Victoria Secret Model Reveals Brutal Starvation Pre-Runway Diet

Victoria Secret Model Reveals Brutal Starvation Pre-Runway Diet

I have repeatedly talked about the unhealthy foods and unreasonable quantities and government subsidization of unhealthy processed foods … but today we got something from the other end of the spectrum.

In spite of protestations by ultra-thin actresses and models that they can ‘eat whatever they want’, most reasonable people tend to believe that the truth is uncomfortably close to the parodies on TV shows and movies where the model is asked about eating and claims to have eaten an orange for lunch … then confesses it was a single slice … and was the entirety of her solid sustenance for the day.

Victoria’s Secret ‘Angel’ model Adriana Lima revealed her extreme ‘Victoria’s Secret fashion show’ diet to the UK site the Telegraph.

Here is a snip about her workout routine:

“It is really intense, it’s not really the amount of time you spend working out, it’s the intensity: I jump rope, I do boxing, I lift weights, but I get bored doing that. If I am not moving I get bored very easily.”

But what is really shocking is how she manages her weight – or more to the point how she becomes unhealthily underweight without dying or looking anorexic:

She sees a nutritionist, who has measured her body’s muscle mass, fat ratio and levels of water retention. He prescribes protein shakes, vitamins and supplements to keep Lima’s energy levels up during this training period. Lima drinks a gallon of water a day. For nine days before the show, she will drink only protein shakes – “no solids”. The concoctions include powdered egg. Two days before the show, she will abstain from the daily gallon of water, and “just drink normally”. Then, 12 hours before the show, she will stop drinking entirely.

“No liquids at all so you dry out, sometimes you can lose up to eight pounds just from that,” she says.

Yet in spite of this abuse to her body, Lima is proud of what she has accomplished:

“Actually, the Victoria’s Secret show is the highlight of my life. Becoming an Angel, once I achieved that, it was a dream come true for me. And I know that after all this is done, when I sit down with my daughter one day, we are going to look back and it’s going to be very special.”

“Any model in this world would love to be an Angel.”

Looking at the image above of Lima on the runway, you do not see an anorexic waif who looks one step away from the emergency room and forced re-hydration, but rather someone who has a fit and muscular physique despite being too thin.

And for me that makes this ‘regime’ even worse – at least when you see ghastly anorexic young women like on this site whose ribs you can easily count there is outrage and a call to action. Victoria’s Secret models like Adriana Lima are considered the ‘pinnacle of what is sexy’ in our culture.

As one commenter said:

“Feeding off protein shakes for a week, and then starving and dehydrating yourself for 12 hours is NOT what I call a balanced diet.”

And that is the bottom line – when ‘looking good for the camera’ involves weeks of solid-free diet coupled with excessive water (in other words, a colon cleanse and bare-bones nutrient feed), followed by dehydration, then perhaps there is something wrong with looking at the girl above and thinking she is ‘healthy’.

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About the Author

Michael Anderson
I have loved technology for as long as I can remember - and have been a computer gamer since the PDP-10! Mobile Technology has played a major role in my life - I have used an electronic companion since the HP95LX more than 20 years ago, and have been a 'Laptop First' person since my Compaq LTE Lite 3/20 and Powerbook 170 back in 1991! As an avid gamer and gadget-junkie I was constantly asked for my opinions on new technology, which led to writing small blurbs ... and eventually becoming a reviewer many years ago. My family is my biggest priority in life, and they alternate between loving and tolerating my gaming and gadget hobbies ... but ultimately benefits from the addition of technology to our lives!

15 Comments on "Victoria Secret Model Reveals Brutal Starvation Pre-Runway Diet"

  1. Just a second. Adriana Lima, models, actors and actresses ARE the commodity of their livelihoods.  What a model does to look their best in the lead-up to their shows or films might seem extreme to normal people, but it’s the equivalent of frantic preparation for any big event in any other person’s workplace.   I bet Adriana Lima doesn’t have to work until midnight for a week straight and ignore her family to make sure all is in readiness for a big event launch; or stay up all night for days on caffeine to finish a piece of software for a deadline; or work behind a desk all day without any physical activity.  Those are also unhealthy, extreme behaviours that many other people do FOR THEIR JOBS – usually (and hopefully) just for specific, big events, with the exception of sedentary desk work, which is a proven killer and is done regularly by a large sector of society.  As long as her regular regime is healthy and active, she’s probably FAR healthier than the majority of desk-bound paper-pushers or key-tappers likely to be reading this article!

