35 Super Unhealthy Ways to Lose Weight

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Weight loss is no easy feat, especially if you have been struggling to lose it. Many people are looking to shed a few pounds this year, and weight loss is a healthy goal—if it’s done correctly. However, losing weight in an unhealthy manner can be just as unhealthy as gaining it in the first place.

Many of us turn to unhealthy ways to lose weight irretrievably harming our health. We will discuss them here, as well as what you can do instead.

Super Unhealthy Ways to Lose Weight


#1 Taking Weight Loss Pills

Weight loss pills (also called fat burners) promise a quick fix, enticing those seeking to lose weight, but they can be dangerous and ineffective.

Certain weight loss medications can cause nausea, bloating, dizziness, and even severe and permanent side effects in some people.

Moreover, taking weight loss pills means not taking responsibility for your actions – you won’t improve your habits or make healthy lifestyle changes. As a result, you rely on pills that may not be effective, and your health suffers.

What you can do instead…

Natural alternatives to weight loss pills include healthy fats, chlorophyll, herbs, and detoxifying agents. One alternative to these supplements is to follow the Mediterranean diet.

Clinical trials have shown that this diet promotes weight loss better than a low-calorie diet, even when there is no exercise involved.

Get started on the Mediterranean diet by including more fruits and vegetables in your daily meals and snacks. Try serving a side salad or steamed veggies with your main course and end the meal with fresh fruit!

#2 Being too restrictive

For some people, this is too much anxiety about what food is or isn’t allowed in their diet, resulting in them becoming overly restrictive. For example, some people may avoid gluten without understanding what gluten is, while others may eliminate high-fat foods from their diet regardless of the benefits for them. This leads to a cycle of unhealthy weight loss behavior, including restricting food, which can lead to rebound weight gain.

What you can do instead…

Weight loss shouldn’t feel restrictive or difficult. Rather, it should be a journey towards a healthier lifestyle, engaging in activities you enjoy.

Keep a realistic, inclusive eating style. Following proper habits will help you lose unwanted pounds and keep them off. Start by setting a realistic goal of losing a few pounds each week, and then focus on eating in line with your goals.

#3 An all-protein diet

When it comes to weight loss, protein gets all the attention, but it isn’t the only way.

Protein-focused diets may leave you eating fewer fruits and vegetables that contain essential nutrients like fiber, folate, vitamin C, choline, potassium, and beta-carotene. Moreover, protein contains more calories per unit of measure than carbs, so this restrictive diet will cause you to gain weight over time.

If you consume only protein, you may have a poor intestinal function, as well as a malnourished diet. Moreover, high protein diets, including animal-derived proteins, may increase the risk of nephrolithiasis, diabetes mellitus, atherosclerosis, and progressive kidney damage.

What you can do instead…

Eat lots of vegetables and fruits (which have very few calories), lean meats, and healthy fats. By following this kind of diet, you will lose excess water weight and keep your metabolism high.

#4 Canceling out carbs

Cutting carbs can help lower your body weight quickly. However, they do not effectively reduce weight. Eventually, you’ll miss one loaf of bread. As a result, you may feel guilty, causing you to binge and restrict your cycle, resulting in a larger weight gain than the first time.

Low-carbohydrate diets are both difficult and potentially hazardous since a significant reduction in carbohydrate intake combined with large fat intake may result in higher levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and increased mortality.

As carbohydrates provide the body with fuel and help keep the brain functioning, eliminating them can lead to fatigue and make it difficult to focus during your day.

What you can do instead…

Carbs are bad for you, but what about carbs that are good for you? Foods rich in carbs, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, are good for you and are vital to your health. Make one small change, like cutting down a couple of slices of bread a day, and you’ll be a step closer to your goal.

#5 Abusing laxatives

Regular use of laxatives causes the food to pass through the stomach before being digested. Laxative misuse disrupts the body’s mineral balance, reducing the intake of nutrients such as calcium, vitamin, and phosphate needed for cellular function.

