New Year, new you: the ins and outs of “Miracle Dieting”

This year, like every year before it, countless numbers of people will be setting New Year’s resolutions looking to better themselves in some sort of way, and the number one resolution that people try to stick to every year is to, of course, lose weight.

We’ve all seen it, or maybe even been a part of it. Outrageous diet techniques promising to “get you fit” and “looking great” after only a couple weeks.

While a few of these self-proclaimed miracle diets can actually be very healthy for you in the long run, the majority of them will

Every year, people determined to lose weight begin miracle diets and often don't realize the implications of their choices.
Every year, people determined to lose weight begin miracle diets and often don’t realize the implications of their choices. (Photo courtesy of MorgueFile)

actually be counter productive for losing weight.

Here are a few of the most popular miracle diets:

The Low Carb Diet – Ah yes, the “carbs are the enemy” message. While most people think of carbohydrates as something they should completely cut out of their diets, carbs can actually benefit someone trying to lose weight. Carbs found in fruits and grains are definitely healthy for you, which is a fact many people either aren’t aware of or ignore.

The Crash Diet – Yikes. Have you ever had that friend who just refuses to eat and claims that they are “just dieting”? Many people believe that if you simply cut most of your daily food consumption, you will quickly lose weight. While you might lose a couple pounds within the first couple days, all this turns out to be is water weight. This is notably one of the worst diet techniques because it will only slow down your metabolism and on top of not losing any weight, you could get very sick in the process.

The Atkins Diet – The most popular diet in the United States is still widely used, even though it is controversial. This low-carb, high-protein diet boasts that you can lose weight quickly while being healthy and adds that it can help lower your bad cholesterol. While this is one of the most popular diets out there, skeptics argue that it isn’t a long-term way to lose and keep off that unwanted extra weight.

Speaking from experience

With a few of these popular and controversial diets in mind, I hit campus to find out just what kind of dieting Central Michigan University students were attempting in the new year.

Shelby Township senior Andrew Saleh said his New Year’s resolution is the same thing every year – to lose weight. And while Saleh admits that he has seen limited success through various diet techniques, he continues to eat well under the daily recommended calorie limit whenever he is trying to lose weight.

“For some reason, I keep going back to crash dieting when I want to lose weight,” he said. “I only eat about 1,000 calories per day at the lowest and I end up not losing any serious weight and totally screw up my metabolism.  I wouldn’t recommend it.”

Lowell junior Shelby Herb has also tried some spontaneous dieting practices.

“When I was younger, I used to do the ‘lemonade diet’. You just drink this lemonade juice which contains maple syrup grade B, real lemon juice and a tablespoon of cayenne pepper. You aren’t allowed to eat while you are on this diet, and you can lose up to 10 pounds in a week,” Herb explained.

While Herb said she did see some results from this diet, she admitted that the impacts of not eating were too much for her to handle.

Miracle diets can’t be that bad, right?

Websites like provide users with a comprehensive guide to a healthy, balanced diet along with exercise journals and tips. (Photo courtesy of

If the end result is losing weight, and some of these wacky diets actually work, how bad can they really be?

CMU health major and nutrition guru Charly Loper explains that while these weight loss techniques might appeal to those looking to drop pounds fast, the long term effects of these diets can be very dangerous.

“Your body needs more than 1,000 calories per day to carry out its necessary functions.  If you deprive yourself of the calories, your brain may not get all of the energy it needs.  This can lead to someone struggling to concentrate and become shaky,” Loper explained. “Binge or crash dieting only helps you lose weight temporarily, and as soon as your start eating normally again, your body will insist on going back to its initial weight and you will gain back everything that you lost.”

Loper added that the best way to lose that extra weight is to limit your consumption of added sugars and fats and to eat a balanced diet with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, while exercising every day.

So, if your New Year’s resolution is to lose weight and you actually want to keep that weight off for more than a week, the best advice is to simply eat right and exercise.  There is no magic way to lose weight fast without hurting yourself, no matter how hard that is to swallow.