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Don't Fall for These 10 Weight-Loss Gimmicks

Posted on 1/21/2015 8:35 EST

The goal of losing weight consistently pops up on lists of New Year's resolutions. If you've committed to trimming the fat, no doubt you want to run from weight-loss gimmicks that drain your money and your energy. At the end of the day, nothing beats eating right and moving more (that means daily) as a path to losing weight. Read on for strategies you'll want to avoid on your slim-down journey.

weight-loss scams
Photo by Piotr Marcinski/shutterstock

Diet Creams.

It sounds ridiculous, but self-proclaimed weight-loss and "trimming" creams actually exist. For $50 or more, you can find creams that invite you to rub them in, sit back, and watch your midsection (or wherever) start to shrink. Really? Experts stress that any weight-loss strategy that promises results without exercise and proper nutrition is most definitely a gimmick. Many online reviews of these products report that effects were noticeable only when the cream was augmented by exercise.

7-Minute Workouts.

There is no question that losing weight takes time that you don't always have, which makes working out for a mere seven minutes particularly appealing. But experts insist that just isn't enough. While a small amount of exercise is better than nothing, research shows that a seven-minute workout should be completed at least three times a day (for a total of 21 minutes or more) to really make a difference. You might not lose any money with the free app and online programs, but seven minutes is just a down payment on the real investment.

Diet Pills.

You may drop pounds with diet pills, but ongoing use, and therefore expense, is necessary to keep the weight off. Moreover, experts question the pills' effectiveness, are leery of the ingredients, and caution about unpleasant side effects, such as pulmonary hypertension, high blood pressure, increased heart rate, dizziness, restlessness, and insomnia. Only a few over-the-counter dietary supplements have earned approval by the Food and Drug Administration (Belviq, Qsymia, and Contrave are examples) and several diet pill brands have been recalled, including ProSlim Plus, 3 Days Fit, 24 Hours Diet, Perfect Slim, and Super Slimming, to name a few. In short, diet pills are no substitute for those all-important lifestyle changes.

No-Carb Diet.

This diet plan has been around for ages but is most commonly remembered as the Atkins diet. Sure, it produces results at the beginning, because eliminating carbohydrates causes your body to retain less water. But shedding water weight is a quick fix that doesn't last. Not only will you gain the weight back when you return to eating "normally," but by shunning carbs completely, you starve your muscles of their energy stores and end up feeling moody and lethargic. Carbohydrates such as sweet potatoes and whole grains belong in a well-rounded diet and are best consumed after a workout when your body can process them efficiently, fitness expert Kami Blakeman says.

Other Fad Diets.

Eating healthy is a critical component of any weight-reduction plan, and that means a balanced diet full of whole, minimally processed foods. Diets that eliminate any key source of nutrition -- vegetables, protein, fruit, or carbs -- are unlikely to deliver healthy outcomes. Instead, fitness expert Kami Blakeman recommends reaching for food products that contain no more than 10 ingredients, a sign of minimal processing.

Waist Training.

This is as ridiculous as it sounds. Unfortunately, many celebrities are endorsing this trick of using a corset to "train" your waist to stay slimmer. Really, though, this will just make you uncomfortable. It can even cause damage to your internal organs and rib cage, according to Women's Health. Again, any weight loss tool that promotes a device rather than a real change in diet or exercise is likely a gimmick.

Very Low-Calorie Diets.

A crash diet will only come back to bite you. Starving your body of essential nutrients to lose weight quickly actually works against you: Instead of burning fat off of your body, you are burning muscle to lose weight. When you have less muscle, your metabolism slows down -- which is exactly what you are trying to avoid. Plus, this type of diet just can't last. You might drop a bunch of weight quickly (most of it is water weight), but then what? You will gain back the weight as quickly as you took it off.


Many dieters turn to shakes as a snack or meal replacement, and there are a number that can help you lose weight. But if there are less than 10 grams of protein in each serving -- the minimum needed to build muscle mass -- any lean muscle you develop by working out will wind up eating itself. You may lose weight quickly, but it won't be the type of weight you want to shed. Check the ingredients list carefully and choose a brand that is low in carbs and sugar, is loaded with vitamins, and contains enough fiber to maintain a healthy digestive tract. Spurn anything that contains trans fats or saturated fats. Pure Protein and Atkins meet these criteria, although you can also make your own at home with a little online searching for recipes.


Like some other weight-loss gimmicks, diuretics focus on loss of fluid, which is anything but a long-term solution. Taking a diuretic creates an imbalance in your body chemistry. Along with water, you can lose essential minerals including potassium and magnesium. The pills may work against you by causing your body to swell from dehydration.

Anything That Sounds Too Good to Be True.

Some diets sound deliciously appealing -- there's the cookie diet, the candy diet, or even the grapefruit diet. But think about it: Does eating four to six cookies a day really sound like the path to losing weight? Again, if the plan doesn't entail changing your lifestyle to include exercise and eating a balanced diet, it's probably a gimmick.

by Emily Lugg (Google+ Profile)

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