Diets that Don't Work

"Everyone is looking for the silver bullet [when it comes to dieting]," explains John Bock, nutritionist and dietitian at the Integrated Nutrition Therapy center in Southern New Jersey. 

And it's true - for the past few decades our culture has become obsessed with finding the secret to shedding the pounds. We've tried juice cleanses, eaten only grapefruit for every meal, and even purchased countless dehydrated meal plans from infomercials on TV. And most likely, we've even lost weight from them. The bad news? 
"Thing is, there is no 'super food' that will save the day, ever," promises Bock. "None of these diets are conducive to a long-term lifestyle change - something that you can stick too."

The worse news: Many diets are detrimental to your health and mental stability. In our desperation to find said "silver bullet," we've put ourselves in harm's way, especially when it comes to fad dieting. Some have tried everything from drinking 64 fluid ounces of water daily to literally chewing food and spitting it out. By restricting ourselves, we mentally create a conflict for a successfully healthy lifestyle, Bock explains. 

"A nutritionist is just as essential as a family doctor," he insists. "We can measure metabolic rates and design a plan that will work with your lifestyle to achieve long-lasting results."

While some of these diets may help you lose weight in the short term, their methods can be unhealthy, and the pounds you shed usually don't stay off for long.

17-Day Diet
 The Basics: This diet is not just 17 days long, but rather three 17-day cycles of regulating your carbohydrate intake to keep your metabolism guessing. The idea is that shifting your meal plan every 17 days, before your body registers certain eating habits, you can keep your metabolism in high gear. You start out overly restrictive and under-caloric in the beginning, then move on to eating 1,500 calories a day, and then the third phase has you overindulging on the weekends.

Why It Won't Work: "First off, there is no proof that it speeds up your metabolism - and to fool your metabolism is impossible, as well," Bock states. The idea that you can trick your body and treat it on the weekends is silly, too. "Why not have a little bit of the food you like every day in moderate portions? Indulging on the weekends is pointless - your body doesn't know that it is Tuesday or Saturday night." 

Cabbage Soup Diet
The Basics: For a solid week, "indulge" in a bottomless bowl of cabbage soup and some select low-calorie food options. It promises to help you shed 10 pounds in that week, however there are no set guidelines to help you manage your weight loss.

 Why It Won't Work: "People lose a lot of weight from this diet because of the diarrhea they get from it alone," says Bock. "You aren't getting any calories, [and] you're getting bloated and full from a very restrictive diet. From a gastrointestinal standpoint, it is catastrophic on the variability from day to day."

HCG Diet
The Basics: This diet is an intense, 40-day, 500-calorie diet consisting of vegetables, fruits, and two meals of 3.5 ounces of protein alongside injections of HCG, a hormone found in pregnant women. The theory is that it will create some symptoms of pregnancy, such as nausea from morning sickness, to help control your desire to eat. While injections aren't the only way HCG is distributed (there are tablets, etc.), it is believed that the injection method is the only one that is of any benefit.

Why It Won't Work: "This is a completely unsafe method of losing weight. A 500-calorie diet is considered unsafe because it is so hypo-caloric that it could never meet your needs," explains Bock. Plus, he goes on to say that there is no proof that the hormone itself will help you lose weight.

The Hallelujah Diet
The Basics: An all-vegetable diet made of of 85 percent raw, uncooked foods and 15 percent cooked foods. Vegetables that are uncooked are in a more natural state, according to this diet, and cooked vegetables are tainted by whatever juices they may be cooked in.

 Why It Won't Work: "I'm not a fan of vegan diets in general," Bock claims. "They aren't very safe. Most patients really need to be monitored very closely by health professionals because they often become anemic." Also, eating solely raw vegetables is not only hard on your digestive system, since cooked foods are absorbed more easily, but there is no proof that raw vegetables are more effective than cooked ones.