Khloe Kardashian’s new lifestyle book, “Strong Looks Better Naked,” is a gold mine of health and fitness advice — and, of course, lots of pictures of the reality star. STAT took a hard look at the science behind the Kardashian health tips and found, perhaps surprisingly, that many were right on point. But not all. Here’s your exclusive guide to the science behind Kardashian health mantras:
Tip 1: Add some (live) weight to your workout
When Aunt Khloe takes care of her sisters’ kids, she does squats while holding them. Wasn’t that difficult, you ask? Khloe’s response: “LOL! That was hard!”
What the science says: Holding a small child (or a modest weight) while doing a shallow squat isn’t as effective at building strength as holding less weight and doing a deeper squat, according to 2013 research published in the Journal of Strength Conditioning & Research.
Tip 2: Don’t drink Coke with every meal
Khloe shares an anecdote in her book of a friend who absolutely has to have a Coke with every meal. “It shows on her body, so clearly she’s addicted to the sugar,” Khloe says. Once you get past the fact that she’s totally sold out her friend, take heart in knowing that Khloe cites the World Health Organization’s recommendation that people cut their sugar intake by at least 50 percent to back up her concern.
What the science says: There is a big pile of evidence pointing to the harms of consuming too much added sugar, like the kind that’s used to sweeten everything from soda to sauces to yogurt. Consuming hefty amounts of added sugars has been tied to weight gain, fat gain, and higher prevalence of type 2 diabetes. And, chances are, Khloe’s friend is popping open cans of Coke at home, not just ordering them at restaurants — the CDC says people consume about two-thirds of their added sugar every day at home. So on this one, she’s absolutely right.
Tip 3: Cut out the cheese cubes
According to Khloe, getting rid of cheese in her diet — as her nutritionist recommended — helped her feel so energized she literally jumped out of bed every morning. When she stopped popping cheese cubes for snacks, she says, she also dropped 13 pounds in three months.
What the science says: There isn’t scientific evidence to say that nixing cheese specifically from your daily diet changes your energy levels, but there is anecdotal evidence to show cutting foods like cheese or red meat from a diet can boost energy levels in some people. The National Institutes of Health says you should only be eating 1.5 ounces of a cheese a day — which is about three cheese cubes — so Khloe’s advice lines up with those guidelines.
Tip 4: Fad diets don’t work
Khloe once went on a weeklong diet that caused her to drop 2 percent of her body fat in just five days. She calls it “one of the most miserable experiences of my life, absolutely horrible.” The lemonade-and-paprika fast made her moody and exceedingly hungry, and in the end, Khloe decided short-term diets just weren’t for her. Now, she practices mindful (dairy-free) eating.
What the science says: Science is on Khloe’s side with this one, too: Fad diets really don’t work when it comes to losing weight. A long-term study published in 2014 looked at four popular fad diets — Atkins, Zone, Weight Watchers, and South Beach — and found that they didn’t lead to any sort of significant, sustained weight loss.
Tip 5: Water is really, really important
Khloe loves water. “Water is magical,” she says. “It’s all about water. Flush, flush, flush.” She keeps at least five different kinds of infused water in her fridge at any given time. She touts its benefits, noting that water is good for your hair, skin, and nails, helps you lose weight, gives your muscles sustenance, and boosts your bodily functions.
What the science says: If you hit the gym every day like like Khloe, failing to drink enough fluids could restrict your ability to build strength and do high-intensity endurance workouts, according to a review of scientific literature in Sports Medicine. But the idea that you have to chug eight glasses of water a day is a total myth — your daily fluid intake is usually met by the food and drinks you typically take in every day.
Tip 6: Your body type is like a car
The Kardashian clan seeks medical advice from nutritionist Philip Goglia, who does blood panels on clients and breaks down the results in terms of cars. Kim Kardashian and her husband, Kanye West, have both been deemed Ferrari body types. But that doesn’t mean they get off scot-free: “Even if you have a Ferrari body type, the more you know about your engine, the better you can tune it,” Khloe writes. For reference, my body type is a ’97 Chrysler that’s mostly OK but kind of sputters a little when it moves too fast. As Khloe puts it, “Life is so unfair!”
What the science says: Surprisingly, science says very little about body types as cars.
Tip 7: If you have a friend, work out with that friend
As Khloe Kardashian once wrote, “As John Donne wrote, ‘No man is an island, entire of itself.’”
What the science says: Nothing, but may it speak to you just the same.