Peter Wehrwein

Kate Middleton’s pre-royal weight loss: stress, “brideorexia,” or the Dukan Diet?

Talk about a big wedding.

In addition to the 1,900 guests in Westminster Abbey (assorted royals, governors-general, church leaders, and celebrities like Mr. and Mrs. David Beckham, Sir Elton John, and Guy Ritchie without his ex, Madonna), an estimated 2.5 billion people will be watching Friday morning when Prince William of Wales and “commoner” Catherine Middleton exchange vows.

One topic of royal wedding conversation has been Middleton’s weight and whether she has gotten too thin (too rich is an altogether different matter). According to one report in the British press that I read recently, she weighs 8 stone 8, or 120 pounds (a stone is 14 pounds). Many sources put her height at 5 feet 10 inches. If that weight and height are accurate (granted, a sizable if), then her body-mass index (BMI) is 17.2, which would put the 29-year-old princess-to-be in the underweight category. British newspapers have reported that Middleton has dropped two dress sizes since the engagement was announced in November.

There seem to be three prevailing theories about Middleton’s presumptive weight loss—and two may pertain to many brides (and perhaps a few grooms, too): stress, “brideorexia,” and a new diet.

1) Could it be stress?

The notion that stress could be causing Middleton to lose weight is plausible, though a great deal of research suggests that stress tends to move weight in the opposite direction.

One part of stress is the “fight or flight” response. It includes a surge in adrenaline-like hormones that suppress appetite. Fight-or-flight physiology may also discourage eating because it shunts blood away from the digestive system.

While acute stress may reduce food intake, chronic stress appears to increase it. Studies have shown a correlation between increased stress and excess weight. Stress increases the level of cortisol, a hormone secreted by the adrenal glands. A high level of cortisol has been associated with obesity. And there are some pretty convincing lines of evidence that suggest that high cortisol levels from stress increase the appetites for foods that are fatty and sweet.

Of course, we’re all different. Some people may respond to stress mainly with an appetite-suppressing fight-or-flight response, while others may have a cortisol-driven desire to calm down and eat.

2) Does she have “brideorexia”?

Another theory is that Middleton is trying (perhaps too hard) to lose weight for her wedding.

Who doesn’t want to look good for their wedding, royal or common—and these days, looking good almost always means looking thinner. It’s been noted that in many couples’ lives, no event is as photographed as their wedding. (This may be true for Will and Kate, although unlike the rest of us, they’ve a coronation to look forward to.)

I don’t know about the UK, but on this side of the pond people started turning the desire of brides to look good and lose weight into businesses several years ago. Now there are bridal boot camps, bridal workouts, bridal diet plans, and reality shows based on brides-to-be slimming down to get ready for the big day. The term “brideorexia” was coined to denote the most extreme (and frequently unhealthy) of these wedding-related weight-loss efforts.

Several years ago, a pair of Cornell University researchers reported findings of a study of weight and weddings in the journal Appetite. I spoke to one of them, Jeffrey Sobal, last week.

Their sample consisted of 272 bridal show registrants who filled out questionnaires about six months, on average, before their wedding day. In many ways, the results were just what you’d expect—and not all that alarming.

Most (70%) of the women wanted to lose a lot of weight (23 pounds, on average) and had lost only a fraction of that amount (8 pounds). But their goals were in a healthy range and their methods for reaching them were pretty reasonable: drinking lots of water, aerobic exercise, eating less food, and eating foods with fewer calories.

“I think brideorexia is hyperbole,” Sobal told me. “We didn’t really see it.”

Still, about a quarter of the women in the study who wanted to lose weight did resort to at least one of what Sobal and his colleague, Lori A. Neighbors, termed “extreme behaviors,” such as smoking, taking diet pills, and skipping meals (skipping meals may not be wise but it hardly seems extreme). And 14% took the risky step of buying a wedding dress that was smaller than their current body size.

3) Does the Dukan Diet deserve the credit?

Rumors that Kate Middleton lost weight using a popular diet devised by Pierre Dukan, a French physician, aren’t true, says royal watcher Ingrid Seward. But talk about the Dukan Diet was enough to pique my curiosity, partly because low-carb, high-protein diets have actually fared pretty well in head-to-head studies of weight-loss diets.

I dipped into the English translation of the Dukan Diet that became available in American bookstores just last week.

Dr. Pierre Dukan uses a soupçon of science along with many of the tried-and-true techniques of diet books:

  • a strict first phase that promises quick results (my yellowing copy of the Scarsdale diet promises that you’ll lose a pound a day during the first two-week phase)
  • subsequent phases that are more liberal but are supposed to keep the weight off
  • a mix of flexibility (don’t worry about calories) and rules (no bananas,grapes, or cherries during the consolidation phase)

Dukan recommends consuming 3 tablespoons of oat bran daily and eating only protein one day each week (he suggests Thursdays) for the rest of your life. There are also some charming French touches, such as steak tartare is okay during the initial, all-protein phase, but only if it is prepared without oil.

