Werewolves may be the stuff of fairy tales and late-night movies, but the so-called werewolf diet is a very real--and very questionable--fad among the weight-loss trendsetters of the world. As Shape magazine recently reported, celebrities like Madonna and Demi Moore have allegedly jumped on the werewolf bandwagon and are using this diet to attempt to lose weight and detoxify their bodies.
The werewolf diet itself is not quite as sinister as it sounds; you don't need to be bitten or cursed to participate. Rather, the program requires planning your meals around the cycles of the moon.
So, What's the Diet?
Followers of the werewolf diet--also dubbed the lunar diet--undergo a fasting period of 24 hours during each new or full moon. Liquids such as juice are allowed, but solid food is not. Supposedly, you can lose up to six pounds in 24 hours, as long as you stop eating at the very moment the moon phase begins.
There's also an extended version of the werewolf diet, which is much more complex. The fasting requirements are the same, but extra water intake is recommended while the moon is waning (growing smaller in the sky), and you're supposed to reduce food intake and stop eating at 6 p.m. when the moon is waxing (growing larger).
Why Do People ThinkThis Works?
The theory behind the werewolf diet is that just as the moon has power over the ocean's tides, it also controls the water in our bodies. Considering we're made of at least 60-percent water, that's quite a strong influence. But even if the moon does have some effect over our bodies, there's no evidence that it controls how we burn fat.
Does it Really Work?
Fat burning tends to be minimal on fasting diets like this one, with most of the weight loss coming from fluid instead. We get about 20 percent of our water from food each day, so skipping meals or eating less naturally causes us to consume less of the stuff.
Fasting also forces us to dip into stores of glycogen for energy. Glycogen is a type of sugar in the liver and muscles that's on reserve for when we really need it, such as during vigorous exercise. Glycogen holds significant amounts of water, which we release as our bodies burn it.
Water-weight loss is the sole reason for rapid results in the beginning of any crash diet, because body fat takes much longer to lose. If you truly do lose six pounds in 24 hours by fasting, water is pretty much all you're shedding.
While the werewolf diet provides plenty of entertainment value, it's not likely to help you lose much weight in the long run. It could be of some help if it helps you eat less overall, but your success will have more to do with restricted caloric intake than the phases of the moon. Instead of looking to fad diets such as this one, maintain your sanity by simply reducing portion sizes, eating healthier foods and spending more time at the gym.
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Nina Kate is a certified fitness nutrition specialist through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). She also studied journalism at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and has contributed to numerous major publications as a freelance writer. Nina thrives on sharing nutrition and fitness knowledge to help readers lead healthy, active lives. Visit her wellness blog at BodyFlourish.com.