Bad fad diets that are hazardous to your health

From the moment primitive humans figured out that eating changed your body type, some caveman probably made up a fad diet. They've been around for ages and even a thousand years from now, when we're living on the Moon, some jerk will come up with a space dust diet that's all the rage. So before you fall for any of these fad schemes, here are some that are actually dangerous to your health. Because it won't matter how skinny you are if you're dead:

Martha's Vineyard diet detox

Ah, Martha's Vineyard, an enclave for the rich society folk of New England. Who wouldn't want to look like them? If you follow this easy diet, you'll be wearing your khakis, polos, and sweaters over your shoulders with a new slim shape. The diet takes place over 21 days, and they promise you'll lose 21 pounds. Though most doctors say that's an unsafe rate of weight loss, who cares? It's Martha's Vineyard!

The diet is simple. Don't eat anything you have to chew, take supplements (that have a laxative effect) and don't exercise. That means you get to drink something every two hours. Nothing fun like soda or beer, but water or an organic green juice. Then, you take supplements that help rid yourself of all that filling juice, and watch the pounds fall away.

Oh, and don't forget the enemas! You get a coffee enema once a week (yes, coffee), then regular water enemas the rest of the time. While you do all that, you do get the luxury of not exercising at all. Though that sounds nice, if you tried to exercise on this liquid-only diet, you'd probably pass out.

On WebMD, the doctors suggest that this diet could be dangerous. The use of colonics is a complete waste of time, for one — you don't actually have to detox your body, your body does that on its own. Plus, the liquid diet will likely slow your metabolism, so you'll actually burn fewer calories after the diet than before. Sure, you'll lose weight, but it'll mostly be water weight and muscle loss, so you'll wind up just as fat, but weaker, more tired, and with a slower metabolism than ever. Good luck rockin' the Ralph Lauren then.

The Five Bite diet

If you want a diet that's easy to follow, you really can't beat the Five Bite Diet. How does it work? You take only five bites of a meal. That's … it. The only complication is that you skip breakfast, but you can have anything you want for lunch or dinner. Want a lobster mac-and-cheese pizza? Have it. Want a donut-bunned hamburger with a fried egg and foie gras on top? It's yours. You feel like having butter-drenched Ben & Jerry's? Have at it, gross-o! Eat whatever you want, but you have to throw it away after five bites.

It's not hard to see why a diet where you only ingest ten bites of food a day would be a problem. For one, if you choose only garbage food, you'll lack nutrients. A five-Cheeto lunch only hits your sodium and orange dust quotas for the day. What's more, even if you eat meat and vegetables, it's just not enough food. The diet estimates you'll eat about 800 calories a day, even if you take boa-eating-a-pig-size bites, and that's incredibly unhealthy. An extremely low-calorie diet is only recommended under doctor's supervision, and can be dangerous if done on your own.

Tongue patch diet

If you're a person who can't resist fatty foods unless you have the fear of physical pain, the Tongue Patch Diet will be perfect for you. For this diet, a doctor will sew a plastic patch to your tongue. That's right. People are willing to have things sewn into their mouths to get ready for bikini season.

The patch isn't just to make you feel gross and weird all the time, but it's placed so that every bite of food will bring you physical pain. That means you have to eat a liquified diet and, if you want to give in to that piece of pizza, you'll have to suffer through searing tongue trauma to do it.

Dr. Nikolas Chugay was one of the first doctors to do the procedure in America. He keeps the patch on for only 30 days, hoping that the patients' new association with food and pain will lead to lasting weight loss. When Chugay was asked if sewing plastic into a human's mouth was healthy, he replied "Well, it's not unhealthy." That doesn't make us feel any better about this. Also, technically, Chugay is a Dr. Nick, so be extra careful. They don't always go over tongue patches in Hollywood Upstairs Medical College.

HCG diet

Pregnancy and weight loss go hand-in-hand right? Well, that's the idea behind the HCG diet. This diet has you eat 500 calories a day. That's the equivalent of eating one bagel with cream cheese as your only sustenance. But the whole starving-yourself thing is made easier by taking … pregnancy hormones. See, HCG is human chorionic gonadotropin, a hormone created in pregnant women. The idea is to trick your brain into thinking you're pregnant, which speeds up your metabolism, supposedly. To add even more fun to this diet, that hormone is often derived from the urine of a woman with child. So, eat 500 calories, take a mommy-pee supplement. Watch the pounds (and your sanity) melt away!

