Tempted to lose a few pounds after the excesses of Christmas? You’re definitely not alone – year after year, “losing weight” tops New Year resolution lists.
It’s also one of the pledges we’re highly likely to fail. That’s not because we’re incapable of losing weight, but normally because of our approach. Although we know that slow and steady wins the weight loss race, and the “everything in moderation” rule, along with regular exercise, is the sensible way to go about it, time and time again we’re just too tempted by celeb-endorsed fads and the promise of a quick-fix. But this could mean denting your health along the way, not to mention your bank balance.
With so many blogs, diet books and celebrity-endorsed fitness DVDs on the market, there’s a strong possibility that hard-earned cash is all that will be lost.
Here are five “celeb diets” to avoid in 2016.
NO SUGAR DIET
Celebrity Link: Tom Hanks and Alec Baldwin have reportedly followed this “diet”.
What’s it all about? The Sugar-Free Diet is when you exclude all types of sugar (and often carbohydrates) from your diet.
Verdict: Cutting down on free sugars, reducing the amount of sugar you add, and consuming fewer products already containing added sugar in addition to being label aware is without doubt a positive step. But consultant dietitian Sian Porter, of the British Dietetic Association, warns: “Some versions of the No Sugar/Sugar-Free Diet promote cutting out all sugar from your diet, which is not only almost impossible, but would mean eliminating foods like vegetables, fruit, dairy products and nuts – leading to a less than healthy diet.” It is also important to be aware that some substitutes recommended by these diet plans -think agave, palm sugar, maple syrup or honey - are actually just free sugars in another form. “It’s not about a single food or nutrient; we advocate a whole diet approach,” explains Porter.
ALL-KALE AND CHEWING GUM DIET
Celebrity Link: Jake Gyllenhaal reportedly followed this “diet” to shed weight for a film role.
What’s it all about? All you can eat is kale salad and chewing gum.
Verdict: This diet is extreme, socially isolating, unbalanced, hard to sustain and potentially harmful. Pointing out that an actor would be carefully supervised to shed weight for a role, Porter says: “Many people get drawn in by so-called super foods, but no one food can provide all the nutrients you need. “These foods are not a magic bullet, neither does balanced nutrition work by a “good” food canceling out other poor dietary and lifestyle choices. “Nothing is wrong with kale, but if that’s all you consume all day, every day, then problems will arise. “It’s all about balance, a healthy relationship with food, and variety.”
Celebrity Link: Pop pin-up Harry Styles (pictured top) and actress Shailene Woodley have reportedly followed this “diet”.
What’s it all about? This quirky diet includes a daily ‘bulletproof coffee’, which is essentially a black coffee with two tablespoons of butter and one tablespoon of MCT oil added, totting up to around 400 calories per cup. Foods are classified as “bulletproof”, “suspect” or “kryptonite”, with rules on timings of meals.
Verdict: While the idea of minimizing alcohol and processed food is positive, the classification of foods is at odds with health recommendations and lacks evidence. Time-restricted eating is also at odds with many lifestyles. “Consuming 400-plus calories from one beverage provides a lot of energy but few nutrients, rather than individuals choosing food and drink with more nutritional content for the same calorie value,” says Porter.
THE SUPER ELIXIR
Celebrity Link: Supermodel Elle Macpherson is the co-founder of this product.
What’s it all about? “The Super Elixir” is a food supplement aiming to change body tissue from an acidic to an alkaline state. It’s a green powder containing just over 45 ingredients, including a number of powdered fruits and vegetables, sweeteners, several Chinese herbs and some digestive enzymes. The recommended dose is two teaspoons (or 10g) per day, meaning a month’s supply could cost from 330 AED for 300g.
Verdict: The benefits of this costly powder claim to provide can easily be obtained from fruit and vegetables and a balanced diet, without the hefty price tag. “Our bodies are naturally capable of regulating acidity levels,” explains Porter. “Why not save 4,000 AED per year, spend it on some delicious fruit and vegetables and a splurge on a “super” holiday instead?”
Celebrity Link: Baroness Michelle Mone, founder of lingerie brand Ultimo, established Trim Secrets with a naturopath.
What’s it all about? Trim Secrets is a pill that claims to suppress appetite while boosting the metabolism, allegedly aiding both men and women to lose weight, when combined with the Trim Secrets 5 Step Slimming Plan. The plan includes a balanced diet of 1,500 calories per day, along with a Trim Secrets capsule taken three times a day before each meal, 1.5 liters of water, regular exercise and avoiding stress.
Verdict: By consuming 1,500 calories per day, most individuals should lose weight regardless of whether they’re taking this pill. “Beware of pills and potions and make sure you know exactly what you’re buying and taking,” warns Porter.