2 Rather Curious Fad Diets

Erik
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Weight loss is a common topic, as any number of ads, articles, news segments and infomercials are likely to let you know. We are all aware that if we cut our intake and hit the gym, we'll lose some of that excess padding. But what if eating in moderation and regular exercise aren't viable options? There are myriad modern diets that suggest one key food or habit, or extol their own magic pill "“ be it a large dose of caffeine, or a large dose of ephedra, or a mixture of caffeine and ephedra "“ so we must restrict ourselves to a choice few. Or, because I drew this spot on The Countdown, just two.

1. The Tape Worm Diet

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Marketed near the turn of the century, the Tape Worm Diet centered on weight loss capsules whose secret ingredient was tapeworm eggs (I should add the word "purportedly," for truth in advertising was never the strongest suit of such marketers). This diet's efficacy is not often disputed (though an intestinal worm can cause pockets of fluid called ascites to collect in the abdomen, causing distention and ruining the figure). Introducing an intestinal parasite that robs the host of calories and nutrients will cause the host to lose weight. It is also likely to cause, depending on the species of worm, a host of other side effects. In the case of the common beef tapeworm, which is benign relative to some other worms, these side effects may include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and intestinal blockage. So, probably not the best idea. However, in the interest of fairness, I should mention that there other opinions. [Image courtesy of the Museum of Quackery.]

2. The Grapefruit Diet

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While dating back to the 1930s, this diet became popular in the 1970s, and is one of the stranger fads that keeps coming back. The basic premise is that grapefruit juice has the ability to lower insulin levels, a hormone that plays an important part in how and when you gain weight.

Here are the rules:
1. You must drink 64oz. of water a day.
2. At any meal you may eat until you are full.
3. You must eat the minimum amount of food listed at each meal.
4. You cannot eliminate anything from the diet. Even the bacon, as it is essential to the whole thing working.
5. Drink or eat exactly the amount of grapefruit.
6. Don't eat between meals.
7. Eat or use as much butter as you like.
8. Do not eat desserts, breads, white vegetables or sweet potatoes.
9. You may double or triple helpings of meat, salad or vegetables.
10. Eat until you are stuffed. The more you eat the more weight you will lose.
11. Stay on the diet 12 days, then stop the diet for 2 days and repeat.

These rules accompany a list of acceptable meals. Commentary would only diminish this diet's beauty.

What peculiar diet fads do you have experience with? Did they work?

Erik Dies is an occasional contributor to mentalfloss.com.

February 1, 2008 - 3:07pm
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