Atkins, Keto, Dukan, the Vogue White Wine Diet… we could go on. When it comes to staying trim, the A-list don’t mess about with their diet regimes. But do they really work and are they actually good for you? We asked clinical nutritionist Suzie Sawyer to debunk eight of the most popular celebrity diets. Here’s what she had to say…
Fast becoming one of the celeb go-to diets of modern times, intermittent fasting is to the 2020s what Atkin’s was to the 1990s. The idea is that you fast for a strict given period; e.g. either from 8pm-12noon or restrict your calorie intake significantly two days per week and eat relatively normally the other five. The usual routine is to skip breakfast and eat one meal around 1pm and another around 8pm. This means the body is then fasting for 16 hours straight, allowing it to burn fat when it’s in the post-absorptive phase of digestion.
What does it look like? Eggs, smoked salmon and avocado for the first meal and chicken, broccoli and quinoa for dinner.
Who does it? Kourtney Kardashian and Jennifer Lopez.
Verdict: There are many health benefits to this diet especially relating to heart disease and inflammatory issues. However, it may be low in antioxidants, which can affect the immune system because there’s less opportunity for food intake overall. This one needs to be strictly followed to stand any chance of the body getting what it needs.
The Keto Diet
The crux of this one is super-low carbs with high fat, pushing the body into ketosis; when the body is forced into breaking down fat for fuel. Whilst there’s certainly merit in keeping a diet low in carbs overall, which reduces the release of the fat-storing hormone insulin, following the Keto for a prolonged period can lead to acidosis (when the body contains too much acid) or at the very least mood swings, constipation and energy lows.
However, it’s certainly very effective for weight loss and you can choose the rate at which you want to lose weight by closely monitoring the total number of calories you’re eating on a daily basis. For example, if you want to lose a kilo per week (a sensible approach), an average-sized woman would need to eat around 1,500 calories daily. Around 65% of those calories would come from fat.
What does it look like? Eggs and bacon for breakfast, chicken and salad for lunch and steamed fish with mixed vegetables for dinner.
Who does it? Halle Berry and Adriana Lima.
Verdict: Weight loss can be achieved quickly, and with around 30% of calories coming from protein, the body won’t lose muscle mass, which frequently happens on weight loss plans. However, you’ll likely to have quite a few nutrient deficiencies, especially calcium, as the diet contains no dairy or other calcium-rich foods such as soya milk.
The Vegan Diet
The vegan diet contains no foods from animal sources at all, therefore it will naturally contain lots of nutrient-rich fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans and legumes. Another positive of the diet is that since our food chain is far from perfect with tonnes of animal products being pumped full of chemicals and antibiotics, you’ll be escaping their onslaught.
What does it look like? Homemade beans on wholegrain toast for breakfast, chunky vegetable soup with barley and tofu for lunch and vegetarian goulash with whole grain brown rice for dinner.
Who does it? Venus Williams and Ariana Grande.
Verdict: The vegan diet is generally nutrient-dense with good levels of lots of key trace minerals such as magnesium, potassium and calcium. However, vegans can sometimes miss out on some vitamins, especially vitamin B12. Interestingly, tempeh is taking over from tofu in terms of popularity as a vegan protein source. Tempeh contains probiotics, which naturally encourage the body’s production of vitamin B12, so this could help to plug some of the gaps. However, taking a daily multivitamin can also do the job.
The Zone Diet
This one has been around for many years and is still very popular with celebs. It’s based on being ‘In the Zone’ where your body better manages the insulin response and has more control of inflammatory issues. The diet requires a balance of 1/3 protein and 2/3 carbohydrates with just a small amount of monounsaturated fats from avocado, olive oil and nut butter. The great news about this diet is that it includes plenty of colourful foods every day and is much more likely to give the body the nutrients it needs; richly coloured fruits and vegetables are loaded with vitamins and minerals.
However, it’s lacking in essential polyunsaturated omega-3 fats found in oily fish, nut and seeds. These fats are needed for hormone balance, glowing skin, healthy eyes, heart and brain.
What does it look like? Egg white omelette with spinach and mushrooms for breakfast, chicken salad with avocado for lunch and roasted cod with veggies for dinner.
Who does it? Jennifer Aniston.
