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7 "Diet Hacks" That Don't Actually Work

Just because it works for someone else doesn't mean you should fall for these dieting pitfalls.
Woman holding plate of keto foods at a table

When it comes to dieting, sometimes it can be confusing to know which advice to turn to. Looking at the internet or cookbooks there are hundreds of diets to choose from, each with its own followers claiming that it does miraculous work. But sometimes they're just wrong. For as many diet hacks that are out there, there's a large handful of them that don't actually work and don't lead to lasting healthy changes for people.

"Most of these things do work for people in certain circumstances," says Corian Yandel, health coach and owner of Peak Performance Fitness Facility in Racine, Wisconsin. "There are billions of people in the world, [and] there are things that are going to work for people. What we fail to mention is that they're not going to work for everybody, so when we're trying a new diet hack you don't know the totality of that person's lifestyle."

Here are a few diet hacks you should likely avoid, and for more healthy eating tips, be sure to check out our list of 21 Best Healthy Cooking Hacks of All Time.

1

Keto diet

Table of keto diet foods on a table
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No bread, no pasta, limited fruits, and veggies—for some that's no way to live at all. For others, it's a way of life. The keto diet has become one of the most popular diets within the past few years with followers claiming to be shedding pounds faster than they could imagine. Some, including Vinny Guadagnino from MTV's "Jersey Shore," swear by the diet, with Guadagnino even releasing an all-keto-approved cookbook.

Despite the large number of eggs that those who follow the keto diet consume, it's not all it's cracked up to be. According to an article published by the University of Chicago Medical Center, the keto diet could lead to low blood pressure, kidney stones, nutrient deficiencies as well as disordered eating.

For diet hacks that actually do work, check out 10 Diet Hacks You Need to Try Right Now.

2

Juice cleanses

Juice cleanse plastic bottles
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In theory, a juice cleanses sounds like an oil change for the human body. You pump your body full of juice until it's completely cleaned out, and in the process, you probably lose a few pounds as well. Juice cleanses, and other detox diets, are popular ways for people to try to lose some weight—a main character in the movie "Mean Girls" drinks solely Cranberry juice cocktail to try to lose weight as she woefully misunderstands the amount of sugar in each bottle. It's not only that diet that was ineffective, though—juice cleanses don't work.

While many people think they can detox their body through their diet, that's a process that's already being done by the liver, which filters and neutralizes toxins before they are expelled from the body. According to Health, juice cleanses can also leave you feeling weak and can negatively impact your metabolism.

Plus, most juices at the store are loaded with added sugars. Here are The Sugariest Juices on Grocery Store Shelves.

3

Going carb-free

healthy plate
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Despite all you've heard, it's possible to eat carbs and be healthy. Like other diets, it's more about the portion of carbs on your plate, versus whether there are any there at all. According to Yandel, carbs have plenty of benefits for the body as well.

"Carbs are your short-term energy and they are also your brain fuel for your thought process," Yandel says. "That's why when you're very stressed and you're very overwhelmed you feel like you need more sugars because your brain is going through those carbohydrates a little bit faster than if your day is less hectic."

So yes, don't be afraid of carbs, especially these 24 Best Healthy Carbs To Eat For Weight Loss.

4

Intermittent fasting

fasting diet
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A common misconception is that going without eating for a time will lead to rapid weight loss. Intermittent fasting is a diet hack in which participants cycle between stages of eating and not eating. The diet doesn't specify what you should be eating, instead, it focuses more on what the dieter is eating. The truth is, according to Yandel, intermittent fasting doesn't work because of its focus on 'when' instead of 'what.'

"Intermittent fasting was created in order to help gut issues," Yandel says. "It's great for healing our gut and giving it time to relax for people who have gut issues, but if we're still eating 4,000 calories in our eight-hour window, there's not a difference in eating that in a larger time window."

5

Minimal eating

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A quick fix when trying to lose weight is eating less and less, but that might be one of the worst diet hacks because of the disastrous consequences it could take on your health. Rather than eating small amounts, Lammersfield says that she believes that people who want to be healthy should change the ways they eat, versus severely limiting the amount.

"For my patients who want or need to lose weight, I recommend they adopt one of the diets that have proven to be effective," says Carolyn Lammersfeld, RD and vice president of Integrative Services at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America. She included the Mediterranean diet, the American Heart Association Diet, and the DASH diet as some of her recommendations. There's certainly a reason why the Mediterranean diet is constantly rated the Best Diet for Weight Loss!

6

Only eating cabbage soup

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Cabbage is great for St. Patrick's Day, but some dedicated dieters are treating the vegetable as if every day is March 17 and only opting to consume cabbage soup. The cabbage soup diet is one that severely limits caloric intake, which is why many who follow it see sudden weight loss and it typically lasts for seven days.

"These diets, particularly if they rely on a limited number of foods, may be nutritionally inadequate or unbalanced," Lammersfeld says. She added that diets like this are typically ineffective in promoting long-term health and fitness.

7

Doing anything quick or easy

Plate of salad compatible with the DASH diet.
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With diets, it's hopeful thinking that by cutting out different types of foods or going on a crash diet you can quickly lose weight and get your dream body—but it's also highly unrealistic thinking. While getting out of shape can sometimes be a quick process, getting in shape is more difficult and requires real, oftentimes strenuous work. Yandel said one of the biggest deterrents that dieters have is getting discouraged by a lack of quick results.

"Understanding expectations versus reality is step one," Yandel says. "If my expectation is that I'm going to lose 30 pounds in 30 days and that doesn't happen, most people give up and they feel like they're a failure and they're at fault. We have to change that culture and those perceptions."

Instead, take the time to focus on these 14 Tips to Reduce Inflammation to Lose Weight Faster, According to RDs.

Erin Yarnall
Erin Yarnall is a freelance food writer. Read more