3 Types of Diets that Don’t Work, and Why You Should Stay Away from Them

With dozens of new diets coming out every year, it can be hard to know which ones are worth paying attention to and which ones are not actually healthy or effective. To help you decide, we’ve put together a list of diets that generally don’t work, and why.

  1. Diets that focus on a single food.

Anytime you hear anyone tell you to eat only cabbage, only carrots, only grapefruit, or for that matter, drink only juice, you should be very suspicious. The human body is designed to process a wide variety of foods, and a single food doesn’t have the nutritional requirements to support the human body.

You may end up losing weight on one of these diets, simply because it’s impossible to take in enough calories from grapefruit alone.  However, it’s important to understand that they’re depriving your body of nutrients and that because they’re not sustainable in the long term, they’re not effective for long-term weight loss.

  1. Detox diets and cleanses

Detox diets frequently feature cutting out a large number of foods and then focusing on a few hyper-nutritious foods. There is technically nothing wrong with doing these types of diets for a short period of time. The problem is that there is no scientific evidence that these diets cleanse the body in any way. The kidneys and liver are the body’s natural cleansing centers, and they do their job slowly over time, not all at once.

  1. “Superfood”-heavy diets

Whether it’s green tea, goji berries, or ancient grains, the health world loves to pick a new food and tell you that you should be centering your diet around this latest and greatest food discovery. Claims like these usually generate posts all over the Internet and send the health-conscious running to their local store to pick up this latest superfood. Some of these health claims may indeed hold some water, but no superfood is going to change your overall health and make a huge difference in how your body functions.

The common thread between these diets is their unhealthy focus on a magical solution to unlocking health, rather than the more boring approach that actually works.  Instead, more articles should be focusing on including variety and moderation in your diet.

Our advice? Food writer Michael Pollan, after writing an entire book on why humans are bad at coming up with diets that work, was nonetheless ultimately able to come up with a good general rule for how to eat a healthy diet: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” As far as defining what “food” means, Pollan’s rule is that to be real food, it has to be recognizable by our great-grandparents (i.e. lettuce is food, cheese that can be sprayed from a can is not food).

What do you think? Has one of these diets worked for you long-term? Let us know about your experience!