In the past year we've had the cotton ball diet, the corset diet and the eating light bulbs diet (okay, that last one was made up) but the official authority on diets - the British Dietetic Association (BDA) has revealed its annual list of top celebrity diets to avoid in the New Year.
For the previous three years, the starring role has gone to the Dukan Diet but this year, it has been beaten by ta-da! The Breatharian Diet which isn't even a diet at all, as it involves eating no food. No. Food.
Sian Porter, Chairman of the BDA’s Communications Board said: "The bottom line is, if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. Maybe it’s not as exciting but the truth is, if you do want to lose some weight do it by eating a healthy balanced diet, watch your portion sizes and be physically active."
1. BREATHARIAN DIET
Celebrity link: Actress Michelle Pfeiffer has reportedly revealed she believes she was involved in a cult that followed the Breatharian Diet. (Similar to Madonna’s alleged Air Diet, when you pretend to eat the food on the plate in front of you and fill up by gulping air.)
What is it? Individuals who follow the Breatharian Diet can believe that they do not need to eat food or drink any liquids because they can achieve sustenance from air and/or sunlight alone.
The BDA says: "You seriously cannot live on fresh air alone! We cannot stress enough that people should not even consider following this diet. It doesn’t matter what anybody tries to tell us, or point to any kind of evidence, the basic fact is we all need food and liquid in our diet to live.
"There is nothing good we could ever say about the Breatharian Diet. You can be sure of weight loss if anyone attempted to ‘exist’ on this diet but this would also be accompanied by, dehydration, malnutrition and risk of death!"
Celebrity link: In 2013, singer Boy George reportedly cited this as attributing to his weight loss.
What is it? There are various approaches with this. The BioSignature system relates to six different hormone types and fat accumulation in different body sites and aims for ‘site’-specific body fat reduction, measured by skinfold calipers, through hormone balance. By choosing only certain foods, thus cutting out others, adding a training programme and taking supplements the promise is it will ‘spot reduce’ fat.
The BDA says: "Bio-nonsense! This diet relies too heavily on supplements and pseudo-science with only a selective grain of robust science (that hormones are involved in fat metabolism) and does not even mention visceral fat (internal fatty tissue). Many people will lose weight on this type of approach because it restricts certain foods. It also restricts calorie intake and it involves physical activity."
3. GLUTEN-FREE DIET
Celebrity link: Gwyneth Paltrow allegedly advocates this.
What is it? Cutting out gluten, the protein found in wheat, barley rye and oats and foods containing it is a healthier option for all and can lead to weight loss.
The BDA says: While important for those with coeliac disease or gluten sensitivity, there is no credible published research showing that a gluten-free diet per se leads to weight loss in those without. Many foods that contain gluten, like breaded products, pastries, cakes and biscuits, are high in calories, so by avoiding them, many lose weight. Many believe, wrongly, they can eat as much as they like of gluten-free substitutes like biscuits, sausages and beer. Gluten-free does not mean calorie free."
4. ALCOREXIA/DRUNKOREXIA DIET
Celebrity link: It is widely thought that many top models and others follow this ‘diet’.
What is it? It’s when people eat very few calories during the day/week and ‘bank’ these ‘saved’ calories in order to binge-drink alcohol over the weekend, usually. For example, if you favour a VLC diet (very low calorie) in order to follow this ‘diet’, you could be ‘banking’ around 1,500 calories a day, which then gives you 10,500 calories to drink during the week (based on the recommended female diet of 2,000 calories per day).
The BDA says: "Following a VLC diet alone is madness in itself, as you will most certainly not be getting the calories, vitamins and nutrients your body needs to survive and function.Not only that, but by the end of the week when you are also tired and weak, you then subject your body to an onslaught of alcohol intake after intake after intake. Alcohol has little nutrition other than calories. This is a worrying ‘diet’ that could end up causing immense damage to the body."
5. DUKAN DIET
Celebrity link: The Duchess of Cambridge’s mum, Carole Middleton, and Jennifer Lopez have reportedly followed this diet.
What is it? This is a complicated high protein, no/low carb, four-phase diet that promotes rapid weight loss.
The BDA says: "The rigid Dukan Diet works by restricting food, so restricting calories. Initial weight loss will be fluid. Even the creator of the diet, Pierre Dukan, who, in 2013 was banned from practising as a GP in France, has warned of associated issues with the diet such as lack of energy, constipation (due to lack of fibre/cutting out food groups), the need for a vitamin and mineral supplement (due to lack of variety/cutting out food groups) and bad breath."