Unlike his “Neighbors” costar Seth Rogan, Zac Efron’s recent physical transformation didn’t go from “not considered thin by Hollywood standards” to “normal”—he went from insanely chiseled to inhumanly, unbelievably ripped. As you can imagine, that took a ton of work (not just “cutting out soda”). For Efron, this required an intense fitness and diet regimen, all in preparation for the frequent near-nakedness on the set of “Baywatch.” Aside from feeling self-assured about everything save his junk being displayed for the world to ogle, there was another benefit to his strict food ritual: losing his cravings for unhealthy treats.
"After a while, your body stops craving junk food and you look forward to these meals. You go, 'Holy cow, I want kale and vinaigrette shredded with beets and a little bit of sweet potato!' the 28-year-old heartthrob exclaimed to Mensfitness.com while sipping on a liquid comprising mango, coconut, lemongrass, coconut water, virgin coconut oil, almond milk, and an Epic plant-based protein powder.
Efron went on to explain his nutritionist and trainer Patrick Murphy designed every aspect of his meals, which were extremely low-carb and low-sugar and included plenty of organic whole foods. “There’s this trigger that happens after two or three weeks of dieting and eating healthy food, where your body switches its primary energy source from burning mainly carbohydrates to burning fat,” the actor explained.
According to many experts, Efron is correct. “People tend to crave what they eat,” Marcia Pelchat, PhD, told SFgate.com. To prove her point, she conducted her own study where test subjects only drank tasteless meal-replacement beverages, resulting in most of them not only reducing their hunger for junk food by also wanting the bland drinks by the end of the study.
On the flip side, when you eat refined carbs such as white bread, your body breaks it down into glucose (a type of sugar), which triggers a release of insulin into the bloodstream. The insulin transports glucose to cells. After eating terribly on a regular basis, your body begins to expect glucose and continues to discharge insulin into your bloodstream, according to Tanya Zuckerbrot, MS, RD, as told to SELF magazine. All this extra insulin makes your body want more and more of the same junk foods. Not to mention sugar specifically is addictive, as it causes your brain to release “feel good” chemicals like serotonin and dopamine.
But like many extreme diets and workout programs adopted by celebrities, this is not at all feasible--nor even advisable--for the rest of us.
“Going on a well-designed cleanse or altering your diet in some way, like giving up sugar, can be a good way to kickstart a lifestyle change and get results fairly quickly. But focusing only on low-carb and low-sugar is an overly simplistic plan that I don’t recommend long-term. And long-term is where it really counts,” says Kimberly Snyder, CN, best-selling author of “Radical Beauty," which she co-authored with Deepak Chopra.
“Anytime we demonize one whole macronutrient, like carbs, means you will over-ingest another one, namely protein,” Drew Barrymore and Reese Witherspoon's go-to nutritionist continues. “Excessive protein beyond the body's requirements converts into sugar and can lead to weight gain. Excessive protein also puts more of a load on your kidneys and liver, leaches alkaline minerals such as calcium out of your body, and increases the toxic load in your body.”
Efron has a nutritionist working directly with him, but for the rest of us Snyder recommends a more holistic approach with an emphasis on whole plant foods. “Fiber, which is found only in whole plant foods, acts as a natural form of portion control, as it is filling, and also cleanses your system of toxins which can contribute to cravings, while providing a broad range of micronutrients,” she tells Organic Authority.
The good news is regardless of your celebrity status (or need to strut around in a Speedo in front of millions of other humans), you can eliminate your uncontrollable desire to feast on chocolate cupcakes and Red Vines simply by incorporating more vegetables every day. We know it’s not always easy (like we said, sugar is basically crack) so start one step at a time. Snyder suggests beginning your days with a healthy meal, which makes sense since it'd be hard to go green at dinner if you ate a donut for lunch. Try one of these vegan breakfast recipes and soon enough, you’ll want all the blueberries—without the scone.
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