By Franziska Spritzler
Many people want to lose weight quickly.
Not surprisingly, methods that promise fast results are tempting. Unfortunately, many of these are overly restrictive and simply ineffective in the long term (1).
What's more, some are downright dangerous.
Here are seven weight loss "quick fixes" that just don't work.
1. Liquid Diets
Liquid weight loss diets have been around for several decades. They involve replacing all or a portion of your meals with a liquid meal or shake.
Some liquid-based weight loss diets include:
- The Cambridge Diet: The strictest option of this diet provides 440–550 calories as meal replacements for up to 12 weeks. The original plan was criticized for providing as few as 330 calories daily without being medically supervised (2).
- Protein-Sparing Modified Fast (PSMF): Under medical supervision, obese patients consume fewer than 800 calories daily for six months. Today's PSMFs are considered safe, whereas earlier versions were linked to deaths (3).
- Optimist and Medifast: Several options are available. Plans providing fewer than 800 calories per day typically last 26 weeks and require medical supervision.
While people can and do lose weight quickly on very low-calorie liquid diets, weight regain is extremely common (4).
This makes sense, since drinking liquid meals doesn't foster healthy eating habits, which are necessary for successful weight maintenance.
In addition, research suggests that following a liquid-based weight loss plan may lead to disordered eating, such as binge eating or food restriction.
In one 28-week study, obese women were assigned to one of several weight loss strategies. By the end of the study, significantly more binge eating occurred in the liquid meal replacement group (5).
While liquid diets may lead to quick, short-term weight loss, they seem to do more harm than good in the long run.
Summary: Very low-calorie liquid diets can produce short-term weight loss. However, they should be supervised by a medical doctor. Weight regain is very common and disordered eating patterns may develop.
2. "Carb-Blocker" Pills
Carb blockers or starch blockers, are supplements claimed to promote easy weight loss.
Complex carbs include grains, potatoes and sweet potatoes. If complex carbs aren't broken down into sugar, their calories can't be absorbed by your body.
However, carb blockers can't completely prevent the digestion and absorption of complex carbs. They only slow down the action of alpha-amylase.
In one study, a starch blocker was found to inhibit more than 96 percent of amylase, yet it only prevented 7 percent of carbs from being absorbed (7).
This suggests that if you took a carb blocker with a serving of spaghetti containing 60 grams of starch, you'd only end up absorbing about 4 fewer grams of carbs and about 16 fewer calories.
Yet, some studies have found that carb blockers may cause moderate weight loss, especially when your carb intake is high. In one study, carb blockers caused the greatest weight loss in people who ate the most carbs (8, 9, 10, 11).
On the other hand, a 2011 review of studies concluded that larger, high-quality studies on carb blockers are needed to determine whether they are effective for weight loss (12).
In addition, carb-blocking supplements may cause digestive issues in some people, such as gas, diarrhea and bloating.
Overall, you shouldn't reply on carb blockers to produce significant weight loss.
Summary: Carb blockers or starch blockers inhibit the enzyme responsible for starch digestion. However, they can't block complex carb absorption altogether and their effect on weight appears minimal.
3. Juicing, Cleanses and Detoxes
Various cleanses and detox diets have become very popular lately.
In addition to promising fast weight loss, they typically claim to purge your body of "toxins" that build up over time.
Here is a list of several methods of detoxing or cleansing, which can last anywhere from 1–21 days:
- Drink nothing but water for up to seven days
- Consume only fresh fruit and vegetable juices
- Drink specific liquid mixtures, such as lemonade sweetened with maple syrup and cayenne pepper
- Consume only clear liquids while taking laxatives, enemas or herbs to "colon cleanse"
Because they are so low in calories, these diets can produce quick weight loss. For instance, some detox plans claim you can lose up to 21 pounds in 21 days.
However, the majority of the weight lost on these cleanses is likely water, especially during the first few days when weight loss is most rapid.
In the Korean study, women drank a lemon-syrup mixture containing fewer than 500 calories for seven days. Although they lost weight and improved some heart health markers, they also lost an average of 0.6 pounds (0.3 kg) of muscle (14).
