Experts weigh in on controversial celebrity weight-loss techniques.
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Beyonce Knowles' performance in Dream Girls was unforgettable, but we'd just as soon not remember how she got into shape to play her character Deena. In an interview with Oprah she reported using the Master Cleanse—a liquid diet many health professionals have deemed "dangerous" due to its extremely low-calorie intake—to drop 20 pounds in three weeks. "Normally they'd change your makeup or your clothes, but I wanted to go the extra mile," she said.
Admitting to feeling very "cranky" on the cleanse, the singer said she quickly put the weight back on when filming finished. Perhaps this acting job was an opportunity she just couldn't miss but crash dieting for any reason seems risky, especially when she's so fabulous as is!
Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis
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Black Swan co-stars Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis both lost about 20 pounds to look like "real ballerinas." Portman, who said she ate only "almonds and carrots," kept her ballerina-svelte frame for longer than a year, during filming and before to really get into character.
I admire her dedication to her art, but research has shown that negative effects of malnutrition, such as bone loss, immune suppression, and even brain shrinkage, can begin after just a few months of undereating. While many of the effects are reversed when the person resumes eating normally, some, like heart damage, can be lifelong. That seems like an awfully big price to pay for an Oscar.
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Renee Zellweger wowed fans by gaining weight to play Bridget Jones and then quickly losing it not once but twice. And it's not just the ladies that repeatedly lose weight for plum movie roles. Rapper 50 Cent and actor Christian Bale have done similar stunts. Experts agree that yo-yo dieting is both psychologically and physiologically damaging. Effects include an elevated risk of heart attack, gallstones, stroke, diabetes, depression and, sadly, weight gain.
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It's been hard to miss Demi Moore's rapidly shrinking frame amidst rumors of husband Ashton Kutcher's public infidelity. Says a nutritionist on RadarOnline.com, "It looks more like over-training with restricted calories than an eating disorder."
Whether her drastic weight loss is from relationship woes, over-exercising (which can be an eating disorder, actually) or some other cause, she has all our sympathy. We know how relationship drama can wreak havoc on healthy eating, but we miss our muscular G.I. Jane cutie and hope she comes back soon!
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Lindsay Lohan's little sister showed some of her own issues when she debuted her new figure last month to much public concern. While the 17-year-old hasn't commented on her recent plastic surgery and significant weight loss , Ali Lohan's recent appearance in several modeling campaigns leads credence to the theory that she did it to further her career as a model. But nutritionist Dr. Majid Ali says the aspiring covergirl appears to be sick. "She is very underweight. By looking at her cheekbones you can tell she has muscle wasting going on. When that happens, the body looks for calories by feeding on itself."
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Heidi Montag, the reality TV star more famous for her extreme manipulation of her looks than her short-lived part on The Hills, reported earlier this year that she had lost 30 pounds by dieting and working out 14 hours a day. Her reasoning? She had to wear a bikini to host a pool party. While there's nothing wrong with wanting to look good in your swimsuit, exercising excessively can lead to injury, insomnia, depression, heart attacks and strokes, electrolyte imbalances, and even death.
Dr. Elizabeth Lyster, a gynecologist specializing in women's hormones adds, "If exercise is experienced as [too] stressful, this can stress the adrenal glands. Adrenal glands make cortisol in response to stress. When there is too much cortisol release, the body goes into the "save" mode and will retain weight, especially around the midsection."
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Sara Rue lost 50 pounds for her wedding last May, looking every bit the beautiful bride as she played beer pong with her guests. While having a goal like this can be a great motivator, the trick is not to ditch your new healthy habits after the big day is over. So far the newlywed seems to be doing great and enjoying every minute of married life.
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More famous for her fat-free body than anything else at this point, scandal-plagued singer Leann Rimes explains the weight loss that has shocked so many of her fans by attributing it to getting older. "I understand the public is used to seeing me with baby fat, but you have to understand that I'm not a baby anymore. I've grown into a woman, and my body has just naturally changed."
