Which Celebrity Diets Actually Work? The Healthiest, and Which to Skip
When Rebel Wilson lost a vast amount of weight, shedding not just pounds but her Bridesmaids Hollywood persona, her fans were eager to know how she did it, and what prompted her to change her eating habits. Wilson revealed that she didn't set out to lose weight, but simply to make 2020 the "Year of Health." She began journaling, and even practiced writing down her negative thoughts and shredding or burning them rather than letting them eat at her (or cause her to stress eat).
Like many celebrity dieters, Wilson focused on eating a predominantly plant-based diet rich in vegetables, fruit, whole grains, legumes, and nuts –– all foods full of nutrients, and high in fiber that helped her feel full for longer. Wilson added walking and other physical activity to her daily routine, and the pounds melted off.
The result of these doable, positive changes was not a deprivation diet but a lasting lifestyle shift that helped her shed pounds and keep them off. More importantly, it was part of a decision to be kinder to herself, according to her social posts, and to gain control of her emotional eating. This particular celebrity diet is a stellar example of how to shift one's mindset and focus on prioritizing health and making positive changes that allow for a lasting lifestyle of sustained healthy habits.
Not all celebrity diets are as doable or as healthy as Wilson's. Some are also not sustainable, while others require surgery, and still, other stars rely on medication to achieve weight loss.
Here, we take a look at the weight loss strategies that work, as well as some that are not worth trying to emulate – since the point is to be healthy long-term, and eat nutrient-rich foods that keep you full and energized to help you reach your physical, mental, and well-being goals.
Find a strategy that is right for you and that you and your medical provider both agree on – since you should always check with your doctor or nutritionist before embarking on any dramatic change in eating.
Which Celebrity Diets Work?
Not all celebrities take a healthy approach to weight loss, and even if they do manage to lose weight, it may not be something you should try, since you need to follow the plan that is right for you. Oprah is an investor and an advocate for WW (formerly Weight Watchers) and it has been an approach that consistently helps her maintain a healthy diet. So while it may not be new or sexy, WW works, for the right person.
By contrast, some A-listers are taking the diabetes drug Metformin in order to lower blood sugar levels and allow the body to burn fat for fuel. But this drug has side effects that range from diarrhea to more serious conditions, according to the Mayor Clinic, so no one should consider taking anything without discussing it with their doctor.
Celebrity Diets For Weight Loss: Which Ones Are Worth Trying?
1. The Sirtfood Diet
Adele brought the Sirtfood Diet to our attention two years ago, when she lost some 90 pounds, but many other stars have tried the Sirtfood Diet, including Pippa Middleton, Lorraine Pascale, the Food Network chef, Jodi Kidd, and a boxer named David Haye.
A Sirtfood Diet is mostly plant-based and contains high levels of foods that help trick your body into burning fat at a higher rate. Sirt foods help signal the body to should rev up your metabolism and increase muscle mass while you burn fat.
The foods you eat are called "Sirt" foods because they are high in sirtuin activators, which promote seven proteins that regulate metabolism, inflammation, and the longevity of cells. When you eat more foods that contain sirtuin activators, it helps speed up fat burning in the body while creating lean muscle mass.
What Are Sirt Foods?
- dark chocolate
- matcha green tea
- Medjool dates
- red wine
But another reason you lose weight on the Sirtfood Diet is that during the first week of the plan, you eat just 1,000 calories a day and drink three green juices throughout the day, each containing Kale, arugula, parsley, celery (including the leaves), half a green apple, lemon juice, and matcha green tea. By week two you can increase your calorie intake to 1,500 a day and drink two Sirtfood Juices a day, and eat two Sirtfood meals.
Bottom Line: Calorie restriction works, but it's impossible to sustain. What's healthy about this diet is that it encourages eating greens and high-antioxidant foods. High-fiber foods (such as arugula and kale, parsley, and other dark leafy greens) keep you feeling full longer. However, the more restrictive any diet is, the less likely it is that you can sustain it.
When we tried the Sirtfood Diet, we lasted about half a day, until the middle of the afternoon, when we had to lie down and take a nap. This diet just does not allow for enough calories to fuel an active person, and the restrictions are too harsh to stay on it for more than about 24 hours.
2. The Mayr Method
Rebel Wilson lost more than 60 pounds during her "Year of Health" by following a diet called the Mayr Method, which is less of a diet and more of a healthy approach to changing your relationship with food. The eating strategy itself is focused on a healthy diet of mostly whole foods like vegetables and lean protein, but the key is to stop stress eating, which leads to reaching for junk, and instead be mindful about what's triggering your emotional eating in the first place.
Practicing journaling and writing down petty slights or unhappy emotions and then flushing or burning these notes helps you process your emotions in a healthier way than smothering them in donuts and chips. By learning how to kick stress-eating to the curb, you are less likely to reach for high-sugar or carb-loaded snacks to comfort your feelings.
