Five of the Most Extreme Weight-Loss Diets Include Cotton Balls, Sleeping, Charcoal

lemon water
The Master Cleanse diet only allows dieters to consume liquids. RedBull Trinker

Trendy new diets like keto allow plenty of healthy fats but few carbs, and can seem appealing at first. Some of them promise that dieters lose weight quickly, easily and without having to stop eating their favorite foods. But some of the lengths people will go to in order to lose weight can be extreme and do not fit within the recommended guidelines for weight loss per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Losing weight is more about a healthy lifestyle than it is a specific diet or exercise program, says the CDC's website, which has an entire guide for people looking to lose weight in a healthy way. There are also guidelines for healthy eating based on the suggestions made in Dietary Guidelines for Americans, produced by the United States Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Generally, the average person should only eat the amount of calories they're burning each day. Those calories should ideally come from foods like fruits; vegetables; whole grains; lean meats and fish; eggs; and low-fat dairy products, and they also should be low in cholesterol, and saturated and trans fats.

But people looking for a quick and easy fix for weight loss sometimes turn to extreme diets that most definitely do not fit the recommendations of the CDC. Below are some of the craziest diets out there that are actually dangerous.

The cotton ball diet: Dieters soak several cotton balls in something sweet, such as juice or a smoothie, and then swallow them whole. They're filling and virtually zero calories—but they also can't be digested, can cause a blockage, might contain toxins and can lead to malnutrition.

The cookie diet: Essentially an all-you-can-eat cookie buffet, one perk of this diet—aside from the obvious—is that it's easy to follow because several brands provide the cookies, which have certain necessary nutrients. However, it can be expensive, it's not a long-term solution and doesn't quite offer everything necessary for a balanced diet.

The Master Cleanse: Basically a juice diet, the only ingredients necessary here are fresh lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne pepper. Dieters drink these three ingredients mixed with water during the day, take a laxative at night and drink salt water in the morning as a flush. The diet usually lasts 10 days. Beyoncé reportedly followed this diet for her role in Dreamgirls, and it was also featured on The Office.

The charcoal diet: This diet supposedly helps people lose weight and removes toxins from the body because dieters can only have juice mixed with activated charcoal...and no other food. Activated charcoal is used in emergency rooms for treating patients suffering from poisoning. The substance absorbs toxins, but because the body can't absorb the charcoal, it passes through with the toxins as well. The sharp decrease in calorie intake due to the juice fast is the cause of any actual weight loss.

The Sleeping Beauty diet: A regular amount of sleep is key to losing weight when combined with healthy eating and exercise, but this one is more of a disorder than a diet. It involves using some sort of sedative to sleep through meals and avoid eating. It decreases calorie intake drastically, but leaves the person hungry and weak when he or she wakes up.