When you use too much laxative, your electrolyte balance will be thrown off and you could die from a “laxative shock.” Moreover, long-term use of a lot of laxatives can lead to dependence, which may lead to severe constipation when you stop using them.

What you can do instead…

If you have to use a laxative, use something that works. Choose a fiber supplement such as psyllium, pectin, or chia seeds.

#6 Purging

Purging is one of the unhealthy ways to lose weight. Vomiting or laxatives are just some of the ways people rid themselves of everything inside. However, these unhealthy habits lead to more health issues than weight loss.

  • How do you know when it’s time to stop?
  • Do you have a sore throat?
  • Do you find yourself going to the bathroom more than usual?
  • Do you have a headache or a stomachache?

Do you feel that something is wrong, but you can’t put your finger on it? These are all signs of how your body reacts to purging.

The consequences can be long-term mental and physical health problems such as stress, self-harm, and malnutrition. Plus, purging wastes the money and time you could spend on healthier approaches to losing weight.

What you can do instead…

Consume healthier snacks throughout the day to curb unhealthy cravings. Nutritionists recommend that you eat five or six small meals a day to stay energetic and focused. A professional therapist or mental health professional can help you address emotional eating habits.

#7 Starving yourself

Starvation is one of the most unhealthy ways to lose weight. Starving is especially harmful to those who may already have an unhealthy relationship with food, and that includes your own body.

When your body is starved of calories, it will go to extreme lengths to survive, resulting in dizziness, lightheadedness, irritability, and fatigue. Why? Because our bodies are designed to ward off starvation—and that means when we don’t have enough energy, we start to eat more.

What you can do instead…

Eating a small bite of food every three hours rather than a full meal will help you to lose weight. It will keep your metabolism intact, and it will keep you from going into starvation mode.

#8 Excessive exercise

Your Instagram feed seems to be filled with yet another post from a friend who is losing weight by exercising excessively. Some of these posts could be misleading since they may not be true. Certain exercise types such as HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) are difficult to do safely and are not recommended for everyone.

Being active is important to maintain a healthy weight, but pushing yourself to the point where it becomes unhealthy is not only unnecessary, it’s also counteractive to weight loss goals. According to a recent study, overexercising may increase mortality risk. 

What you can do instead…

Begin your exercise program slowly and gradually increase it as your fitness level increases. This is especially true if you are trying to lose weight. You do not want to start too vigorously so you don’t get over-trained and you can’t lose weight.

#9 Ephedra

Formerly marketed as “Ephedrine”, it was once a popular weight loss aid, but now it is considered dangerous, unsafe, and unhealthy. It has been banned in nearly every state and is technically illegal worldwide since 2004.

Ephedra is one of the dangerous and unhealthy ways to lose weight. It’s a stimulant and will help you suppress your appetite, but it has the potential to do much more harm than good. Ephedra can damage your heart, increase your blood pressure, cause strokes and even lead to death.

What you can do instead…

Raspberry ketones, Garcinia Cambogia, and chlorella are a few supplements that are recommended as good substitutes for ephedra.

#10 Tapeworm diet

As if the spring cleanses and juice diets weren’t enough, now there’s a new fad diet that has officially gone too far. Tapeworm dieters are ingesting tapeworm eggs in the pill form to quickly lose weight–but this is not the right way to go about it.

The tapeworm lives inside a person’s intestines and absorbs food that would otherwise be metabolized. Unlike some other diets, this diet doesn’t provide you with any calories. There are potential side effects associated with this extreme weight-loss strategy, including diarrhea, nausea, irritability, vomiting, and weight loss.

What you can do instead…

Instead of following an unhealthy plan or sticking to the same old routine, you could try something new such as cooking with whole foods, giving your body a break from processed foods, and exploring an exercise routine that is more fun for you.

#11 Eating fewer than 1,200 calories

A common approach to weight loss is to consume fewer calories by eating less food – this is the “calorie count” diet. On the other hand, the Calorie Count Diet restricts the types of food you consume.

