Crash Diets That Work

You have probably heard a lot of things about crash diets in your life: You have heard that they can kill you, you have heard that someone famous lost an amazing amount of weight in a few weeks, and you have heard of various unusual diets such as the Cabbage Soup Diet.

I think it's time to wrap up all the information there is about crash diets and deliver them to you - in a nutshell. So today, I'm going to talk about health issues with some of these meal plans, celebrities who tried them, possible side effects, and of course, crash diets that work - for men, women, teenagers and children!

Here is what I'm about to show you, and then we start:

  • What is crash dieting? A definition
  • Famous people who crash-dieted and why we care
  • Why do people need to lose weight so fast?
  • Are crash diets bad or healthy?
  • Possible effects of crash dieting
  • Presenting many different kinds of crash diets
  • What do effective crash diets have in common and what makes them healthy?
  • What is the single most effective and healthiest crash diet?

What is crash dieting? A definition

Of course, many different definitions exist, and we don't want to get too scientific about the whole topic. Let us just sum up what most definitions say about this type of weight loss:

  • It is a short term attempt at losing weight
  • Weight is supposed to plummit or crash very quickly - just like a plane or the stock market does sometimes
  • Weight loss is usually achieved by extreme methods such as heavy caloric restrictions, cutting down on nutrients etc.
  • In some, but not all crash diets, health is supposedly sacrificed in favor of quick results
  • Crash diets usually have a dubious reputation for various reasons (will be explained later)

Now that we know what we are talking about, let's see why crash diets are often in the center of attention.

Famous people who crash-dieted and why we care

I believe that every year, some celebrity makes it into the headlines for either wacky dieting attempts or for losing weight in an extremely short time. Some celebrities are downright anorexic, others prepare for a role that requires them to be extremely skinny, and many famous women lose weight after delivering a baby.

People who are in the spotlight often depend on looking good. It's an inconvenient truth, but celebrities who once looked beautiful are "not allowed" to become less attractive over time. You also see this in stars who do facial surgery, but that's yet another topic.

As we have seen, celebrities have a lot of different reasons and motivations to lose weight, and to do that fast. This is the prime reason why they choose very fast diets that may be called crash diets in the media.

The second reason why crash diets are so popular is just because the people who promote them - willingly or unwillingly, are famous people. We see them as our role models, and we want to copy their success in weight loss.

Some famous celebrities who lost weight are Charlize Theron, Christian Bale and Beyonce. But the list goes on and needs to be updated all the time. This is what I'm also trying to do on my list called "Celebrity Crash Diets". Check it out to learn more about the stars who dieted and how they actually did it.

Why do people need to lose weight so fast?

We have already covered it to some point: The ones who started the trend of losing weight fast are the ones who need to look slim and attractive for professional reasons: Actors and singers.

This trend, however, carries on to normal people like us. And there are several reasons why we also want to look slim very fast:

  • We are impatient and want to look perfect NOW
  • We want to be like our famous idols and imitate them
  • We want to impress people around us with results that are visible week by week
  • We hope for an easy way out - a diet that delivers quickly what calorie counting and weight watchers only seem to achieve over long periods of suffering and abstaining
  • We may have an important occasion coming up: A wedding or prom, for example

The reasons for wanting to lose weight lie in our nature, and have to do with social and psychological patterns. But if we can choose between a fast diet and a slow, healhy one, does that mean that we are risking our health with a rapid weight loss attempt?

Are crash diets bad or healthy?

I've heard many things already: Any crash diet is unhealthy, harmful, or it can even kill you. On the one hand, this may give you slight concerns about whether to start a crash diet or not. On the other hand, the number of people who actually died from crash diets seems to be low. It's not an extremely common phenomenon, and when it happens, it's usually the sad story of a super model (or an ordinary person) who was just sick.

