15 Celeb Diet Trends Nutritionists Hate
By Dana Leigh Smith
Warning: These dangerous, celeb slim-down trends will wreak havoc on your metabolism!
While inflated egos and mega mansions are plentiful in Hollywood, body fat is not. In fact, I'd argue that today's celebs are slimmer and fitter than ever before! While many of them enlist the help of nutritionists and trainers to intelligently stay trim, there are plenty of singers, actors, and socialites who have enlisted some pretty strange and unhealthy tactics to maintain their svelte figures. The most frustrating part? Many of them claim that it's their "good genes" or "daily yoga sessions" that help keep them fit. Ha!
Newsflash: That's rarely the case; losing weight and keeping it off is hard work even for celebs! But if you follow a smart plan and avoid unhealthy shortcuts—like all of the celeb diet trends below—it's totally possible to get the body you want. While some of these diets are obviously dangerous, others are seemingly-healthy approaches you may have actually considered trying at one point or another. We checked in with a team of diet experts to find out why these slim down hacks should all be avoided at all costs—no matter how badly you want to fit into your skinny jeans. Get clued in below and then enlist these 25 Ways to Detox Without Juicing for better ideas.
Remember Marcia Cross from "Desperate Housewives?" She always looked rail thin—and it wasn't thanks to her miraculous biochemistry. It was because she hardly ate! In 2008, she told the press that "Not eating is a constant struggle. It's like they pay me not to eat. It's a living hell." According to one eyewitness who spotted the now-54-year-old actress at a restaurant, Cross didn't eat a single piece of food during the entire meal. Sounds totally dreadful, right?
According to registered dietitian Leah Kaufman, fasting and skipping meals can wreak havoc on the body's metabolism: "In this day and age, food is readily available, so fasting may lead to binge eating or overeating. Also, the body tends to want to store food as fat after periods of fasting to increase chances of survival in case that were to happen again," she tells us, adding, "Our body fasts every single night when we sleep, which is restorative and healing. But it's important to give the body nutrients throughout the day for it to work at it's highest potential."
The Coffee-Only Diet
Renee Zellweger has been captured numerous times by the paparazzi clinging for dear life to a giant cup of coffee. According to numerous celeb trainers and diet experts, it's a common misconception around Hollywood that guzzling coffee can help speed up metabolism and ward off hunger.
While a bit of caffeine can lend you some extra energy to crush your workout, living off the stuff, will do more harm than good. A research team in Washington found that sipping more than five cups of java per day doubled visceral belly fat. While Australian researchers found that over-consumption of certain polyphenols found in coffee could prevent fat loss and lead to insulin resistance. Yikes! That said, if you're a java drinker, cut yourself off after three cups, or make the switch to green tea, which has far less caffeine and contains a fat-incinerating compound called epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG.
The Post-Baby Placenta Pill Diet
Following the birth of her son Xander, January Jones, had her placenta dried, crushed and placed into capsules. She then ingested them in an attempt to shed her baby weight. While this may seem a bit kooky, this practice is actually centuries old and practiced often in Chinese medicine. Even so, there is little scientific research available regarding the benefits of placental encapsulation, according to the American Pregnancy Association.
According to Christine Palumbo, a Chicago-based dietitian, this is an all too common celebrity weight loss scheme—and one everyone at home should skip. "I do not suggest anyone try this. Not only is expensive to get the pills made, it has no known benefit over calorie reduction and getting active in terms of weight loss. The placenta is primarily composed of protein, so if a new mother would like to mimic its effects, she can eat foods that are protein-rich and low in fat like chicken or turkey breast, beef tenderloin, or lean fish."
The hCG diet
Laura Prepon of "Orange Is the New Black" isn't shy when it comes to her far-from-healthy diet habits. "I've always done crazy crash diets. I've ruined my metabolism that way," the 36-year-old actress tells Health.com. "I did the hCG diet—[you're injected with] a hormone that's extracted from the urine of pregnant women!" Not only is this a totally out there idea—it's also dangerous, registered dietician Isabel Smith cautions. "Many doctors say that hCG can be dangerous when taken for dietary purposes. Further, it's not a great way to promote long-term weight loss or good health." For healthier ways to lose weight, don't miss these 50 Best Ever Weight-Loss Secrets From Skinny People.