While I don't know that most women wait until 29 to lose their "baby fat", experts caution against taking this reasoning too far, as losing too much weight as you age increases your risk of heart attack, pneumonia, and dementia, among other things. But the real kicker is that, according to new research, it makes you look older. Says researcher Rajiv Grover, "It's not wrinkles and lines that make people look older, it's changes in the shape of the face. People have this thing about being thin. It perhaps gives them a slimmer body, but they certainly age more quickly."
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Anyone who's been on a Florida beach knows how unforgiving swimsuits and even other swimmers can be, so it was no surprise when the Jersey Shore starlet Sammi Giancola explained her recent 15-pound weight loss saying, "You have to look good in Miami, because beautiful people are everywhere you look!"
But comparing your body to other women's is a losing game. Jenny Hazel, a therapist at Remuda Ranch, an eating-disorder clinic, explains, "The women I work with indicate how they are constantly comparing themselves to the models, actresses, and images they see in the media, which leads to body dissatisfaction, eating disorders, and trying to achieve an unrealistic and unattainable ideal." We hope Giancola can change her focus and remember why she is called "The Sweetheart" on the show.
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In her new book Bossypants, the hilarious Tina Fey says she got her first real break in comedy when, following a suggestion by an SNL producer, she lost about 40 pounds, allowing her to go from writer to on-screen talent. While her career—and her figure—have stayed red-hot ever since, we hope she knows that we'd be laughing with her no matter what her pants size is.
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Megan Fox shocked fans when she recently lost weight off her already tiny frame. It turns out they were right to be worried, as the Transformers actress says she struggled with depression and unhealthy behaviors. "I was telling myself I was being method [method acting], which was so outrageous and ridiculous and not true. But I ended up getting sick and my hair started falling out and I was like, ‘Oh [expletive]. I can’t do this’... You lose too much weight, you’re not getting your vitamins, you get sick. I was really skinny. I was depressed.”
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Raised in Hollywood, Tori Spelling has said in many interviews that she feels "a lot of pressure to be thin." After having her second baby she admitted, "I knew as soon as I left the house a week, even two weeks after giving birth, people are going to take pictures and scrutinize."
Spelling adds that in addition to public pressure, the very public feud with her mother and the stress of being a mom, doing her TV show, and writing her second book all led to her gaunt appearance. While these feelings are certainly understandable—who of us hasn't had our weight affected one way or another by stress?—taking care of your health is important.
As Dr. Phil McGraw says (yes, that Dr. Phil), "You can never, ever, use weight loss to solve problems that are not related to your weight. At your goal weight or not, you still have to live with yourself and deal with your problems. You will still have the same husband, the same job, the same kids, and the same life. Losing weight is not a cure for life."
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Does the troubled starlet have an eating disorder? A drug problem? Alcoholism? While people have speculated for years about Lindsay Lohan's ultra-skinny frame, Lohan herself explained her weight loss in an interview with Allure magazine: "It was an attention thing, too. [But] you start to wonder if your friends are your friends because you look a certain way."
People are fickle and losing (or gaining) weight only to please others leads to a lifetime of frustration. All we can say is whatever the reason, we hope she gets back to the Mean Girls Lindsay we all love.
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Plagued by tabloid reports about her weight, Lily Allen wrote despondently on her Facebook page, " 'I used to pride myself on being strong minded and not being some stupid girl obsessed with the way I look. I felt like it didn't matter if I was a bit chubby cause I'm not a model, I'm a singer. I'm afraid I am not strong and have fallen victim to the evil machine,' adding that she was looking into liposuction."
Shortly thereafter Allen made headlines for losing weight with hypnosis. While trying different methods to get healthier can be great, trying every new fad may not be. Says health guru Mark Sisson, "Although [fad diets] promise quick results, these diets are virtually impossible to follow (unless you actually enjoy lemonade mixed with maple syrup and cayenne pepper) and often have highly unpleasant side effects (we're looking at you, cabbage soup diet!)."