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5 Celebrity Fad Diets & Weight Loss Plans That Don’t Work Long-term

By Ann Olson

It seems like celebrities are constantly on the craziest diets. One week, they’re gorging on baby food to get slim; the next week, they’re eating cookies or fasting to strip away the weight.

Clearly it works – celebrities such as Jennifer Aniston and Lady Gaga have maintained their petite physiques using these methods. Here’s the bigger question though: Is it safe? Better yet, should you try these diets? For safety’s sake, the answer is no.

Celebrity Diets to Avoid

Myth #1: Jennifer Aniston’s Baby Food Diet

In preparation for her lead role in “Just Go With It,” actress Jennifer Aniston reportedly slimmed down with the “Baby Food Diet,” a fad diet developed by celebrity trainer Tracy Anderson. Anderson claims the baby food “cleanse” can eliminate toxins while helping people lose weight. Aniston reportedly ate 14 servings of baby food in addition to a healthy dinner.

The Truth
No one is sure where Anderson got the idea that baby food can detoxify the body, but it sure isn’t based on any reputable studies or findings. Many dietitians, such as NBC’s “Today” contributor Joy Bauer, have criticized these so-called cleanses because they only shed water weight, and generally aren’t effective for keeping the weight off.

While Aniston’s diet may not be as extreme as regular cleanses, she’s still not eating a lot of calories. On average, a serving of baby food can contain anywhere from 35 to 80 calories, leaving her daily calorie intake anywhere between 490 to 1120 calories.

Bottom Line
What Anderson has created is nothing more than a simple calorie deficit, which probably helped Aniston shed some unwanted weight. While there isn’t anything inherently dangerous about eating baby food, you may eat too few calories on this diet. Not eating enough calories can cause you to lose muscle as well as fat, which can reduce your overall metabolism. It can also make you super moody and hungry! You’re better off eating real food while maintaining a sustainable deficit for safe, steady weight loss.

jennifer aniston

Myth #2: Lady Gaga’s Drunk Diet

Lady Gaga is no stranger to controversy – she once claimed that pop stars shouldn’t eat – but her latest diet has many people furious. After being asked about her diet habits, the pop star admitted to following “The Drunk Diet,” a diet her on-again, off-again boyfriend, Luc Carl, used to shed 40 pounds. She wouldn’t say much else about her diet habits – she just claimed to drink whiskey while working and made an effort to work out every day, even if she was hung over.

The Truth
While drinking alcohol in moderation can be harmless, Gaga has indicated she may be drinking it to the point of being buzzed or drunk, causing her to become hung over. Unfortunately, consuming alcohol in excess can have many disastrous effects on the body, such as causing pancreatitis, alcoholic liver disease, or damage of the central nervous system – not to mention that it can be addictive and lead to alcoholism.

Let’s not forget that alcohol is calorie-dense – just one gram of alcohol yields seven calories with no nutrients. While it may seem fun to get drunk in the name of losing weight, it’s simply unhealthy and carries numerous serious risks.

Bottom Line
Like alcohol? Then drink it in moderation, such as a serving of wine or beer once daily. However, excessive drinking isn’t healthy – it affects your judgment and can be addictive. Many health experts also recommend dropping the booze if you want to lose weight because alcohol is packed with calories, none coming from nutrients or vitamins.

lady gaga

Myth #3: Sarah Michelle Gellar’s Cabbage Soup Diet

To drop the pounds rapidly, former “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” star Sarah Michelle Gellar slims down by following the controversial “Cabbage Soup Diet,” which claims you’ll shed fat and weight instantaneously by eating a special cabbage-based soup. In addition to filling up on soup, this diet also has other strange rules, such as allowing you to only eat certain vegetables or fruits on certain days. Worse yet, it prohibits many other foods that supposedly compromise the fat-burning ability of the soup.

The Truth
There’s nothing magical about this diet – aside from it being self-induced starvation. With only around 50 calories per serving of soup, most dieters won’t eat above 1,000 calories a day, 200 calories below the minimum diet recommendation of 1,200 calories per day.

Starving yourself to lose weight is no fun and extremely unhealthy. Over time, you may develop unpleasant symptoms related to starvation or eating disorders, such as mood problems, depression, fatigue, and a weakened immune system. For women, prolonged starvation can also cause amenorrhea, or period loss. Not having your period increases your risk for bone loss and infertility.

