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, and it’s also one of the pledges we’re highly likely to fail.
That’s usually not because we’re incapable of losing weight, but 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, as the British Dietetic Association (BDA) stresses, this could mean denting your health along the way, not to mention your bank balance.
In fact, with so many blogs, diet books and celebrity-endorsed fitness DVDs on the market, the BDA is urging people to weigh up the possibility that all they’re going to lose is their hard-earned cash.
Here are the BDA’s top 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.
BDA Verdict: While 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 a positive step, consultant dietician Sian Porter, spokesperson for the BDA, 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.”
The BDA points out that it’s also important to be aware that some substitutes these diet plans recommend, such as 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.
BDA 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 superfoods, 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 cancelling 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: Harry Styles and 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.
BDA Verdict: While the idea of minimising 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: Elle Macpherson is the co-founder.
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 £62.50 for 300g.
BDA Verdict: The benefits this costly powder claims 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 £750 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. Former Big Brother star Chanelle Hayes has reportedly followed this ‘diet’.
What’s it all about? Trim Secrets is a pill which 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, 1.5L of water, regular exercise and avoiding stress.
BDA 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.
TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE?
Porter says some of the diets the BDA hears about are “downright dangerous”, and warns that some people will believe almost anything when it comes to nutrition, food and diets. “The bottom line is, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” she says, pointing out that many marketers coin phrases to make consumers think there’s a magic wand approach to losing weight.
“The simple fact is, there is no wonder diet, just as there are no ‘superfoods’, and no one diet fits all,” she says. It might not sound exciting, but, Porter stresses, if you want to lose weight, do it by eating a healthy, balanced diet that you can stick to long-term, watching your portion sizes and being physically active.
“Think of it as a marathon approach to achieving your goals, as opposed to a sprint. Aim to make permanent changes to your diet and lifestyle that are sustainable for you in the long-term, not through someone else’s lifestyle, that will be abandoned by the end of January.”
For free BDA factsheets about weight loss, visit www.bda.uk.com/foodfacts/Want2LoseWeight.pdf