I want to discourage people to go on a crash diet if they are not overweight. Crash diets are only for people who clearly need to lose weight because it's their current weight that is a health risk to them. Also, it should go without saying, but I'll say it anyway: If you are pregnant, suffering from a heart disease, have diabetes or anything similar, you should be very careful and at least consult a doctor! Remember: There are always slow, healthy ways to lose weight, even without suffering.

Another point I would like to make clear: It is not the weight loss itself that is a problem. Losing weight can be the consequence of totally healthy lifestyle choices. For example, if you only ate vegetables, fruits and proteins and asked a doctor to make sure you get the best of vitamins, minerals, omega 3 fats and amino acids, and you spent 3 hours walking through the forest each day - would you say your rapid weight loss was risky? Would you think there are dangers involved that force you to take a step back? I don't think so.

So this is what we need to do: We need to give each crash diet we come across some kind of health rating. It's nothing official, just something we do out of common sense. Look at how versatile the diet is, look at how healthy the foods are, and always use your common sense!

This leads us to only one conclusion: You can't throw all crash diets together and say they are all deadly abominations. At the same time, not all of them are safe and risk-free. Next up, we are going to dig deeper and see what we can find.

Possible effects of crash dieting

Many aspects of crash dieting are dogmatized, saying that crash diets cause a war between your inner self and your body, or that they just don't work. I don't want to condemn or exalt crash diets here, but I think we need to differentiate. Let's see what effects crash dieting can have:

  • There is a possibility that your metabolism slows down. This is often called starvation mode. The nomenclature is misleading, though. Studies have found that fat is always burned even while starving, and that there is no such thing as not losing fat at all unless you eat too much food. However, it may still be possible that eating the wrong (or no foods at all) gives you worse results than you could have expected on a healthier diet. And that's the whole idea of starvation mode in a nutshell.
  • Stomach pain: It's probably a no-brainer to figure out that too little food will cause your stomach to rebel against you. It is possible to postpone or cloud these effects, for instance by drinking water to fill your stomach (by the way: never cut down water during any diet!). Just make sure that you listen to your body, because sometimes, the signs are there for a reason.
  • Fainting and dizzy spells. Feeling a little faint, up to the point where your vision becomes black momentarily, is one thing that can happen for brief moments when starting a new diet. Fainting is a completely different thing. If this happens, you need to be careful and perhaps take a step back. Please note that interrupting your diet does not equal weight gain. It only means that the diet is on hold.
  • Cramps and other symptoms: You may feel a lack of vitamins and minerals through various symptoms. In case of cramps, magnesium might help. The symptoms usually have to do with restricted diets. This goes for some diets, but not necessarily for all.
  • Muscle loss: If your diet is onesided, especially when protein is missing, you may lose muscle tissue. This is a shame because muscles burn energy. Fewer muscles means less weight reduction.
These are just some of the common side effects that can happen. But they don't need to happen. It all comes down to the kind of diet and how you deal with the situation. You always, always have the opportunity to apply common sense and seek a solution and avoid dangers and risks.

Presenting many different kinds of crash diets

Now it's time to look at crash diets in details. Some of them are extreme, freaky and dubious, others are simple, healthy and their success is easy to comprehend. This list is not a concluding list, since many other diets have "crash elements" in them, and some of the diets that are good for short term and long term success may or may not appear here. This is just to give you an idea.

The Cabbage Soup Diet

A diet that involves eating cabbage soup any time you like. Although most people would think this diet only contains cabbage, the most popular method includes other vegetables, fruits, and even meat. Read my review about it for more information.

The Juice Fast

A special form of liquid diet weight loss. You are supposed to only consume smoothies and other juices, containing vegetables and fruits. Followers of this approach often claim that there is a detox effect involved, hence the idea that only drinking of liquids is allowed. The effectiveness of the diet, however, depends mostly on what kind of vegetables and fruits you use. If you use too much sugar, you are not going to lose weight.

