If you’ve ever found yourself both terrified and intrigued by what celebs say they eat in a day, same. Who doesn’t wonder whether they’d feel as great as Meghan Markle looks if you also began your days with a green smoothie, avoided dairy and sugar (even from fruit), went vegan, and topped your day off with a small piece of 70 percent cacao dark chocolate.
Thing is, you’re not going to become the Duchess by eating like her, says Philadelphia-based weight-loss expert Dr. Charlie Seltzer, M.D.
Whether you want to lose weight or score glowy skin, here’s why copycatting an A-lister’s eating habits might not be a good idea.
They Might Be Selling You Something
Kim Kardashian’s Flat Tummy #sponsored posts might have inspired you to stock up on meal replacement shakes, but there’s no way to know if her body was actually built on protein powder and appetite suppressing lollies (which, ugh). Worse yet, those diet products celebs make bank on aren’t regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, meaning there’s no telling if their ingredient list or heath claims are legit.
Everyone’s metabolism is different.
Because your resting metabolic rate—i.e., how many calories you burn at rest—is based on variables such as your height and weight, genes, and activity level, there’s little chance your system needs the same amount of calories or micronutrients like protein, carbs, and fat, as a celeb you aspire to eat like, says Dr. Seltzer. “Weight-loss diets aren’t one-size-fits-all,” he says. “Following someone else’s is like looking through their glasses. The likelihood of seeing clearly with their prescription is really low.”
Say you’re twice as active as an influencer you follow. Eat exactly what she eats, and you’ll feel more tired and hungry, since your bod requires more fuel to operate, says Dr. Seltzer. A diet that’s based on your specific energy needs may involve more food, so you can live your best life, hanger-free.
A strict diet is probably pointless.
“True food sensitivities are less common than people think,” says Dr. Seltzer. So if a celeb claims to feel lousy after eating a particular ingredient, they might think they have a gluten intolerance when the real problem is overeating a food containing it.
If you don’t experience symptoms, cutting out the foods a celeb doesn’t eat won’t affect your body in a measurable way unless you’re consuming less calories overall, says Dr. Seltzer. So if you replace a pizza with a gluten- and lactose-free alternative that has the same calorie count, you’ll end up where you started. Worse yet, you’ll probably crave the real deal.
You might spend all your money.
Oh, you don’t have a personal chef? Or Candace Cameron Bure’s go-to salad isn’t on your local diner’s menu? “Celebrities have resources average people don’t have,” says Dr. Seltzer. And he’s got a point: Money, hired help, and flexible work schedules (in the case of fitness influencers) can makes meal planning and prep a freaking breeze.
A meal plan that takes hours to assemble, involves eating more frequently than your schedule allows, or contains ingredients outside your budget could make you give up, order takeout, and call it a day. “It sets you up for failure,” says Dr. Seltzer.
Starting from scratch sucks.
“The more you deviate from natural tendencies, the worse you’re going to be,” says Dr. Seltzer. So if a celeb’s diet means swapping pasta for zoodles, do not pass go. Instead, find you a plan that doesn’t require a total diet overhaul, he says.
It makes sense since ordering a bowl instead of a burrito at Chipotle is way easier than ditching it altogether. What’s more, research suggests super small swaps—like snacking on an apple instead of chips—may be sufficient for fending off gradual weight gain and, when extrapolated to an entire population, significantly reducing heart disease and stroke deaths.
They’re not showing the whole picture.
Actors and influencers who follow extreme diets to play a character or to squeeze into a sample size on the red carpet may take non-food related measures to meet their goals, says Dr. Selzter.
“You never get the whole picture,” he says of their soundbites. “They could be taking extreme measures because it’s their job to lose 30 pounds in six weeks for a role.”
Translation: The average person eating the same meals won’t necessarily see similar results.
It could be super dangerous.
There’s a reason you’re supposed to consult your doctor before overhauling your diet: Some eating plans can aggravate existing health conditions. For instance, large quantities of protein can worsen organ function in people with kidney disease, while unbalanced meals (i.e., mono meals comprising only, say, fruit or potatoes) could cause a diabetic’s high blood sugar to spike, leading to nerve damage and other complications over time.
And even if you don’t have a specific health issue, celebrities’ diets might not deliver all the calories and nutrients you need.
If a celeb says they’re eating more veggies, fewer processed foods, or watching their portions, those are tips actually worth following, says Dr. Seltzer. Still, following their exact food rules might not be ideal for you. Rather than using their recipes as a blueprint for your diet, use it as inspo and put your own healthy spin on it, says Dr. Seltzer. Don’t let a hot Instagram pic take the place of common sense or sound medical advice, fam.