Beyoncé’s new documentary “Homecoming” reveals that after giving birth to twins the singer stuck to an extremely restrictive diet as she trained for her Coachella performance last year.
While it worked for her, some experts caution that imitating the singer’s extreme diet and fitness routine isn’t likely a long-term solution for weight loss and physical fitness.
The singer removed bread, carbs, sugar, dairy, meat, fish, and alcohol from her diet and admitted she was “hungry.”
Thinking of trying to shed a few quick pounds using the Queen Bey method? A few nutrition professionals discuss what works and what doesn’t when trying to lose weight in a pinch.
Dr. Amy Burkhart, RD, a physician and registered dietitian based in California, said celebrities have an incredible amount of influence in the United States.
“When they discuss issues such as weight loss regimens, they inevitably will have people mimic their actions in hopes of achieving equivalent results,” she explained.
Some of the health tips are harmless, such as drinking vegetable juice to improve skin tone. “But if the regimens are extreme and a person has no guidance, someone may potentially be embarking down a risky path,” Burkhart said.
Even Beyoncé says in the documentary she probably would not take on such an arduous diet and fitness regimen in the future.
Most celebrities pursuing extreme diet plans have personal dietitians or nutritionists who assure proper nutritional intake is maintained, Burkhart pointed out.
And for many performers like Beyoncé, being in shape is part of their job and necessary in order to be able to perform on stage for hours at a time.
“Most people, however, don’t have the luxury of a team to guide them in their dietary endeavors,” Burkhart. “This could put someone at risk for health consequences if they don’t know how to properly adjust or supplement for the restrictions they have made.”
In some cases, it’s good to limit things such as alcohol or sugar. That can be done abruptly and safely, and Burkhart said it’s a good idea for everyone.
Restricting other food groups can harm health, as in the case of people living with diabetes, pregnant and nursing women, and those with kidney disease who attempt low-carb diets.
Some have shown that low-carb diets, high in animal protein, may result in a higher risk of death. But other studies suggest that low-carb diets balance blood sugar and lower inflammation markers, Burkhart noted.
“What does appear to be universally accepted is that a plant-based, nutrient-rich diet carries the lowest risk of ill health effects. Low-carb diets that are plant-based actually result in a lower risk of death and cancer,” she said.
Alissa Rumsey, MS, RD, a nutrition therapist and certified intuitive eating counselor from New York, cited research that showed dieting causes weight gain.
“Trying to avoid or cut out any food will cause your cravings to increase, not decrease,” she explained. “Dieting is a type of forced starvation. When you start to restrict types of food and/or amounts of food, your body switches into survival mode, triggering cravings and overeating. So the more you try to not have something, the more your body will crave it.”
Beyoncé also may not have completely cut out carbs (or for that matter, other items she said she had), added Marisa Moore, RDN, a registered dietitian nutritionist from Atlanta.
“It’s notable that as she was talking about her diet, she was eating an apple. This could have been misplaced b-roll, but apples are carbs,” Moore noted.
Bodies operate with a balance of carbohydrate, fat, and protein.
“Not only would it be incredibly difficult to maintain a no-carb diet for life, it could invite low energy or fatigue, constipation, and lower intake of certain nutrients.” she said.
Still determined to try to drop weight quickly? Burkhart says that modified fasting is popular, and offers a variety of plans to suit different lifestyles. “Most people can easily adhere to a modified fasting plan, even long-term. It can be very effective,” she said.
To avoid gaining back weight, it’s vital to get sufficient, good-quality sleep, maintain an exercise program, and limit or eliminate empty calorie sources such as alcohol and sweets.
“It still comes down to selecting nutrient-dense food, preferably plant-based, that is low in sugar,” Burkhart said.
In Beyoncé’s case, she was trying to lose baby weight after carrying twins. Our bodies will naturally lose weight post-pregnancy, back down to our set-point weight range, without us trying to exert control over it, Rumsey explained.
“It takes nine months to gain the weight needed for a healthy pregnancy, and it’s unrealistic and damaging to think that women need to or should lose it right away,” she said.
Jenna Hollenstein, RDN, a nutrition therapist from New York, said it’s unnatural to lose pregnancy weight in an accelerated way, especially for women trying to breastfeed.
“It’s also incredibly stressful and misogynistic to place pressure on women — women who just created another human being with their own bodies — to lose weight,” Hollenstein said.
She explained that after giving birth most women are caring for a newborn, which can affect them in other ways, “often in much more physically and emotionally challenging ways.”
Beyoncé admitted the diet pushed her to the limits and vowed never to try it again.
“I wish Beyoncé would use her star power to promote body positivity and beauty at any body size instead of sharing specific details about restrictive diets and promoting weight loss,” Rumsey said.