This muscle loss isn't surprising, given that cleanses usually provide fewer than 20 grams of protein per day. To protect muscle health, adults need at least 0.45 grams of protein per pound (1 gram per kilogram) or a minimum of 50 grams daily (15).
What's more, your protein needs increase during weight loss. Higher protein intake has been shown to help prevent muscle loss in people who are actively losing weight. Also, the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn at rest (16, 17, 18).
Finally, as far as ridding your body of toxins, your liver and other organs already perform this function every day. "Detoxing" your body is completely unnecessary.
In fact, it's best to steer clear of these detoxes and cleanses altogether.
Summary: Juicing, detoxes or cleanses may produce rapid weight loss, but a large portion of this weight loss is water. They also contain very little protein, which can lead to muscle loss and a slower metabolism.
4. Crash Diets and Fad Diets
Crash or fad diets have always been popular because they promise fast weight loss if you follow very specific guidelines.
Some of the most well-known crash diets have been around for decades and new ones are constantly being created.
Here are a few examples of popular crash or fad diets:
- Cabbage Soup Diet: This diet promises weight loss of up to 10 pounds in 7 days. Each day you eat all you want of one or two types of food. You also consume a soup made from cabbage and other vegetables every day.
- Grapefruit Diet: This classic crash weight loss plan was created in the 1930s and based on grapefruit's supposed fat-burning properties. In addition to grapefruit at every meal, you consume low-carb, high-protein foods like eggs and meat.
- Five-Bite Diet: This approach involves eating anything you want, but it only allows you to take five bites per meal. It was created by Dr. Alwin Lewis, who promises weight loss of up to 15 pounds per week.
- Baby Food Diet: On this diet, you replace 1–2 meals per day with several jars of baby food containing 25–75 calories each, consumed at one-hour intervals during the day.
Although some of these diets sound amusing, they aren't a good idea if your goal is sustainable weight loss. They aren't well balanced, nutritious or based on science.
Most of them are very low in calories, which can certainly produce quick weight loss in the short term.
In addition, these fad diets are typically low in protein. As discussed previously, this can cause many of the same effects as drastic calorie restriction.
In the case of the Grapefruit Diet, which does provide adequate protein and calories, there is no evidence that grapefruit increases fat burning. Thus, any weight loss experienced on this plan will mainly be due to its high protein and low carb content.
Summary: Crash or fad diets rely on gimmicks and promises of rapid weight loss. However, they are typically unbalanced, low in calories and protein and associated with weight regain.
5. "Fat-Burner" Pills
Taking a pill that helps you burn fat may seem like the perfect solution for taking weight off quickly.
However, some of these pills contain questionable ingredients that may end up doing far more harm than good.
In one study, men experienced a boost in metabolic rate after consuming a supplement containing caffeine and antioxidants like EGCG, which is found in green tea (27).
Although modest amounts of caffeine are safe and may help promote fat loss and boost physical performance, some fat burners contain substances that may cause dangerous side effects.
Ironically, ads for fat-burners and weight loss pills are often found in women's fitness magazines that promote a healthy lifestyle (32).
Summary: Fat-burner pills contain caffeine and other ingredients that may boost metabolism. However, there is no evidence that these pills are more effective than caffeine alone and some have been linked to liver damage.
6. Eating Only One Food
Eating only one food has been a popular quick weight loss approach for decades.
Known as monotrophic eating or "mono eating," it involves eating as much as you want of one food for several days. Examples include eating only fruits, eggs, potatoes or cookies.
Like the other methods discussed, rapid short-term weight loss can occur with this strategy. This is mainly due to becoming so tired of eating only one food that your calorie intake automatically decreases.
One problem with this eating strategy is that it's unbalanced. While eating only eggs provides far more protein and other nutrients than a diet consisting of potatoes or cookies, it lacks the fiber and antioxidants found in plant foods.
There are few, if any, studies on mono eating. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that people almost always regain the weight after the diet is over.
And like other diets that severely restrict food choices, it doesn't help you develop eating habits that will lead to successful weight maintenance.
