Drop 10 pounds in three days! Burn fat by taking a pill! Eat all you want and still lose weight!
Even though most of us know that long-term weight-loss success requires regular exercise and healthful eating, many people still try get-thin-quick schemes.
Two of the popular fad diets of the moment include:
The Zone Diet: The day is divided into food zones. The dieter is allowed to eat only one kind of food during each period so the body is breaking down only one thing at a time.
The Rotation Diet: The dieter eats 12 servings of one type of food each day. The following day, 12 servings of another food are consumed.
"The bottom line is that if any of these fad diets really, really worked, we wouldn't have a problem with obesity," said Donna Martin, a registered dietitian at CSRA Partners in Health.
Instead of helping you lose weight, fad diets like these can deprive the body of nutrients, and in turn, slow down metabolic rates.
"If it's a three-day or seven-day diet, it's not going to harm you," Ms. Martin said. "But what's the point? It's just water weight that you lose, and you get that right back."
The promise of quick weight loss is the biggest attraction of a fad diet, but the simplicity and formulaic nature of such plans also may play a part in their appeal.
Ms. Martin said some people just want someone to tell them exactly what they should do. These fads give a dieter something to focus on besides what to cook for dinner.
Short-term diets are sometimes used to jump-start a weight-loss program or to break a plateau when a dieter's scale seems to be stuck on the same number.
Donna Plants, director of Professional Health Control, said clients are sometimes advised to increase or change exercises or what they are eating.
"As long as it is something different from what you've been doing," Ms. Plants said. "It could be one day, it could be two days, but this in no way interferes with a regular healthy program."
Ms. Plants also recommends a rapid-start program for some people. But this is just to get the client motivated and does not replace a regular diet.
Three writers for The Augusta Chronicle agreed to try fad diets to see whether they experienced weight loss. Here are their experiences:
DIET: Three-day diet
TESTER: Albert Ross Jr.
DESCRIPTION: Drink 4 glasses of water or diet soda per day. With breakfast and lunch you can have black coffee or tea with 1-2 packets of Sweet & Low or Equal. You can add herbs, salt, pepper, lemon, vinegar, Worcestershire, soy sauce, mustard & ketchup to foods.
DAY 1: Breakfast - 1/2 grapefruit or juice; 1 slice of toast with 1 tablespoon peanut butter; lunch - 1/2 cup tuna, 1 slice toast; dinner - 3 ounces lean meat or chicken, 1 cup green beans, 1 cup carrots, 1 apple, 1 cup regular vanilla ice cream.
DAY 2: Breakfast - 1 egg, 1/2 banana, 1 slice toast; lunch - 1 cup cottage cheese or tuna, 8 regular saltine crackers. Dinner - 2 beef franks, 1 cup broccoli or cabbage, 1/2 cup carrots, 1/2 banana, 1/2 cup regular vanilla ice cream.
DAY 3: Breakfast - 5 regular saltine crackers, 1 ounce Cheddar cheese, 1 apple; Lunch - 1 boiled egg, 1 slice toast; Dinner - 1 cup tuna, 1 cup carrots, 1 cup cauliflower, 1 cup melon, 1/2 cup regular vanilla ice cream.
CONS: Too little food, not enough variety, hungry in the afternoon
WEIGHT LOSS: 2 pounds
DIETER'S DIARY: "I felt great the first day. I thought this was going to be a breeze. The second day was a killer. I wanted to eat real food.
"I craved chicken and steak the most. Anything but tuna fish.
"On Day 3, my last day on the diet, I counted down the minutes until midnight, when my younger brother and I ate an entire box of Teddy Grahams cookies.
WOULD I TRY IT AGAIN? No. This diet is for a monk who is preparing to fast for weeks.
DIET: Seven-day diet
TESTER: Lisa Lohr
DESCRIPTION: Day 1: All fruit. Day 2: All vegetables. Day 3: fruits and vegetables. Day 4: Five bananas and five glasses of milk. Day 5: Four 3-ounce servings beef- chicken- or fish-steaks with fresh vegetables. Day 6: Four 3-ounce beef steaks with fresh vegetables. Day 7: Four 3-ounce beef steaks with fresh vegetables.
PROS: "You can eat as much as you want for the first three days. Tere is no limit to the amount you can have."
CONS: It was a little pricey to buy enough fresh fruits, vegetables and meats to make me feel full.
WEIGHT LOSS: 2 pounds
DIETER'S DIARY: "The first day started great. Fruit for breakfast, and even lunch was easy. Dinner was a little tough, but I made it through without cheating. Day 2 was harder. I like veggies, but for breakfast? Still, I did not cheat.
Day 3 I really wanted bread, pasta, a hamburger. Instead, I ate more fruits and vegetables.
Day 4 was bananas and milk. I lasted until dinner. Then I cheated BIG. Pizza and beer has never tasted so good. That was the end of the dieting.
WOULD I TRY IT AGAIN? No, I think I'll stick to healthy balanced meals instead of a diet so extreme.
DIET: Grapefruit juice diet
TESTER: Barnini Chakraborty
DESCRIPTION: For breakfast, two slices of bacon, two eggs and a cup of grapefruit juice. For lunch, all the meat you want, salad and grapefruit juice. The same for dinner. This was supposed to be a 12-day program.
PROS: There were none.
CONS: Steak and grapefruit juice do not mix. They never did and never should.
WEIGHT LOSS: 5 pounds
DIETER'S DIARY: "This diet left a sour taste in my mouth long after it had ended.
It was a fine menu for the first day, but after Day 3 it became abundantly clear that I was going to have problems with this plan.
In addition to having a horrible headache the first two days because of a lack of sugar and caffeine, my muscles ached and I craved pasta and chocolate.
Even though I ate what the diet recommended, by Day 4 I was sneaking handfuls of M&Ms on my afternoon break.
WOULD I TRY IT AGAIN? No, I think I would opt for eating healthier, and I would not recommend this diet to anyone with a taste bud. This diet is extremely bizarre.
Reach Lisa Lohr at (706) 823-3332 or firstname.lastname@example.org.