Celebrity health tips and diets were recently slammed as nonsense by the charity Sense About Science. But are they all useless? Chloe Lambert asked Sian Porter, consultant dietitian and spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association, for her verdict...
THe BLOOD TYPE DIET
Celeb fans: Liz Hurley, Cheryl Cole and Hugh Grant
Cheryl Cole’s famously slender frame was tribute last year to her following the book Eat Right 4 Your Type.
The theory is that lectins - a type of protein found in dairy, meat and wheat - react differently with each blood type, causing a range of problems from weight gain to indigestion and sluggishness.
People with blood group A should eat more vegetarian foods, eliminating red meat and dairy. Group B types should cut out wheat, but will thrive on dairy products. Those with blood group AB can eat a diet in between blood types A and B. Blood O types (the most common) need a meat-rich diet.
Read: Eat Right 4 Your Type by Peter D’Adamo.
Expert verdict: “There’s absolutely no evidence that blood type has a role in digestion. Cutting out a major food group is bad news for health and energy levels. It’s true that some diets work for one person and not for another - but that’s to do with your genes, your starting point and how active you are, not your blood type.
“Many of these diets are simply calorie- cutting dressed up with a sexy name.”
THE CLEAN PROGRAMME
Celeb fans: Gwyneth Paltrow and Donna Karan
This is a three-week detoxification programme based on whole, organic, plant-based foods. Unlike many other detoxes, it allows a small amount of solid food - Gwyneth Paltrow has said this meant she was still able to concentrate on work and exercise.
The diet prescribes two liquid meals a day (such as soups or smoothies) and a solid one in between.
Read: Clean by Dr Alejandor Junger.
Expert verdict: “The Slim Fast diet shows that some approaches based on liquid eating can be successful and at least this diet uses everyday food and drinks.
“Hopefully you could add some dairy to the soup and a handful of oats to the smoothies to keep some kind of balance in your diet, but you’d be at risk of losing out on iron. Yes, this could help you lose weight, but it’s only a short-term solution.”
Celeb fans: Naomi Campbell, Beyonce and Anne Hathaway
The Lemonade Diet, or Master Cleanse, was developed in 1941 by US naturopath Stanley Burroughs, but its popularity soared when Beyonce announced on Oprah that she used it to lose 1 stone.
For ten days, followers drink only a detoxifying cocktail of maple syrup, lemon juice, filtered hot water and cayenne pepper.
Lemon juice is said to loosen waste while cayenne pepper speeds metabolism and increases blood flow to the areas to be “detoxified”. Maple syrup provides much-needed energy.
Read: Lose Weight, Have More Energy And Be Happier In 10 Days by Peter Glickman.
Expert verdict: “On this diet your daily calorie intake would be about 600 calories. Apart from being mind-numbingly boring, you’d also be irritable, suffer headaches and find it hard to concentrate.
“There’s zero nutritional value (except perhaps some nutrients from the lemon), and no protein or fibre.
Usually when people say they feel better after a detox, it’s because they’ve been sleeping well, not drinking or smoking, and doing exercise - it’s nothing to do with “detox” drinks.”
RAW FOOD DIET
Celeb fans: Demi Moore and Woody Harrelson
The theory behind a raw diet is that when food is cooked above 46c, it loses essential enzymes that aid digestion and the absorption of key nutrients. (Anything below 46c is considered raw; water simmers from 60c). Followers make sure 80 percent of their food is uncooked and use methods such as soaking nuts and dried fruits to “wake up” their enzymes, plus juicing fruit and vegetables.
They say this leaves them feeling healthier with more physical and mental energy.
Read: The Raw Food Detox Diet by Natalia Rose.
Expert verdict: “Heat does destroy some nutrients, but it’s a bit of a myth that all foods are best eaten raw.
“Some veg, like carrots, are actually better cooked because it breaks down the cell wall of the plant and releases the nutrients.
“The diet is heavy on vegetables and so is very low calorie; in theory, it could help you lose weight - but it’s labour intensive and there’s a lot of chewing to be done. One thing you could take from it, however, is not to murder your vegetables - preserve the goodness by cooking them in just a little water and for a minimal time.
“These types of diets are not suitable for children or pregnant women because they cut out food groups such as protein, essential for the growth of new tissue.”
THE 30 PERCENT FAT DIET
Celeb fans: Desperate Housewives star Marcia Cross
Some evidence suggests the best route to keeping off weight long-term is to make a moderate fat restriction (rather than completely cut it out), where fat accounts for no more than 30 percent of your total calories.
Followers either count up their daily fat gram total or follow an eating plan where all foods are very low in fat. Healthy (unsaturated) fats are essential for overall health and should not be restricted to a percentage less than 20 percent.
Read: The Fat Smash Diet: The Last Diet You’ll Ever Need by Ian K. Smith.
Expert verdict: “This would work well. Gram for gram, fat has twice as many calories as protein or carbs, so if you cut down you can dramatically lose calories.
“However, you still need some fat in your diet to get essential vitamins A, K and D, and essential fatty acids. A totally non-fat diet would be dry and difficult to stick to - cutting down to 30 percent fat, and choosing only unsaturated fats, is much better.”
THE ATKINS 2 DIET
Celeb fans: Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt
The Atkins diet is based on the principle of cutting carbs and eating more protein. This is said to switch the body into a state of ketosis, where your body, starved of carbohydrate for energy, starts to burn the body’s fat stores.
The latest version of the Atkins diet claims to be healthier because it allows small portions of “good” carbohydrates such as wholemeal bread and brown rice.
Read: Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution, Revised Edition
Expert verdict: “This is slightly better than the original Atkins because you’re allowed small portions of healthy carbs, but I wouldnot condone any diet that cuts out a whole food group.
“Yes, you might lose weight in the short term, but you’ll have all kinds of side-effects from cutting out carbs, such as bad breath and indigestion.
“More seriously, your body may think it’s going into starvation and start burning lean tissue.”
THE DUKAN DIET
Celeb fans: Jennifer Lopez and Katherine Jenkins
Like the Atkins Diet, the idea is that by shunning carbs and sticking to protein you can accelerate weight loss.
It promises fast weight loss in four highly organised stages.
The first phase is one to ten days of eating only proteins such as meat and fish (limitless amounts).
In the second phase you alternate protein days with protein and vegetable days, and in the third stage gradually reintroduce small portions of carbohydrates and fruits.
In the final maintenance phase, you can eat what you like, but must eat protein only for one day each week for the rest of your life.
Read: The Dukan Diet by Dr Pierre Dukan.
Expert verdict: “Protein has a satiating effect and helps you feel full. But if you eat too much of it and don’t have enough fluid, it can put pressure on your kidneys, which process the amino acids in proteins, leading to a risk of renal damage.
“The four phases are confusing - easy enough if you’re a celebrity with a personal chef to weigh out everything for you; harder if you have a job or a family to look after.
“I call this the Ducan’t diet because the number of people who stick to it is pretty low.” - Daily Mail