Summary: Eating only one food may cause weight loss due to an automatic reduction in calories. However, this unbalanced approach can't be maintained long term and often leads to weight regain after the diet is over.
7. Raspberry Ketones
Raspberry ketones are compounds found in red raspberries and other berries and fruits.
They are frequently used to add flavor and fragrance to foods and cosmetics. In recent years, they have also been marketed as a weight loss supplement.
Although adiponectin is produced by fat cells, obese people generally have much lower levels of adiponectin than lean people.
But very little research has been conducted in humans and so far the results aren't that impressive.
One supplement that contained a combination of ingredients, including raspberry ketones, was found to increase fat loss in obese people, but only when combined with diet and exercise (36).
On the other hand, a 2016 study found no significant difference in metabolic rate or fat burning among people who took raspberry ketones, compared to those who received a placebo pill (37).
At this point, research doesn't support the use of raspberry ketones for weight loss.
Summary: Although raspberry ketones have been found to increase fat burning in mice at very high dosages, the few human studies available have shown little to no benefit for fat loss.
The Bottom Line
Many diet plans and products promise quick weight loss.
But while some may take off weight temporarily, they're unlikely to help you achieve your goal of losing body fat and keeping it off.
In addition, these "quick-fix" approaches may lead to health problems, disordered eating and regaining more weight than you lost.
The only solution for sustainable fat loss is to follow a well-balanced diet that works for you and stick to it in the long term.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Authority Nutrition.
Many people shop online for everything from clothes to appliances. If they do not like the product, they simply return it. But there's an environmental cost to returns.
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Dolf Gielen and Morgan Bazilian
John Kerry helped bring the world into the Paris climate agreement and expanded America's reputation as a climate leader. That reputation is now in tatters, and President-elect Joe Biden is asking Kerry to rebuild it again – this time as U.S. climate envoy.
Energy Is at the Center of the Climate Challenge<p>The <a href="https://science2017.globalchange.gov/chapter/1/" target="_blank">effects of climate change</a> are already evident across the globe, from <a href="https://theconversation.com/100-degrees-in-siberia-5-ways-the-extreme-arctic-heat-wave-follows-a-disturbing-pattern-141442" target="_blank">extreme heat waves</a> to <a href="https://science2017.globalchange.gov/chapter/12/" target="_blank">sea level rise</a>. But while the challenge is daunting, there is hope. Solar and wind power have become the <a href="https://www.irena.org/publications/2020/Jun/Renewable-Power-Costs-in-2019" target="_blank">cheapest forms of power generation globally</a>, and technology progress and innovation continue apace to support a transition to clean energy.</p><p>In the U.S. under a Biden administration, long-term national climate legislation will depend on who controls the Senate, and that won't be clear until after two run-off elections in Georgia in January.</p><p>But there is no shortage of <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/features/2020-biden-climate-change-advice/" target="_blank">ideas for ways Biden</a> could still take action even if his proposals are blocked in Congress. For example, he could use executive orders and direct government agencies to tighten regulations on greenhouse gas emissions; increase research and development in clean energy technologies; and empower states to exceed national standards, <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-autos-emissions-california/defying-trump-california-locks-in-vehicle-emission-deals-with-major-automakers-idUSKCN25D2CH" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">as California did in the past with auto emission standards</a>. A focus on a just and equitable transition for communities and people affected by the decline of fossil fuels will also be key to creating a sustainable transition.</p><p>The U.S. position as the world's largest oil and gas producer and consumer creates political challenges for any administration. U.S. forays into European energy security are often treated with suspicion. Recently, France blocked <a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/frances-engie-backs-out-of-u-s-lng-deal-11604435609" target="_blank">a multi-billion dollar contract</a> to buy U.S. liquefied natural gas because of concerns about limited emissions regulations in Texas.</p><p>Strengthening cooperation and partnerships with like-minded countries will be critical to bring about a transition to cleaner energy as well as sustainability in agriculture, forestry, water and other sectors of the global economy.</p>
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By Maria Caffrey
As we approach the holidays I, like most people, have been reflecting on everything 2020 has given us (or taken away) while starting to look ahead to 2021.
