Banning Sugar, Skipping Carbs and Three-a-day Workouts: The Lengths Celebrities Go to Stay Fit

Welcome to Hollywood where everyone's got a dream, plus a personal trainer, a chef, a meal delivery service and lips that haven't touched sugar in months.

By Sarah Grossbart Oct 11, 2018 10:00 AMTags
Watch: Ciara's Son Future Jr. Steals the Show at 2018 AMAs

For most moms the newborn stage is a tangle of nighttime feedings, few showers and even less sleep. Ciara is not most moms. Determined to peel off the 65 pounds that came with daughter Sienna Princess Wilson, her 18-year-old with Seattle Seahawks quarterback husband Russell Wilson, the musician went the extra 1, 2 step.

"It was kind of like, wake up in the morning, breastfeed, eat a small meal, go train, come back in, breastfeed, eat another meal, go train, then come back, have another meal, and then a third training session at night," she recently revealed to Cosmopolitan of tripling up her daily workouts.

So basically whenever she wasn't breastfeeding, taking 4-year-old Future Zahir Wilburn (her son with ex Future) to school or eating what she called her "really strict meal plan", she was going hard in the gym. "My workout was really intense, but it was a commitment I made to myself because I wanted to feel good about me, you know, and, like, push myself," she explained to E! News at the 2018 American Music Awards. "And when you have babies, it does feel good when you're carrying your baby at, like, five months and you're like, 'Yeah, I'm back in my pocket, keeping it cute.'"

Ciara's Pregnancy Style

Welcome to Hollywood where everyone's got a dream and, though there's been a much needed push towards accepting bodies of all shapes, pretty much everyone is striving to stay sample size.

Thanks to the industry's strict standards (and ever-present paparazzi cameras), personal trainers are de rigueur as are the chefs tasked with transforming lean protein and vegetables (hold the butter and the salt) into something palatable. Because unless you're blessed with the gold standard of metabolisms you're not eating carbs, sugar, dairy or pretty much anything that comes in a package.

Even the male half of the industry, long exempt from the one size fits all mentality, knows that processed foods and HD cameras don't really mix. "You can work out till the cows come home," Sterling K. Brown told In Style of his stay-fit philosophy, "but if you put trash in your body, you're never going to see the results."

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And if you are going to indulge in carbs, you better be prepared to work. "I'm not very strict with my diet: If I want a piece of pizza, I eat a piece of pizza," the ever-relatable Jennifer Lawrence told Vogue in August. But being able to enjoy Jack in the Box on the semi-regular comes with a catch. "I do work out more than normal because I have a certain way that I want to look, and a way that I want to fit into my clothes," she shared. "I get photographed when I'm not asking for it, so there's added pressure to look and feel your best. For me, it's easier to put that extra effort into the gym instead of putting the extra effort into: 'Oh no, I can't eat that.'"

For most stars, though, sweating alone does not a six-pack make. To ensure her weight hovers close to 100 pounds, the goal for her 5-foot frame, Kourtney Kardashian maintains a famously stringent eating plan. While she recently relaxed her standards a smidge to allow for the occasional dairy or gluten because "I don't want to throw my body off by eating whatever I want when I travel and then be really strict other times," she's not exactly mainlining brie and baguettes.

Following her morning collagen shot and glass of water mixed with organic apple cider vinegar—"Both of these habits have a ton of health benefits that affect everything from your skin to the way your body processes nutrients," she wrote on her blog—and regular high-intensity interval training session, "I always drink a smoothie for breakfast," she shared. Her go-to is a homemade avocado pudding with organic cane sugar, whole milk and raw manuka honey, plus "added supplements," she says, "like organic protein powder, E3Live blue-green algae and MCT oil."

Lunch is more avocado chopped up with tomato, cucumber and two hard boiled eggs and mixed with a homemade olive oil and vinegar dressing, while dinner features a lean protein (read: grilled salmon, grilled chicken, sole) with a healthy serving of asparagus, carrots or sweet potato. Snacking is encouraged, but limited to good-for-you eats such as watermelon, more vegetables with avocado hummus and her daily protein shake featuring almond butter, almond milk, strawberries, blueberries and honey. 

Dia Dipasupil/WireImage

And when she's really on it, well, then her diet gets even tougher, like the time she endured a three-month ketogenic-like diet so restrictive she advised fans to consult their doctors before implementing it themselves. On the menu (or rather not so much on the menu) was a weekly 24-hour water- and bone broth-only fast that saw Kourtney steering clear of the kitchen to avoid the temptation to chew.

