Updated 01 July 2013

The 10 most crazy diets ever

Weight loss gimmicks are not unique to our times. In fact there's a long list of crazy diets that have appeared and disappeared throughout history. Here are ten of them.


Dieters will go to extreme lengths to become slimmer versions of themselves. Just have a look at the weight loss products advertised on television - everything from miracle diet shakes, detox foot pads and slimming gel to Brazillian beans and slimming tea - just to name a few. Most people will try any quick-fix miracle weight-loss aid that promises to do the trick.

Weight loss gimmicks are not unique to our times. In fact there's a long list of crazy diets that have appeared and disappeared throughout history - here are ten of them.


In 1903 Horace Flechter, a San Fransico art dealer became known as the 'Great Masticator' after losing 18 kilograms through his chewing method. This method involves chewing your food 32-80 times until it is liquefied. After chewing, the head it tilted backwards which allows the food to trickle down, and anything that is still too big to swallow must be spat out. You absorb fewer kilojoules while still enjoying the food you love.

The Sleeping Beauty Diet

We all know that when you sleeping you can't eat. Followers of this diet were put under heavy sedation for several days to sleep off the kilos. The thinking being: while you sleep you don’t consume kilojoules, forcing your body to burn up kilojoules already stored. Elvis Presley was a follower of this fad.

The Breatharian Diet

This diet is based on the Inedia a branch of Hinduism based on the belief that people don't need food to survive. Followers claim that only sunlight and fresh air are needed to survive. It is normally followed by people who want to heighten their spirituality, and has nothing to do with weight loss. It has been linked to numerous deaths of devotees who died of dehydration and hypothermia.

Ear Stapling

Ear stapling is based on acupressure principles, and it is used on pressure points believed to promote weight loss. A small surgical steel 'staple' is used to pierce the cartilage of the inner ear, as this location is believed to be a pressure point that controls appetite.

The Amputation Diet

Another weight loss extreme is the amputation diet. This diet consists of losing excess fluids and body parts to lose weight. According to this diet you can lose weight by trimming toenails, getting a haircut, urinating, donating blood and taking laxatives. To lose even more weight the following extremes are suggested: amputation of a limb, donating a kidney and breast reduction. The diet also suggests not eating or drinking for two or three days to prevent weight gain.

The Cotton Ball Diet

Did you know cotton balls are high in fibre? Followers of this diet eat cotton balls either dry or soaked in gelatine. Cotton balls are believed to be very filling and low in kilojoules. This diet became popular when fitness experts began to understand the link between a high fibre diet and weight loss.

The Tapeworm Diet

The tapeworm diet must be the most extreme diet fad ever recorded. By ingesting a tapeworm everything you eat is split between your body and the tapeworm. The tapeworm interferes with digestion and absorption of nutrients, which means that you consume more kilojoules and still lose weight. However, it also competes for vitamins and nutrients which can result in a nutritional deficiency. Some scientists say that tapeworm infestation can result in a loss of 0.5-0.9 kilos a week. It has also been sold in a pill form.

The Last Chance Diet

In the 1970s, Dr Roger Linn created the Last Chance Diet. It's basically a starvation diet where nothing but his specialised liquid protein Prolinn is consumed. The drink is made of slaughter-house leftover by-products like crushed animal horns, hooves, hides, tendons and bones. Artificial flavours, enzymes and colourants are also added to make the drink more appealing. It is estimated that between two and four million have tried this diet, and 58 deaths from heart attacks while on the diet have also been reported.

The Apple Cider Vinegar Diet

The vinegar diet was first made popular by the poet Lord Byron who is said to have drunk vinegar daily to cleanse his body. The apple cider vinegar diet is believed to cleanse and rid the body of toxins. On this diet you drink a few teaspoons of apple cider vinegar a few times a day. Heidi Klum and Fergie are said to be followers of this diet.

The Vision Diet

This diet fad is based on the premise that if food looks unappealing it will suppress your appetite. Blue is believed to be an appetite suppressant. A Japanese company created diet sunglasses with blue lenses which makes food look unappetising, thus apparently reducing your appetite. The lenses also block red light which is believed to stimulate the appetite. Johnny Depp's love for blue lensed sunglasses has inadvertently linked him to this diet.

For saner weight-loss options click here.

(Leandra Engelbrecht, Health24, September 2010)

(Sources:,,,,,,, )

Read more:

The 10 worst diet myths

7 surprising diet myths


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