This is an extreme yet commonly prescribed way of eating that has been shown to lead to a decrease in health, with a reported incidence of high blood pressure and heart disease.

What you can do instead…

Make a list of all the foods you eat that are high in calories. Then look for healthier alternatives. When you do find something you like, stick with it. It will be easier to stay on track if you don’t have to think about changing your diet every time you want to eat.

#12 Smoking

Here’s a fun fact: smoking cigarettes is not healthy. It can kill you, and yes, it makes your hair fall out. As soon as you stop smoking, your body starts to work against you and you end up gaining weight again. For starters, it will be hard to keep the weight off and it will be harder to lose weight.

You may do well on your diet, but you’ll still have unhealthy cravings for junk food. You may exercise more and even burn more fat, but you’ll burn fewer calories.

What you can do instead…

Instead of smoking for weight loss try jogging. It is the best alternative because it burns more calories than walking, running, or swimming. A short jog will burn as many calories as smoking 15 cigarettes.

#13 Going gluten-free

You might think going gluten-free will help you slim down. In reality, the only people who may benefit from this diet are those with celiac disease or wheat allergies.

For those without these pre-existing conditions, going gluten-free is an unhealthy way to lose weight because it is associated with low levels of Vitamin D, folic acid, and calcium. No evidence eliminating gluten will lead to weight loss.

What you can do instead…

If you’re looking for a diet that will help you lose weight without going gluten-free, it’s best to consult a registered dietitian. They can assess your current diet and lifestyle and recommend a plan that will work best for you!

#14 Dinitrophenol (DNP)

Dinitrophenol, also known as DNP, is an unregulated weight loss supplement that claims to be “The Ultimate Solution to lose weight”.

With the use of this product comes neural toxicity which leads to weight loss causing chemical changes in the brain that alter brain chemistry. Experts believe that DNP may cause genetic changes that lead to greater fat storage.

What you can do instead…

Drink lots of water. By doing this, you will flush out all the bad stuff from your system and feel fresh and energetic. Next, you should eat plenty of potassium- and magnesium-rich foods. Your body will use these two minerals to convert the water you just drank into energy instead of storing it as fat.

#15 Switching to diet soda

Getting rid of sugar, soda and sugary soda is good news: don’t expect to gain weight. Diet beverages, however, can cause health problems.

Diet soda drinkers lost less weight than people who drank regular soda. This is because when you drink diet sodas with artificial sweeteners, the body doesn’t feel full even when you eat fewer calories. Diet sodas encourage people to eat more than they would if they were drinking regular soda.

What you can do instead…

Straight black coffee is better for weight loss than diet soda. The caffeine in coffee boosts metabolism and helps burn calories. Additionally, people who drink black coffee tend to eat less.

#16 Drinking ice-cold water

Drinking ice-cold water is an unhealthy way to lose weight because it makes you feel full and prevents you from eating.

The majority of people think that drinking cold water will reduce their hunger, but they’re actually consuming more calories because they’re feeling full. It is possible to lose weight by reducing calories, but you must keep a careful diet, so drinking iced water won’t do the trick.

What you can do instead…

Take warm water with lemon juice. Lemon juice has an alkaline effect which makes the body burn more calories to get rid of the water.

#17 Doing a juice cleanse

Juicing is an alternative dieting technique, which involves drinking freshly-made juices. This diet promotes weight loss and eliminates many of the calories and excess sugar in foods we are used to eating. However, the reality is different.

First, juicing removes beneficial fiber from fruits and vegetables. Fiber aids digestion and protects against disease.

Second, juicing could potentially cause an imbalance of vitamins and minerals in the body.

Third, after 2-3 days of this diet, you will experience headaches, mood swings, and fatigue. A juice fast that lasts longer than a few days can be very unhealthy.

What you can do instead…

If you want to cleanse your system, eat fiber-rich foods that will stimulate your digestive system. Use a blender instead of a juicer to create a delicious, nutrient-packed smoothie.