We Need More Than Listening<p>By now we have all become sadly accustomed to the current administration sidelining scientists, most prominently Dr. Anthony Fauci, because the facts they provide do not fit with the political rhetoric of the moment.</p><p>I have <a href="https://www.csldf.org/2019/08/22/csldf-helps-climate-scientist-maria-caffrey-fight-for-scientific-integrity/" target="_blank">my own history</a> of filing a scientific integrity complaint with the National Park Service (which falls under the Department of the Interior) after senior ranking employees attempted to censor one of my scientific reports. I know all too well the damage and pain that these actions cause, not just for the individual scientist, but also because these <a href="https://www.ucsusa.org/resources/attacks-on-science" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">attacks on science</a> over the last few years have undermined sound, evidence-based decision making.</p><p>President-elect Biden has repeatedly said that he will <a href="https://thehill.com/homenews/521638-trump-biden-will-listen-to-the-scientists-if-elected" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">listen to the scientists</a>. While this is certainly a welcome change, listening can only take us so far. This past week Lauren Kurtz from the <a href="https://www.csldf.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Climate Science Legal Defense Fund</a> and my colleague <a href="https://www.ucsusa.org/about/people/gretchen-goldman" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Gretchen Goldman</a> published <a href="https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/ten-steps-that-can-restore-scientific-integrity-in-government/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">an article</a> listing 10 actions the new administration should implement to show their commitment to strengthening government science:</p><ol><li>Clearly prohibit political interference and censorship.</li><li>Protect scientists' communication rights.</li><li>Acknowledge that attempts to violate scientific integrity, even if ultimately not fruitful, are still violations.</li><li>Protect federal scientists' right to provide information to Congress and other lawmakers.</li><li>Commit to incorporating the best science as part of agency decisions.</li><li>Elevate agency scientific integrity policies to have the full force of law.</li><li>Publicly release anonymized information about scientific integrity complaints and their resolutions at every agency.</li><li>Institute an intra-agency workforce, potentially under the White House <a href="https://www.ucsusa.org/sites/default/files/2020-09/strengthening-science-and-si-at-ostp.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Office of Science and Technology Policy</a>, to coordinate scientific integrity efforts across agencies, foster discussion of policy improvements, and standardize criteria for policies across agencies.</li><li>Strengthen whistleblower protections.</li><li>Ensure that policies cover all actors who will be dealing with science.</li></ol>
Time for Action<p>I have spoken to many scientists, particularly federal scientists, who are eager to turn the page so they can hurry back to the work they had been doing before this administration, but I urge caution in assuming that things can be "normal" again.</p><p>Before Trump, I naively thought the scientific integrity policies established during the <a href="https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/blog/2016/12/19/scientific-integrity-policies-update" target="_blank">Obama administration</a> would be sufficient. I never imagined that any administration could so willfully ignore and attack expert advice and evidence that is intended to protect us and our public lands.</p><p>I have personally witnessed how hard our federal scientists work. They put in long hours with minimal pay (far less that what they could get if they worked in private industry) to pursue one simple goal: to make things better for the nation.</p><p>We need stronger scientific integrity policies to protect these people and their work. But more than that, we need stronger scientific integrity laws because they also benefit society.</p>
By Andrea Germanos
Environmental campaigners stressed the need for the incoming Biden White House to put in place permanent protections for Alaska's Bristol Bay after the Trump administration on Wednesday denied a permit for the proposed Pebble Mine that threatened "lasting harm to this phenomenally productive ecosystem" and death to the area's Indigenous culture.
<div id="da98c" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="478a197b7c59c92787c92bec92f1ac39"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1331662923710693376" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Bristol Bay forever, Pebble mine never. #NoPebbleMine #SaveBristolBay https://t.co/CBQ9zuy8A5</div> — Save Bristol Bay (@Save Bristol Bay)<a href="https://twitter.com/SaveBristolBay/statuses/1331662923710693376">1606328156.0</a></blockquote></div>
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