Wilson learned to follow the Mayr method, a nearly 100-year-old approach to healthy weight loss that combines emotional healing with smaller portions, plenty of plant-based foods, lean protein, and taking long daily walks for gentle but consistent calorie-burning every day.
A unique aspect of the Mayr Method is that it isn't so much a specific diet as it is a way of approaching food and exercise that is kinder to your body and allows you to stop being self-destructive with food.
Wilson explained her new approach to her fans in a social media video, telling them how this method helps people put themselves in better situations where they feel in control of their food decisions and less distracted by other thoughts while they eat, so they don't make poor choices.
Bottom Line: The Mayr Method is a healthy approach to losing weight and keeping it off. The Mayr Method focuses on eating more plant foods like vegetables and high-protein foods which is great. And because it is about being "good to yourself," it can become a lifestyle. You learn to eat healthy foods that make you feel energized and avoid inflammatory foods such as added sugar, processed foods, dairy, caffeine, and gluten.
We also love the part about Rebel Wilson's weight loss approach that encourages practicing self-care, self-kindness, and journaling. There's no question that this method helps you break self-destructive habits and feel better about yourself as you prioritize your health.
3. Intermittent Fasting
Stars like Halle Berry, Scarlette Johansen, Jennifer Aniston, and many others have talked about how effective Intermittent Fasting can be when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight. This strategy, of only eating during short stints and abstaining the rest of the day or night, is as old as Hollywood itself. Some people succeed by only eating one or two meals a day, and not eating for 12 or 14, or even 16 hours, allowing the body to reset and burn fat for fuel.
The question isn't whether Intermittent Fasting works, but how to do it safely and effectively, by prioritizing eating foods that are nutritious and full of fiber during the hours when you do choose to eat.
Nearly every celebrity who has to get ready for a movie or a red-carpet appearance has tried Intermittent Fasting. This practice requires you to not eat for a long window of 14 or more hours, then eat only during the remaining window of 8 or 10 hours, and choose foods that are healthy, nutrient-dense, and high in fiber. The science was first tested on patients with dire health issues such as obesity and type 2 diabetes and has been written about extensively by doctors, like Dr. Jason Fung, who has co-authored the book, Life in the Fasting Lane.
Dr. Fung told The Beet that Intermittent Fasting can also help the body fight off infection, since in the absence of food, the body is better able to do the important housekeeping of finding viruses and other cells that are foreign or broken, and perform "autophagy" where it literally eats these cells and destroys them.
How long you fast for is up to you but we don't recommend pushing it too long. However, Dr. Fung tells us that we sometimes "get hungry" just because we are accustomed to eating breakfast lunch, and dinner, and that our hunger signals are not necessarily to be trusted. We don't need to eat that often for our health and longevity, he explains since most of us have plenty of fat stores that our body can use to get to a meal a little while later.
Bottom Line: IF is not for everyone. If you are hungry (or hangry) and distracted, then eating more often and choosing smaller portions might be the better route for you. But if you have the ability to eat an early dinner and then a late breakfast, and space out your meals, you may be able to train the body to use the calories already stored (as fat) and lose weight.
When you do eat, however, choose the healthiest foods you can, to resupply the body with nutrients, antioxidants, and the full spectrum of vitamins and minerals to give your cells the important building blocks they need to be healthy and fight off disease.
4. The Low-Carb Diet
When Kim Kardashian needed to lose weight to fit into Marilyn Monroe's iconic "Happy Birthday dress, she chose to cut out carbs and managed to drop 16 pounds, making the red carpet appearance a success.
Counting carbs has become popular with keto diets. But should you cut out all carbs and eat fewer than 1,000 calories a day to lose weight? It's actually a terrible idea, according to all medical and nutrition sources.
According to the USDA, you only need to reduce your daily calories by 500 to lose one pound in a week, or 1,000 calories per day to lose two pounds. So if you're regularly eating 2,500 to 3,000 calories a day (and most Americans actually eat 3,600 a day) simply cutting down on total calorie intake is enough, without over-restricting or cutting out an entire food group.
Not to be confused with keto, the low-carb diet is a gentler way of teaching your body to burn fat instead of carbs, by eating fewer calories from carbs. But we know that not all carbs are unhealthy. Most vegetables (like carrots) and fruits (apples and oranges) have naturally occurring sugars that come packaged with healthy vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other antioxidants that make them healthy foods that should not be avoided.
As it is, most Americans don't eat enough fruits and vegetables. Only 1 in 10 of us get the recommended 5 servings a day, and instead eat carbs in the form of refined flour, highly processed foods, added sugar, and sweets. If you cut out those and instead focus on eating natural whole foods, you will lose weight and stay energized and healthy.
Bottom Line: Rapid, dramatic weight loss often leads to gaining it all back.
Achieving rapid weight loss (more than 2 pounds a week) tends to come in the form of losing muscle, bone density, and water weight rather than fat, and when you regain the weight you usually add it back as fat (unless you are strength training). The result: You've succeeded in lowering your metabolism.