The cleanse is pretty standard in the entertainment industry and it comes in many forms ranging from the headache-inducing liquid-only plans that give dietitians agita (after all, your body is designed to naturally detox itself whether you're sticking to green juice or not) to the varieties that allow for solid food.

Kim Kardashian signed up for the latter ahead of this year's Met Gala in hopes of looking her best in her ultra-fitted Versace. The 10-day Sunfare Optimal Cleanse she chose is a mix of shakes, herbal teas and ultra-healthy dishes such as spicy mustard salmon salad, guacamole with veggie chips, butternut squash with soup and salad and romaine lettuce chicken cups.

Watch: Kim Kardashian Talks Kanye West's White House Visit

"I've worked so hard working out, but I started eating a lot of sweets and I wanted to just change my food patterns to eat healthier and cut sugar out of my life as much as I can," Kim explained on her website. "We always have sweets around and it's really hard when there are temptations everywhere."

But it's something she's learned to battle in the months since, her regular, every day diet not exactly a breeze and all. "It's hard work," she admitted to E! News at Tiffany & Co.'s Tiffany Blue Book Collection presentation Tuesday. "I just don't eat as much sugar as I used to. I work out a lot. You know, I try to work out every day for an hour."

The elimination diet is, of course, another popular choice amongst the famous set, with most celebs eschewing sugar, carbs, dairy, alcohol, friend foods and pretty much anything delicious. Sure, it's super tough and can make you a little less fun at parties and group dinners, but it's worth it, swears Debra Messing, who found herself swearing off all of the above some 10 years ago. 

Celebrity Quotes on Diets

"When I turned 40 it was time to reevaluate," she recently shared with Page Six. It wasn't so much that the milestone birthday spurred her into action as she felt guilty about each time she instructed now 14-year-old son Roman Walker Zelman to do as she said, not as she did. "It was very hard for me to look my son in the face and tell him not to eat candy because there was too much sugar in it and then for me to eat something that was sugary," she reasoned. "I cut out sugar and the alcohol and the fried foods and the dairy and gluten and grains, and it was a lot at first. It was very difficult." 

But once she found herself on the other side of the cravings hump, she had no regrets. "Pretty rapidly my body got used to it and I really, really started feeling much more energized," she insisted. "I think I actually look better as a result. I feel better now than I did 10 years ago." 

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Because while a slimmer waistline is definitely one of the more noticeable benefits of ditching desserts, it's not the only one. 

Kelly Clarkson has certainly never been one to bother herself over what other people think about her body. "The media has always been obsessed with it," she noted to The Daily Mail last year. "And I have felt conflicted over the years. Do you address it? Do you talk about it? Because then you just add to the noise. But people like me to talk about it, so I don't really mind carrying that flag. I love that people come up to me and say: 'Because you are comfortable in your skin, you have made me more comfortable in mine.' That's the best compliment ever."

She had the same debate when interest over her shrinking shape reached a heightened state this summer, finally deciding to address that, yes, she had lost 37 pounds, but she wasn't dieting, per se. Eager to help heal an autoimmune issue and thyroid problem that had been plaguing her for more than a decade, she flipped through Dr. Steven Gundry's latest book, The Plant Paradox: The Hidden Dangers in "Healthy" Foods That Cause Disease and Weight Gain. 

Celebrity Foodies

Following his restrictive recipes (his thinking is that lectin, found in foods such as grains, beans, nuts, fruits and vegetables like potatoes, peppers, tomato and eggplant can cause inflammation, leading to weight gain and other ailments), she shared on Today, "worked wonderfully." Though she cautioned her way of eating might not be successful for everyone, "It helped out so much with health. My autoimmune disease is like, gone and I'm like 37 pounds lighter in my pleather."

Of course for Clarkson this was never about snagging a smaller size off the rack, but that's admittedly the driver for many celebs. Between not-so-gentle suggestions from producers to drop the requisite 10 pounds, the pressure to maintain the type of figure that has designers clamoring to dress you in their latest runway creations and the knowledge that cameras—and the eyes of millions of judgmental fans—are trained on you at all times, well, committing to certain rigid standards of beauty is a thing. 

Erik Pendzich/REX/Shutterstock

And it doesn't come easy even if you have millions of dollars, a top-notch trainer and access to the best-tasting health food money can buy. Take it from Kim Kardashian, a woman with no shortage of tools at her disposal. The mother of three is the one tearing herself out of bed before the sun to sweat and ache through hourlong sessions with former bodybuilder Melissa Alcantara. And she's the one saying no to the most delicious-looking cupcakes even when they're staring her in the face. 

"You've just got to do it," she tells E! News, "Everyone's like, 'What is it?' There's no shortcut. You've just got to put the work in."