We Byrdie editors try dozens of wacky diets, cleanses, and nutrition trends so that you don’t have to. If an eating plan claims to banish belly bulge, skyrocket our metabolisms, or make our bodies burn fat more efficiently, we are on it like cacao nibs in a protein shake.
That said, these extreme diets aren’t exactly fun (and they’re not even always safe). We’ve tried relinquishing all acidic foods and eating nothing but fruit, pushing through mood swings and digestive disturbances in the name of optimal nutrition. In the end, we don’t recommend sticking to most of the radical diets we’ve tried in the long-term. But we have gleaned a few valuable, dietitian-approved lessons along the way.
Do yourself a favor and skip the extreme dieting. Instead, check out the reasonable weight-loss lessons we’ve learned below!
“I recently did Dr. Passler’s Pure Change program. He’s a super-knowledgeable nutritionist and wellness guru (he works with Bella Hadid and tons of other notable models and celebrities), and the detox is no joke. I was meant to eat only protein shakes, protein bars, and steamed vegetables for seven days. It was truly difficult, but taking that time away from indulgences did force me to realize I don’t need them as much. It's important to me to keep my favorite foods around from time to time, but Dr. Passler’s program weaned me off the idea that I’d be miserable without them. In fact, I felt so much better in just one week.” — Hallie Gould, senior editor
“Cooking always seemed so daunting, but [Dr. Daryl Gioffre’s Get Off Your Acid 7-Day Cleanse] helped me realize it can be quite easy—enjoyable, even. Plus, weighing the cost of the pricey smoothie and salad I purchased against my pre-made meals made it glaringly obvious how much I would/could be saving. … I finished this cleanse realizing that I can indeed cook—and subsequently save so much money (while eating healthier).” — Faith Xue, editorial director
“Research shows intermittent fasting is safe (and effective). More than that, many experts say it’s actually what our bodies are designed for. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors didn’t have the steady access to food we do now. Sometimes we couldn’t find anything to eat, and our bodies evolved to be able to function without food for extended periods of time. Some may argue that intermittent fasting is perhaps more 'natural' than eating three (or more) square meals a day.” — Deven Hopp, beauty director
“I did the whole ‘no food after 7 p.m.’ thing once, and it was torture. I *always* need a snack after a night out. Now my strategy is only to keep healthy snacks around—I really don’t have any chips or sweets or anything in my fridge or in my cabinets. Instead, I’m always stocked up on raw veggies and hummus, salsa, avocado, etc. I don’t deny the urge to eat, but I do control what I’m snacking on!” — Victoria Hoff, associate editor
“My rendezvous with the alkaline diet taught me that incorporating more greens into my diet while cutting out dairy, sugar, and meat helps me feel slimmer and more energetic in just a few days. Nowadays, when I’m feeling sluggish or slow, I always make sure to load up on fresh veggies and cut out my lattes (which, according to the alkaline diet, is extremely acidic).” — Faith Xue
“You know what’s just as convenient as a junky granola bar, a package of salty crackers, or a frozen TV dinner? Fresh, raw fruits and vegetables. My week on the fruitarian mono-diet taught me this. Before trying this admittedly bizarre diet, I was eating more artificial food than I ever realized. Now I try to reach for fresh foods whenever I can. After all, a banana and almond butter or a handful of raspberries tastes so much better than a crappy bag of rice cakes.” — Amanda Montell
“The Master Cleanse is a sh*tshow (figuratively and literally). But lemon juice and cayenne does make for a wonderful drink to get things flowing first thing in the a.m.—followed by ACTUAL FOOD.” — Victoria Hoff
Shop editor-approved diet swag below!