Verdict: The diet will naturally contain loads of antioxidants because there’s plenty of fruits and vegetables included, although starchy veg and highly sugary fruits such as bananas should be avoided. It’s low in essential omegas, plus it’s difficult to get the ratios exactly right which may deflect from its effectiveness.
The ‘Vogue’ Wine & Egg Diet
Quite possibly the most ridiculous diet we’ve ever heard off, the original plan was published in the 1977 Vogue Beauty & Body Book and provided very little variety other than eggs, wine and steak.
What does it look like? Just that – one hard-boiled egg for breakfast, a glass of white wine (dry and preferably Chablis) and a black coffee. The same again for lunch but bumped up to two eggs and two wines and dinner serves up a 5oz steak with black pepper and lemon juice, plus the remainder of the white wine (you’re allowed one bottle per day).
Who does it? Hopefully no one has done this since 1977.
Verdict: Whilst initially, consuming a bottle of white wine a day might put a smile on your face, it will quickly turn to tears and tantrums on this diet. You’ll lose weight because there are so few calories, but it will seriously affect your emotional wellbeing, not to mention digestion. Avoid at all costs.
The Atkins Diet
One of the most famous fad diets out there, first devised by Robert Atkins, it became a dedicated eating plan of many celebrities over the years. The idea is that by subscribing to a low carbohydrate intake, it could lead to weight loss.
What does it look like? Meat and full fat dairy. Beef, pork, lamb and chicken are encouraged, as are fatty fish like salmon and sardines. Low-carb veggies such as kale, spinach, broccoli and asparagus (think the greener the better) are welcomed, as are butter, cheese and cream.
Who does it? Kim Kardashian
Verdict: The Atkins diet contains high protein and fat, both of which will keep you feeling satiated. Whilst it lacks antioxidants and some nutrients, it’s fine for a relatively short period and will certainly help stop Type 2 diabetes in its tracks, if that’s where you’re heading.
The Dukan Diet
A bit like Atkins, the Dukan Diet was created by Dr Pierre Dukan, a French practitioner who specialised in weight management. It’s all about high-protein, low-carbs.
What does it look like? Alternating days of lean meats and vegetables – beef, pork, poultry and eggs one day, followed by a day of veggies the next.
Who does it? Kate Middleton
Verdict: This diet is very balanced as it contains 100 different foods, it’s high in low-fat protein and there’s some really tasty meal options. However, the lack of carbs might affect mood after a while.
The Paleo Diet
This diet is basically a throw-back to caveman times – based on meat, fish, vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds. Out go dairy, sugar, grains, legumes and beans.
The good news is that since it’s based on healthy eating principles, with foods that are not processed or pumped full of hormones, it’s certainly not in ‘fad’ territory, unlike some other celebrity diets.
What does it look like? Spinach, mushroom and tomato omelette to start the day (look for omega-3 enriched eggs), wild salmon salad for lunch and organic roasted chicken with mashed sweet potatoes, broccoli and peas for dinner. It’s not going to be cheap.
Who does it? Miley Cyrus and Matthew McConaughey.
Verdict: Your diet will be very ‘clean’ with no refined foods allowed. It naturally follows that you’ll be getting a great range of nutrients. However, the Paleo Diet could lead to deficiencies in the mineral iodine, since dairy is one of the main sources. We know that 17% of women of child-bearing age are iodine-deficient and iodine is key for growth and brain development during pregnancy.
The Alkaline Diet
The alkaline diet is based on the idea that replacing acid-forming foods with alkaline foods can improve your health and is thought by some to fight off serious diseases such as cancer.
What does it look like? Raw fruit and vegetable, seeds and nuts, legumes and soy are all in but eggs, meat, alcohol and caffeine are all out.
Who does it? Victoria Beckham and Sam Smith are said to be fans.
Verdict: The body strictly maintains its slightly alkaline state as a normal part of its daily work. However, by eating plenty of green leafy and root vegetables and lemons which are all alkaline, you’ll notice joints will run smoother, hair and skin will shine and glow, and you’ll also lose some weight.
Any changes in eating regimes, including these diets or even if you are trying to cut down (or cut out) food groups such as dairy, red meat and carbohydrates will have an effect on your nutritional balance. Suzie says, “I always recommend taking a good quality daily multivitamin to top up on all the essential vitamins and minerals like The Alive! Ultra Wholefood Plus range.
Suzie Sawyer is a Clinical Nutritionist for www.feelaliveuk.com