The Unhealthiest Diets for Weight Loss

Jeremy Korman';

By Jeremy Korman

Posted on September 28th, 2021 in Weight Loss

Every year, approximately 45 million people in the U.S. go on a diet in the hope of shedding their extra pounds, and they spend a whopping $33 billion annually on weight loss products. Alarmingly, nearly 43% of Americans are obese or morbidly obese, which can and will, in most cases, take a toll on their health.

Obesity is associated with health problems such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, obstructive sleep apnea, stroke, and even cancer. People who carry plenty of extra weight are at high risk of developing 13 types of cancer, among which breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, liver cancer, ovarian cancer.

Furthermore, being too heavy places you at a high risk of depression. Consequently, the urge to lose weight for these people is understandable and natural.

Consult Your Doctor or a Registered Dietician Nutritionist

However, some of the diets people try in their attempt to lose weight can be extremely detrimental to their health and thereby cause more harm than good. It is important to keep in mind that only a nutritionist or dietitian has the expertise to recommend you a diet, which will be customized to meet the needs of your body.

The power of exercise should not be underestimated either, as the majority of individuals who are successful in losing weight have combined a healthy, nutritious, and balanced diet with regular physical activity. Because so many people are struggling to shed a few or more pounds, being well-informed with regard to the most effective and safe diets is crucial. The following article will discuss five of the unhealthiest diets you should avoid if you have decided to embark on a weight loss journey.

1. The Keto Diet

In 2020, the term “keto” was the most popular word related to food that people typed in their Internet browsers, with over 25 million searches on Google. The keto diet has overtaken previous ones such as Atkins and intermittent fasting. It entails consuming foods that are high in fat, have a moderate amount of protein, and are very low in carbohydrates. This diet is notorious for being challenging, particularly if the person is on it without proper medical supervision. While you can lose weight quite fast with the keto diet, you can easily gain it back, as it is difficult to stick to it.

Furthermore, the supposed health benefits of the keto diet, which include the alleviation of diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and cancer, have never been proven by medical studies. In fact, the keto diet implies restricting your intake of foods that help fight cancer and heart disease, such as whole grains and legumes. Another key aspect that makes this diet potentially dangerous is that some people will eat plenty of spinach and kale, whereas others will have a large amount of bacon and eggs. For this reason, the latter category has a greater risk of developing serious health problems if these people stay on the keto diet for a long period of time.

On the bright side, people can follow the keto diet in a safe and effective way if they make sure they include a lot of foods high in fiber, lean protein, and healthy fats. If you eat like this on the keto diet, your diabetes can actually improve.

The following are the foods you should eat on a regular basis if you are willing to try the keto diet in a healthy way:

  • seafood
  • vegetables low in carbohydrates
  • cheese
  • avocado
  • poultry
  • eggs
  • coconut oil
  • nuts and seeds
  • olive oil
  • berries
  • unsweetened coffee and tea
  • dark chocolate

Nevertheless, we advise you to try a safer diet if you decide to lose weight, as the risks of the keto diet usually outweigh the benefits. The only exception is when this diet has been recommended to you by a nutritionist along with a clear and comprehensive meal plan. Some of the health problems you can experience if you are on the keto diet for too long are low blood pressure, constipation, a higher risk of heart disease, nutrient deficiencies, and kidney stones.

2. The Carnivore Diet

As the name indicates, this diet involves eating preponderantly meat, as well as some cheese and eggs, which can be very detrimental to your health in the long run. There is also a version of the carnivore diet that entails consuming only beef, which is even more dangerous. The carnivore diet leaves out essential foods such as fruits and vegetables, which are renowned for promoting weight loss and helping fight disease. Because the carnivore diet is very high in saturated fat, which is not healthy for your body, it can easily increase your cholesterol levels.

