January is the most popular time of the year to start a new diet after the excess of Christmas and New Year parties.
But if you’re thinking of trying out a quick-fix fad plan to get instant results, you may change your mind after reading this.
Qualified nutritionists and a GP have exclusively told FEMAIL Food&Drink some of the shocking side effects you can suffer from if you embark on an extreme diet.
And while some can actually cause you to gain weight, others can have potentially terrifying symptoms such as heart problems and complications of the brain and organs.
Many people start a diet in January after over indulging in February, but some quick-fix extreme plans can cause serious side effects
GP Dr Sarah Brewer, Harley Street nutritionist Rhiannon Lambert, nutritionist and co-author of the Cheats and Eats lifestyle programme Rob Hobson, and leading London nutritionist Lily Soutter have all shared the worst diets that they would never recommend to clients, and what they can do to your body.
Dr Brewer says weird diets she has come across include eating tissue paper or living off sunshine – neither of which she would advise slimmers to do.
She said: ‘ We all want fast, miracle weight loss, so fad and extreme diets will always be around. The worst ones I’ve heard of include eating paper tissues or cotton wool balls in order to feel full, and chewing food then spitting out into a jug rather than swallowing.
‘I’ve even met someone socially who claimed to have eating nothing for years and to survive on sunshine – I really wanted to follow her for a few days to prove her wrong.
‘The best advise is to eat less, exercise more, and follow a higher protein, lower GI diet. The Cheats And Eats diet is one of the more sensible approaches that can help you lose weight.’
These diets are definitely fads to avoid, as they could cause you serious problems, even if they do lead to weight loss.
The Grapefruit Diet was supposedly championed by celebrities such as Kylie Minogue and actress Brook Shields
WHAT IS IT? The grapefruit diet follows a low 800-calorie diet of lean protein, minimal carbohydrates where you eat a grapefruit before every meal, owed to the idea that grapefruit burns fat.
WHAT ARE THE SIDE EFFECTS? Rhiannon says: ‘This diet can lead to the general side effects of fatigue, irritability, bad breath and if followed for long periods of time more substantial serious effects can arise such as anaemia and osteoporosis.’
Rob adds: ‘You run the risk of mineral deficiencies as well as dizziness and an upset stomach.’
MAPLE SYRUP DIET
WHAT IS IT? A liquid diet apparently followed by Beyoncé for the film Dream Girls. It consists of eating nothing for a fortnight and instead drinking a concoction of natural tree syrup, lemon juice, water and cayenne pepper.
WHAT ARE THE SIDE EFFECTS? Rhiannon, whose book Re-Nourish is published on December 28, says: ‘Firstly, you lose the power to actually chew on food which provides satiation, but the side effects include hunger, low energy, nausea, little to none nutrients, and because of the high sugar content this can affect your teeth dramatically.’
Rob adds: ‘Side effects are likely to be fatigue, risk of nutrient deficiencies, blood sugar imbalances, headaches, irritability and of course chronic hunger.’
GASTRIC BAND IN A GLASS DIETS
Gastric band in a glass diets have been endorsed by Geordie Shore’s Holly Hagan and Valleys star Lateysha Grace Read
WHAT IS IT? The active ingredient is a type of fibre called glucomannan, which is derived from the root of the konjac plant. This fibre forms into a gel that expands within stomach and is meant to help stimulate feelings of fullness. Manufacturers state that the gel acts as a temporary gastric band and can have appetite suppressant effects.
WHAT ARE THE SIDE EFFECTS? Lily said: ‘It’s vital to remember that gastic band in a glass pills can affect the absorption of medication including the contraceptive pill. It’s also important to note that extreme caution should be taken for those on Diabetic medication as the tablets affect blood sugar levels. Lastly these tablets can swell in size in the throat and if consumed with insufficient water there is a risk of choking.’
WHAT IS IT? The Hollywood diet promises a weight loss of up to 10 pounds in 48 hours. This diet comprises of just liquid juice and unlike the Maple Syrup diet, you can only have four glasses each day.