#18 Coconut oil in everything

Cooking oil, dessert topping, weight loss aid — coconut oil is useful for a lot of things. It has been shown to increase energy, reduce appetite, improve metabolism and lower cholesterol levels in individuals.

Coconut oil is high in fat and saturated fat, but it is also high in calories (around 150 calories), making it easy to overeat. This means, if you eat it with every meal, you will be consuming over 500 extra calories per day. The result can be weight gain if your caloric intake exceeds your caloric expenditure (or the number of calories you burn).

What you can do instead…

It is best to add coconut oil to your diet in moderation. You don’t have to add coconut oil to every meal: drizzle a tablespoon over vegetables or add it to coffee.

#19 Not eating enough omega-3s

People consume less than 10% of their omega-3 requirements daily on average. Besides causing health issues, it can make you fat.

Omega-3s help to control appetite and play a metabolic role in preventing weight gain. People tend to skip out on the essential fats found in fish because they believe that vegetables offer them all the nutrients they need.

What you can do instead…

Fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, and sardines are high in omega-3 fatty acids. Other sources include walnuts and chia seeds. Try sprinkling some chopped walnuts or flax seeds into your salad or cereal.

#20 Eating only one food

Now for the latest diet trend: the one-food diet. The idea is to eliminate temptations by eating only one food for a period of time to declutter your diet. People follow this diet for a week, but it isn’t suitable for long-term success.

Diets involving grapefruit, bananas, or cabbage soup have always failed. So, as long as you only eat that one food, you have no restrictions. However, this diet might be unhealthy because it does not teach you to make healthier eating choices. In the long run, you’ll gain weight and develop unhealthy relationships with food.

What you can do instead…

According to experts, you should eat five or six small meals per day instead of three large ones. Eat several small, different meals throughout the day to keep your metabolism high and burn calories at a rapid rate.

#21 Working out on an empty stomach

There is a long-standing belief that working out on an empty stomach will kickstart your metabolism and burn more calories, which will help you lose weight faster. However, research does not support this theory. The truth is, there’s no need to feel guilty about eating after your workout—there’s no evidence to suggest that working out on an empty stomach is any healthier.

What you can do instead…

A small, low-fat snack about 30 minutes before exercising is always a good idea. This will provide you with a little metabolism boost and keep you from hitting the wall.

#22 Swapping meals for slimming shakes

To lose weight, people swap their meals for popular “shake diets.” The problem is, while a quick fix, this diet does not result in a healthy lifestyle.

Do you know how many calories are in most of these drinks? Some popular brands, such as SlimFast and Herbalife, contain upwards of 600 calories per day. That is more than what professionals recommend for adults to eat per day! Also, preservatives used in most brands can be toxic or carcinogenic.

In general, diets that replace all or most meals with shakes or other foods do not offer the same nutritional benefits as a diet that includes three to five (ideally three) meals per day.

What you can do instead…

Start your day off right by eating a healthy breakfast, exercising more often, and making nutritious choices all day long. You will feel much better if you eat healthier, rather than resorting to extreme measures such as swapping meals for slimming shakes.

If you insist on buying a diet shake, make sure it doesn’t contain more than 5 grams of sugar per serving.

#23 Sipping laxative teas

When laxative tea is taken in large quantities, it can cause abdominal pain, vomiting, and loose stools. Sure, they can help you lose weight if you’re desperate enough, but you’ll lose weight too quickly.

Due to the extreme loss of fluids caused by the use of these teas, dehydration can make you feel nauseous. The result is a slew of health problems and the inability to lose weight. Laxative tea should only be consumed sparingly – not for weight loss.

What you can do instead…

You can substitute laxative teas with other herbal teas like peppermint leaves, ginger, spearmint leaves, and dandelion root, which increase water absorption, soften stool, and stimulate bile production.

#24 Cutting out entire food groups

There is a new fad diet for losing weight that lets you eat all the foods you love, but only if you cut out certain food groups altogether, like carbs, proteins, and fats.

Many health risks come with cutting out entire food groups. Vegans who cut out meat and dairy products may suffer from deficiencies of vitamin B-12, calcium, and iron. Eating such a restricted diet is unhealthy for anyone, vegan or not.