While you may have read the success stories of people who have been on this diet online, you should think twice before trying it or, better yet, discuss this option with a nutritionist. They will most likely advise you against trying it. The food you are supposed to consume during the carnivore diet is also loaded with sodium, which, if present in large amounts, is correlated with multiple types of cancer. It is worthy of note that the carnivore diet is a more extreme form of the keto diet, as it has the purpose of eliminating glucose and turbocharging the ability of the body to burn fat. This process is medically known as ketogenesis.

One very important but overlooked aspect when it comes to this diet is that energy alone is not enough for your body to function properly, as it also needs a wide range of nutrients such as potassium, vitamins, antioxidants, and calcium, most of which cannot be found in meat. A quite outrageous theory implied by the carnivore, as well as by the keto diet, is that our bodies do not need fiber. This hypothesis could not be further from the truth and more dangerous.

Fiber is critical for our health, as it has numerous benefits, including:

  • preventing constipation
  • regulating blood lipid levels and blood glucose
  • supporting the health of the immune system
  • feeding the vital bacteria in your gut microbiome

Perhaps the most pertinent argument that can be brought up to prove that the carnivore diet is not suitable for humans is that we are actually omnivores, and thereby we need food from both plant and animal sources. Moreover, even hypercarnivore animals feed themselves from plant sources. The mid-level carnivore diet is comprised of 30% to 50% of food that comes from plant sources.

3. The Atkins Diet

This diet was invented by cardiologist Robert Atkins and was first published in 1972. It restricts carbohydrates and emphasizes protein and fat. It is the original low-carb diet that has recently been replaced by the keto diet and other similar ones. Although you can shed many extra pounds on the Atkins diet, following it for a long time is problematic.

The main health problem that can arise from staying on this diet for too long concerns the heart, which may cease to function properly as a result of the eating habits proposed by the Atkins diet. This is quite ironic, taking into consideration the fact that the Atkins diet was developed by a cardiologist.

Additionally, this diet can cause the following health issues:

  • constipation
  • kidney problems
  • very low blood sugar
  • electrolyte imbalance
  • fatigue
  • headaches

According to a rating of the best and worst diets, the Atkins diet falls near the bottom, as it is unsafe and may have a negative impact on the health of your heart. Diets that are low-carb also imply a strong link to colon cancer, kidney stones, osteoporosis, as well as kidney disease. Moreover, the Atkins diet can cause joint pain and gout, which is a type of inflammatory arthritis that is extremely painful. Even though the people who advocate the effectiveness of this diet claim that you can lose up to 15 pounds during the first 2 weeks, this rarely happens.

Over 10 million copies of the book that explains what the Atkins diet involves, by the name of “Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution”, which was published 30 years ago, have been sold worldwide so far. Even though you can lose weight if you follow the diet, as well as experience the alleviation of heart disease and diabetes, these are temporary benefits, as the Atkins diet has numerous health risks in the long run. Therefore, if you are considering trying it, we advise you to consult a nutritionist first, as it may not be suitable for your body.

4. The Fruitarian Diet

The fruitarian diet is the opposite of the carnivore diet and entails consuming only fruits. Nonetheless, some people who follow it also eat nuts and seeds. Regardless of how you approach the fruitarian diet, it is quite dangerous, as it deprives your body of essential nutrients such as vitamin B12, which can lead to anemia, protein, zinc, vitamin D, and calcium.

If you are on a fruitarian diet long enough, you are susceptible to experiencing fatigue, a weak immune system, and osteoporosis. To make matters worse, consuming exclusively fruits can severely damage your teeth, as some fruits are highly acidic.

It is essential to note that the most serious risk of following a fruitarian diet is malnourishment, which is a result of not having a balanced eating plan. Because fruits are rich in many vitamins and antioxidants, they are very beneficial to our health if consumed in moderation, namely 2 to 3 servings a day.

In other words, between 25% and 30% of your daily food intake should be comprised of fruits. Fruits can actually reduce the risk of cancer and other serious chronic diseases. A noteworthy aspect when it comes to losing weight on a fruitarian diet is that you will most likely slim down, but you will lose muscle, not fat, which is neither desirable nor healthy.