The Hollywood Diet

Another rather controversial diet. The name suggests that this is how Hollywood stars lose weight. However, you are supposed to buy a specific beverage or powder that will cause magical weight loss. According to reviews I have read, some people found it to be effective while others were totally disappointed.

The Grapefruit Diet

Sometimes referred to as simply another name for the Hollywood diet, this weight loss method relies on the assumption that grapefruit has beneficial enzymes for weight loss. However, most weight loss appears to occur due to the restricted nature of the meal plan. You consume little energy, and the grapfruit (just like many other fruits and vegetables) contains a lot of vitamins. Many people frown upon this technique and claim that weight loss won't be long term when the diet is over.

Master Cleanse

A crash diet very popular amongst celebrities. This is another juice fast, which involves lemon juice, rich maple syrup, cayenne pepper and water. Although I am not saying it doesn't work, I will at least say that it looks very unbalanced and not healthy even if only used for a week.

The 3 Day Diet

This diet is a typical calorie restriction diet. You are not allowed to deviate from the plan in any way. It usually involves three exact meals per day, containing toast, tuna, fruits and other ingredients. Although it is popular, especially online, the presence of toast as a starchy food is very irritating and not in compliance with known facts about weight loss.

The Chicken Soup Diet

The Chicken Soup Diet plan is very simple and straight forward: You get an array of breakfasts to choose from each day, and after each breakfast you eat, you are only allowed to eat chicken soup for the rest of the day, although it is entirely up to you how much you eat of it. Again, some of the breakfast ideas I came across seemed rather weird and included too many carbs.

The Atkins Diet

Some people would heavily protest against calling the Atkins diet a crash diet, which shows that the term has owns a negative connotation. However, if we only use the lose definition that any diet with short term success is such a diet, then we could consider Atkins to be one. On the other hand, this dietary program is also possible for the long run.

Atkins has its fair share of controversy. There are critics that state that Atkins is bad for your heart. This can be attributed to the possibility that people eat the wrong foods on a diet. Since Atkins is a low carb diet with an emphasis on high carb, this can lead to some people eating unhealthy amounts of cheese or meat (as you may know, some meat is good, some is bad). In my opinion, it comes down to what you eat. A lovely raw beef carpaccio poses no threat, while permanent consumption of industrial sausage can become a problem.

The Beverly Hills Diet

This meal plan has been around since 1981. It has a strong emphasis on fruits and forbids protein until 19 days into the diet. On the other hand, it allows bread from day 11 on.

Just like many other diets, this one earned a lot of criticism, which I can relate to, given the fact that protein isn't present throughout always three weeks of the diet. How can the body build fat-burning enzymes, maintain muscle tissue and keep the immune system healthy without protein?

The Israeli Army Diet

Falsely being connected to the Israeli army, this crash diet lasts for eight days. Two days always come in pairs, nutrition-wise. First, you can only eat apples for two days, then cheese, then chicken, and lastly, only salad. Along with these foods, you can drink coffee and black tea.

This obscure dieting method was popular in the 70s, and I understand why I haven't heard of it before I did my research for this article. Now that you've read about it, forget about it.

The Subway Diet

The Subway Diet was not more than an experiment and a publicity stunt set up by a formerly obese student who lost 245 pounds with it. He allegedly ate only sandwiches bought at Subway fast food stores instead of even unhealthier fast food elsewhere. I don't consider this to be proof that the diet itself is good, it's just a way of showing people that you can actually lose weight eating whatever you like - as long as you cut calories clearly. Could the student have lost his weight in another way? I think so. And I think his results would have been even better and healthier.

The Forever Young Diet

This diet was invented by a German physician, iron man contestant and author called Dr. Ulrich Strunz. Although his diet is definitely designed for long term success, he starts off with radical changes that lead to the first phase of his diet becoming some sort of crash diet - in a positive way.