WHAT ARE THE SIDE EFFECTS? Rhiannon says: ‘This diet will lead to low blood sugar, leading to side effects of headaches, weakness, shakiness and confusion. While weight loss may happen, this is likely water weight and due to the calorie deficit, everything in your body will slow down due to being in starvation mode, and this can actually lead to additional weight gain when the diet stopped.’
Jessica Alba and Miranda Kerr are said to be fans of a juice diet
WHAT IS IT? This involves a diet of just consuming juices of fresh vegetables and fruit for usually a minimum of three days.
WHAT ARE THE SIDE EFFECTS? Rhiannon says: ‘While you see celebrities highlighting their juice diets, they are lacking in so many nutrients such as carbohydrates, proteins, essential fats, and vitamins and minerals that essential for optimal health. Apart from this, juicing leaves some awful side effects such as; low energy, headaches, diarrhoea or constipation and sometimes bad breath. As well as this, if you suffer from diabetes juicing can be dangerous as it effects your blood sugar levels.’
Rob adds: ‘Regular juicing fasts for any prolonged period of time can impact on blood sugar levels making them particularly bad for people with diabetes. Side effects can include headaches, diarrhoea and bad breath, which some naively associate with riding the body of toxins. Long term it can cause nutrient deficiencies, muscle loss and fatigue.’
DETOX TEA DIETS
Christina Milian and Hilary Duff are said to be drinkers of detox teas, but they can cause upset stomachs
WHAT IS IT? Teas for weight loss and flat tummies have been endorsed by celebrities and have become all the rage, claiming to boost metabolism, cleanse your digestive tract and reduce bloating.
WHAT ARE THE SIDE EFFECTS? Lily said: ‘A common ingredient called senna is used within the teas and acts as a laxative. Senna can irritate the stomach lining and can cause cramps and diarrhoea. For those suffering with IBS, senna can only exasperate symptoms. If these teas are consumed in large quantities they may even lead to a disruption with the body’s electrolyte balance which may can cause heart problems in the long run.’
Dr Michael Mosley once tested out the gruesome tapeworm diet for a documentary but ended up gaining 2lbs
WHAT IS IT? This is one of the most insane and creepiest diets. Basically, you swallow a pill that has a tapeworm egg inside, once it eventually hatches and grows inside your body, it eats whatever you eat. This comes from the idea that you can consume ‘extra’ calories and lose weight because the tapeworm will consume it!
WHAT ARE THE SIDE EFFECTS? Rhiannon says: ‘However, the side effects and risks are endless. Firstly, you cannot decide where it attaches itself to, this could be any organ or tissue outside your digestive tract which could cause serious damage. This could lead to diarrhoea, fever, and it can also lead to complications such as blockage of the bile ducts or appendix, and even complications of the brain and nervous system.’
Rob adds: ‘This is the same thing as a tapeworm infection and if it attaches itself to organs outside your digestive tract, then you risk invasive infection causing diarrhea, stomach pain, weakness, fever and nausea as well as neurological and organ complications. Still think nothing tastes as good as thin feels?’
Mick Jagger and Megan Fox are among celebrity followers of a ketogenic diet, which promotes high fat and low carb foods
WHAT IS IT? The ketogenic diet involves a very low-carb and high-fat intake, sharing similarities with the Atkins diet. On a ketogenic diets you would tend to consume under 50g carbohydrate per day, which is extremely low, and can push the body into ketosis (switches the body from burning carbohydrates to burning body fat).
WHAT ARE THE SIDE EFFECTS? Lily said: ‘There are many potential side effects from following a ketogenic diet, including bad breath, fatigue, insomnia, brain fog, slow thinking, dizziness, nausea, nutrient deficiencies, elevated heart rate, leg cramps, decreased physical performance and low mood.
‘Carbohydrates provide a large amount of the fibre within our diet, which is why digestion can suffer when following a ketogenic diet. It’s not uncommon for chronic constipation to be a side effect.’