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The 4 Stupidest Lose-Weight-Quick Schemes

From ab belts to Taco Bell diets, here are some of the dumbest -- and unhealthiest -- things people do to lose weight.

Although the American dream has many facets, one of the most powerful is the desire to obtain a perfectly fit body through a combination eating crap and not exercising.

Every year, we Americans are bombarded with advertisements that promise us sparkling abs, thighs and buttocks, all without doing any work or significantly changing our eating habits. Without fail, of course, these diets have certain critical flaws to them, such as depriving your body of key nutrients or giving yourself permanent bone damage. Indeed, most of these diets don’t even qualify as snake oil, since consuming such oil would probably be a healthier alternative.

While the following four lose-weight-fast schemes are among the stupidest schemes around, they are actually quite representative of the fad-diet industry as a whole. It wouldn’t at all be surprising to see even stupider schemes emerge in the near-future, such as a diet that promises to help you lose 40 pounds in a week by consuming only deep-fried leprechaun testicles. Even so, these schemes each stand out in their own unique, forehead-slap-inducing ways and are thus worthy of our attention. Let’s get started, shall we?

Scheme #1: The Cookie Diet

The title of this diet alone should be enough to have it laughed off the Earth by sane people everywhere. Say the word combination “cookie diet” to yourself over and over again and ask yourself if it’s any less ludicrous than the word combinations “frosting diet” or “raw pig fat diet.” And yet, this diet has apparently proven to be financially successful as it claims to have helped 500,000 people lose weight.

And to be fair, you can see how the cookie diet could help you lose weight, since it involves consuming a mere 800 – yes, 800 – calories per day. The basic idea is that you eat six 100-calorie cookies and an extremely light meal for dinner and you’ll start shedding pounds like nobody’s business.

“But eating only 800 calories a day can’t be healthy!” you say. And you’d be right. As the New York Times helpfully notes, eating a mere 800 calories per day “can result in potassium deficiency, gallstones, heart palpitations, weakened kidney function and dizziness.” So really, it sounds like the only thing separating the cookie diet’s side effects from Flomax’s side effects is that the cookie diet doesn’t make you lose semen (at least not that we know of).

One bad sign for the diet’s effectiveness is that its own adherents are wary of using the term “cookie diet” to describe it. As John Nemet, the manager at a Cookie-Diet-selling Smart for Life store told the Times, “It’s unfortunate that they’re called cookies, because in some ways it denigrates them.” Nemet also pointed out that you really can’t consider it a diet, since it’s more of “a behavior modification program.”

Yeah, it’s really unfortunate that this program is referred to as a “cookie diet,” especially when its official website is called

Yet another bad sign is that the person who invented the diet, in this case Dr. Sanford Siegal, feels the need to constantly dress in a white lab coat to show off his doctor-y credentials. Hey, you know who else was a doctor? Hannibal Lecter. That doesn’t mean I’ll be taking dietary advice from him anytime soon.

Scheme #2: Magical “Fitness” Shoes

For past 30 or so years, athletic shoe companies have operated under the premise that their footwear should make you as comfortable as possible while you exercise. This meant that companies tried to design shoes that optimized support for your arches and ankles to ensure that people could exercise without suffering from debilitating bone and muscle injuries.

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