The fitness expert and celebrity trainer blogs about a host of methods for losing weight

By Harley Pasternak
June 27, 2012 02:00 PM
Courtesy Harley Pasternak

Fact: Everyone wants to look and feel better as quickly as possible.

Whether weight loss, toning, muscle gain, posture, or improved health, we all want it and we want it now. Sadly, the methods used by many of us don’t work, and often can lead to the opposite results.

No other sphere of wellness symbolizes this more than dieting.

If I had a penny for every client who’s told me of an outrageous eating plan they’ve tried, with amazing results in the first few days, only to eventually gain it all back – and then some – well … let’s just say I’d have a lot of pennies!

I thought it may be helpful to compile a list of the most absolutely useless diets ever created, for those of you out there who’ve suffered through one or more of these.

The HCG Diet
The Idea: This plan calls for daily injections/pill/drops of the hormone HCG (found in the urine of pregnant women), and couples it with a daily caloric intake of just 500 calories!

The Truth: Such a low intake of calories is very dangerous. Just to survive with minimal to no activity, a small woman would need at least 1,000 calories to maintain health and proper body function. Users of this diet will lose dramatic amounts of weight from starving themselves, but will gain it all (and more) back when normal eating resumes.

If your doctor tries to sell you on this program, please report them to the state medical board.

The Master Cleanse – or any Cleanse
The Idea: Chugging maple syrup or cayenne goop or expensive juice delivery services can “cleanse” our organs, reboot our metabolism, help us grow better hair, and have stronger nails – why not throw in “win the Nobel Prize” and “win the lottery?”

The Truth: The idea of limiting yourself to a regimen of liquid sugar (void of fiber, protein or healthy fats) to flush out toxins is not only painful, it’s actually dangerous! In fact, I’ve seen more people get fatter following faux cleanses than any other bad diet. I can safely say that the vast majority of us in the scientific community agree that the notion of a nutritional scrub is nothing more than “highly profitable fiction.” It’s more of a symbolic gesture than a physical one.

The Fat-Free Diet
The Idea: Eat all the protein and carbs you want. If your diet contains no fat, you won’t get fat.

The Truth: While it’s true that extra fat in your diet adds calories, just sticking to foods touted as fat-free isn’t the answer. In fact, every bit of scientific research supports the exact opposite. Diets without any fat actually promote fat gain. Healthy dietary fats are essential to healthy weight loss.

The Snack-Pack Diet
The Idea: Cookies and chips sorted into 100-calorie packs help limit the damage from an attack of the munchies.

The Truth: While 100-calorie snack pack foods on the market now may offer a lower-calorie alternative, most are far from healthy. Most lack fiber and protein, which can send you running for another bag or something less healthy. One hundred calories of broccoli and 100 calories of candy are not equal.

The Cookie Diet/Lemon Diet/Cabbage Diet
The Idea: to focus on eating one specific magical ingredient with every meal is the key to losing weight.

The Truth: Not sure I really need to break this down. Suffice to say, the only reason anyone would lose weight (short term) on these silly eating schemes, is they are cutting down their calories. Not because of the secret ingredient!

Check back every Wednesday for more insider tips on Hollywood’s hottest bodies – and learn how to get one yourself! Plus: follow Harley on Twitter at @harleypasternak