What makes someone a fitness influencer versus a fitness expert these days? Sometimes it seems like celebrities have taken on the role of fitness gurus, leading by example to inspire their fanbase to live a healthier lifestyle. On the one hand, that's fantastic. Someone with such a large platform should use it to inspire others to take care of their bodies, but the thing is, not everyone with abs should be handing out health advice, and that’s a point that needs to be made. For example, Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez's 10-day challenge calls for completely cutting carbs and sugar from your meals, but experts aren’t exactly too keen on this kind-of-drastic, combo-elimination diet.
Granted, I'm sure the Hollywood couple is probably working closely with a team of nutritionists and trainers on a daily basis, so this 10-day challenge they're embarking on was likely cleared by someone. Still, like anything else that could affect your body, just because a celebrity makes a slight change in their diet, doesn’t mean that same tweak — no matter how temporary — is right for you. Before going ahead and making any drastic changes to your way of eating, I would highly suggest doing your own research on the subject, as well as making an appointment with either your doctor, or a nutritionist, who can offer their professional, educated opinion.
Getting back to the actual challenge, though, here’s how this all came to be: On Jan. 21, 2019, A. Rod uploaded a video to his Instagram account of him and his girl going to work on the treadmill, followed by some weightlifting action. These lovebirds are hardly new to couples workouts, and it’s really sweet how they’re continuously pushing themselves and each other to go the extra mile, pop that extra squat, and bust a move in between sets. But this time around, the retired Yankee wasn’t just posting an exercise clip to inspire you to get up and move.
In the caption of his Instagram video, Rodriguez invited his followers, as well as Jenny from the Block’s adoring fans, to join them in a 10-day challenge that would require you to cut carbs and sugar out of your diet, cold-turkey. “We pinky promise. Join me and Jennifer for a 10-day challenge. No carbs, no sugar. Who’s in?” he wrote.
Now, IMO, "everything in moderation" is a pretty solid rule of thumb when it comes to indulging in things like cookies, cake, and French fries. But cutting out all carbs and all forms of sugar from your diet entirely? That’s a bit eccentric, not to mention restrictive, and according to J. Lo’s Instagram Story documenting their efforts, the couple is learning that lesson fast.
“So it turns out, when you don’t have sugar and you don’t have carbs, you’re really, really hungry all the time,” she admitted only 24 hours into the challenge. Cut to A. Rod's own video diary on his Instagram Story, and it doesn't look like the former baseball player's holding up any better.
"I'm on the second day of this 10-day challenge," he started, sounding a little winded and kind of hungry. "It sounded like a great idea when I challenged all of you, but second day, and I've had eggs and avocado today. I'm dying, [but] I hope you're doing much better."
Honestly, if I were to cut all carbs and sugars out of my diet, I'm not really sure what I'd be eating to fill me up, and if someone like A. Rod's got a front row seat on the struggle bus of his own challenge, that's enough of a red flag for me not to sign up. Aside from the obvious hunger pains, though, I wanted to know what other negative side effects cutting carbs and sugars out of one's diet could have on the human body. To find out, I reached out to RD for Muuna Cottage Cheese, Melissa Rifkin, to weigh in.
"Cutting out a food could certainly prove health benefits, such as improved glycemic control [aka improved blood sugar levels], perhaps decreased inflammation, however cutting out a food group is never sustainable," Rifkin tells Elite Daily. Multiply that by two food groups, and you've really got a problem, Dr. Raj Gupta, wellness expert and founder of Soul Focus Wellness Center, adds.
"Replacing carbohydrates with fats and protein can increase your intake of saturated fat, which can raise the amount of cholesterol in your blood," Gupta tells Elite Daily over email. "When you're low on sugar, your body will not be able to process any fat stored in your body and will not convert that fat into energy."
From what I can tell, it doesn’t look like J. Lo or A. Rod committed to this 10-day challenge with specific hopes of seeing aesthetic changes. In fact, during one of her Instagram Stories, the Shades of Blue actress said in just 24 hours she’s learned a lot about what sugar does to the human body. It’s great that this is a learning experience for the couple, as I’m sure it is for anyone joining the duo on this no-sugar, no-carbs adventure of sorts, but are there any real health benefits to it? According to Gupta, it really depends on the types of carbs and sugars that you're actually eliminating from your diet.
"There are two types of carbs: simple carbs and complex carbs," Gupta explains. Simple carbs, like those found in sodas and baked goods that are also packed with refined sugars, are "like a fast-burning fire," he says. They burn off and digest quickly, leading to that infamous sugar crash and sluggish feeling not long after you consume them. Complex carbs, like whole wheats, grains, and veggies, on the other hand, are slow-burning, and take longer to break down in the body. In that case, omitting simple carbs will have higher health benefits than omitting complex carbs and natural sugars.
The bottom line, Rifkin says, is that the human body needs carbs to function, and the natural sugars found in things like fruits and honey also offer the body a ton of essential nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and fibers. There's no harm in cutting back on sweets and refined sugars to reap those health benefits, but moderation really is key. So while J. Lo and A. Rod have the right idea, they just might not be going about it the right way.