  2. This is no different than the steps Bodybuilders take before a show or photo shoot.  Similar prep is done- they will also play around with their sodium intake.  And as for their carb intake, they starve their body of carbs for a week or two before the show, but then the day or two before, blast their body with carbs, so the muscles are fuller without the water weight.  This gives them that ripped look and the vascularity you see in those magazine covers as well.  (Won’t even mention the use of anabolic steroids or growth hormone as that’s another topic altogether!)

    The point being, there is an extreme end to any sport.  I believe it is from the law of diminishing returns- with each level of anything you desire to excel at- those who are at the elite level of any sport, business, etc, have to do so much more than would normally be expected just for minimal changes- that extra edge.  Just as a bicyclist would pay 3000 for a carbon fiber wheel to shave a few tenths off their lap time, or a tennis player would purchase a very expensive racket that is just an ounce or two lighter, or a runner carbing up the night before and then putting on their custom designed sneakers for the race, there are always great lengths taken that the average person doesn’t have to take for their normal lives. 

    While I recognize that there are some who suffer eating disorders, and there is often the blaming of supermodels and runway models skinny frames for this, I think the vast majority of us realize that these are the best of their kind, and going to great lengths to look the way they do, often at great personal cost.  I think it’s great that Adriana Lima shared this info so that people can understand this better!

    • A few devils advocate thoughts:

      1) just because it is done in the name of vanity doesn’t make it safe or ok. I am on my phone but if I recall correctly there are many studies that indicate that sort of crash diet/radical change in calories and nutrition can be really bad for your body long-term.

      2) A carbon fiber bike or custom made shoes are an external change. They may make you marginally lighter or faster but they don’t affect your body composition. Carbing up can happen before a race, and during the race in the form of gels or Gatorade, but that’s not a days long process to fight your body’s natural desire to cling to hydration.

      3) Contestants on “The Biggest Loser” have said they followed a similar plan to what is described in the post for the finals of the show. Apparently a few have even said they peed blood due to extreme dehydration. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Victorias Secret Angels are doing the same. That’s never healthy.

      Anytime you have to fight your body and it’s natural desire for calories and water you are doing something mildly unhealthy. Yes, models look good. But that doesn’t make it natural or ok. And the average person doesn’t have an army of nutritionists helping. I would be far more impressed if Adriane Lima looked that way through a strict exercise a

      • Grr. Disqus is giving me issues.

        Anyway. I would be more impressed if she did it through exercise than a crash draining of water weight.

        It says a lot about her desire to be an angel but it is not and should not be a reflection on anything close to healthy.

      • 1) I don’t think anyone has suggested that any kind of extreme short-term regime is healthy.  What has been said is that it is not more, or less, unhealthy than many of the other short-term regimes of other hobbies or professions.  And the risks associated with a normal desk job are probably higher:

        2) “Carbing up” or “carbo loading” does not work due to the body’s natural limits on glycogen storage ), and short-term binges of high amounts of sugars or carbs can contribute to Type 2 diabetes, as well as contributing to fat gain (the excess energy is stored as fat). 

        3) As with all extremes, supervision by a medical professional will minimise any long-term harm.  Frankly, there are popular fad diets that have worse potential effects than Adriana Lima’s supervised pre-show routine –

        It isn’t true that “anytime you have to fight your body and it’s (sic) natural desire for calories and water you are doing something midly unhealthy”.  Overweight people have to fight their body’s “natural desire for calories” to lose weight; the long term effects of weight reduction in such cases are beneficial; and obesity is the natural result of NOT fighting or controlling caloric intake.  I’m sure that Adriana Lima DOES have a regular exercise routine to stay toned and trim; and although she goes to extremes to do her best in her job, it is not really less healthy than what most of us do to do ours.  Nobody’s saying it’s “healthy”.  But her overall lifestyle is definitely no worse than sitting 40 hours or more a week behind a desk!

        • Very true regarding the ‘natural desire for calories’.  Your body doesn’t act hungry when it needs calories, it typically does so when your blood sugar is low, or if you have become insulin resistant due to chronic snacking, overeating and thus obesity, it’s more of a pathway to dopamine releases in your body, and has nothing to do with actual need for nutrients.  This is the lie that people slowly fall into which can cause them to become overweight.

          re: carbo loading, there are two issues at hand- one is whether you’re loading for a sporting event the next morning/day, and in that sense, any high glycemic index foods will have spiked your blood sugar and it’s effect is long gone before the race.  But as the article said, your body can store around 2KCalories of carbs, and so if you topped off with slow burning low GI carb rich foods you may see some benefit, especially if you’ve been following a reduced carb diet that week.

