Don’t let your desire to lose 10 pounds lead you down an unhealthy path. From liquid-only detoxes to cabbage soup diets, there are plenty of tactics that promise to help you shed pounds fast—and miraculously stay slim for life. But most too-good-to-be-true weight loss plans are ineffective at best, and in some cases, can have serious health consequences.
1. Juice Cleanse
A juice-only diet might leave you feeling light and clean. Problem is, juices have almost zero protein. “So you’ll lose water weight and muscle mass, but not fat,” Caroline Cederquist, MD, a weight management doctor and founder of the meal delivery service bistro says. And once you go back to solid food, those pounds will pile right back on.
2. Skipping Meals
Passing on breakfast, lunch, or dinner might be an easy way to drastically slash your calorie intake. But doing so will probably backfire. One recent animal study published in The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry found that mice who ate just one meal daily wound up gorging on their food—and packing on unhealthy belly fat.
3. Going Gluten-Free
Despite what some celebrities might say, there’s no scientific evidence showing that a gluten-free diet will help you get lean. In fact, it might do the opposite—especially if you rely on gluten-free packaged foods like breads or muffins. “Manufacturers add extra fat, salt, and sugar to make up for the missing flavor and texture of gluten. So these foods are often higher in calories,” registered dietitian Jennifer McDaniel, MS, RDN, CSSD, LD, tells us.
4. Drinking Vinegar Before Every Meal
Some findings do show that vinegar promotes healthier blood sugar levels and feelings of satiety. But since drinking highly acidic liquids like vinegar can irritate the throat and stomach it shouldn’t be something you do on the reg, Cederquist says, adding, “My recommendation is to use vinegar as a healthy alternative to salad dressings and to continue to eat a nutritionally balanced diet.”
5. Eating Fat-Free Everything
Foregoing all forms of fat—including healthy ones like olive oil and avocado—won’t just leave your food bland at tasteless, it could make you sick, too. Not eating enough fat has been associated with hunger, dry skin, and extreme mental fatigue. Not to mention, low-fat diets are completely ineffective for weight loss, according to a recent analysis of 53 studies and nearly 70,000 participants published in The Lancet.
6. Cutting Out Entire Food Groups
Sure, it might seem like swearing off carbs or sugar will be the answer to your weight problems but that’s simply not the case. “Each food group contains vital nutrients that our bodies need to function,” Cederquist says. Plus, you could find yourself with massive cravings for the foods you cut out. “It’s all about balance,” Cederquist adds.