Want to Lose Weight? Skip These Diets

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With Memorial Day weekend kicking off the unofficial start to the summer season, it's once again time to break out the bathing suit and hit the beach. It also means that it's probably too late to drop the extra pounds you packed on during the winter if you haven't already.

Although it's never a bad time to adopt a healthy lifestyle with a well-balanced nutrition plan and an exercise program under the supervision of a trained medical professional, anyone who wanted to lose a significant amount of weight in a healthy way should have started months ago. That won't stop many from going on potentially dangerous crash diets in a desperate bid to shed pounds.

If you believe that your diet scheme is somehow different, guess again. For decades, self-appointed diet experts have come up with all sorts of methods for slimming down. Many of them are simply ridiculous gimmicks that give false hope to the naive or misinformed. Some are just plain stupid. Others, however, can be downright dangerous, and those are the ones that dieters really need to watch out for.

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The Tapeworm Diet: Anyone who has ever had the misfortune of coming into contact with a tapeworm will tell you that these parasites are just gross. So it may come as a surprise that, in the name of losing weight, some less-than-health-conscious dieters have tried the so-called tapeworm diet to lose weight.

The concept is pretty simple, albeit entirely flawed. The dieter ingests a tapeworm, which will then turn that person's insides into a cozy home, growing larger everyday on the food that person ingests. By nurturing this parasite, you're not digesting the calories that would otherwise go straight to your thighs — at least that's the idea.

Yes, the diet will undoubtedly cause weight loss. It can also lead to nutritional deficiency and result in cysts on the brain, eyes, liver and spinal cord. Selling tapeworms is illegal in the United States, but the parasites can still be acquired in Mexico.

Fen Phen: If you lived in the United States during the mid-1990s and happened to turn on a television or radio during that time, chances are at one point or another you heard an advertisement for fen-phen. Fen-phen was probably the most notorious catastrophe of the diet pill craze in the 1990s.

Widely prescribed and easily available, fen-phen was among the most popular anti-obesity drugs of its time. It was also one of the most dangerous, causing potentially fatal heart valve problems. This spawned a torrent of lawsuits, and the drug was taken off the market in 1997.

The "Sleeping Beauty" diet: If Elvis, the king of Rock and Roll, followed this diet, then you know it must be good since he stayed pretty trim (though that was probably long before he even considered weight control).

What could be easier than sleeping away the pounds? The body does burn fat while you sleep, and of course you're not eating while unconscious. The Sleeping Beauty Diet sounds almost too good to be true — and it is.

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Using sedatives to induce long periods of unneeded rest can not only mess with your circadian rhythm; it can also become addictive, which carries with it the risk of accidental overdose. Even used correctly, side effects can range to headache to cognitive impairment to hallucinations and worse.

The Last Chance Diet/The Prolinn Diet: When it comes to the "Last Chance Diet," you have to give the creators credit. For some users, it really was the last diet they ever needed since it proved to be so fatal.

The Last Chance Diet prescribes a program of fasting coupled with a blended protein drink. If you bother to look into what's in the drink mix, you'll find it consists if animal byproducts that simply aren't fit for consumption, including tendons, horns and hooves.

The diet led users to experience side effects including abnormal heart rhythms, possibly due to weakening of the muscle and nutritional deficiencies. Around 60 people actually died while on this diet.

The Nicotine Diet: A method famously allegedly used by skinny fashion models, the nicotine diet espouses smoking cigarettes to suppress food cravings. No doctor in his/her right mind would ever recommend this diet to anyone serious about keeping their weight down in a healthy way.

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Can nicotine actually suppress food cravings? Studies have actually shown that it can. But replacing food with cigarettes in order to lose weight is like warming up your home with burning garbage instead of turning on the heat to save money on electricity.

The point is: There are much healthier ways to curb your appetite without resorting to a method that is guaranteed to create more problems long-term. In fact, one of the best ways to curb appetite is through exercise, a much more proven method of control weight than simply trying to smoke yourself thin.

But of course, even when it comes to exercise, dieters shouldn't push themselves too hard. There's no need to take the same risks as this guy just to get fit (via Reddit).

Photo credit: Corbis Images

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