In order to lose weight, you need to take in fewer calories than you burn. That means that for most people, it’s necessary to go on some type of diet in order to get weight loss results. When you’re developing your weight loss plan, it’s important that you steer clear of unhealthy diets that don’t give you enough of the nutrients that your body needs to thrive.
But how can you tell an unhealthy diet from a healthy one? Start by reading this list of unhealthy diets that you definitely want to avoid:
1. Pasta and Chocolate Diet
This diet has become popular because it allows you to eat 1 ounce of chocolate every day and pasta when you want it. Unfortunately, it also requires you to eat a very limited number of foods, some of which are packed full of nutrients that you don’t get from other types of foods like nuts, dairy products and red meats.
2. Raw Food Diet
This diet emphasizes eating only uncooked foods, mostly fruits and vegetables. While those foods are good for you, the foods that you have to cut out to stick to it–meats, poultry, grains, eggs and dairy products–are all important parts of a healthy diet.
3. Lunar Diet
This crazy diet has you not eating at all during the full moon and the new moon every month and claims that doing so will make you lose 6 pounds in just one day. That’s not only impossible, but it’s also very unhealthy. Consistently fasting can cause dangerous drops in blood sugar.
4. Five Bite Diet
This diet seeks to make portion control easy by saying that you can eat whatever you want, so long as you only eat five bites of it at a time. When you put it into practice, you can end up eating a dangerously low amount of calories. Plus, you’re likely to feel hungry a lot of the time.
5. Master Cleanse
With this diet, you consume nothing but a mix of lemon juice, cayenne pepper and maple syrup mixed with water for days on end. There are scarcely any nutrients in this diet, and any weight that you lose in the process will quickly be gained back as soon as you start to eat normally again.
6. Baby Food Diet
This diet has you eating 14 jars of baby food from the time that you wake up and then eat a regular low calorie dinner. Depending on which baby foods you pick, you run the risk of being deficient of calories. On top of that, having to choke down slimy pureed food isn’t very pleasant.
7. Grapefruit Diet
With this diet, you eat grapefruit for your meals and drink grapefruit juice for snacks. You’ll sure get a lot of vitamin C and fiber in the process but you’ll barely be getting any protein or healthy fats.
8. HCG Diet
This diet dramatically reduces your calorie intake, typically allowing you only 500 to 700 calories. As a part of the plan, you regularly get injections of a human growth hormone that the proponents of this diet say make you lose weight.
Unfortunately, there is no proof that this substance does anything at all, and 500 to 700 calories will take you to the verge of starvation.
9. Cotton Ball Diet
It should seem to be common sense that this falls under the category of unhealthy diets, but an astounding number of people are following this dangerous eating plan that involves eating cotton balls soaked in orange juice. Cotton balls aren’t food, and you’ll barely be getting any nutrients with this truly foolish diet.
10. Hot Dog Diet
This bizarre diet involves eating an odd mix of processed foods like ice cream and hot dogs. The point is that you can enjoy foods that are bad for you in limited quantities and lose weight. The problem is that pretty much all you’re eating on this diet is empty calories, so you’re not getting nutrients at mealtime.
11. Blood Type Diet
This diet says that to lose weight you should only eat a select number of foods that corresponds to your diet. Highly restrictive, the diet does not include a balanced blend of nutrients for any of the blood types, so following it for the long term puts you at risk for nutritional deficiencies.
Spotting an Unhealthy Diet
Unfortunately, there are hundreds more fad diets that are downright unhealthy out there. Here are some telltale signs of an unhealthy diet:
- Diets that involve eating just one food. There is no one single perfect food. Any diet that claims that you can be healthy just by eating one single thing for every meal is depriving you of nutrients.
- Diets that claim to cleanse your body. No good scientific study has ever proven that it’s possible to really cleanse toxins from your body. And even if you could, it’s not toxins that make you gain weight; it’s excess calories. Don’t go on any diet that involves eating a very restricted list of foods while you cleanse.
- Diets that require you to cut out any type of nutrient. No carb, no starch, no protein and no fat diets are all no good! Your body needs all of these nutrients to function.
- Diets that involve starving and then binging. A healthy diet will teach you to eat in moderation and should include three meals per day with room for snacks. Alternating between eating nothing and then eating everything in sight won’t help you lose weight and is dangerous.
If you’re still concerned about whether the eating plans you’re considering are healthy diets or unhealthy diets, err on the side of caution and check with your doctor. Your physician can provide you with advice about healthy eating and even refer you to a dietitian to come up with a custom weight loss plan for you.