There's something about fall — with its back-to-school, new-start feeling — that compels many of us to revisit our plans to diet, and sometimes those plans involve fads.
Even celebrities who can afford the best personal trainers, nutritionists, doctors, therapists and private chefs are susceptible to diet gimmicks. And when "Hunger Games" star
"Women across America are weight-crazed, but women in L.A. are probably more so," says Paulette Lambert, director of nutrition at the California Health & Longevity Institute, a medical and fitness center in Westlake Village.
"My patients who fly in to New York from L.A. are so different from my usual patients," says Dr. Macrene Alexiades-Armenakas, assistant clinical professor at
"Diet fads seem to cycle back around about once every 10 or 12 years. Long enough for people to try a fad diet, see that it doesn't work, forget that it doesn't work, then try it all over again. Sometimes these diets are just repackages with different names," Lambert says.
Here, experts share warnings about some fads and weight-loss treatments.
The potato diet
If a diet sounds too wacky to make sense (here's looking at you, baby food diet,
Dr. Adrienne Youdim, medical director of the Center for
Besides, Lambert says, eating 1,200 calories' worth of potatoes per day or 1,200 calories in a well-rounded diet would lead to the same weight loss.
Juicing and cleanses
"Juicing is everywhere right now, which I don't like, because juicing is high in sugar and increases insulin levels," Lambert says.
Fitness expert Harley Pasternak, who's worked with
"People lose weight when they go off gluten because it cuts out a lot of junk food," Lambert says. "But there's a lot of gluten-free junk food out there too." Many gluten-free versions of foods that normally contain wheat tend to be high in sugar, low in fiber.
It's fine to cut out cookies, cakes, pasta and pizza — all of which normally contain gluten, Lambert says.
HCG and other injections
"The HCG shot is back up again," says Lambert, who mainly credits the weight loss that people report on the HCG regimen to the 500-calories-a-day diet that often accompanies it.
HCG is human chorionic gonadotropin, a hormone produced during pregnancy, Alexiades-Armenakas says. The hormone is sometimes used (or is merely claimed to be used) in injections to help weight loss.
According to the
"FDA-approved uses for prescription HCG products include female fertility and select hormonal treatment in males, and the FDA has not approved prescription HCG for any other uses, including weight loss," FDA spokeswoman Christopher Kelly says. "FDA has received reports of HCG injections for weight-loss associated with pulmonary embolism, depression, cerebrovascular issues,
Other injections used to lose weight can be problematic too. In 2010, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued warning letters to six U.S. medical spas saying they were making false and misleading claims about injections they said eliminated fat. The overall safety of such so-called lipodissolve products is unknown, the FDA says.
Often "you don't know what they use in those injections, and you can have significant