He advises his followers to cut carbs completely, drink a lot of water, eat a clear vegetable soup whenever they want, drink 4 protein shakes a day with 4 or 5 hours break in between, and to have only one bowl of salad per day.

What do effective crash diets have in common and what makes them healthy?

First of all, let me say this: Not many of the crash diets described above are effective and healthy. Also, there are crash diets that we haven't mentioned here in detail. But you should definitely check my article about Celebrities And Their Crash Diets if you haven't yet. Of course, I could place all these diets here and call them "Christian Bale Diet", "Matt Damon Diet" and so on, but I think you wouldn't want to read any further then.

What some of the celebrity diets and some of the really good crash diets have in common is this: They are healthy, they work fast and they have a long term perspective. That means that you will keep losing weight, not gain it back, and that you are not missing out on nutrients.

So when looking at some of the celebrity diets and some diets I mentioned, like the Atkins or Forever Young diet, you will come across things like low carb, high protein, drinking lots of water and keeping it simple. This is exactly what we need to focus our attention on. This is where weight loss occurs!

So what makes a diet effective and healthy?

  • You eat natural, unprocessed foods and avoid "empty" calories that offer nothing than weight gain
  • You reduce the overall amount of food you eat while eating the maximum amount of healthy foods
  • You eat foods low in carbs, because they won't interfere with your blood sugar level
  • You drink a lot of water, because water helps - some diets depend entirely on liquids
  • Don't forget to sleep. It may sound simple, but some people ruin their diet by not getting enough sleep
  • You consume enough protein, because protein is a building material that improves weight loss
  • You keep it simple: Protein, veggies, water, sleep. No extra juice, no extra chocolate, no snacks in between, nothing! Simple meals, 3 or 4 times a day, and just nothing, nothing, nothing on top of it.

What is the single most effective and healthiest crash diet?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /

I know this is an extremely daring claim I make here, but I'm just going with what I have tried and what I believe is the best way to lose weight. And it's all based on my own experience.

You want a crash diet that works. This is my opinion on how it works. Go with it or leave it:

1. "Must do" steps to take

  • Eat only every 4 or 5 hours
  • When you eat, each meal consists of protein - either a protein shake or meat, fish, eggs or vegetarian protein sources like soy or lentils
  • You drink a lot of water throughout the day. And I mean it. Don't wait until you are thirsty. If you need to visit the bathroom a lot, that's a sign that your diet works. Just don't drink yourself to death by drinking two bottles within an hour!
  • Get a lot of sleep - 8 hours the least. Make your bedroom pitch black by using curtains and closing doors
  • You must get at least one bowl of salad per day - it contains only low carb vegetables (rule of thumb: green leaves and other vegetables you have checked out online)

2. Optional steps and tips

  • You may eat more than one bowl of salad a day. This becomes a must for you once you have spend more than a month on this diet. You may, at any point, start eating all of your protein meals together with vegetables
  • You may, occasionally, eat fruits. But make sure they are low in carbs. There is a list of such fruits here.
  • You may, at times, try out intermittent fasting
  • You may also try out skipping meals once in a while
  • Don't become too greedy with your success - if you run into a binge, you lose!
  • For the very long term, follow my healthy eating guide to be on the safe side while still losing weight


Too many types of crash diets exist out there. What you need to know: It's possible even without exercising to lose more than 2 kilos (4.5 lbs) per week. It's also wrong to demonize all crash diets. Because what is a crash diet? A diet that promises quick weight loss. Does that mean that rapid weight loss is always unhealthy? Nonsense. Lose weight the way humans are designed to lose weight - by a lack of sugars. Sugars are the only basic nutrients that don't have special value - fats have value in form of omega 3, proteins have value in respect to their importance as being a building substance. Only sugars are useless. We don't need them. We only accept them if they come with vitamins and minerals (fruits, nuts).

One last tip: Follow this blog, comment and share your experience. I'm updating this blog as often as I can, so keep checking for more information.
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