Fad diets – no doubt you’ve heard of a few. From going vegan to going carnivorous, celebrities have tried it all. We take a look at what doesn’t work and why.
What you eat: Nothing. You just swallow extra oxygen and drink water to try and feel full.
Don’t try it at home because: It’s a form of anorexia and can eventually lead to death from lack of any nutrients.
Who tried it: Michelle Pfeiffer says she was in a Breatharian cult for a while, and Madonna also tried it.
What: Based on your particular hormone type, you eat only certain foods to ‘target certain body parts’.
Don’t try it: The BMI puts this method to shame. You can’t lose weight from one body part at a time. It lacks nutrients of different types depending on which foods you are and aren’t allowed to eat.
Who: Boy George.
What: Grain-based, plus vegetables. Vegetarian diet.
Don’t try it: Low on calcium and Vitamin D, among other essential nutrients.
Who: Gwyneth Paltrow says this diet has given her a severe calcium deficiency. She was recently diagnosed with osteopenia, the precursor to the bone-thinning disease osteoporosis.
Gluten free for no reason
What: Avoid gluten free foods of all types.
Don’t try it: Gluten free doesn’t mean low fat. Eating gluten in a normal diet is not bad for your body, and it doesn’t make you put on weight. Some people have a gluten intolerance and need a gluten free diet, but if there is no medical need for you to avoid gluten, you really shouldn’t.
Who: Victoria Beckham.
Drunkorexia / alcorexia
What: Drinking alcohol and working out, instead of eating food. A variant involves eating very few calories during the week, then binge drinking on the weekend.
Don’t try it: This type of low-calorie high-alcohol diet leads to malnutrition and alcohol poisoning. In its extreme form, this amounts to anorexia and will lead to death.
Who: Lady Gaga.
What: High-protein, no-carb, super-complicated.
Don’t try it: It has no carbohydrates, which means lethargy, bad breath, dry mouth and constipation. Cutting out the other food groups involved leads to osteoporosis and kidney damage.
Who: Jennifer Lopez; Carole Middleton.
What: Carbs, protein and fat only, eaten in a 40:30:30 ratio.
Don’t try it: The ratio actually harms your metabolism and immune function, the diet is complicated to follow, and eating that much fat is bad for you.
Who: Jennifer Aniston; Brad Pitt; Renee Zellweger.
Lemon detox / master cleanse
What: Drinking lemon juice or another liquid 10 times a day instead of eating food.
Don’t try it: It’s a bit better than drinking alcohol all day, but you shouldn’t do this kind of cleanse for long at all. Risk of malnutrition.
What: 14 serves of baby food during the day, with one adult meal at dinner.
Don’t try it: Baby food has very strict restrictions on additives, preservatives, and amount of sugar, so the food itself is not bad for you. But babies have to be on this diet because they have no teeth and their digestive systems aren’t yet developed enough for solid food, and babies also need things that aren’t on this diet, like breast milk for calcium. Baby food is bland and boring, and you will soon get sick of having to clean your blender after every meal. Bottom line, do you want to hand over both your money and your self-respect? Not worth it.
Who: Reese Witherspoon.
Raw Organic Food / Raw Vegan
What: At least 75% of what you eat has to be raw, uncooked foods. Vegan diet.
Don’t try it: Raw fruits and vegetables are healthy enough, but raw meat definitely is not. Cooking does not destroy nutrients, and in fact it makes some nutrients more available for eating, especially in tomatoes. You’re also consuming less calories so to get energy, you have to eat more fruit and nuts than is actually good for you. Too many nuts means too much fat; and too much fruit means the sugar begins to erode your tooth enamel more quickly, leading to decay and sensitive teeth. Eating so many fruits and vegetables means you’re actually getting too much vitamin A and C for the body to take in, leading to side effects.
Who: Katie Holmes; Demi Moore.
What: You only eat hard-boiled eggs, and only a certain number each day.
Don’t try it: It doesn’t provide enough calories, nutrients or fibre.
Who: Nicole Kidman did it before filming Cold Mountain but actually lost too much weight in the end.
Atkins and paleo
What: High in fat and protein, low in carbs.
Don’t try it: It does cause rapid loss but it also leads to high cholesterol and heart disease.
Who: Miley Cyrus and Matthew McConaughey.
Why fad diets don’t work
Fad diets usually don’t work for two reasons. First, they tend to cut out important food groups entirely, leading to malnutrition. Secondly, they are designed for rapid weight loss, not for getting and staying fit and healthy, and keeping the weight off.
What does work: weight loss shakes or meal replacements, supplemented by real food
Weight loss shakes and other meal replacements can be a satisfactory way to lose weight if you also eat appropriate portions of healthy foods, as Kim Kardashian apparently does. However, if you just eat the meal replacements but don’t eat real food, even for a short time, you can lose the weight but it won’t stay off and you won’t receive enough nutrients long-term. Celebrity examples of this crash-dieting method are Victoria’s Secret Angel Adriana Lima and Snooki.