Nazis, baby food and maple syrup – the most absurd fad diets ever

‘All I need is cigarettes and cabbage soup’

Beyonce, who has a comedy show named after her
Queen B Beyonce ponders what Luisa Omielan would do.

As naturally as night follows day, the “New year, New you” features arrive just as you put out the empties for recycling and get rid of the few chocolates you didn’t manage to wolf down over Christmas.

You can always rely on a variety of diet solutions as you sit there burping stilton and Quality Street. At least everyone else’s diet has centred around mince pies and stuffing, hence Oprah Winfrey’s empowering old bollocks on the WeightWatchers advert – neglecting the fact that ‘Being a billionaire trumps whatever waist size you are’. 

Most diets are, of course, about as dubious as that second family-size bag of Tyrrells crisps you had on December 30. As you recover from pouring yourself into your work clothes, Loaded reminds you of the absolute shockers that tried to avoid the one working diet: Eat less and exercise more.


The Atkins Diet

Robert Atkins pioneered the diet, when he read a 1958 paper entitled Weight Reduction, and found it worked on his own excess pounds. The low-carb diet had a moment in the mid-00s when it transpired that you could eat as much meat and cheese as you fancied. You could live on Full English should you be so inclined. The results? Worked wonders initially, and the prospect of being Speedo-ready for the beach looked like a no-brainer, until your complexion starts going a bit manky, your breath starts to smell a bit and God knows what’s going on with your cholesterol. Good for the short term, bad for your kitchen smelling like a cheap motorway caff. Went out of fashion when Atkins died of a heart attack.



The 5:2 diet is based on you eating normally for five days and restricting yourself to below 600 calories on the other two. Basically like a reverse weekend, where Mon-Fri sees you hoovering up whatever you fancy, and at the weekend behaving like a monk. The element of intermittent fasting is supposed to rest your body after the onslaught. Men can apparently lower their risk of cancer and diabetes, but for many women it started buggering up their menstrual cycles and led to all sorts of unpleasantness with missed periods.


The Nazi Diet

Nazi leader Adolf Hitler cut off food to Leningrad in World War II
Bread and vodka The Nazi Diet was one of the more extreme fad diets.

Nothing about the Nazi Diet is alluring. You may have a thing for the uniforms, but really, the whole notion is problematic at best. Apparently, Russians were placed on it – 14 slices of bread and 100g of vodka – during the 900-day Siege Of Leningrad. Just about fine for 900 days, but around 670,000 died of starvation during World War II when the Nazis cut off food supplies to Leningrad. If ‘Fitting into some Nudies and annexing Poland as a bonus’ sounds reich up your strasse, then go ahead.


Cabbage Soup Diet

Cabbage soup: an integral part of the cabbage soup diet
Anyone for cabbage soup? There’d be no Cabbage Soup Diet without cabbage soup.

How can anything called the Cabbage Soup Diet be good for anyone? Sure, you can lose up to 10 pounds in a week, but no one is going to want to get with anyone honking of cabbage. The side effects of light-headedness and loss of concentration might be worth it for that flat stomach, but you should only engage with it for the short-term at best. Imagine living on cabbage soup for the rest of your life. Don’t be that person.


Cigarette Diet

It’s hard to believe that cigarettes were once deemed key in the battle against fat. While snouts make you look cool and stop you feeling hungry – “Garcon! Make mine a carton of Rothmans!” – there’s the whole cancer angle, the damage to your lungs, the ‘Having to find somewhere to go while looking like a sad addict’ and the smell in general. Even cabbage soup is cheaper and less hazardous. Only slightly less idiotic than the Nazi diet.


Beyonce’s Maple Syrup Diet

Ever since Beyonce revealed she dined on maple syrup and lemon juice for a fortnight to shed 21lbs for her role in Dreamgirls, knuckleheads worldwide have been keen to copy her superstar seal of approval. The diet actually dates back 30 years and was said to improve skin, eyes and generally detox your fleshy bits. Just pour maple syrup with lemon juice, season with cayenne pepper and add hot (or cold) water. Then continue hating yourself. 


Baby Food Diet

A smiling baby
Leave off my rusks Babies: They eat differently to adults, you clot.

This is a top showbiz diet that’s done the rounds over the years. Jennifer Aniston, Victoria Beckham and Elizabeth Hurley have all been linked to it, like it’s some top shagabout rogue. There are two angles here. You can eat using baby utensils, so that you get epically bored by shovelling pea-sized mounds into you for the best part of an hour. Or you could also replace two meals a week with actual baby food and eventually find yourself sectioned. The best part? There’s no fags or life-threatening angle. But carrying a couple of jars of Cow & Gate around when you don’t have a child seems a little… weird.


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