What you can do instead…

Eat more foods that are high in calories but low in fat and carbohydrates. Fiber-rich foods, such as oatmeal, brown rice, beans, peas, and carrots, are a good choice. Also, consume lean meats, nuts, and fish. With these foods, you can fill up on energy without consuming too many calories.

#25 Eating everything fat-free

The lack of fat will not only leave the meals bland and tasteless, but it can also lead to sickness.

Recent research suggests that low-fat foods have a higher caloric value than the original high-fat versions, due to their lack of fat but their high amount of sugar and carbs. In other words, the low-fat versions may be worse for your health than their high-fat counterparts.

You’ll find a lot of fat-free foods, but ultimately you’ll be deprived of the calories you need to maintain a healthy weight, and you’ll be left with a yo-yo effect when you inevitably gain the weight back.

What you can do instead…

Focus on eating a balanced diet that includes nutritious low-fat foods with little sugar, artificial ingredients, or hydrogenated fats. Make your next meal healthier by baking rather than frying it. Another option is to use healthier cooking oil, such as olive oil, coconut oil, or olive oil.

#26 Skipping meals

A diet that eliminates breakfasts, meals, or desserts can drastically reduce calories, but this can be disastrous. Some claim that skipping meals works as a diet, while others claim that it’s not a healthy method to lose weight and that it can lead to muscle loss, fatigue, trouble sleeping, and dizziness.

Skipping meals is a sure-fire way to sabotage your efforts, and then you’ll be left feeling famished, with cravings for the quick-fix foods that are so often easy to grab off the supermarket shelves.

What you can do instead…

Losing weight is still possible, but with a well-balanced diet that includes plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean protein. Try eating less each day of the week and observe how your body reacts. Your body will tell you when it’s full.

#27 Drinking vinegar before every meal

Vinegar has essentially zero nutrients, yet it’s being touted as a weight-loss miracle. The idea of drinking vinegar before every meal to help people lose weight may seem like a great way to slim down, but in reality, it’s a downright unhealthy practice.

Drinking vinegar before each meal actually can be bad for your teeth. Due to its acidity, this food can harm your health when you’re trying to keep a healthy diet. In addition, vinegar reduces your gut’s good bacteria and prevents your body from making vitamin B-12.

What you can do instead…

Say hello to ACV! Try apple cider vinegar in a warm cup of water before bedtime. Alternatively, add a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to your favorite salad dressing or consume a diet drink with ACV and other natural ingredients.

#28 Making sugar-free food choices

Do you find yourself looking for sugar-free recipes to make healthier choices?

Don’t believe the hype! To start with, this dietary choice does not promote weight loss. Often, sugar-free items contain a lot of sodium, fat, and calories.

Fruit leather, for example, can contain up to 14g of saturated fat per serving (and almost double the calories). To function properly, your body requires real, sugary foods for energy and calories.

What you can do instead…

To lose weight on a sugar-free diet, cut out refined carbohydrates such as white bread and pasta. Additionally, whole grains like brown rice, oats, quinoa, and barley can be substituted for refined carbs. High-fiber foods are also packed with minerals and vitamins that promote weight loss.

#29 Motivating yourself with guilt

Guilt motivates us to change our behavior, but it isn’t healthy for weight loss.

As a motivator, guilt can often lead people down a slippery slope of unhealthy eating habits, creating an even greater sense of guilt. By using guilt to influence ourselves to stay on track, it can become counterproductive, since we don’t want to do it by ourselves.

What you can do instead…

It takes self-worth and self-respect to lose weight. You can use guilt to get you started, but positive reinforcement will keep you going.

A good way to get started is to think about all the benefits you will receive by getting healthy, and how little you will feel guilty about all those extra calories you are eating.

#30 An obsession with scale

Obsessing over a scale weighs on your mental health and doesn’t give a clear picture of how you’re doing.

When you are obsessed with losing weight, it interferes with your health and your ability to achieve your other goals.

