It’s that time of year when we renew our vows to lose weight and get in shape. Although it is tempting to go on the latest fad diet that promises quick and easy weight loss, it may not be the smartest idea. Following is a list of fad diets of 2012.

It’s that time of year when we renew our vows to lose weight and get in shape. Although it is tempting to go on the latest fad diet that promises quick and easy weight loss, it may not be the smartest idea. Following is a list of fad diets of 2012.

HCG diet: This diet involves injections of a pregnancy hormone. This hormone is produced by a developing embryo and placenta to nourish the womb. It helps calories be re-routed to the fetus during pregnancy. The diet also involves a 500 calorie per day diet, which is the real reason you lose weight. Proponents of the diet claim that the drops suppress appetite, making the restricted calorie diet easy to follow, but this has been scientifically tested and proven to be untrue.HCG drops and creams have been cited by the FDA as being illegal and fraudulent, as these methods are not even absorbed into the body. Despite an endorsement from Dr. Oz, the shots are really just an expensive placebo and have no effect on weight loss.

KEN diet: This stands for ketogenic enteral nutrition. It involves having a feeding tube placed through your nose directly into your stomach to deliver a constant drip of a low-calorie liquid. The diet promoters promise a 20 pound weight loss in just 10 days. That could be because calories are restricted to around 800 a day, and you will lose “water weight.” If you have an extra $1,500 and don’t mind carrying around a feeding tube, having raw nostrils, bad breath, constant hunger and a potentially serious sinus infection, this diet might be for you.

Sensa sprinkles: Gotta love this one. All you do is sprinkle everything you eat with this magic powder and you will lose weight. The advertisements state the average weight loss is 30 pounds in six months. The premise is that the sprinkles “trigger a full response” and you will feel full faster and eat less. The main ingredient is maltodextrin — a carbohydrate derived from corn. That’s not so magical. This product is not approved by the FDA, and there isn’t any scientific evidence of how it actually works. It’s probably not harmful, but don’t bank on it working.

Baby food diet: If you like pureed, bland food then this is the diet for you. Eat up to 14 jars of baby food a day (and nothing else) and lose weight. This is about 1,000 calories, so essentially you are just controlling your calories in a weird way.

Gluten-free diet: Eliminate all foods that contain wheat and lose weight. What? When you eliminate a food group, you likely will lose weight. But, if you are replacing those calories from wheat products with gluten-free alternatives, you are not saving calories and won’t lose weight. In fact, gluten-free foods often have more fat and sugar than the regular product.

Raspberry Ketones: You may have seen this product featured on the Dr. Oz show. He touted raspberry ketone supplements as the “No. 1 miracle-in-a-bottle to burn your fat.” What he failed to mention is there is no human study that shows that raspberry ketones aid in weight loss.

Because the vitamin and supplement industry, which grossed $28 billion in 2010, is not regulated by the FDA, few consumers are aware that many supplements do not deliver on their claims, nor do they have to. And, there is no recourse for false claims. Instead of spending $25 a bottle for a questionable supplement, you’d be better off investing that money in a gym membership.

How do you spot a fad diet? Following are some questions you should ask.

Does it sound too good to be true? If so, then it probably is.

Does it promise weight loss without exercise or diet change? Doing the same thing yields the same results. There is no magic formula for weight loss.

Does it promise weight loss of more than 1 or 2 pounds per week? More than this amount is likely just fluid loss that will be re-gained quickly.

Does it discourage drinking water? Again, fluid loss.

Are foods or food groups excluded or consumed excessively? Excluding foods equals less calories, right? Or, if you eat nothing but cabbage soup, for example, you are limiting calories.

Does it include lists of “good” and “bad” foods? Remember, all things in moderation.

Does it use the terms “fat burner,” “fat blocker” or “metabolism booster”? No such things exist.

Does it encourage you to seek medical advice or physician approval before starting? If not, it may be a fad diet.

Does it require the purchase of pills, bars, shakes or other foods? If so, consider the seller’s motive. Is it to help you lose weight or to make money?

Does it claim that specific food combinations have weight-loss powers? Combining foods or restricting when you eat certain foods won’t help with weight loss.

The truth is that weight loss is hard. Simply put, calories in must be less than calories out for weight loss to occur. No magic potions, pills or silly diets will do this for you. My advice: eat healthy foods, not too much, and exercise regularly.

Anita Marlay, R.D., L.D., is a dietitian in the cardiac rehab department at Lake Regional Health System in Osage Beach, Mo.