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Health Team

Fad diets peddle dubious, sometimes dangerous results

Posted August 2

Most people would like to lose a some weight, and they might even be desperate enough to try the latest diet craze.

No matter how big the promises, though, there are certain diets you should never try. The folks at WebMD have a list of them, including, believe it or not, the "Twinkie Diet."

Back in 2010, a nutrition professor at Kansas State University cut down on daily calories and ate mostly Twinkies for 10 weeks, along with other junk food—he lost 27 pounds.

Remember, diet success depends on burning more calories than you take in, but it's all the more important that the food you do consume is packed with the nutrition your body needs.

There are many other diets to avoid.

You may have heard about "Ear Stapling," promoted to be like acupuncture in decreasing your appetite. But there is no science behind it, and you run the risk of an infection, or it may even change the shape of your ear.

Another risky diet is the "Cotton Ball Diet." Believe it or not, people soak the cotton balls in juice and swallow them thinking it will fill your stomach so you won't be hungry.

The risks, though, are choking, intestinal blockage and eating dangerous chemicals to name just a few.

A few years ago, the "HCG Diet" gained popular following. The diet involves severe cuts in calories paired with drops of HCG, or human chorionic gonadotropin.

Studies show it does not help you lose weight, and there can be side effects, such as severe fatigue, irritability, restlessness, depressed feelings, fluid buildup in the body and the risk of blood clots—the severe reduction in calories is dangerous by itself.

Many people consume too much caffeine as it is, but there's actually a "Caffeine Diet," which is supposed to curb your appetite and help burn calories.

It's not enough to lose much weight, and it can boost your blood pressure, disrupt sleep and give you an upset stomach.

Some caffeinated beverages contain sugar and fat, which will add weight.

Many people see these fad diets appear on their Facebook app, maybe shared by a friend. Some seem to be safe, like the "Apple Cider Vinegar Diet."

The vinegar diet says to take a sip before a meal to curb your appetite and burn fat, but there's no research to show that it actually works. The risk for some people is that it could stop insulin and blood pressure medications from working like they should, and all that acid could be bad for your throat.

Then there are some diets that are obviously questionable, such as "The Cigarette Diet."

In the 1920s, there was a Lucky Strike cigarettes campaign claiming that smoking, while avoiding sweets and other high calorie foods, will help you lose weight. People could lose weight on the diet, but the tradeoff is increased risks of a multitude of lung diseases, different cancers and cardiovascular disease.

The take-home message is simple: Diets, especially fad diets, rarely help people lose weight and keep the weight from coming back because it's not a lifestyle they can live with long term.

Instead, get professional help with a dietician—insurance will often help pay for it.

Dieticians can suggest small, healthy changes in your daily eating habits, help you plan your meals and encourage you to become more physically active.

Because it's a healthy lifestyle that you enjoy and can practice the rest of your life, the weight will drop off and stay off.

Most of all, it's the only truly healthy way to do it.

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