Although the scale can provide insights into your day-to-day life, it is not the only measure of success.

What you can do instead…

Think about how much you will enjoy being thin and feeling great. Think about how your clothes will fit better, how your skin will look and feel, and how your self-esteem will rise.

Measure your weight weekly instead of daily. That will give you more accurate readings over time, and help you notice trends and patterns. You don’t want to just go on a diet, you want to lose the weight and keep it off. So, an effective way to do this is to use a diet and exercise plan. That’s why many people choose to use an online weight loss calculator.

#31 Piling your plate with healthy foods

When dieting for weight loss, people often believe that they must stack their plates with fruits and vegetables to get all the nutrients their bodies need. While this might seem like a healthy way of eating, it is an unhealthy way to lose weight.

Overeating occurs without even realizing it when you load your plate with high-calorie, high-nutrient foods.

What you can do instead…

Try to fill three-quarters of your plate with fruits and vegetables, and then add a little protein (like cheese or meat or chicken breast) and grains (like brown rice or whole-wheat pasta) to round out your meal. It’s a perfectly normal and effective way to lose weight!

#32 Having no cheat meals

‘No Cheat Meals’ is a trending diet plan that has gained the attention of millions of people on social media. This diet requires that you do not eat anything outside your meal plan at all, with no exceptions for cheat meals or any other form of indulgence.

It’s important to educate yourself on how your body works and what you’re putting into it. For your body to function properly, it needs nutrients, so forbidding yourself from cheat meals won’t work.

What you can do instead…

Sometimes it’s okay to treat yourself, even when you are trying to lose weight. Allow yourself to indulge every now and then to prevent feeling deprived and stressed. A balanced diet with healthy foods and cheat meals will be much more effective at helping you reach your weight loss goals. Plus, it’ll make the process more enjoyable!

#33 Exercise or diet, but not both

You cannot skimp on either. It simply boils down to what’s right for you and your body.

If you skip the exercise, your body will still try to shed the excess weight by lowering your metabolic rate. And if you skip the diet, your body will start to burn muscle instead of fat. You will gain the weight back even faster.

What you can do instead…

Exercising and eating right are the only ways to lose weight and keep it off. Exercise is like a “mental vaccination” which protects your mental and emotional state against the onslaught of all those unhealthy thoughts that cause you to overeat.

#34 Aiming too high

By setting your sights too high and aiming for the stars, you are more likely to give up when a bump comes along. That’s when your weight loss will stall.

Unfortunately, aiming too high makes weight loss much more difficult. Whenever you set your sights so high, you are setting yourself up for failure.

What you can do instead…

Instead of trying to lose 30 pounds in a month, set realistic goals like 10-15 pounds in a month. If you are shooting for a low-to-medium range goal, you’re more likely to achieve it. This method is what the pros use to achieve their goals.

#35 Using quick fixes

You may be looking to lose weight quickly because you’re planning a trip or wedding soon. However, a quick fix means you’re not taking the time to address your core problem. You can use them to get you through the week until you are able to afford to change your lifestyle permanently.

When it comes to fat loss, that’s where the weight is. The majority of quick fixes call for some sort of fad diet or fast-food diet that isn’t lasting in the long run.

What you can do instead…

It is extremely important to find out why you are overweight. Are you overeating because you are bored, stressed, lonely, tired, or you have a chemical imbalance in your body? Once you identify the root cause, losing weight will become easier. This is the most efficient way to lose weight, and it is the only way that lasts.

The bottom line

There’s a myth floating around that you can lose weight by combining every healthful food and diet trend into one unifying lifestyle.

While it’s not wrong to say that a healthy lifestyle is the best way to lose weight, not all diets are equal in terms of their health effects. That being said, it’s important to be conscious of the methods you’re using and make sure they’re healthy.

Do not try any of these unhealthy ways to lose weight. Beware of quick fixes that are both bad for your body and mind. Instead, focus on improving your health with nutritious food, going to the gym, or going on a walk every day.

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