          The other is also mentioned in the article and is what bodybuilders and models (and lately actors) typically do to pump up- starve and then force the muscles to super compensate for a short time when they finally get them.  This is more relevant to the supermodel and health concerns, and does indeed work.  It’s health consequences are probably minimal though- especially compared to the average person, since most low carb diets starve people of carbs and since most fad dieters binge and cheat after a few weeks, they are effectively doing the same thing.


  3. The diet is nearly identical to what mixed martial arts fighters and boxers go through, the 2 weeks before weigh in.

    It is common to be 15 lbs heavier (for the heavyweights) during fight night compared to your weigh in weight a mere 24 hours earlier.

    Even Olympians do similar tricks to make weight, although they have to make weight more often, so they are typically only 5 lbs heavier during competition when compared to their weigh in.

  4. I applaud the fact that Adriana Lima has come forward with her regimen to ready for the VS show; the way she explains what this particular event means to her (and I am guessing this regimen may also apply to her appearances in the VS catalog) does make it seem similar to what any other professional competitor goes through for their particular sporting event. I get it. It makes perfect sense.

    But here is my problem with the entire thing …

    Before reading this article, I had no idea that Adriana went through such a regime, although I guessed that she and all the other models had to be doing something in preparation, I simply didn’t know what. Back in my late teens and early 20s, when I modeled, we simply starved ourselves, exercised and relied upon our good genes. It seems so innocent now, but many of us were borderline anorexic, and more than a few were definitely bulimic. As we were only doing local runway, newspaper and catalog work, none of us were ever under the level of pressure that Adriana and other supermodels are. Thank goodness.

    But I know this for a fact: The average 12 – 17 year old girl who opens a catalog or a fashion magazine and looks at pictures Ms. Lima (or any of the other 10 – 15 gorgeous models that we all seem to know by name) is not going to have any clue about what those models go through to look the way that they do — even if it’s only for a particular catalog shoot or a televised fashion show. 

    What that little girl will know, 9 times out of 10, is that there is no way she will ever look like that. But that doesn’t mean that she won’t try.

    The very definition of model is:
    “A three-dimensional representation of a person or thing or of a proposed structure, typically on a smaller scale than the original.”But I can guarantee you that most girls who see a model only think of this definition:
    “an example for imitation or emulation.”

    I am not going to go so far as to say that I think “normal sized” women should be used in catalogs or on the catwalk, because these models serve their functions well — they are a perfect hanger for the clothing they are showcasing, they are beautiful to look at, and they do inspire those of us who care about fashion enough to try to emulate them — even if only on a much lesser scale.

    I’m not in a knowledgeable enough position to argue whether there is or isn’t long-term damage being done to anyone who maintains an “extreme” regimen, even if only for the short time required to prep for an event, but I do know that when you look at it in that light, it is more … understandable? I guess that word works — why so many young women don’t or can’t look like a model, and won’t ever. 

    But the amount of damage done by the images these models portray — especially when viewers are ignorant of the process it takes for them to look this way — is staggering. Make no mistake about it.

  5. I am not sure you folks could ‘not get it’ any more thoroughly than you do.

    The bottom line is this: for little girls, what they see in magazines, on screens, and pretty much EVERYWHERE is an image like that.  And EVERYONE from their favorite shows and pop music and even boys are telling them ‘unless you look like THAT’, you are FAT and UNATTRACTIVE.

    Period. End of story.  Comparing to athletes or desk jobs is completely missing the point.  Working at a desk is about doing something else; being an athlete gets you judged based on accomplishments. 

    Supermodels and super-thin actresses set the societal norm for looks.  Society tells girls to look like THAT.

    And THAT is not healthy.  Period.  She is under-weight by at least 10 pounds.  So are most of the top TV and movie actresses.  And even with being underweight, they STILL wear copious amounts of Spanx (or get ‘is she pregnant’ speculations), and in magazines get Photoshopped so that someone  who is ALREADY underweight is made to look THINNER and MORE perfect than humanly possible.

    It is beyond unrealistic, it is unhealthy both physically and psychologically.

