Don't Fall for These 10 Weight-Loss Gimmicks

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THE WRONG STUFF

Losing weight requires both rock-solid commitment and a plan for reaching and maintaining the goal. There's no shortage of weight-loss strategies out there, but the trick is finding one that doesn't chomp away at your wallet or your health. In truth, nothing beats eating right and moving more (that means daily) as a path to losing weight. Here are 10 gimmicks to avoid on your slim-down journey.Related: 13 foods to keep your wallet and waistline in checkRelated: 10 fitness essentials for $25 and less

DIET CREAMS

It sounds ridiculous, but self-proclaimed weight-loss and "trimming" creams actually exist. For $50 or more, there are creams that invite users to rub them in, sit back, and watch their midsections (or wherever) start to shrink. Really? Experts stress that any weight-loss strategy that promises results without exercise and proper nutrition is surely a gimmick. Online reviews of these products say that effects were noticeable only when the cream was augmented by exercise.

7-MINUTE WORKOUTS

There's no question that losing weight takes time that's not always available, which makes working out for a mere seven minutes particularly appealing. But experts say that just isn't enough. A small amount of exercise is certainly better than nothing, but any significant benefit from this workout routine requires several consecutive repeats. Suddenly, a seven-minute workout mushrooms to a commitment of at least 21 minutes. Don't be fooled by the hype.

DIET PILLS

It's possible to shed pounds with diet pills, but ongoing use -- and expense -- is necessary to keep the weight off. Moreover, experts at Mayo Clinic note that research about the pills' effectiveness is slim, express qualms about the ingredients, and caution that they can have unpleasant side effects, such as irregular heartbeat, upset stomach, loose stools, and insomnia. Only a handful of weight-loss pills have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Bottom line: Diet pills are no substitute for 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 the body to retain less water. But shedding water weight is a quick fix that doesn't last, and shunning carbs starves muscles of their energy stores. No-carb dieters end up feeling moody and lethargic. Carbohydrates such as sweet potatoes and whole grains belong in a well-rounded diet, says fitness expert Kami Blakeman, and are best consumed after a workout when the body can process them efficiently.

OTHER ELIMINATION DIETS

Eating healthy is a critical component of any weight-reduction plan, and that means a balanced diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and minimally processed foods. Weight-loss plans that eliminate any key source of nutrition are unlikely to deliver healthy and sustainable outcomes.

WAIST TRAINING

This is as ridiculous as it sounds. Unfortunately, celebrities such as the Kardashian sisters, Jessica Alba, and Amber Rose have acknowledged using a corset to "train" their waists into a slim-as-all-get-out size. Really, though, this weight-loss hack will just make you uncomfortable and look oh-so pinched. It can even damage internal organs and ribs, according to Women's Health. Again, any device that purports to produce weight loss without a healthy diet and exercise routine is likely a gimmick.

VERY LOW-CALORIE DIETS

A crash diet will come back to bite you. Starving a body of essential nutrients to lose weight quickly is counterproductive. Instead of burning off pounds, this strategy burns muscle. Less muscle means a slower metabolism, which is precisely the wrong outcome. Plus, this type of weight-loss plan can't last. Weight will evaporate quickly (most being water weight), but then what? Fans of this approach are doomed to regain the weight once normal eating resumes.

SHAKES

Many dieters turn to shakes as a snack or meal replacement. But if a serving contains less than 10 grams of protein -- the minimum needed to build muscle mass -- any lean muscle developed by working out will wind up eating itself. Weight may disappear quickly with a shake diet, but it isn't the type of weight to lose. Check the ingredients carefully and choose a brand that's low in carbohydrates and sugar and loaded with vitamins, as well as enough fiber to maintain a healthy digestive tract. Spurn anything with trans fats or saturated fats. Brands such as Pure Protein and Atkins meet these criteria, but a little sleuthing for online recipes to make at home can save money.

DIURETICS

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 body chemistry. Along with water, essential minerals such as potassium and magnesium are lost. Counterintuitively, diuretic pills can work against the body by causing it to swell from dehydration.

DIETS THAT SOUND TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE

Some diets sound deliciously appealing -- there's the cookie diet, the candy diet, and the grapefruit diet. But think about it: Does eating four to six cookies a day really seem like a sustainable path to weight loss? Again, if the plan doesn't entail a lifestyle change that includes exercise and a balanced diet, it's probably a gimmick.

Emily Lugg

Emily Lugg is a freelance writer and writing tutor in the Writing Center at Ohio Wesleyan University. Always looking for the best investment for her family at the cheapest price, Emily uses research and consumer reviews as her sharpest tools for the savviest shopping.

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