Actor Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy) revealed that he’s following an intense, extreme crash diet that not only helps people lose weight but, according to Pratt, “draw closer to God.”
The Daniel diet consists of 21 days of fasting and prayer. It is inspired by Daniel, an Old Testament figure who went for 21 days eating nothing but vegetables and drinking plain water. The diet restricts adherents to “foods grown from the seed” as well as water: this includes any vegetable, nuts, fruit, oils and whole grains. Essentially it’s a vegan diet with additional restrictions since no animal products of any kinds (including animal fat and dairy) are allowed.
Is the Daniel Diet Recommended?
People love to follow celebrities, and many have jumped on the Daniel Fast bandwagon simply because of Pratt’s involvement. However, one expert says this extreme diet is not healthy and recommends staying away from it.
Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center dietician Liz Weinandy says that such a restrictive diet comes with significant risks, especially for people suffering from pre-existing medical conditions.
According to Weinandy, the diet lacks “all kinds of nutrients” (proteins and essential fat, ostensibly meaning from animal sources) which she says could lead to deficiencies and may even result in hyponatremia (a dangerous and even deadly condition where the salts in the body are dangerously diluted).
However, plenty of vegans will attest to the fact that they are healthy (and thriving) eating plant-based proteins, and that vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains contain the necessary macro- and micro-nutrients to support optimal health. Also, it’s important to note that hyponatremia isn’t caused by drinking plain water; it’s caused by drinking too much water and neglecting intake of minerals and salts, which are essential for normal body functions (the minerals and salts in the body become dangerously diluted if you only drink water and don’t eat mineral-rich foods). There are plenty of salty mineral-rich veggies available, including artichokes, beets, carrots, raw celeriac, celery, wax gourd, artichokes, seaweed, turnips, beet greens, and chard – each of which contains at least 75 milligrams of sodium per serving.
Weinandy said she supports intermittent fasting (12-14 hours); however, she expressed concern about the 21-day duration of the Daniel Fast. “People need to get back to balance and moderation,” she said. “Anything that is ongoing and looks like it’s extreme, usually is.”
While “everything in moderation” is certainly sage advice, this also applies Weinandy’s advice. Take it with the proverbial grain of salt, and research whether you actually need to consume any animal products at all, before you decide to nix the Daniel Fast. And if you do decide to give it a try, make sure that you are consuming as broad a variety of vegetables, fruits, nuts, oils and grains as possible – the more colorful your plate, the greater the nutritional value.