We have all seen the "get fit fast" tips on the covers of magazines, and have been intrigued by the healthy lifestyle "hacks" floating around the Internet. All of these are (supposedly) simple tricks to creating a healthier lifestyle. As the New Year just passed and we've written our resolutions, they become more enticing than ever. Before you promise that you're going to drink 4L of water a day, here are my experiences with different dieting tips.

Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that has nothing to do with what you eat, but when you eat it. Essentially, you eat whatever you normally do in eight hours, and you fast for the other 16 hours. This simple schedule is promoted for maintaining a healthy blood glucose level, reducing cholesterol, and losing weight. Posts all over the Internet attest to it for increasing muscle mass and decreasing body fat. 

The Verdict: I tried intermittent fasting in the middle of my second year. The fasting itself was nowhere near as difficult as I thought it would be; I thought I would be grumpy and hungry for 12 hours a day. In reality, I barely noticed it. I would stop eating for the day at 7 pm and in the morning I would simply hold out on breakfast till 11 am.

I noticed only a slight difference in my overall health, but the schedule itself had a placebo effect that made me feel better about the less than ideal meals I was eating in those eight hours. My downfall was a busy schedule; small windows for eating aren't so conducive to a busy class schedule, especially when I'm in class for the better part of them. In the end, it just wasn't realistic to restrict my eating habits when I was getting home at 11 pm because I will always want popcorn in the middle of the night.

Drinking a Gallon of Water a Day 

Everyone and their mother recommends drinking more water. Apparently it's the best advice Hollywood can give you to looking Beyoncé perfect. Drinking enough water improves your skin, flushes out the toxins from your body, decreases hunger, and, of course, promotes weight loss. 

The Verdict: For me, drinking water comes in extremes. Before I started this resolution, I got by on as little as two glasses of water a day with few complaints. Suddenly, I was consuming anywhere between six to nine litres of the stuff every day. I became weirdly obsessed with drinking water. If I hadn't had as many bottles as planned, I would down two litres out of redemption. Eventually, without any noticeable results, I fell back into my old routine of drinking a measly few glasses a day, which is okay because I was essentially drowning myself before. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing.

The Omega-3 Diet

In an interview, Victoria Beckham (aka Posh Spice), revealed that she ate fish every single day to stay fit (and perfect). She credited the abundance of Omega-3, an essential and healthy fat, for her perfect skin and lean physique. Okay, who doesn't want to look like Posh Spice?

The Verdict: First of all, what everyone neglected to mention is how expensive eating fish everyday actually is. I don't have Beckham's money to fund extravagant dietary habits. I never ended up eating fish everyday because firstly, that mostly requires cooking everyday and I didn't always have the time for that. Second, I can't afford a $7 piece of salmon for everyday of the week.

In reality, I just ate more sushi which is equally as expensive and probably has more cons than pros. Thank god for Omega-3 supplements that cost only $20 for a 3 month supply, no cooking required. Though they may not have all the same benefits of real fish, I used them as the broke-college-student alternative. Surprisingly, it did seem to improve my skin. Thanks V.

Juice Cleanse

Finally, there is the well-documented, California staple— the juice cleanse. The concept is that for anywhere between 3 to 7 days you consume only pressed juice for all of your meals. The founding idea is that by drinking only fresh, unprocessed fruit and vegetable juice, you receive all benefits of the essential nutrients of those foods. While the science behind it is uncertain, this diet has become so popular and well endorsed that it now makes up a $5 million industry in the United States.

The Verdict: Full disclosure, I didn't do my cleanse properly. I regularly cheated by eating solid food and I did count your standard grocery store orange juice as a credible component (which it most definitely is not, now that I look at it). A juice cleanse is wildly expensive; enough fresh pre-made cold-pressed juice for a day costs upwards of $60.

Photo by Ana Hsu

Out of all the diet hacks I tried, I found the juice cleanse to be the hardest to stick to. Maybe it's because the thought of drinking green spinach juice is more than a little off putting to me, or because sometimes I had to drink the juice warm and that was just unpleasant. Surviving solely on juice was an impossible feat for me.

None of these resolutions produced overwhelming or significant results. Though that doesn't mean all of the science and reasoning behind them is at fault; Omega-3 is an important nutrient and adequate water consumption is just as crucial. Alone, however, they aren't realistic. In my experience, none of these hacks are reliable, stand-alone weight-loss solutions. They all require a lot of commitment and over exaggerate the process and its benefits. I think I'll stick to everything in moderation.