Weird and dubious celebrity diets are practically as old as Hollywood itself, but next time your favourite 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 nutritionist Dr. Caroline Apovian and dietitian, Brittany Markides, 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.
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.
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 anaemia, fatigue, mood disturbances, and accelerated brain ageing.”