Victoria’s Secret diet: Is it healthy? A dietitian’s verdict
The Victoria’s Secret diet follows a diet based on reducing intake of calories and carbohydrates, and eating lean proteins and lots of vegetables.
The diet is limited to 1,300 calories a day, with alcohol, bread, processed food, sugar, salt and gluten all strictly avoided.
According to Sarah Ballis, clinical dietitian at The Harley Street Clinic Hospital, part of HCA Healthcare UK, the diet is intended to “push the body into a state of ketosis, dubbed the ‘fat burning’ mode, where the body burns fat for energy”.
As part of the diet, the Victoria’s Secret models eat five small meals per day, every three hours.
A typical breakfast consists of egg white omelette with spinach or turkey, or a green smoothie with chia seeds.
Lunch typically consists of chicken or a green salad with brown rice.
A typical dinner consists of quinoa, brown rice or sweet potato, with lean protein and steamed vegetables.
Berries, almonds, nut butter, yoghurt and protein shakes are typical snacks.
It sounds healthy, but is it really? According to Ballis, while the Victoria’s diet has some merits, it is not healthy or sustainable diet in the long term.
“Some aspects of the eating plan can be praised, like eating more vegetables, choosing lean meats, minimising sugar, salt, alcohol and processed foods,” said Ballis.
“Diets that are high in fruit and vegetables are advocated for protection against chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity and even some types of cancer.”
“However rapid weight loss via severe calorie restriction and carb cutting is not sustainable, and body weight is much more likely to be regained in the longer term.”
“This is because hunger cues cannot be ignored indefinitely, and imposing restrictions and depriving the body of energy can lead to reduced resting energy rate and drive food cravings.”
According to the dietician, there are many consequences of severe calorie restriction and malnutrition.
These can include gallstones, thyroid dysfunction, osteoporosis, anaemia, constipation, depression, heart failure, kidney disease, anxiety and brain damage.
In addition, restrictive dieting can trigger body dysmorphia and eating disorders, Ballis warns.
According to Ballis, a low carbohydrate diet restricting carbohydrates under 100g a day is less than half of what a balanced diet should contain.
“Since the body still needs to derive energy it switches to burning fat as fuel and produces ketone bodies which are acidic and build up in the bloodstream.”
“This can cause bad breath, headaches and mood changes, and lead to a dangerous and life-threatening condition called ketoacidosis.”
“Cutting carbs can dramatically reduce fibre and calorie intake leading to weakness, fatigue, muscle loss, dehydration, constipation and vitamin and mineral deficiencies.”
Instead, Ballis recommends a diet including plenty of wholegrain foods, starchy carbohydrates, beans, pulses, lean proteins, fish, dairy or dairy alternatives and ample fruit and vegetables.
“A successful long term weight loss approach is one with a positive focus on health and disease prevention and encourages a positive relationship with food, and not negative restrictive rules,” said Ballis.
“Good eating behaviours like portion control, and regular meal intake, sharing family meals and allowing occasional foods like chocolate, cakes, biscuits will lead to longer term and sustainable health benefits.”