10 Fad Diets of the Last 10 Years

These popular diets range from somewhat reasonable to utterly insane, but they all have one thing in common—they focus on major weight loss without an emphasis on exercise and often result in the return of weight over time.

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Also known as “the caveman diet,” Paleo focuses on foods that we can theoretically hunt or find in nature, the same way our hunter-gatherer ancestors did before the agricultural revolution—and before obesity became an epidemic. The diet relies on grass-fed meat, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, and fresh fruits and vegetables, so you can say goodbye to most carbs, deep-fried snacks, baked goodies and pre-packaged food.

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The Master Cleanse

When Beyoncé needed to lose weight for her role in Dreamgirls, she went on The Master Cleanse, a diet concept that has existed since 1940. During the cleanse, which usually lasts about two weeks, the dieter drinks only fresh lemon juice mixed with water, pure maple syrup and cayenne pepper. Mild laxatives are also used. While it’s a speedy way to drop a few pounds, it’s not a long-term or healthy way to get rid of junk in your trunk.

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The Cabbage Soup Diet or The Grapefruit Diet

It’s not rocket science; if you eat meals that mainly rely on low-calorie foods such as cabbage soup or grapefruit and eat an average of 500 or 800 calories per day (a healthy range is about 1,500 to 2,500, depending on age and lifestyle), you will rapidly lose weight because you’re starving your body. But over time, without enough calories to function, your metabolism will drop, your body will begin to hold onto fat and your desire for food will increase.

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The Alkaline Diet

Want to look like Gisele Bündchen or Gwyneth Paltrow? Follow their carefully regimented meal plans, where they eat alkaline-rich foods (low-sugar fruits and veggies, nuts and seeds, legumes, whole grains) and avoid acidic foods (coffee, alcohol, dairy, pasta, bread, meat) to balance their pH levels. Ah, if only it were that simple! If you think this diet sounds kind of weird and new agey, you’re right.

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Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig or Nutrisystem

With celebrity spokespeople (Oprah Winfrey for Weight Watchers, Kirstie Alley for Jenny Craig, Janet Jackson for Nutrisystem), these diet plans offer a variety of tools to help with weight-loss such as point systems, meetings, meal delivery, recipes and diet consultants. The downside? You may not learn to make your own healthy meals and will likely gain weight as soon as you stop the program.

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The Zone Diet

Supposedly once followed by Jennifer Aniston to help maintain her slim Friends bod, The Zone Diet involves eating one-third of a plate of lean protein at every meal (the size of your palm), about two-thirds vegetables and some low-sugar fruit, plus a bit of monounsaturated fat such as olive oil, avocado or almonds. This diet claims to reduce inflammation and result in the loss of body fat.

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Atkins or The South Beach Diet

Both Atkins and The South Beach Diet have the same basic idea: if you cut down on carbs such as bread, pasta and refined sugar, your body will stop burning sugar as fuel and will burn fat instead. But is a life without baguettes and spaghetti really worth living?

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The Mediterranean Diet

Ever dreamed of living under the Tuscan sun? If a trip to Italy is out of the cards, you can still eat like you live by the Mediterranean Sea by swapping red meat for fish and poultry, consuming mostly fruits, veggies, whole grains, legumes and nuts, cutting out butter in favour of olive oil, drinking red wine and making each meal an experience by dining with friends and family.

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The Raw Food Diet

If you ask Demi Moore or Uma Thurman, eating only raw whole foods (nothing heated beyond 115˙F) is the way to fit into skinny jeans. For most participants, The Raw Food Diet is basically a way of eating vegan and discarding anything processed. The real bonus? You can store your shoes in your oven because you won’t need that pile of metal for cooking anymore.

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The Macrobiotic Diet

Made famous by supernaturally fit superstar Madonna, The Macrobiotic Diet (which actually has quite a few variations) cuts out wheat, red meat, poultry, eggs and dairy. It’s a super strict regimen that involves a lot of tofu, tempeh and sea vegetables and should only be attempted if you’re prepared to hate your life.

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