The most extreme weight loss methods revealed

Please don't try these at home...

a woman on an extreme diet pouring a pink fruit smoothie into a glass
(Image credit: Future/Getty)

Over the years, people have come up with some pretty extreme diets as a way to lose weight as quickly as possible.

These are some of the most extreme diets ever recorded - but a word of caution -these should not be followed and there are many safer, healthier, more sustainable and medically-approved diets to follow if you are looking for diets that work fast (opens in new tab)

Many people find great weight loss success with popular diets like the Sirtfood Diet (opens in new tab) and 16:8 fasting (opens in new tab), or big-name weight loss programmes like Atkins (opens in new tab) and Weight Watchers. But if you're seriously thinking of embarking on a sustainable weight loss programme be sure to book an appointment with your GP first and cosider enlisting a personal trainer. Both will be able to put you on the right track to healthy, sensible weight loss.

12 of the most extreme diets:

1. The Chemical Diet

Extreme factor: 5/10

The Chemical Diet consists of only eating lean, non-fried meat, water, eggs, vegetables and just a tiny bit of bread or fruit. Apparently, the combination of foods is supposed to react together chemically and burn fat. It's also been promoted as a way to reduce blood sugar levels and support long-term blood sugar control.

Although, it's difficult to actually sustain this fad diet in the long-term and there's no evidence to suggest it actually works at all. It's not nutritionally balanced and these foods, whatever their combination, are unlikely to contain enough calories to get through the day.

Eggs and vegetables, part of the extreme chemical diets

Credit: Getty

2. The Bulletproof Coffee Diet

Extreme factor: 4/10

The Bulletproof Coffee Diet is more like a supplementary addition, rather than a whole diet on its own. A Bulletproof coffee is an alternative to a standard breakfast, made up of a standard filter coffee, with one to two tbsp of oil and one to two tbsp of unsalted butter.

As well as being just a standard recipe that anyone can follow, Bulletproof Coffee have created a whole franchise around their product with purpose-built coffee, oil and unsalted butter all available to buy on the website.

According to the website, a Bulletproof Coffee works alongside many different ways of eating - including the paleo diet (opens in new tab), low-carb and ketogenic diet (opens in new tab), as well as intermittent fasting and One Meal a Day diets. It's "not your average latte", but rather an "energizing, keto-friendly coffee drink".

As far as extreme diets go, it's not too bad - but we're not sure how many people will want to be drinking a lob of butter and dashes of oil along with their morning coffee.

3. Maple Syrup Diet

Extreme factor: 8/10

Beyonce reportedly went on the Maple Syrup Diet to lose weight before her role in Dream Girls and is said to have lost half a stone - but it's hardly sustainable for even just a day.

Also called The Lemon Diet, the Maple Syrup Diet was invented by naturopath Stanley Burroughs over thirty years ago. It involves a detox drink made up of two tablespoons (about 20ml) of Natural Tree Syrup with two tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice, a pinch of cayenne pepper or ginger, and half a pint of hot or cold water.

The diet suggests you drink six to nine of these a day - and that's it.

While the weight loss is said to be quick, the list of side effects is long, from diarrhoea to headaches, nausea and mental irritability - along with just being permanently hungry. It's a pretty radical way to lose weight and even the creators themselves advise against it as a weight loss technique in the long-term for obvious reasons.

Maple syrup, part of the extreme diet

Credit: Getty

4. The Raw Food Diet

Extreme factor: 7/10

While raw fruit and vegetables have many advantages and there are plenty of medically-recommended diets that suggest eating more raw food, it's normally combined with other foods.

The Raw Food Diet suggests people eat anything that is unprocessed and uncooked - including fruit and vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, seaweed and purified water. No more than 75% of food can be heated over 116°C, though.

5. The Strawberry Diet

Extreme factor: 8/10

There are two versions of this diet. One where you supplement healthy, daily meals with strawberries for their natural health benefits (including high levels of vitamin C, folic acid and potassium). But naturally, there's a more extreme version too, called the Strawberry Fast.

This is where someone lives on nothing but strawberries to lose weight quickly. While strawberries are very healthy, eating them alone isn't only unsustainable, but you'll miss out all on all the other vital elements of a balanced diet - and be very, very hungry.

Strawberries in a strainer

Credit: Getty

6. The Snake Juice Diet

Extreme factor: 9/10

The Snake Juice Diet (opens in new tab) has become famous over the years thanks to its purpose as a drastic weight loss method. However, it's highly controversial.

Also known as "snake dieting" as it mirrors the way the reptile eats, the Snake Juice Diet takes the method of fasting in the extreme. People on the diet are encouraged to fast for long periods of time between their meals, on the basis that it will help them to lose weight.

