Say No to Fad Diets!

March 1st, 2018

So says holistic nutritionist, speaker, and exercise physiologist Luke Coutinho, who specialises in lifestyle medicine and integrative healing. We chose a few bizarre diets that some Hollywood celebrities have been espousing and asked the specialist to demystify them for us. Here goes…


Weight loss is a national pursuit in Hollywood—especially fad diets, which are in and out of style daily. Take Madonna, for instance, who spoke about her air only diet or Lady Gaga, who follows the baby food diet or consider the time when we all focused on one decidedly non-diet food to use for our diet—like the cookie diet. Well, while we’ve been occupied trying every diet strategy under the sun—nutritionist, author, fitness and lifestyle coach—Luke Coutinho, who hails from Goa, shares his take on these ridiculously strange diet fads followed by popular Hollywood celebrities.

A much feted speaker at gatherings across the world, Luke recently co-authored, The Great Indian Diet with Shilpa Shetty. Apart from that, he handles cases ranging from obesity to disease and cancer. He is currently working on his next book and setting up integrative oncology wards with various governments worldwide. Luke also leads several programmes revolving around nutrition, body image, health and lifestyle for both children and adults. He has over 150 coaches, who are coaching over 20,000 people across India, the US, the Middle East, Singapore and Hong Kong. His clientele is globally placed across New York, Belgium, Singapore, Hong Kong, Dubai and India. He also consults with several celebrities across various industries, including Bollywood. Luke has been benchmarked as one of the top 10 leading nutritionists and personal trainers across India, 2015.

The Five Hands Diet

Victoria Beckham

“It involves eating five handfuls of high protein meals in a day, like salmon, tuna, nuts, prawns and eggs, loads of water and veggie juices. In all fairness, I like this diet as it works more on the basis of portion control. That’s smart. The diet though is not sustainable, so one may lose weight initially but when they revert to a normal diet, the weight will come back on. However, I like that this diet is backed with exercise.”

The Ice Cube Diet

Renee Zellweger

“The ice cube diet consists of tablets that suppress the appetite, so one eats lesser calories and loses weight. It certainly hasn’t worked on any star rapper, actor or movie director. These diets don’t work as they don’t train people to change bad habits and lifestyle. They lead to frustration, and cravings and binge eating.”

The Baby Food Diet

Lady Gaga

“The baby food diet is a fad diet that may help you lose weight for the short term. Substituting standard meals for several jars of baby food will likely lower the amount of calories you eat by sheer portion control and taste bud boredom. But, just like a baby, it won’t be long before you outgrow this diet and start to gain weight.”

The Cookie Diet


“Dr Siegal’s cookie diet involves eating six 90-calorie cookies a day, plus a small meal. Alcohol is minimum or not encouraged. Again, this is a fad diet, you will obviously lose weight and then gain it all back and more once you go back to a normal diet.”

The Air Only Diet


“Who’s joining me on this ridiculous one? The rules are simple: eat nothing, except for a water and salt soup—yum! You do however get to go through all the motions of eating —placing food on your plate, cutting it, putting it on your fork or spoon, holding it up to your lips, but not letting it touch your mouth. In other words, pretend to eat it. I’m not sure if this is about fooling your body or others into thinking you’re actually eating something. My main issue with fad diets in general is their potential to promote binge-eating, and a weight loss-regain cycle. Also, they generally encourage unhealthy messages about food, particularly for young women. But, the air diet doesn’t even come close to a diet.”

The Purple Diet

Mariah Carey

“Yes, your pee will be purple too with this fad diet. It’s a great detox plan too, maybe for a day or two. You just eat purple foods, juices, nuts and yogurt. You lose weight quickly, but again, not sustainable and not healthy.”

The Master Cleanse Diet


“It involves drinking only lemonade made out of cayenne pepper, lemons, and grade B maple syrup (do NOT get grade A, in the Lord’s name) nine times a day. You can’t eat food. Again, this is a nice detox diet for a day or two, but then you need real food. Obviously, one would lose weight on such a plan.”

The Cabbage Soup Diet

Sarah Michelle Gellar

“The cabbage soup diet admits that it is not a suitable diet for sustained weight loss, and that it should only be followed for seven days, with at least two weeks in between. Basically, it is meant to ‘kick start’ weight loss before following a more balanced, healthy diet. The soup recipe contains a bunch of vegetables: green onions, green peppers, tomatoes, carrots, mushrooms, celery, and cabbage (obviously). The recipe also calls for one package of spice only soup mix, one cube of low sodium bouillon, and one can of low sodium V8 juice (which is optional). Then, dieters are encouraged to season the soup with spices without adding salt. You lose weight and then you age faster too with such fad plans. The programme spreads over seven days, and day four is ridiculous, where one can drink as much milk as they want to along with the soup.”

The Dukan Diet

Kate Middleton

“Drop 10 pounds in one week and never gain it back. You can do it if you follow the Dukan diet’s rules, claims French general practitioner and nutritionist Pierre Dukan, who created the diet in 2000. Lean protein, oat bran, water and a daily 20-minute walk are at the heart of the plan. The theory is that limiting carbohydrates forces your body to burn fat. Basically, you can eat unlimited quantities of food as long as they’re on the approved foods list, which includes very few carbs. Seems wise to do this if you just want to kick start weight loss, but it will lead to cravings and binge eating.”


The 5 Factor Diet

Megan Fox

“I like this diet. It’s balanced and promotes lifestyle. The 5-Factor Diet is a bundled diet and exercise plan that may help you lose weight and become more active. There are no pre-made foods or supplements to buy. And, it provides simple recipes that promise no more than five ingredients and five minutes of prep time. It even tells you what staples to keep on hand, so you will always be able to get a quick meal together. Food choices are varied enough that you can have a balanced diet and not get bored of foods. Being able to have a day when you can enjoy any food you want is a big plus too. But, you will have to be very organised and motivated to stay on track.”

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