    • Thank you Mike and Judie. I was trying to put my finger on what was making me crazy about all the comments and the two of you put into words what I was not able…

      Written with Siri


      Currently, 33% of all women in the USA are considered obese (along with
      28% of all men), compared to just 15% (and 10%) in 1960. It seems the
      like current problem in the USA is not anorexia, but quite the opposite. And that’s using figures from 2002; the problem has gotten worse since then.

      The constant media presence of supermodels and super thin actresses seems to have had no effect on actual lifestyles in the USA.

      • I have written quite a bit about the issues with the staggering obesity problem in our country and the world, but to make the leap that obesity means that body image isn’t an issue is … well, quite a leap.

        Check this out:

        “There is an enormous problem in this world in regards to female body shaming, and not solely in regard to fat women, but all women. A size 2 woman who sees this ad sees the message: “If I don’t stay small, he will cheat”. A size 12 woman might see this ad and think “if I don’t lose 30lbs, he will cheat”. A size 32 woman could see this ad, and feel “I will never find love”. It’s horrific. Not all women are necessarily insecure, but it’s no secret that body insecurity is endemic, regardless of size.”

        From here (

        • Body image issues have been around for a very, very long time.

          Mae West, a 1930s actress, would slim (or corset) down to a 24″ waist for her movie roles, which is equivalent to a pair of size zero jeans from the Gap. And Mae West was considered fat for an actress by the press of that time period.

          Marilyn Monroe, who everyone thinks of as voluptuous rather than thin, had her movie dresses auctioned off this past summer, so we had a rare glimpse at actual measurements of a 1950s starlet. Waist size? 22″.

          If you think the 1800s, prior to the dawn of mass photography, was better, think again, as the corset was in vogue during that entire century. Women would regularly corset down to 22″ or so during that era. Thin was still in, even for your great-great-great-great-grandparents.

          Basically, the ideal of the size 0 woman has been around for well over 200 years. Ideals that old have roots that go far beyond media depictions.

    • Michael, with all due respect, and I mean, with all due respect (Ricky Bobby quote!)..  please don’t belittle the comments we are making, or assume we have not heard or understood the argument you are making before.  It’s one that is covered in articles, talk shows, even sermons at Church.  But the argument made here that little girls are becoming anorexic because they are trying to live up to an impossible image standard is not a result of runway or supermodels fasting from water to keep their tummy from bulging the day of a shoot- it’s a result of many more factors (some of which you mentioned here such as photoshop).  And your use of hyperbole won’t make the statement any more true!  Surely not EVERYONE thinks this way 😉

      When do runway models set the societal norm for looks?  From their body types, hair lengths, makeup, to their over the top clothes, they have always been an exaggeration of what is acceptable in mainstream society.  Just as the runway models wear clothes that no one would dare wear in public, the vast majority of us understand that these women are not supposed to represent reality.  If Adriana Lima’s lingerie pre-show weight routine is giving her the edge when posing in lingerie, how would that effect little girls?  My daughter would never see anything like that in the magazines she reads or in commercials for the shows she watches.

       The point we were making with other sports, bodybuilding, etc, is quite valid in this context.  Young boys from my generation have grown up with Sylvester Stallone and Arnold as their heroes, and watched homerun records be broken by Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire, and led by Hulk Hogan to believe they can become huge and strong by working out, eating your vitamins and saying your prayers.  Then we found out that they all used steroids to get to where they are, something illegal and definitively bad for your overall health.  I spent several years as a teenager trying to get huge and basically giving up on it after years of hard work with little to show for it.  It took me many, many more years before I’d touch a weight bench again and learn the benefits of a healthy workout routine with realistic expectations.  If you want more proof of this, watch ‘Bigger, Stronger, Faster’ on Netflix (it’s on streaming last I checked)- you’ll see a family of grown men who are still suffering from the effects of what they were fed by the media as a child.

      IMO, To blame supermodels or the fashion industry for this is just short-sided.   As a society the issue is that as parents we are failing.  To allow
      little girls to watch whatever shows they want, read whatever magazines
      or web sites they want, let them order whatever they want at a
      restaurant, feed them mac and cheese and fried chicken nuggets for
      dinner, and then bring home tons of junk food and candy from the grocery
      store, it’s no wonder girls have the wrong ideals.  They are being fed
      garbage and never shown how to live healthy, how to take care of what
      you were given, and how to be happy with what you become. 


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