There are many, many unhealthy fad diets—the Grapefruit Diet, the Baby Food Diet, the Cigarette Diet, just to name a few. And most of them don’t provide long-term weight-loss results, if any. So, it’s not easy to come up with a list of the worst diets of all time.
While there are some healthy ways to lose weight, there is a multitude of unhealthy ways to try to do so.
Nevertheless, here are a few fad diets from recent years that gained more than a little credibility and notoriety—and are still around in one form or another.
The Feeding Tube Diet
Need to lose a quick 10 or 15 lbs, but you don’t have the willpower to diet? Just “eat” through a feeding tube. That’s the idea behind the Feeding Tube Diet, also called the KE Diet. The only nutrition you get for 8-10 days is a no-carb formula that provides just 800 calories daily through a nasogastric feeding tube.
The concept has been used in Europe for years, with research to back it up. But it wasn’t until 2012 that the feeding tube diet went viral in the United States. A New York Times article kicked off the fad, explaining how brides-to-be were using it as a quick fix to fit into their tight wedding dresses.
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According to the website of Oliver Di Pietro, MD, the Florida-based physician credited with bringing the diet to the United States: “The KE Diet works because it provides your body only with proteins and fats, and not with carbohydrates or sugars, thus forcing your body into a state of ketosis, in which your body burns its own fat. This is the same principle as some other low-carb programs, except the KE Diet, through its unique delivery method, intensifies the process and achieves dramatic results in a short period of time.”
Scott Shikora, MD, director of the Center for Metabolic Health and Bariatric Surgery, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, MA, told The New York Times that the real reason the diet works is simply through calorie restriction.
“The novelty is, they shove a tube in your nose,” Dr. Shikora said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s through a tube, a straw, a meal plan. They all work, if someone goes from 3,000 calories a day to 800.”
The Carnivore Diet
One good thing you can say about the Carnivore Diet is that it lives up to its name. It includes only meat and animal products, nothing else. If you want a baked potato to go with your steak, you’ll have to go elsewhere.
The Carnivore Diet isn’t limited to beef, though. Besides “fatty cuts” of meat—including pork, lamb, and poultry—the diet also allows fish, eggs, cheese, and heavy cream. What can you wash those down with? Bone broth and stocks from scraps make “excellent hot drinks.” Yeah, excellent.
Proponents of the Carnivore Diet claim that it provides quick and easy weight loss, boosts energy, reduces inflammation, and improves digestion. But the disadvantages to an all-meat, no-fruit-or-vegetable diet are plainly evident: insufficient vitamins and…