In the world of popular culture, diets have been consistently talked about since far before the Golden Age of Hollywood. There are trendy diets that caught on and stuck around for years, like the Atkins diet or the Master Cleanse. And then there are the ones that are just myths, like Jackie Kennedy eating one baked potato filled with caviar every day. But some diets got everyone talking and, at times, defined eras. Let’s explore ten of the worst fad diets celebrities swore worked.
Trigger warning: This article contains a discussion of restrictive eating without the consent and supervision of a medical professional. Always speak with your doctor before starting a weight loss program.
10 The Juice Cleanse – Salma Hayek
The juice cleanse is an ever-popular fad diet that celebrities constantly reference as their go-to diet before big events or when they need to drop weight quickly. While it’s true that some individuals might lose weight while doing a multiple-day juice cleanse (only drinking juice is essentially just starving yourself, duh), some outlandish medical claims have been made about juice cleanses.
Although there is no science backing up these claims, many avid juicers will tell you that juice cleanses “detox” your body, prevent cancer, boost your immune system, and help with digestion.
One celebrity that loves juice cleanses so much that she started her own juicing company, Salma Hayek, is cited as saying, “After doing a juice cleanse, I’m motivated to eat healthier and not emotionally. Cleansing is like my meditation.”
9 The Coachella Diet – Beyoncé
In the Netflix documentary, Homecoming (2019), which details Beyoncé and her team’s preparations for her iconic Coachella performance, she talks about the diet she went on leading up to the performance. In less than half a year, Beyoncé dropped the weight she had gained during her pregnancy with twins.
Although preparations for the performance meant daily dance practice and physical training, Beyoncé went on a 44-day diet that cut out carbs, meat, fish, alcohol, and dairy. Beyoncé herself said that her diet and exercise routine during this time was too extreme and that she would never do it again; despite her own warning, the Coachella diet gained popularity across social media platforms.
8 The “Fruitarian” Diet – DaVinci, Gandhi, Jobs, & Kutcher
While this diet has a pretty long history, including the likes of Leonardo DaVinci and Mahatma Gandhi, it was introduced to pop culture after the passing of Steve Jobs, a known fruitarian. When Ashton Kutcher was preparing for his role in Jobs (2013), as the late great founder of Apple, he decided to try the fruitarian diet for 30 days to help him get into character.
According to Mila Kunis, spouse of Kutcher, in her episode of Hot Ones, Kutcher found himself in the hospital with pancreatitis twice during the film’s production due to his eating habits. The Cleveland Clinic details the risks of “fruitarianism,” including tooth decay, diabetes, and malnourishment.
7 The “Friends Diet” – Aniston, Cox, & Kudrow
The “Friends Diet” is a collection of fad diets that actresses Jennifer Aniston, Courtney Cox, and Lisa Kudrow were on for the ten years they filmed the show Friends (1994-2004). While all three women were on pretty restrictive diets respectively, reportedly consuming no more than 1,200 calories a day for the entire length of the show, the most consistent part of their diet was what is infamously known as “The Jen Salad.”
“The Jen Salad” includes:
- 1 cup of bulgar
- 2 diced cucumbers
- 1 can of chickpeas
- 1/4 cup of minced red onion
- 2 tablespoons of chopped parsley
- 1 tablespoon of mint
- 1/2 a cup of pistachios
- 1/2 a cup of feta
While this salad doesn’t sound terrible, the famous trio ate this salad every day for ten years despite there being no dressing, which I couldn’t live without. And Aniston, she had the Jen Salad for dinner too…
6 The Carnivore Diet – Jordan B. Peterson
In 2018, during an episode for the Joe Rogan podcast, internet personality and psychologist Jordan B. Peterson describes his new favorite diet as consuming strictly beef, salt, and water. Due to the popularity of both the Joe Rogan podcast and Jordan B. Peterson himself, this diet grew in popularity despite the lack of science backing its claims of improved mental health and overall physical health.
An article published by The Cleveland Clinic notes that the Carnivore diet can lead to extreme constipation and an increased risk of heart disease.
