At almost 53 years of age, Halle Berry looks better than most 30-year-olds. She’s one of those unicorns (like J.Lo and Pharrell Williams) who have somehow managed to press pause on the ageing process and sail through middle age with nary a frown line.
And although it might seem like witchcraft at work, there are very specific lifestyle choices that have helped Ms Berry achieve her age-defying looks.
Lucky for us, the actress is a giver. She’s very open about her health routine, regularly sharing skincare, diet and fitness tips to Instagram.
As one of the many 30-year-olds who look no-where near as good as this former Bond girl, I thought I’d give part of her health routine a whirl. Namely: her diet.
If you’re wondering why I didn’t take on her entire fitness routine, the reason is that she works out with a trainer five days a week and on her days off, hikes. If I were to hire my PT five days a week, I’d need to take out a loan. And I live in New York, which means hiking trails are limited. Unless walks in the park count?
Long story, short: I skipped the training and adopted Berry’s keto diet for a week.
If you’re unfamiliar with ketogenic or “keto” eating plans, allow me to introduce you to the diet of the moment. It’s basically the silk leopard print skirt of the diet world.
The goal with keto is to drive your body to run off fuel produced from stored fat, instead of using glucose from carbohydrates. This state is called ketosis.
Many swear by this style of eating for weight loss, but like most diets, it has also been widely criticised.
“A diet like this is lacking the body’s main and preferred source of energy: carbohydrates,” Accredited Practising Dietitian, Emily Hardman told me.
“…common side effects seen with following a diet low in carbohydrates include low energy levels, headaches, weakness, irritability and poor digestion.”
On the other hand, Keto Nutritionist Christine Cronau says part of the diet’s negative rap comes from quitting too early:
“It takes about 4 weeks to become fat-adapted,” she said.
“In the meantime, as the body runs low on glucose – before it switches to fat – you may feel quite ordinary and may even experience keto flu: headaches, dizziness, fatigue and more.”
It’s worth pointing out here that a recent article published by Harvard Medical School stated that only short-term weight loss results from keto diets have been studied.
Suffice it to say that I went into the challenge feeling a little unsure. But into it I dove.
Here’s what I found:
My diet became repetitive, but not impossible
Using a combination of Berry’s Instagram account and interviews with her trainer, I formed an idea of the actress’ food plan and ran with it.
I drank coffee in the morning with a teaspoon of MCT oil and unsweetened almond milk. MCT is derived from coconut oil and is believed to assist with energy levels, fat-burning and cravings.
My meals were usually made with eggs or a meat protein along with vegetables, avocado and cheese. Occasionally I used tofu noodles or shredded zucchini instead of grains. The tofu wasn’t bad, but zucchini is not even a close substitute for pasta.
I felt sick at first
One of the things Cronau warned me about was increasing my fat intake too quickly. I’m assuming I did precisely that because I felt nauseated for the first two days. I also experienced headaches and fatigue.
Eating out wasn’t as terrible as I expected
While restaurants and their complimentary bread baskets tested my resolve, eating out wasn’t the *worst*. I’d just order fish and veggies or a grilled chicken sandwich, of which I’d only eat the fillings. It was mildly depressing, but doable.
I drank alcohol but only ever one glass of dry wine (and half a beer that I gave in to one time – sorry Halle!).
By the end of the week, I looked slimmer
When I got to day five, I felt less tired, and my nausea was gone. I also saw a clear difference in my figure; I looked more defined and less bloated.
But would I stick to this diet? Nah.
It might work for Berry, but cutting out an entire food group is just not sustainable for me. Yes, there are substitutes, but I don’t want to spend my time baking low-carb ‘bread’ or telling myself zucchini noodles are spaghetti.
I guess we all can’t be ageless unicorns like Halle Berry. But I might order one of the anti-ageing face masks she uses, just in case…