The following are the most concerning health problems that can arise from following a fruitarian diet for too long:

  • weight gain: while this may seem counterintuitive, it can really happen on a fruitarian diet, as fruits are loaded with natural sugars, and depending on how many you eat, they may actually contribute to weight gain
  • diabetes: pre-diabetic and diabetic individuals who follow the fruitarian diet are at high risk of experiencing a worsening of their condition since the natural sugars in fruits can negatively impact blood sugar levels
  • tooth decay: two substances found in fruit can increase your risk of tooth decay, and these are natural sugars and acid, which is present in citrus fruits
  • nutritional deficiencies: people who have been on a fruitarian diet for more than a few months typically have a low level of vitamin B12, iodine, vitamin D, and omega-3 fatty acids, and the absence of these essential nutrients will eventually lead to nutritional deficiencies
  • starvation mode: since the fruitarian diet entails relying only on fruits, your body will be lacking in fats, vitamins, and proteins, which may trigger starvation mode, a condition that will slow down your metabolism in order to preserve as much energy as possible for vital functions

The bottom line is that you should not try going on a fruitarian diet, as it is one of the most harmful ones, and no professional nutritionist will recommend it. Most fruitarians consume between 50% and 75% fruits daily, which is too much. However, if you would like your weight loss diet to contain a lot of fruit and still be healthy, a dietician can adjust it so that what you eat will be beneficial to your health and gradually lead to weight loss.

One example of how a fruitarian diet can be altered to be slightly healthier is the following:

  • 50% fruit
  • 20% plant-based protein
  • 20% vegetables
  • 10% whole grains

By eating the amount recommended for each food group daily, your risk of malnourishment and other health issues decreases to some extent, although the fruitarian diet remains a quite dangerous one. There are many other safe and healthy diets to choose from if you have been considering this diet, such as the raw vegan diet.

It will provide you with substantially more crucial nutrients, and it can result in weight loss if followed as your nutritionist advised you. Last but not least, you should be aware that a raw vegan diet also has risks and can be a slippery slope if you are not getting enough nutrients.

5. The Master Cleanse Diet

Before delving into the topic, it is critical to mention that all cleanse diets are very dangerous and can easily lead to malnourishment. The master cleanse diet took off in 2006 and entails drinking a mix of lemon juice, cayenne pepper, maple syrup, and water 6 to 12 times a day. Since it is extremely low in calories, weight loss is guaranteed, but the risks undoubtedly outweigh the benefits.

Even if the master cleanse diet does not cause harm to your body, your experience with it will most likely be frustrating, as you will gain back the pounds you lost or even more once you return to your normal eating habits.

The master cleanse diet is usually supposed to be followed for 10 days, and a variation of it comes from the book “The Master Cleanse” by Stanley Burroughs, published in 2013. It promises to detox your digestive system and to make you feel energetic, healthy, vital, and happy. Nevertheless, people do not need to follow a diet to have their bodies cleansed, as this is the role of our liver and kidneys, which remove waste from our system. With the master cleanse diet, you will lose not only fat but also bone, water, and muscle, which can be quite dangerous.

Besides having a low caloric content, the master cleanse diet is also deficient in nutrients such as:

  • protein
  • carbohydrates
  • essential fats
  • fiber
  • vitamins
  • minerals

The master cleanse is actually a crash diet and thereby extremely detrimental to your health. While you are on it, you are prone to experiencing headaches, dizziness, nausea, and diarrhea, as the diet involves the use of a nightly herbal laxative. We advise you against trying the master cleanse diet, as there are so many other safe and balanced meal plans you can follow to reach your goal weight.

Keep in mind that only a nutritionist or dietitian can offer you reliable and effective advice with regard to shedding your extra pounds. If you have one of the diets explained in this article in mind, you should not hesitate and ask a professional about it, as they may be able to adjust it to meet the needs of your body.