The Bottom Line
If you really want to lose weight, you don’t need to go to extremes like Gellar. Try eating more vegetables and fruits while reducing your intake of high-calorie foods, such as pizza and cheeseburgers. Don’t forget to include moderate exercise and avoid cutting entire food groups out, as this can create deprivation, which, over time, can lead to binging.

sarah michelle gellar

Myth #4: Brooke Shields’ Grapefruit Diet

This diet is an oldie, but stars such as Brooke Shields still swear by it. Before every meal, dieters eat half a grapefruit, which supposedly contains fat-burning enzymes that promote weight loss. However, in order to make it work, you need to follow the “Grapefruit Diet’s” strict diet plan, which restricts your dietary intake to less than 800 calories a day. Yikes!

The Truth
Again, there’s nothing special about grapefruit – there isn’t any scientific proof that grapefruit contains any special fat-burning enzymes. Instead, the real reason behind the weight loss is self-induced starvation, with caloric levels comparable to what diagnosed anorexics eat, according to the book “Hunger Pains.”

According to the Minnesota Starvation Study, starvation can have disastrous effects on a person’s health, such as significant increases in depression, social withdrawal, and declines in concentration and judgment capabilities.

The Bottom Line
If you want to lose weight, you don’t need to go to dangerous extremes. If you really love grapefruit, it’s okay to include it on your diet, but don’t starve yourself for the rest of the day. Simply eat less than you do now and get more physical activity.

brooke shields

Myth #5: Beyoncé’s Maple Syrup Diet

In order to prep for her role in “Dreamgirls,” singer-actress Beyoncé reportedly sipped a sweet lemon-syrup drink for nearly two weeks to drastically reduce her weight. The juice concoction, which originated from the “Maple Syrup Diet,” was all Beyoncé consumed during the two-week diet, which caused her to drop more than 14 pounds. Proponents of the diet claim the juice, which consists of maple syrup, lemon juice, and cayenne pepper, helps keeps the metabolism high while detoxifying the body.

The Truth
The secret behind this weight loss isn’t the magical benefits of this sweet lemon juice – it’s the lack of calories. People on this diet consume virtually no calories, aside from the miniscule amount in the beverage. As an aside, the cayenne pepper may also encourage quicker emptying of the bowels, causing people to lose some incidental bowel and water weight.

Nutritionally, this diet is terrible. Followers run the risk of vitamin, mineral, and protein deficiencies, which can impact a person’s health in many aspects, such as causing unwanted muscle loss. When you lose muscle, your metabolism decreases, which can slow weight loss.

This diet, which is essentially a starvation diet, can also cause symptoms of starvation, such as fatigue, moodiness, and a weakened immune system. When you’re fatigued, you also won’t have enough energy to practice other healthy habits, such as regular exercise.

The Bottom Line
This diet just isn’t a good idea if you want to lose weight and keep it off, especially in a healthful manner. Instead of fasting your way to a slimmer and vitamin-depleted body, eat a calorie-controlled diet instead, with foods rich in vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients. You’ll have more energy, which allows you to stay more physically active, which in turn helps improve weight loss.

beyonce knowles

Final Word

If there’s one thing to learn here, it’s this: Going to extremes is not a smart way to approach weight loss. Starving yourself to lose weight can cause numerous nutrient and protein deficiencies, leading to undesirable health effects. In the long run you’re also more likely to binge, which can undo your weight loss efforts.

Instead of using fad celebrity diets, opt to lose weight slowly by eating healthy foods. Whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and protein-rich sources should comprise most of your diet. Keep processed foods to a minimum, and exercise regularly, incorporating both resistance and aerobic exercise.

Have you tried any of these diets? What has your experience been like?

[photo credit: Cinemafestival (Beyonce Knowles), S. Bukley (Jennifer Aniston), Chinellato Photo (Lady Gaga), Featureflash (Sarah Michelle Gellar and Beyonce Knowles), Mary A. Lupo (Brooke Shields), Shutterstock]

Ann Olson
Ann Olson is a health writer and full-time frugalista currently living in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Saving money is her passion, and she'll cut any corner in the pursuit of becoming passively wealthy. She's also a diet expert and amateur bodybuilder who credits her active lifestyle for keeping her healthy and happy.

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