About 14 years ago, Men's Health magazine was the first to tell the world about a college kid who dropped 245 pounds eating nothing but sandwiches from Subway. His name was Jared and his diet was bizarre, but Subway's marketing department ate it up.
Today there's no shortage of equally strange meal plans—but the trick now, as it was then, is to glean their secrets to leanness, says Alan Aragon, M.S., a Men's Health weight loss advisor. "Some of the stranger diets are based on foods people like to eat, so they're easier to sustain."
So, beer and sausages only? Yeah, that's on the table. We talked to top nutritionists to find out why certain diets are just weird (and stupid) enough to actually work.
Related: The Worlds Most Effective Diet
The Beer and Sausage Diet
Call this the Tailgater's Diet. Evo Terra, 44, an online exec in Tempe, Arizona, dropped from 195 to 177 pounds in 30 days consuming an average of about 1,500 calories a day—mostly from high-quality sausage and craft ale.
Sometimes he used a bun; sometimes he added onions and peppers or chopped the sausage into chili. "I don't consider the diet all that restrictive—there are more sausage varieties and kinds of great craft beer than most people realize," says Terra. "Thirty-one days of a low-grade buzz and moderate hunger can do wonders for your physique."
Make it work No doubt Terra woke up looking forward to what he'd be eating, so his diet was easy psychologically, says Aragon. "For long-term health, though, it's missing a range of nutrients." Still, protein is filling, so it's smart to eat it at every meal.
Terra stocked up at boutique butchers; you can seek out quality brats, each packing 13 to 15 grams of protein, at your farmers' market, or try Organic Prairie's Italian chicken sausage or Applegate Organics andouille.
Washing down your wurst with a hops-heavy stout or IPA can help your metabolism—if you close your tab at two. Japanese research shows that moderate alcohol consumption increases insulin sensitivity, enabling your body to more effectively burn sugar. Terra tried some 200 beers. His top two: Left Hand Brewing Co.'s Milk Stout and Ballast Point's Sculpin IPA.
Related: There are 46,000 foods in the average supermarket. How to choose what to put in your cart? Here's your shopping list: The 125 Best Foods.
The Bacteria Diet
Here's a plan that doesn't restrict calories. Instead, you consume more of the kinds of foods that fatten up the populations of healthy bacteria colonizing your digestive tract.
Stella Metsovas, C.C.N., author of the 21-Day Digestive Health Detox, says that her clients who ate at least a half cup of probiotic-rich foods daily (such as yogurt or sauerkraut) lost an average of 21 pounds over 6 months—without cutting calories.