight: you voluntarily gave your body a parasitic infection that’s eating food right out of your intestines. But it’s super dangerous, and according to experts, it can leave you with horrible side effects—and the potential for death.

Juice Cleanses

Juice cleanses are super trendy and will probably always be super trendy: every Instagram star swears by them as a healthy way to lose weight. The reality, though, is that drinking all your calories does a lot more harm than good: experts say cleanses aren’t a long-term solution to weight loss. Once you eat normal food again, you’ll gain the weight back—and while you’re sipping juices, you put yourself at risk of nutritional deficiencies. Also, because they’re low in protein, the weight you do lose isn’t fat—it’s muscle.

Sleeping Beauty Diet

One of the worst things you can do for your health is to turn yourself into Sleeping Beauty to lose weight. The Sleeping Beauty diet involves taking a sedative to sleep around 10 hours a day—because when you’re sleeping, you’re not eating. Not only is it an incredibly disordered way to lose weight, but experts also say it’s downright dangerous. You should never depend on drugs to help you sleep away your life, all to avoid extra calories.

Blood Type Diet

Knowing your blood type is important for an instance where you might need or are donating blood. Basing your diet around it, though, is a horrible idea. The Blood Type Diet—which comes from naturopathic doctor Peter J. D’Adamo‘s book—involves eating certain things based on whether you’re Type O, A, B, or AB. The funny thing is that, despite sounding good, there’s no real scientific evidence to back this diet up, and it can ultimately be restrictive and inhibit foods that would actually do your body a lot of good.

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Breatharian Diet

As crazy as it seems, there’s a diet out there that people are actually doing that involves only living off of water, sunlight, and tea for months. Not at all surprisingly, experts don’t think the Breatharian Diet is a good idea. Living on air and sunshine will provide no caloric or fluid intake. Anyone who claims to be maintaining a steady body weight on such a diet is unlikely to be telling the truth.

Have you ever tried any of these crazy diets? Let us know in the comments below.

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