Starvation Archives | Dr. Stephen Gullo

Category Archives: Starvation


By | Celebrity Best and Worst, Celebrity Diet, Starvation | No Comments


Untitled Christian Bale Blog Collage


He shed a frightening 121 pounds to play a insomniac machinist by adhering to a four-month long, 275-calorie a day diet that consisted of only coffee, an apple, and an occasional can of tuna. It took him just two months to pack on 60 pounds of muscle via a high-carb bread and pasta diet. He later added an additional 39 pounds on a strict diet of chicken, tuna, and steamed vegetables, coupled with daily three-hour workouts for his role as the Caped Crusader in Batman Begins. Most recently, he gained a 42 pounds—and even herniated a disc in his back—for an Oscar nominated turn as notorious New York con man Irving Rosenfeld.

If recent history is any indication, “American Hustle” won’t be the last time A-list actor Christian Bale transforms his body for a role. Bale isn’t the first actor to remake his physique for a movie—Robert De Niro reportedly gained 60 pounds before filming the later sequences in Raging Bull—but he seems to have taken the craft to a whole other level. In fact, Bale had put on so much weight that De Niro—who also had a feature role in the film—didn’t even know who he was when they first met.

Clearly, the English actor is in a class by himself in the insane weight gain and loss category, but he’s by no means the only actor who’s undergone a miraculous transformation for a movie role.

Here are five other A-list actors who have done the ultimate in film preparation.



To be fair, Natalie Portman has never been heavy, but to lose 20 pounds for her role as ballet dancer Nina Sayers in “Black Swan” she reportedly worked out for five for five hours a day using a combination of ballet, swimming and weight training while subsisting on a 1200 calorie-a-day diet (not a lot when you’re burning thousands of calories exercising). Predictably, the film drew its share of dance world criticism.


Image Source:



Though the perils of yo-yo dieting or weight cycling are well documented, it hasn’t stopped Academy Award winning actress Renée Zellweger from remaking her body on multiple occasions.

Zellweger gained 25 pounds to play zophtic Bridget Jones in the eponymous film and less than a year later, shed over 30 to play

Just a year later, the actress dropped the weight and a few extra pounds to play murderess temptress Roxie Hart in the movei version of the musical hit “Chicago.” She gained back the weight for her roles in “Cold Mountain” and “Bridget Jones: Edge of Reason.”


Image Source: Miramax Films / Evan Agostini/Getty Images




Image Source:

He earned an Academy Award for his role as a transgender woman in “Dallas Buyers Club” and received critical acclaim for his portrayal of heroin addict Harry Goldfarb in “Requiem For A Dream,” but Jared Leto gained 67 pounds and reportedly put his health in serious jeopardy to play John Lennon’s killer Mark David Chapman in “Chapter 27.” (He reportedly contracted gout and he even confined to a wheelchair for a time due to the excess weight).



Tom Hanks hasn’t gone to the extremes of his colleague Bale, but the two-time Oscar winner did drop 50 pounds (and grew a scary beard) from his 6’2” frame to play a stranded FedEx employee Chuck Noland in 2001’s “Cast Away.”
Hanks also shed 30 pounds to play AIDS-afflicted lawyer Andrew Beckett in “Philadelphia.”


Image Source: Whitby, Merritt/Getty)


He’s run the gamut from Calvin Klein underwear model to down-on-his-luck fisherman, but Bale’s “The Fighter” co-star Mark Wahlberg is another in a long line of Hollywood A-listers willing to suffer, so to speak, for his art. He dropped 40 pounds for his role as professor Alex Feed in his latest movie, a remake of 1974 film, The Gambler.


What these, and dozens more big screen stars share in common is method acting, more or less a technique used to create the real thoughts and feelings of the character being portrayed. Whereas traditional acting is dependent on imagination, script analysis, and external stimuli, method acting is developed internally via an emotional or physical connection to the character.

Though the method seems to work, at least if we’re to judge by the number of award winning performances that result, role, it can seem over the top, particularly in the case of extreme loss. And going through such radical physical changes comes with serious drawbacks, as we saw from the example of Jared Leto. Even Bale, for the moment the undisputed king of method acting, has spoken of the challenges of gaining and losing weight for roles.

Would such an extreme diet, at least in the short term, work for the average Joe or Jane carrying an extra 20-25 pounds? The answer is an emphatic “no.” For the majority of people, it’s difficult to maintain more than a 1-2 pounds weight loss per week (remember that’s 3500-7000 calories!). Extreme weight loss—or even extreme weight gain—can wreck havoc with our body’s metabolism. Though some people like Mark Wahlberg, who’s consistently maintained a high level of fitness throughout his professional life, might be in a better position to manage great weight fluctuations, extreme dieting can lead to headaches, irritability, fatigue, dizziness, constipation, menstrual irregularities, and hair and/or muscle loss. More potentially serious side effects include dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, low blood pressure and high uric acid, which could lead to gout or kidney stones, loss of bone density and even heart arrhythmias and organ failure.

If extreme weight fluctuations are bad then it’s reasonable to ask why there’s so much interest? Most likely, it has much to do with our societal obsession with the body image and the lives of celebrities themselves. Many so called “celebrity diets” are done under medical supervision for a short amount of time and specific purpose. Actors are also being paid handsomely to sacrifice for their work. They know the score going in. A final point to remember is that these are “diets.” All diets have a beginning, middle and end. But there is no end to weight control. To lose weight and most importantly, keep it off for a lifetime, we should focus less on our plates, and more on our heads. Ultimately, it’s less about the food, and more about how we behave in the presence of food determines success or failure.

