After Gwyneth Paltrow shared her low-calorie meal plan on a recent podcast, some dietitians worry that she could normalize under-eating.
They stress the importance of eating consistent, balanced meals, for overall health and wellness.
Gwyneth Paltrow shared what she eats in a day, and—put simply—it’s not a lot.
As described in a viral TikTok clip of The Art of Being Well podcast, Paltrow starts her day by fasting until noon, then consumes coffee and some “things” that won’t spike her blood sugar. She sips on bone broth for lunch, doesn’t mention snacking, and caps her eating with an early paleo dinner.
Some viewers were quick to criticize Paltrow’s habits, commenting that her diet looked more like a colonoscopy prep than a meal plan or posting sarcastic videos about the foods Paltrow claims she can or can’t eat. Paltrow later went on Instagram stories to address the backlash, telling viewers that her meal plan varies from day-to-day, and adding that she eats various veggies, proteins, and carbs with the intent of lowering inflammation. (But she’s also claimed to use rectal ozone therapy for the same purpose, which doctors have recommended against.)
Now, dietitians worry that Paltrow could encourage unhealthy habits among impressionable young fans by publicizing her eating habits. And regardless of the star’s intent, they warn not to follow her advice.
“The video normalizes undereating, which is so dangerous,” says Alissa Rumsey, MS, RD, CSCS, founder of Alissa Rumsey Nutrition and Wellness and the author of Unapologetic Eating. “This meal plan is nowhere near enough food for an adult, especially someone who is active.”
Paltrow burns extra calories with an hour of daily movement—like walking, pilates, or the Tracy Anderson Method—a full-body dry brushing session and a 30-minute stint in an infrared sauna.
Rectal ozone therapy
Among other strange habits, Paltrow has told viewers she uses rectal ozone therapy to decrease inflammation. Also known as “rectal insufflation,” the therapy involves blowing ozone gas, or O3, up someone's rectum. According to Forbes, the idea is that the gas’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties can transfer over to cells in the body—but it hasn’t been largely studied, and studies that exist are mostly done on rats. What’s more, ozone gas contains harmful properties, too, so this therapy could be dangerous to mess with before more studies come out. Recently, rectal ozone therapy has been recommended by some wellness spas but discouraged by medical professionals.
We asked Alissa Rumsey and Amity Lui, MS, RD, a sports dietitian at Worksite Wellness Nutrition, to take a look at Paltrow’s diet and explain how they would tailor it to be more nutritious.
Paltrow’s Protocol: Intermittent fast until noon
What Dietitians Say: Don’t
Intermittent fasting (IF) is a diet trend where people fast for several hours during the day except at designated meal times. The idea is that the body is able to burn fat during fasting hours after it’s gone through the energy provided by food. But dietitians warn that IF isn’t as helpful with weight loss as people think—and can lead to health complications like hormonal imbalances, blood sugar spikes, and unhealthy food obsessions.
“Eating the same number of calories over an 8-hour eating window versus a 12-hour window won't make a difference—your body does not automatically store calories as fat just because it's after a certain hour of the day,” says Lui. She adds that she does not recommend intermittent fasting as it is counterintuitive to the body’s natural hunger cues, among other reasons.
“Intermittent fasting is just another term for daily, short-term starvation,” says Rumsey. “It can be a catalyst for eating disorders, which affect people of all body sizes because you’re in a constant state of restricting and binging.”
Paltrow’s Protocol: Drink coffee to reduce the risks of blood sugar spikes
What Dietitians Say: Eat consistent meals to minimize risks of blood sugar spikes
According to Lui and Rumsey, coffee doesn’t have a direct impact on blood sugar unless a person is mixing it with large amounts of milk or sugar. What does impact blood sugar, however, is meal consistency and macronutrient balance.
Blood sugar levels can spike downward if a person goes without food for too long. They can also spike upward if a person is eating high levels of carbs alone. (People who have different conditions like diabetes may notice personal triggers for themselves, as well).
Eating consistent meals and snacks during the day, including a balance of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and fiber in those meals, can help keep blood sugar levels balanced, says Rumsey. An example of this could be eating an apple with peanut butter rather than an apple alone.
“Nutrition recommendations vary depending on the person, but I would talk to Paltrow to see what we could pair with the coffee,” says Lui. “Coffee can act as an appetite suppressant, and thus delay eating [as] she does in fasting until noon, but it doesn't actually provide us with any energy or nutrition. I would see if she would like to pair it with some eggs on toast, or oatmeal with fruit and nut butter.”
Why do dietitians recommend so many pairings of ingredients?
Eating multiple macronutrients—like combinations of protein, fiber, fats, and carbs—per meal or snack can help keep you full and satisfied for longer, allowing you to give your body what it needs and reduce the risks of overeating later.
“Each nutrient works in different ways to communicate to your body that you are full,” Rumsey explains. “Carbohydrates provide energy while protein, fat, and fiber help to sustain that energy by keeping you full and satisfied for longer.”
Paltrow’s Protocol: Eat (sip?) bone broth for lunch
What Dietitians Say: Broth alone isn’t a meal, but you can pair it with carbohydrates and fat to make it one
“Having bone broth is not a full meal; it doesn't include enough calories or carbohydrates for anyone,” Rumsey says.
She recommends using the broth as a side to a rice, bean, and veggie bowl or a sandwich.
Lui says that some people may need to rely on broths—or a complete liquid diet—if their stomach is unable to tolerate solid foods or if they are dealing with dental complications. For Paltrow, however, this doesn’t seem to be the case.
Like Rumsey, she recommends adding substance to bone broth or soup to make it more filling and satisfying and offers suggestions like pasta or noodles, a protein source, and colorful vegetables.
Paltrow’s Protocol: One hour of afternoon movement
What Dietitians Say: You’ll need to eat more if you want to fit this into your schedule
People burn more calories when they are active. This can be a good thing for those who are eating enough to support their fitness goals. If not, the extra exercise can take a toll on the body.
“She is not eating nearly enough to fuel her body for the day if all she did was lay in bed,” says Rumsey. “This meal plan would need to include way more calories and carbohydrates in order for it to be adequately nourishing.”
Paltrow’s Protocol: No (listed) snacking
What Dietitians Say: Eat about every three to five hours to keep blood sugar levels steady and nourish your body
Paltrow doesn’t list any snacks in her meal plan, but dietitians say it would be a good idea if she added some in. This could help increase overall caloric intake, balance out blood sugar spikes, and increase energy, says Rumsey.
“Snacking can be a really helpful way to boost your energy, keep blood sugar levels steady, and nourish yourself between meals,” she adds. “Go for something that you enjoy the taste of and has a mix of carbohydrates along with protein, fat, and/or fiber.”
Paltrow’s Protocol: Consume an early, veggie-heavy paleo dinner
What Dietitians Say: Consume vegetables, proteins, fats, and carbs for dinner—at whatever time works best with your schedule
Despite Paltrow’s emphasis on her early eating routine, the timing of your dinner likely won’t impact how your body stores your food.
“Our body will digest food no matter what time we eat it, so the timing of your dinner does not matter when it comes to nutrition,” says Rumsey. Though people who have trouble sleeping with a full stomach or who are prone to acid reflux may find it more comfortable to eat at least an hour before bed, she adds.
Further, while vegetables and protein (the hallmarks of the paleo diet) are good starting points for a meal, Rumsey says it is a better idea to add in some carbs and fats for fullness and nutritional value.
What this means for you
Instead of Gwyneth Paltrow sharing her low-calorie meal plan online, you may want to check in with your patients about their eating habits and help dispel diet culture myths.