Instead of cutting out all carbs and restricting your calories to less than 1,200 a day, try cutting out added sugar, refined or processed flour (like crackers, white bread, regular pasta, and white rice), and all junk food. When you choose healthy high-fiber foods such as fruit and vegetables, you stay full longer and unlock satiety cues while curbing cravings.
5. Raw Vegan Diet
Lizzo shared with her fans that being vegan has been pretty easy for her, and it looks like she's ready to level up and begin a new challenge. In an IG story she posted on July 28th, the "Bop Star" announced to her 9.1 million followers that she was making the leap to go fully raw vegan, a decision that she made after citing its numerous health benefits.
A raw vegan diet requires you to only eat plant-based foods that haven't been put through any cooking, heating, or processing so the food remains in its most natural state. We applaud Lizzo's quest for health and focus on natural whole foods. "So since being vegan I've found that I eat a lot of meat substitutes, whether it's tempeh or jackfruit or Beyond burger or whatever," Lizzo told her followers.
Lizzo then added more about why she was adopting this new lifestyle, saying, "Just to piggyback on the conversation I was having earlier on raw veganism, a lot of nutrition has been, you know in the zeitgeist lately, and a lot of it has been exterior-based, but being raw has a lot of internal benefits, and those are the ones that are important to me. ...
"So for all those people who have GERD, or who have digestive issues, it gives your stomach a break from breaking down and digesting all of those complex, hard-to-break-down substances we eat... "I think it's important whether you're vegan, not vegan, pescatarian, vegetarian," she encouraged fans, "to have one meal a day that's just simple, from the earth."
Bottom Line: The more minimally processed whole foods you eat the better, especially when it comes to high-fiber vegetables, fruit, legumes, and whole grains. You don't have to go fully raw vegan to benefit from this kind of eating. Just try to get more plant-based foods in your diet and avoid processed foods, including fake meat or packaged foods with added sugar.
6. Juice Cleanse
Stars like Blake Lively and Nicole Richie have been reported to enjoy cleanses over the years, and science supports juicing as a way of adding more healthy nutrients to your diet. As long as it isn't your only source of calories, juicing can be a healthy way to get vitamins and antioxidants. The problem is that when you use a machine to get juice from vegetables and fruit, you also remove most of the fiber, which means these foods won't keep you as full as if you ate the whole ingredients instead of drinking only the juice.
Research has shown that even juicing some of the time, over a short stint of 3 days, can help to jumpstart gut health, and possibly promote weight loss. The subjects in this study showed improvements in their gut microbiome after juicing, even days later. According to the study, which followed subjects for 17 days, a three-day juice-intensive diet resulted in increased weight loss and healthier gut microbiota, and the healthy bacteria stuck around for 14 days after the juicing period was over.
Bottom Line; Add juicing to a healthy diet rather than replacing every meal. Juicing can be a great way to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your diet, but it can wind up being extreme if you do it as a replacement for meals. Instead of removing all the pulp and fiver, add back some pulp or squeeze the juice, allowing some of the fiber to stay in the drink. Dietary fiber is a key component in keeping our gut microbiota healthy.
7. The Alkaline Diet
Kelly Ripa eats an alkaline diet, which is a way of focusing on a mostly plant-based diet that cuts out inflammatory foods like processed carbs, red meat, and added sugar. Dr. Daryl Gioffre, celebrity nutritionist, and alkaline diet expert explains that eating more alkaline foods reduces acid-promoting foods (not to be confused with citrus or other fruits). Ripa's diet is clean, mostly plant-based, and brimming with green vegetables and moderate protein intake — mostly plant-based sources with wild-caught fish thrown into the mix.
Alkaline diets are not absolutes, however, which means they are more sustainable over time. “Our motto when working together with her demanding schedule is it’s all about moderation, not deprivation, Gioffre has said, adding that none of his clients think of this as a “diet” per se, but simply making their nutrition part of a healthy lifestyle.
Bottom Line: Steer clear of added sugar and load up on fruits, veggies, healthy fats, and lean protein. Avoid inflammatory foods like processed meat or refined carbs, and make the healthiest choice by prioritizing nutrient-dense foods.
So What Works for Healthy Weight Loss? A Plant-Focused Approach
A Plant-based or plant-focused diet full of whole foods is the best way to think about how to eat for sustained weight loss. It doesn't have to be a strict diet or rely on restricting calories since if you eat more fiber-filled foods, you will stay full longer and keep blood sugar at a healthy level and avoid unwanted blood sugar spikes.
Seeking nutrient-rich foods and avoiding added sugar, as well as avoiding saturated fat (in red and processed meat) and highly processed foods will naturally lead to weight loss.
Bottom Line: Any diet that is plant-focused and avoids processed foods and refined carbs will likely help you lose weight and feel energized.
Check out The Plant-Based Diet and Cooking Course, to learn how to meal prep and eat healthier all year long.