11 'healthy' eating habits famous people swear by that are actually terrible for you

Many celebrity diet crazes — like complete sugar detoxes and skinny tea cleanses — are bogus

Joanna Fantozzi
Business Insider
Thursday 20 July 2017 13:42 BST
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Weird and dubious celebrity diets are practically as old as Hollywood itself, but next time your favorite Kardashian or Instagram fitness model touts the latest detox or cleansing diet trend, remember that they also have a team of nutritionists and Photoshop at their disposal.

We spoke with professional nutritionists Dr. Caroline Apovian, the director of the Nutrition and Weight Management Center at the Boston Medical Center, and Brittany Markides, dietitian and founder of the Choose Food nutrition counseling service, to dissect and debunk the science behind some of the most popular celebrity diets out there.

From detox skinny teas to the “Master Cleanse” lemonade diet, promoted by Beyoncé herself, see which health trends are bogus.

Tom Brady and Gisele Bündchen won't eat potatoes and tomatoes​

Four Corners potatoes are nutritious and more resistant to drought and disease
Four Corners potatoes are nutritious and more resistant to drought and disease (Louderback and Pavlik/PNAS)

Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen exclude meat, alcohol, coffee, and nightshade vegetables from their diet, but Dr. Apovian says the latter choice is a mistake.

“Nightshade vegetables are nutrient-rich options, and many of them, such as tomatoes and bell peppers, provide essential antioxidants to the body,” she told INSIDER. “The majority of my patients eat nightshades [...] this is a healthy group of vegetables that should be included in the diet.”

Kylie Jenner and the rest of the Kardashians swear by skinny tea detoxes​

(Instagram)

If it sounds too good to be true, that's because it is. Drinking a simple detox tea multiple times a day sounds like an easy way to lose weight, but these liquid laxative diets are not sustainable.

“Detoxification of the body is a natural process carried out by the kidneys,” Dr. Apovian said. Nothing we eat or drink assists with this process. The one exception would be consuming organic vegetables, as the less pesticide material we ingest, the less we have to detox. Other than that, no tea or liquid detoxifies the body.“

Gwyneth Paltrow touts her juice cleanses on GOOP.​

Similarly to tea detoxes, juice cleanses do not clean out your system of “toxins,” and can actually be dangerous.

“If you are on a detox or cleanse, you consume very few calories every day,” Markides told INSIDER. “Much of the weight lost during the cleanse is due to fluid losses. [...] When normal fluid/energy intake is resumed, the water weight is quickly regained. Detox protocols can cause dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, and impaired bowel function.”

Mariah Carey swears by a “purple diet” for losing baby weight.​


(Getty/iStockphoto)

 (Getty/iStockphoto)
 (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

This one is a bit tricky. Purple vegetables like eggplants and radishes are healthy, but correlation does not equal causation in this instance.

“Purple-hued produce is high in anthocyanins, which likely has a myriad of health benefits,” Markides said. “But there are hundreds of compounds in produce of all hues that may have health benefits: lutein in tomatoes and watermelon that may reduce risk of prostate cancer and improve eye health, flavonols in kale and broccoli, etc. Eat purple veggies and fruit, by all means, but don't do it to the exclusion of other types of produce.”

Shailene Woodley eats clay as part of her “detox” lifestyle​

Eating clay regularly sounds pretty crazy to begin with, and, as it turns out, it has zero basis in nutritional science.

“The basic premise of this diet is that through ingesting clay, the body will be purified of toxins,” Dr. Apovian said. “The trouble with this claim is primarily that clay can be harmful and contain high amounts of arsenic and lead, and should not be eaten.”

Miranda Kerr is all about “clean eating”​

Clean eating sounds great in theory: ban all processed foods from your life and only eat whole fruits, vegetables, grains and lean meats. But there's a catch, and it's harming your health.

“When new clients eat clean, they are elevating certain types of food (organic, locally-sourced) as 'good,' while demonizing all other food as 'bad,'” Markides said. “This way of thinking hurts our food relationship and leads to distorted eating patterns... Because the thought that the foods they are craving are 'bad' is deeply ingrained, eating these foods, which are perfectly fine, causes guilt and shame.”

Kate Hudson follows the Alkaline diet and says “no” to acidic food​

An alkaline diet is supposed to balance your body's pH level. However, it's not scientifically proven, and deprivation of “acidic” foods could be causing more harm than good.

“This diet consists of plant-based fruits, veggies, beans, and nuts — all components of a healthy diet,” Dr. Apovian said. “However, this diet also limits 'acidic' foods like dairy and meat. Limiting animal-based foods can lead to a lack of variety in the diet. [...] An alkaline diet would end up restricting B12, and could lead to anemia, fatigue, mood disturbances, and accelerated brain aging.”

Alec Baldwin claims to have lost weight from a total sugar detox.​

Alec Baldwin attends Blind's premiere at the Landmark Sunshine Cinema in New York City
Alec Baldwin attends Blind's premiere at the Landmark Sunshine Cinema in New York City (Angela WeissAFP/Getty)

Restricting your body from all sugar sounds like a great plan, right? But a sugar detox is actually pretty unrealistic.

“There's a strong relationship between the amount of sugar consumed and the risk of developing diabetes and heart disease,” Markides said. “Most Americans would absolutely benefit from reducing their consumption of sugar, specifically the sugar that is added to food during processing. But attempting to eliminate all sugar from your diet is unrealistic and overly restrictive. [...] A better approach is to make small changes to reduce consumption of added sugar. This is more sustainable and has less risk of devolving into disordered eating patterns.”

Beyoncé can't get enough of the Master Cleanse lemonade diet​

Stars like Beyoncé swear by the lemonade diet, or “Master Cleanse” where you replace meals with a concoction made from lemon juice, water, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper. But this cleanse doesn't work. Are you sensing a pattern here?

“This diet will not result in permanent weight loss, as soon as you resume normal eating habits the weight will come back on,” Dr. Apovian said. “You'll have also compromised your metabolism due to insufficient protein content, and you run a risk of mal-nourishment. Detoxification is a function of the kidneys, and drinking lemonade will not assist with this process.”

Megan Fox adheres to a vegan raw foods diet.​

The raw food diet is particularly popular with vegan celebrities like Megan Fox and Alicia Silverstone, who, in addition to shunning all animal products, don't cook any of their food under the pretense that raw produce is healthier than cooked.

“Some uncooked foods are difficult to digest, and, in some cases, as with tomatoes, the nutrients stored inside of a fruit or vegetable become more accessible to our bodies when we cook them a little,” Dr. Apovian said. “There is also a risk of mal-nourishment with this diet, as it provides little calcium, iron, vitamins B-12 and D, or protein.”

Harry Styles drinks bulletproof coffee every morning.

(Getty)
(Getty) (Getty Images)

Bulletproof coffee is a staple of the paleo and keto diets, which place emphasis on consuming protein and fat. But will stirring butter and coconut oil into your morning coffee really energize your body to burn calories?

“At best, having a breakfast that consists of coffee with butter and MCT oil is a missed opportunity to fuel your body,” Markides says. “Although the bulletproof coffee diet makes claims that this fat-only breakfast stimulates your body to burn more fat during the day, there is no evidence to back this up.”

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