The Ponzi Scheme Diet

One common resolution that is made by millions every year is to lose weight. This could be because a good chunk of our nation happens to be overweight. So I guess that all makes sense.

I’m not overweight, but I’m not skinny. I check in at about 5 foot 10” and 180 pounds (all muscle!). Even still, I always like to start the year out thinking about exercise.

If you are trying to lose weight or go on a diet of some sort, I recommend staying away from what I like to call Ponzi Scheme Diets.

What is a Ponzi Scheme?

You have probably heard about the Madoff $50 Billion heist that has been all over the news lately. It is looking like it will go down in the history books as the largest Ponzi Scheme of all time.

At the heart of it, Ponzi schemes are simple pyramids where the person running it uses money coming in to pay out past investors. The person basically moves money around and skims off however much he/she wants. The schemes require constantly increasing investments or they will fall apart

Consistent High Returns. A more hidden identifier of a Ponzi scheme is the promise of consistent high returns. The only way to get exceptional high returns is to have an equal amount of risk and that high risk should lead to inconsistent returns in the short term. In Madoff’s case he was promising absurd yearly returns regardless of stock market performance.

An Empty Structure. A second feature of these types of schemes is an empty structure. There is no trading, no interest earned on money (they typically don’t keep the money long enough to get interest), and sometimes not even a staff. It’s hard to make money without these things.

What is a Ponzi Scheme Diet?

This is an idea that I’ve been playing around with for a few weeks to try to weed out the bad diet plans out there. HINT: There are a bunch of them. In short, a Ponzi Scheme Diet is a diet that promises very fast weight lost with very little work.

Anytime you are thinking about trying a new diet, look for the three below things. If the new diet has one or more of them, I would be very weary of it.

Quick and Effortless Weight Loss. Similar to how a pyramid scheme promises you quick money without a lot of work, a Ponzi Scheme Diet promises you immediate weight loss with minimal changes to your current lifestyle. People try these out every year and they all end in heartache.

This is the food equivalent of consistent high returns. If you are currently in a lifestyle where you are packing on the pounds, you can’t turn that around without changing the lifestyle. Living the same lifestyle but spending ten minutes a day zapping your belly with electrodes is not going to make you thin Dude.

Tricks and Gimmicks. Some people may disagree with me, but I also don’t love diets that just offer one trick or gimmick. “Just do this one thing”, “Eat this food”, “Walk backwards and sing for 10 minutes a day”… These things rarely work.

The body is an intricate beast and we might be able to trick it for awhile. If you are still living a weight-gaining lifestyle though, but just have some gimmick in it, you are eventually going to continue to gain weight.

Paying for pounds. Besides a book, a nutritionist, a gym membership (or personal trainer), and/or some very basic equipment, you shouldn’t be paying money to lose weight. And in fact, you might not even need any of the above things depending on your experience level. Any diet that says you have to buy some special machine, pre-packaged food, or magical ointment is pulling your possibly overweight leg.

What does work?

Obviously entire books have been written about the subject of weight loss, but here are a few short tips that I think can help.

Keep track. Start a food journal and write down everything that you eat for every meal and snack. This can be in the form of a small notebook that you carry with you or something more techy like a cellphone note. This forces you to be mindful about what you eat.

Work together. I always find it easier to work out if I have other people with me. Start a jogging club, or a gym club, or just share your goals with others who have similar goals. They will keep you honest.

Don’t starve. If you are hungry, then eat. Just be mindful of what you are eating and try to eat mainly fruits and veggies. If you are hungry and you don’t eat then your body will start slowing down your metabolism which isn’t going to help your cause at all.

I know that this isn’t a website about weight loss. In fact, I sometimes post recipes that might destroy your attempts at it, but I do believe in a healthy, rounded diet and I think it is important to keep in decent shape.

What are your thoughts? Do you know of any Ponzi Scheme Diets?

8 comments on “The Ponzi Scheme Diet

  1. This is a hysterical post!! I love the photo. Still, I am wondering: where does the “lemon, chili powder, and maple syrup” master cleanse diet fit into this?

  2. Sir:

    Glad to see you are putting your Temptations skills to good use. Thoroughly enjoy your posts.

    Your fellow ex-co-editor-in-chief,


  3. Amen. Couldn’t agree with you more. The Ponzi diet I can think of is the apple cider vinegar diet. Just have a couple Tablespoons of apple cider vinegar a day and the weight will come off. Um, how exactly does it do that?

  4. There’s the grapefruit diet (from the 70s I think?), and the cabbage soup diet. I’d say Atkins is a Ponzi scheme, but I know a lot of people who’ve done well on it (altho there’s no way I’d ever do it).

  5. Vicki, I almost mentioned the Atkins diet because it is so popular but I didn’t because I’m not sure that it is a Ponzi Scheme diet.

    I’m not sure that it is healthy, but scientifically it will probably help you lose weight as proven by tons of people.

    As for the Lemonade Diet that Karolinka mentions, I’m not sure about that one either. I actually tried it a few years ago and most of the people who do it, do it to “cleanse” not to necessarily lose weight.

    Apple cider vinegar diet is 100% ponzi scheme diet ;)

  6. Reading about weight loss tips is always fun. Thanks for the entertainment. Do you mind if I ask for your email address?

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