The Protein Shake Cleanse
If you've ever watched the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show and thought to yourself "Some of these girls look like they don't eat," you wouldn't be far off from the truth. According to Telegraph UK, supermodel Adriana Lima consumes only protein shakes mixed with powdered egg in the week and a half leading up to the televised show. After news of her extreme diet came out, Adriana explained to E!, "I know it's very intense but … I just do it for this particular thing. After this show, I become normal again." And we're happy to hear it, but that doesn't make this extreme diet any better, Kaufman warns. "Protein shakes definitely have a time and place, but restricting your nutrients this much isn't a healthy or a sustainable way to lose weight. Since this diet doesn't contain any whole foods, there are many nutrients lacking in this diet, including fiber," she explains, adding, "It's not healthy for your digestive system or for your body to be functioning on so little calories and nutrients."
Hotel heiress Paris Hilton is no stranger appetite-suppressing drugs. Last year she was arrested for possession of cocaine, an illegal substance that reduces the body's ability to store fat. And years prior to her arrest, she admitted to Larry King that she takes the attention deficient disorder drug, Adderall, which has been found to keep users awake and hunger-free.
Eating disorder expert Carolyn Costin told The Daily News that the drugs used for attention deficit are often crumpled up and snorted. While stimulants like Adderall can aid weight loss in the short term, after a while users may experience sudden, uncontrollable weight gain. Toby Amidor, MS, RD nutrition expert, and author agrees taking stimulants for weight loss isn't a smart move: "These are definitely medications that shouldn't be taken just to lose a few pounds. Drugs should always be taken under the supervision of a doctor."
The Master Cleanse AKA The Lemonade Diet
Not only is making a drink your only source of sustenance going to leave you hungry and craving a McDouble, it's a plan that may cause you to gain weight later down the road. "The premise of the cleanse is to mix lemon juice, maple syrup, water, and cayenne pepper for a minimum of 10 days while supplementing the lemonade with salt water and laxative tea," Amidor explains. Beyoncé admitted following this regimen for two weeks to drop 20 pounds for the film "Dreamgirls"" and Jared Leto used it to shed 30 pounds before filming "Chapter 27." But that doesn't mean you should follow suit.
"Since the entire plan only consists of 700 calories per day, the side effects including tiredness, cravings, irritability and headaches. The recommended laxatives and diuretics will cause important nutrients, including potassium, to leach out of the system, Amidor notes. "Further, even if you do lose weight—and you will on such a low-cal plan—once you go back to your regular eating habits, the weight will come right back on and then some." To learn more about the dangers of detoxing, don't miss our report 27 Things a Juice Cleanse Does to Your Body.
The "Drunk Diet"
Though we wish it was just a huge joke, The "Drunk Diet" is an actual thing—and Lady Gaga is a fan. "I'm on The Drunk Diet. I like to drink whiskey and stuff while I'm working. But the deal is, I've got to work out every day, and I work out hungover if I'm hungover," she told Sirius Radio. We had a hunch this plan wasn't the smartest and we were absolutely correct. "Alcohol can be a part of a healthy lifestyle. But it's not a good idea to drink throughout the day while working, Kaufman confirms. "Since the side effect of alcohol include slow reaction time it could negatively impact your work. The yoga and working out are great, but if doesn't undo the damage that excessive drinking can have on the body." Can't say we're too surprised to hear that!
Stars aren't shy about their affinity for laxatives in the form of "dieter's tea" (stars like Kendall Jenner often post photos of their brews on Instagram), but they tend to be a little more hush-hush about it when they're popping Ex-Lax like candy. In the height of her fame, Britney Spears was seen shopping for laxatives at odd hours of the night—likely so she could make her purchase unnoticed. Some speculate she was abusing them for their weight loss benefits. While we can't be certain this is the case, we do know one thing for sure: there are far better ways to get a flat belly.
"Laxatives make you go to the restroom, where you are quickly removing any nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that may be in your intestines waiting to be absorbed into the body. If you continue on laxatives over the long term, it can result in nutrient deficiencies and even illness, Amidor cautions. "There are appropriate and safe ways to lose weight and taking laxatives is not one of them."