Other celebrities that have tried the carnivore diet include Joe Rogan, who cited 2-weeks of “explosive diarrhea” when starting the diet, Mikhaila Peterson, Jordan B. Peterson’s daughter, and social media influencers, “The Buff Dudes.”
5 The Daniel Diet – Christ Pratt
The Daniel Diet, also known as the “Daniel Fast,” is a diet that follows a meal plan extrapolated from The Book of Daniel. It consists of a very strict plant-based diet, cutting out animal byproducts, processed food, alcohol, added and artificial sugars, caffeinated beverages, dairy, yeast, solid fats, and just about everything other than beans, lentils, fruit, vegetables, and whole grains.
Although the Daniel Fast is only 21-days long, in an interview with Stephan Colbert, Chris Pratt talks about going on the Daniel Diet for 30 days as a fast similar to the Catholic lent. Registered dietitian Katey Davidson stresses that this diet is not necessary for healthy living, nor is it a recommended method for weight loss, but freedom of religious choice is important.
4 The Paper Cup Diet – Nine Muses
The paper cup diet was introduced to pop culture by the K-pop girl group, Nine Muses. The gist of this diet is that every meal (of the three meals allowed by the diet) must fit into three paper cups. Dieters could fill one of the cups with brown or mixed grain rice, another with fruit, and the third with side dishes. Dieters should avoid greasy and high-fat food as well. The theory is that this would take the focus away from counting calories and instead cause dieters to be more conscious of portion control.
This diet allegedly gained traction among “pro-anorexia” internet forums and has become quite infamous within the K-pop community. When you look up “the paper cup diet” on YouTube, there are multiple videos made by teenage girls and women in their early 20s trying the diet, with many of those videos receiving hundreds of thousands of views.
3 The 8-Day Goat Milk Cleanse – Gwyneth Paltrow
This “cleanse” was endorsed by none other than the queen of cleanses, Gwyneth Paltrow. Apparently, consuming exclusively goat milk is supposed to cleanse your stomach and intestines from the parasite that you may or may not have. Not only is there no real science behind this cleanse, but there is also no recommendation for you to get diagnosed with a parasite by a doctor before doing it. You’re supposed to assume that you have a parasite or be diagnosed by a naturopath.
GOOP even has an article called “You Probably Have a Parasite—Here’s What to Do About It,” wherein the naturopath supporting this cleanse, Linda Lancaster, responds to medical questions without a medical degree or any medically backed answers. The kicker is that this cleanse recommends drinking raw, unpasteurized goat milk if you have access to it.
According to the CDC, “Raw milk can carry harmful bacteria and other germs that can make you very sick or kill you. While it is possible to get foodborne illnesses from many different foods, raw milk is one of the riskiest of all.” I think we will run far away from this fad diet; sorry, Gwyneth.
2 The Alkaline Diet – Beckham, Paltrow, Ripa, & Aniston
Praised for years by celebrities like Victoria Beckham, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kelly Ripa, and Jennifer Aniston, the Alkaline diet consists of eating alkaline foods and reducing high-acid foods like meat. Although the diet itself isn’t unhealthy when an adequate amount of calories is consumed, the point of the Alkaline diet is disease prevention and, more specifically, cancer prevention.
The diet creator, Robert O. Young, is currently facing jail time for practicing medicine without a medical license. Not only does his alkaline diet claim to prevent cancer, but he actually attempted to treat a woman’s cancer with baking soda infusions.
1 The Sleeping Beauty Diet – Elvis Presley?
Despite sounding very pretty, the sleeping beauty diet is arguably the least pretty of all the diets mentioned on this list. The diet concept is that if you are sleeping, you’re not eating. Individuals will extend their usual amount of sleep in order to avoid eating. Some will even take sleeping pills to induce sleep at times that they wouldn’t usually feel tired, upping the length of their sleep from 8-10 hours to 18-24 hours.
In the case of Elvis Presley, who was known for having a big appetite and a noticeably fluctuating weight, a doctor allegedly put Elvis in a medically induced coma in order for him to lose weight.