There is no evidence that HCG has any effect, and that the diet is only "effective" because of the extreme caloric restriction. Again, doctors find super-low calorie diets dangerous, and they often leave your metabolism worse off than when you started. Also, there's potential for depression, blood clots, and swelling breast tissue, though that's only for men on the diet. But that potential isn't just unhealthy, it can also be fatal — singer Mario Lanza was on this plan for the last two years of his life, and he died at age 38 from an overactive metabolism and irregular heartbeat.

Sun-Gazing diet

Stare at the Sun and lose weight — that's literally all this diet is about. Proponents of the diet, led primarily by Hira Ratan Manek (HRM), say that sun-gazing has been around since ancient times, so doing so will give you all the sustenance you need. At first, you may only be able to stare into the Sun for a few minutes at a time. But after a while, you'll be able to withstand more sunshine and your appetite will diminish (along with your eyesight, quite probably).

This diet goes beyond just losing weight. The idea of the Sun providing all your energy becomes a spiritual experience and belief. The weight loss is just a side effect, mainly because you are not eating. Obviously, every scientist says this won't work. For one, it's not good to stare straight into the Sun, because of the whole 'you'll go blind" thing. Also, long-term skin exposure to the Sun increases your risk of skin cancer. Finally, you can't eat the Sun. You are not a damned plant. You need actual food to live. So although HRM claims he hasn't eaten food for years, it's incredibly unlikely.

Breatharian movement

Much like the Sungazers, Breatharians feel the universe gives us everything we need. But you don't need to stare into the Sun to get it — just breathe. The leader of the Breatharians is Jasmuheen, a practitioner of "pranic nourishment" who claims to live on light, air, and fruit tea alone, and that her diet elevates her "vibration frequency." To become a breatharian, she recommends starting a veggies-only, no-alcohol diet for 21 days, to ease you into the idea of giving up food entirely.

Obviously, many people question the validity of Jasmuheen's all-air diet, so she agreed to be tested. For the Australian program 60 Minutes, Jasmuheen was kept in a hotel room, monitored so that she couldn't sneak any food or drinks, and watched closely by a doctor. After four days, Jasmuheen was gaunt and fatigued, and the doctor insisted the experiment be stopped before she sustained any permanent damage.

Jasmuheen responded to this failure by doubling down — she claims the room didn't provide the necessary pranic energy for her to successfully eat the air. That excuse doesn't work for the poor three followers who died after trying to live without food. Still, Jasmuheen claims that 6000 have lived on pranic energy with no problems, so she's not about to retract her false ideas.

The American leader of the breatharians is more comical. He claimed to have eaten nothing for years, but was caught eating a chicken pot pie in 1983, and lost a lot of followers. Now, he says that the only food that's okay to eat is McDonald's Quarter Pounders and Diet Coke (no pot pies, curiously). Yes, perhaps the least healthy food-and-drink combo on Earth this side of "big bowl of sugar washed down with a tall glass of more sugar" is the only acceptable nourishment for those who try to eat the wind.

Raw food diet

A raw food diet might sound extreme, but certainly not dangerous, right? But then, think about actually eating only raw vegetables every single day. At best, it will leave you hungry and tired. At worst, it can kill you.

The raw food diet claims that cooking foods makes them toxic, so you gotta go raw all the way. The proven fact that cooking many vegetables makes them more nutritious and less poisonous doesn't seem to matter to them. This despite how the diet puts you at risk for an array of deficiencies — vitamins D and B12, selenium, zinc, iron, and omega-3 fatty acids are just a few things you won't get enough of with raw food.

Sadly, a raw vegan couple was taken to court for aggravated manslaughter, when their six-month-old baby died from their enforced diet. The charges of manslaughter were dropped, though they were convicted guilty of four charges of neglect.

Prescription amphetamines

During World War II, Americans flocked to a miracle diet pill — amphetamines! The drug was originally tried out as a decongestant, but gained popularity as an antidepressant. The AMA approved advertising the drugs for weight loss in 1947, though they got some competition from the methamphetamine-based weight-loss pills that came out in 1949.

Prescription amphetamine use climbed until it reached its height in the late '60s. As more people took the drugs, it became obvious that amphetamines carried some serious side effects. The drug didn't make you mildly dependent — it was extremely addictive. Users started hearing voices and experiencing psychosis, that could only be cured by staying off pills for a week or more. In 1970, the government introduced the drug classification system, which forced doctors to have a real reason to prescribe amphetamines, which greatly reduced the use of the drug. And thus, dieters were forced back into the old standby of eating less, eating healthier, and exercising more. Or eating the Sun, whichever fit their busy schedule easier.