However, nutritionists have said that there is categorically "absolutely nothing good about this diet".

7. The Egg Diet

Extreme factor: 8/10

The Egg Diet is exactly what it says on the tin - it's about eating lots and lots of eggs. In fact, it's a diet that involves eating nothing but eggs - along with small amounts of lean protein and fresh vegetables.

While businessman Charles Saatchi reportedly lost four stone in 10 months by eating nothing but eggs, no one has been able to really verify this information. There are also much healthier ways to lose lots of weight in under a year, including the most basic way and medically verified weight loss method: staying in a calorie deficit and upping the exercise.

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8. The Macrobiotic Diet

Extreme factor: 7/10

The main emphasis of this diet is eating wholegrains for 60% of all meals, with the rest made up of raw vegetables.

This might sound okay in theory but one famous face who reportedly tried the diet said, "It made me throw up."

Gwyneth Paltrow sat down with V Magazine in 2008 and revealed that she was on the diet for "about three or four years" before becoming pregnant with her daughter. "I couldn’t look at brown rice. It made me throw up. But being macrobiotic is basically about eating local, organic, seasonal food that isn’t processed, and that’s how I eat now, so it’s not that different."

9. Grapefruit Diet

Extreme factor: 6/10

This is one of the most famous extreme diets out there, having been invented in the 1930s and outlasted most other fad diets.

There are many variations of it but they all include one thing - grapefruit, and lots of it. Apparently, there is a special ingredient in grapefruit that, which eaten with a form of protein, triggers a fat-burning process and therefore, results in weight loss.

So, the idea is to start each meal with half a grapefruit, eat lots of protein and drink plenty of water and black coffee. While this diet may help you lose a few pounds in the short-term, it's going to be an unpleasant process and any weight lost will pile straight back on once you return to your normal diet.

Such a drastic reduction in calories and change in diet can also result in dizziness and an upset stomach, along with lots of other negative side effects.

Grapefruit next to glass of water

Credit: Getty

10. The Cabbage Soup Diet

Extreme factor: 6/10

Much like many of the other extreme fad diets, the Cabbage Soup Diet (opens in new tab) consists of just one ingredient eaten over and over again.

This one requires a person to eat copious amounts of cabbage soup, in a bid to cut down your calorie intake. Any medical expert would advise against this diet because it's completely void of the nutrients not held in cabbage, such as sufficient carbohydrates and protein.

But other experts, who've taken the time to consider this extreme diet, also suggest that it's a complete waste of time because it forces the body into starvation mode. This means that your metabolism slows down and your body holds onto fat - which is surely the completely opposite of the end goal here.

11. The Potato Diet

Extreme factor: 6/10

The Potato Diet (opens in new tab) is another classic and much in the same way as the others, is largely advised against. This extreme diet involves (predictably) eating nothing but potatoes for breakfast, lunch and dinner for one whole week.

It's unsustainable in the long term and as potatoes lack protein and fat, it's without two of the vital nutrients.

But it has been proven to work. The Potato Diet was shown on Channel 4's show, How to Lose Weight Well and Caroline, the woman who trialled the diet on the show, was able to lose nearly a stone in just a week.

Experts warn, however, that long-term reliance on this diet could lead to multiple nutrient deficiencies and a gradual loss of muscle.

Potatoes being peeled for the potato diet, an extreme diet

Credit: Getty

12. Dr Siegal's Cookie Diet

Extreme factor: 6/10

There are cookies involved, but not as we know them. This diet has been around for about 40 years and the creators claim that it can help people lose about 11 to 17 pounds in just one month.

This diet relies exclusively on cookies from the Dr Siegal brand (coming in flavours of chocolate brownie, cinnamon oatmeal, maple pancakes, and butterscotch) for all three meals throughout the day, alongside with one meat and vegetable dinner.

Each cookie contains a worryingly low 90 calories and is made up of low GI ingredients, such as whole wheat flour, bran and oats. The only meal you can have is the high protein meat and vegetable dinner, along with two more cookies afterwards if you're still hungry.

Extreme diets - conclusions:

So with multiple downsides to these fad diets and no proof that you won't immediately gain all the weight back on once you start eating normally again, it's better to plan for long-term, healthy weight loss.

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Grace Walsh
Features Writer

Grace Walsh is a Features Writer for, covering breaking news health stories during the Covid-19 pandemic as well as lifestyle and entertainment topics.  She has worked in media since graduating from the University of Warwick in 2019 with a degree in Classical Civilisation and a year spent abroad in Italy. It was here that Grace caught the bug for journalism, after becoming involved in the university’s student newspaper and radio station.