The Most Outrageous Restrictive Diets of All Time (and One That May Work)


If you’re aiming to live longer, get smarter, and lose belly fat, The Fasting Mimicking Diet (FMD) is your be-all and end-all solution—at least according to researchers from the University of Southern California say. In the study, researchers analyzed yeast (to look at the effect of fasting on a cellular level), mice (to provide details on fasting’s lifelong effects), and humans (to see if the yeast and mouse studies were applicable) on dietary restrictions. 

In the pilot human trial, 19 subjects underwent three cycles of the FMD (with a specific proteincarbfat micronutrient composition that slashed caloric intake by 34 to 54 percent) once a month for five days. The other 25 days, participants went back to their regular eating habits—good or bad—and, interestingly enough, all saw positive changes. They had fewer risk factors and biomarkers for aging, a decreased risk for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer with no major adverse side effects. 

“It’s about reprogramming the body so it enters a slower aging mode, but also rejuvenating it through stem cell-based regeneration,” Professor Valter Longo said in a release. “It’s not a typical diet because it isn’t something you need to stay on.”

“Strict fasting is hard for people to stick to, and it can also be dangerous, so we developed a complex diet that triggers the same effects in the body,” Longo added. 

You may recall some of the more ridiculous, strictest diet programs to gain popularity over the years. And if you don’t, we did for you.  


Cabbage Soup Diet

Just as it sounds, the premise of this seven-day diet is to eat as much cabbage soup as humanly possible, according to Weight Loss Resources. And as a treat, you’re allowed additional foods. Like many other single-food diets, this is a quick-fix starvation plan that causes you to drop tons of water weight and muscle. You won’t accomplish much after a week of eating primarily cabbage, except a newfound intimate relationship with your toilet. 

•    Day 1 – Cabbage soup plus as much fruit as you like, excluding bananas 
•    Day 2 – Cabbage soup plus vegetables including 1 jacket potato with a little butter 
•    Day 3 – Cabbage soup plus fruit and vegetables excluding potatoes and bananas 
•    Day 4 – Cabbage soup plus up to eight bananas and as much skimmed milk as you like 
•    Day 5 – Cabbage soup plus up to 20 ounces of beef and up to six tomatoes 
•    Day 6 – Cabbage soup plus as much beef and vegetables (excluding potatoes) as you like 
•    Day 7 – Cabbage soup plus brown rice, vegetables (excluding potatoes) and unsweetened fruit juice

The Grapefruit Diet

The 80s were a strange decade. Lots of spandex and lots of fad diets, apparently. Coming in around 800 calories a day, this popular diet once involved eating half a grapefruit before every meal, drinking as much black coffee your nervous system can handle, the occasional piece of toast, and some protein (mainly boiled eggs), according to Weight Loss Resources. Fast forward to the 21st century, and its much more refined. We’re informed. Now people eat half a grapefruit before every meal without changing their diet, and hope to lose about 3 pounds in three months. 

The Russian Air Force Diet

Originally created to keep Soviet Union soldiers fit, the week-long diet is low in calories and incredibly strict (as you may have guessed), according to the Diet Channel. You’re encouraged to drink at least four glasses of water or diet soda a day. And you’re allowed to season your meals with salt, pepper, herbs, vinegar, soy sauce, mustard, ketchup, even Worcestershire sauce. The catch? Finding a food you’d actually top with one of these condiments. For breakfast, you have black coffee; lunch is two eggs and a tomato; and dinner is seven ounces of red meat with a green salad. 

The hCG Diet

Have no clue what this is or what it stands for? That’s because hCG is a hormone found in the urine—of pregnant women, according to Weight Loss Resources. Basically, you’re restricted to 500 calories a day supplemented with an injection of this very hormone, or with oral hCG drops. The idea is that the hormone will trigger your body to mobilize or tap into the fat stores in your body to bring energy to an imaginary baby. 

The Master Cleanse

Don’t you get tired of chewing your food all the time? Apparently the people behind this cleanse did. According to their site, the liquid diet is supposed to supply you with a healthy amount of calories and nutrients, all while cleansing your body, giving your digestive system a rest, and letting your body heal naturally. You’ll drink six to 12 glasses of a lemon-maple syrup-cayenne pepper concoction every day, followed by a laxative before bed, and another to start the day off with a bang. 


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