Jessica Szohr Liquefied Her Diet

By | Liquid Diet | No Comments
Jessica Szohr in Gray Tank Top

Image source:

Jessica Szohr enjoyed an auspicious start to her career, modeling in a national campaign for Quaker Oats at the precocious age of 10. Unfortunately, her diet doesn’t appear to include those healthy whole grains. Instead, the star of “I Don’t Know How She Does It” has tried unsustainable juice fasts. When she isn’t indulging in juice fasts, Jessica Szohr strives for balance, but admits to frequently enjoying pizza and French fries with Ranch sauce. She prefers to eat healthier meals during the week and splurge on the weekends. While this diet could use some improvement, at least she doesn’t routinely starve herself.

Read More

Pauline Quirke’s Embarrassing Weight Loss Motivator

By | Celebrity Best and Worst, Starvation | No Comments
Pauline Quirke in Black Dress

Image source:

Much like rubbernecking at a car crash, audiences have long been fascinated by televised trials. But what about life after the verdict? One of British actress’ Pauline Quirke’s most famous roles on “Birds of a Feather” explored just that. Quirke played a woman whose husband was sent to prison for armed robbery. Perhaps the stress of the situation is why Quirke’s character, Sharon, was frequently pictured chowing down on junk food. Life imitated art, and over the years Pauline Quirke piled on the pounds. Quirke even kept a diary chronicling how she gained the weight. At one point, she wrote, “I’m not big-boned or pleasantly plump, I’m just fat because I’m greedy. I eat and drink too much and I exercise too little.”*

Read More

Holly Robinson Peete Breaks Away From Extreme Diets

By | Balanced Diets, Liquid Diet | No Comments
Holly Robinson Peete on Red Carpet

Image source:

Holly Robinson Peete made her acting debut on TV in 1969 on the first episode of “Sesame Street.” From there, her star continued to rise as she scored roles on “21 Jump Street” and “For Your Love.” Peete even showcased her singing talent during a memorable performance with Lionel Hampton at a Parisian club. As an extremely busy mom of four children (one of whom has autism and requires a great deal of extra care), Holly Robinson Peete has sought quick dieting solutions in the past.

Read More

Peaches Geldof Doesn’t Trust Herself To Eat

By | Liquid Diet | No Comments
Peaches Geldof Flaunts New Body in Maroon Dress

Image source:

Peaches Geldof, daughter of Sir Bob Geldof, has struggled with her weight for years. The British model and TV presenter was photographed in 2010 looking a bit pudgy as she sauntered around a pool wearing a bikini. As someone who has been in the spotlight all of her life, Peaches felt enormous pressure to slim down. She recounted how looking at rail-thin, airbrushed models in fashion magazines negatively affected her body image, causing her to think “I’m so fat.”* Read More

Portia de Rossi Beats Death By Eating Disorder

By | Starvation, Vegan | No Comments
Portia de Rossi Looks Radiant on Red Carpet

Image source:

Portia de Rossi was actually born Amanda Lee Rogers and is now Portia Degeneres after marrying Ellen Degeneres. While she began modeling as a child, Portia is perhaps best known for her role on “Ally McBeal,” a TV show notorious for featuring an absurdly high number of female cast members with anorexia. For years, Portia struggled with anorexia. At one point, she weighed a life-threatening 82 pounds. In 2000, Portia collapsed on set. Read More

Whitney Port Admits to Crash Dieting

By | High-Carbohydrate, Liquid Diet | No Comments
Whitney Port with Wavy Hairstyle

Image source:

For those who don’t watch reality TV, Whitney Port is famous for her role on MTV’s reality series, “The Hills,” alongside co-stars Lauren Conrad and Audrina Patridge. The TV personality and clothing designer later landed her own show, “The City.” While attending college, Whitney Port unwittingly gained about 25 pounds. She put herself on a strict diet program to lose the weight. Read More

Alexis Bellino Likes To Sabotage Dessert

By | Starvation | No Comments
Alexis Bellino Poses in Blue Dress

Image source:

Untold numbers of hot young things flock to Hollywood each year in hopes of becoming the next Angelina Jolie or Gwyneth Paltrow. Most don’t make it. Instead, those who can’t act, but are willing to inject silicone into various body parts, join the casts of reality TV shows. Case in point, Alexis Bellino, who joined up with “The Real Housewives of Orange County” during season five. For some godforsaken reason, voyeurs enjoy watching these high maintenance ladies bicker over their designer stilettos. Read More

Yvette Freeman Lost Weight After Friends’ Deaths

By | Liquid Diet | No Comments
Yvette Freeman Shows off Weight Loss

Image source:

Some actresses, like Amanda Seyfried, consider self-imposed starvation to be part of their job descriptions. They often go the extra mile to lose every spare ounce before a movie role. Yvette Freeman, on the other hand, was actually fired (temporarily) because she lost a great deal of weight. Yvette Freeman is an actress who played a nurse on the long-running TV show, “ER.” To maintain continuity, her weight loss prevented her from acting in a certain episode, but the producers were able to write it in for the rest of the season. Read More

Cheryl Cole Goes Diet-Hopping

By | Starvation | No Comments
Cheryl Cole Smiles at the Camera

Image source:

While Cheryl Cole is an actress, model, reality TV contestant, and singer in the band Girls Aloud, she is perhaps best known for being a judge on “The X Factor,” one of the many singing shows that drew viewers away from “American Idol.” In the early stages of her singing career, Cheryl Cole learned that there’s nothing like peer pressure to take off the pounds. Collectively, Girls Aloud decided that they were too pudgy and that some weight loss was in order. Read More