LOSE WEIGHT, NOT MONEY
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. (Some diet foods actually make it harder to lose weight.) In truth, nothing beats eating right and moving more (that means daily) as a path to losing weight. Here are 12 gimmicks to avoid on your slim-down journey.
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.
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.
THE OBALON BALLOON PILL
The Obalon balloon pill is just what it sounds like: Weight loss seekers swallow a pill that contains a deflated balloon. Attached to the pill is a thin tube that doctors use to inflate the balloon once the pill is inside the stomach. Up to three pills can be swallowed at a time and remain in the stomach for several months to create the sensation of being full, with the idea of limiting the amount of food eaten. Available in the European Union since 2014, the pill was approved for use in the U.S. by the Food and Drug Administration in 2016. But there are concerns that the balloon could burst or press on organs, causing bleeding, blockage, or infection -- with potentially harmful consequences.
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 FDA. Bottom line: Diet pills are no substitute for lifestyle changes.
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 all 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.
Celebrities such as the Kardashian sisters, Jessica Alba, and Amber Rose have acknowledged using a corset to "train" their waists to 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.
Many dieters turn to shakes or smoothies 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 right 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.
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.
The process of wrapping the body tightly in hot towels claims to take inches off the waist in just one short session. The idea is that the body will lose water weight quickly, not unlike the effect of diuretics. While weight loss can be dramatic, it's only temporary. Also, the quick loss of water can shock to the body resulting in low blood volume caused by severe dehydration. Dehydration can also cause light-headedness and irregular heart rhythms.
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.