Miley Cyrus has slimmed down quite a bit since her "Hannah Montana" days. Though the press was quick to blame an eating disorder, 24-year-old Cyrus insists that her smaller frame is due to regularly doing Pilates and a switch to a gluten-free diet. While that may, in fact, be true, a gluten-free diet, isn't always necessarily one that will result in weight loss—which is important to keep in mind if you interested in giving the singer's plan a go.
" If you're simply making the switch from conventional cookies to the gluten-free variety, following a gluten-free diet won't aid weight loss," Smith points out. "I wouldn't suggest this as a solution. Eating fewer processed foods and refined carbs and more vegetables, though, is a great way to go!" Sound like an appealing alternative? Add some of these 25 Best Carbs for Weight Loss to your shopping cart.
The Carrot, Tomato & Seafood Diet
Supermodel Petra Nemcova admits to following a diet where all she consumed was carrots, tomatoes, and seafood. "It turned my palms yellow because of the vitamin A! People looked at me like, 'Are you sick?'" Nemcova joked in an interview. Onlookers weren't far off to ask if she was ill. According to Smith, dietary variety is key for overall wellness. "It sustains brain function and plays a role in our happiness and weight." Another reason this diet isn't smart? Certain seafoods can be laden with high amounts of mercury. (Find out which fish are the worst offenders here.) To lose weight the smart way, Smith says variety is key: "Include more vegetables and lean meats like seafood but make these things part of a well-rounded diet."
The Paleo Diet
Tim McGraw sticks to a paleo diet, a meal plan that mimics the way humans ate before agriculture: without dairy, refined sugar, or grains. While giving up processed foods is a smart move, the diet's emphasis on meat means you could drastically up the recommended intake of protein and unhealthy saturated fat in your diet. Research suggests that this can raise your risk of stroke, heart disease, and even some cancers. That said, Kaufman thinks that people should be cautious of their red meat consumption if they're on the diet. "I believe that parts of the Paleo diet may be beneficial to weight loss, such as minimizing processed foods. Just make sure that by minimizing these foods you do not, in turn, increase sources of saturated fats like red meat."
The Tuna Fish Diet
To drop 63 pounds for his role in "The Machinist", Christian Bale's ate a single apple and can of tuna fish per day. Besides the fact that he was basically starving himself, he was also most likely poisoning himself if the canned tuna fish was albacore. (Albacore tuna can have almost triple the levels of mercury than light tuna.) What worse, Bale is just one of countless celebs going to extremes to shed weight for a movie role. It happens all the time in Hollywood and it's super unhealthy.
"I don't know what's creepier: the role Mr. Bale played in The Machinist or the punishing weight loss he endured for the role," Palumbo tells us. "At a reported height of 6"0, the thirty-something actor ate a fraction of the calories his body needed. The drastic weight loss method may have altered his metabolism long term. Another concern is the lack of nutrients in such a drastic diet. Assuming he supplemented with a good vitamin regimen, he most likely still was lacking in nutrients. Scientists have identified several dozen nutrients found in foods and those are fairly easy to supplement via pills. But it's estimated there are thousands of as-of-yet unidentified nutrients—vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and more—that are present in actual food."
"Big Little Lies" actress (and daughter of musician Lenny Kravitz), Zoë Kravitz has tried some pretty out there ways to lose weight. She told Us Weekly that she once drank clay to drop 20 pounds for a role! Yes, that's right, clay! And the craziest part is, she's not the only one doing it. The practice has become some popular among celebs that juicing chain, Juice Generation now sells a one-ounce bentonite clay shot called Pure Earth. Though clay has a long history of medicinal uses, drinking bentonite clay and its sister ingredient, activated charcoal, aren't the best ways to lose weight. Clay has the potential of being contaminated with bacteria, viruses, and parasites, while Amidor cautions that activated charcoal can prevent important nutrients from being absorbed by the body and can potentially damage to the digestive tract. "This so-called diet being promoted by any celebrity is truly an inappropriate use of stardom. These young women have much influence over teens throughout the world," Amidor says.
The cookie diet, i.e. eating six cookies and one real meal per day, is supposedly how Snooki chose to lose weight. By eating the cookies throughout the day, you don't feel like you're starving yourself—but you're definitely not getting many nutrients either, cautions Smith: "This is calorie restriction at it's finest! But this tactic may result in dieter's missing out on a lot of healthy and key nutrients for health." This is one gimmick you should definitely skip—just like that "Jersey Shore" marathon.
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