There is a significant difference between the Dukan, Atkins, and South Beach diets when it comes to fat. Dukan casts dietary fat as the “absolute enemy of anyone trying to be slim,” whereas the other two are more accepting of it.

But overall, you might say about the Dukan Diet plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose (the more things change, the more they stay the same).

Comments:

  1. Harmuko

    I hope she will be settling down to her new environment very soon and get her life back in balance. I wishing Kate all the best for her life.

  2. john

    I think it is more appropriate if Kate Midleton experiencing stress because the kingdom has been in the neighborhood, I believe the situation in the kingdom is quite strict and he was also a prince’s wife. Sure she has a pretty big responsibility so that it can drain energy and thoughts and this resulted in her losing weight. This is just my opinion only..

  3. Joanne

    I do not know much about the Ducan Diet. I have to say that I am so tired of listening to people go on about Kate and Pipa. These girls are just slim – that is their build. Why don’t people get off their backs. I am sure they are both very healthy – they sure look it at any rate. Eating bran only bulks you up and does nothing to enhance your weightloss. It makes you full for an hour or so and you don’t eat. That is not good. PGX is a much better choice. It really does lower your cholesterol levels and your blood pressure – I know because it has lowered mine. My diet consists of cereal in the morning and one coffee – my cereal does not contain any sugar – sugar is the KILLER if you want to lose weight – lunch is soup – very low sodium with greens – dinner is lots of protein. You should also never eat carbs at lunch – very important. Another thing that kills me is calories in and calories out – well that is just a balance. No gain – no loss. That is all I have to say. Thanks for letting me express my opinions.

  4. Anonymous

    Weight loss is one issue that women always worry about. I too worry about it, and I think dieting and doing cardio exercises work best if you want to lose weight faster.

  5. Vahid Bahman

    Many thanks for your interesting submission. It comes as not surprise that celebrities are big fans of ellipticals. Jennifer Aniston swears by her elliptical. She uses an elliptical for 20 minutes every day.

  6. Emmanuel

    Its ironic that people are interested in Kate’s weight so soon after her marriage given the history of Diana. As a wedding photographer I see the lengths people will go to to make themselves look thinner. Personally I think people look much better with mid-range weight. Bone thin isnt at all attractive. I think her weight loss is down to exercise and stress. I think she knows who she is much more than Diana did at the same point in her life.

  7. benbenez

    Excellent.An interesting article on Kate Middleton. When it comes to issues like health this article will take up a major role.
    It was very interesting to read. Good job.

  8. Diet high in fiber

    There are numerous thoughts when it comes to diet and its particular effects about Thrombocytopenia. There are several quite ridiculous eating suggestions offered on-line that really do not have any …

  9. Maryse Zubaidah

    Very important topic and you just did an amazing job presenting it in a simple and clear manner.

  10. NJ Tires

    Well she needs to be in good shape if she wants to keep her husbands attention!! Nothing wrong with keeping in shape and physically fit!

  11. Tory Insco

    Great post!

  12. Steve Baldwin

    Hmm its hard to tell her exact diet though. Most celebrities tell bogus to these womens magazines purely for entertainment and money.

    From my experience, 300-400 calories below your maintenance, cardio in the morning, followed by appropriate exercise in the gym which increases your heart to burn fat.

  13. Jane

    Great topic again..very informative article you have here!

    Jane :)

  14. Robin

    There is all too much focus placed on watching celebrity weight loss/gain. It’s part of the reason we have an epidemic of eating disorders in this country. Get back to nature, people!

  15. Sophie

    Kate is beautiful just the way she is. I don`t think she got on any diet to look the way she does. She is just one of those naturally thin people in my opinion.

  16. Bill

    I really don’t care about Kate’s weight loss but that she’s working hard to lose it. I’m not interested in the media much but say “congrats” on losing the weight. That’s always a hard thing to do!

  17. Simiv68

    Kate is way too skinny. To me, she looks unhealthy. You can’t even see muscle tissue, just bones and skin.

  18. Anonymous

    Kate Middleton’s sister Pippa Middleton and her looks have made an equally big impact on the blogsphere. Maybe its genetics or the work of very good physical trainer.

    Thanks to everyone for your great articles & Merry Christmas xxx

  19. Anonymous

    When I was engaged, I had my wedding dress altered but before I got married it was too big. I had too much weight loss. A bad case of nerves and worry really makes a difference with some people causing weight loss while others may gain weight.

  20. Anonymous

    Kate will never replace Diana and she should shouldn’t try either. The media will try though. Kate doesn’t have any eating disorders I’m aware of & she should count herself lucky… :)

    Thanks to everyone for your great articles & Merry Christmas xxx

  21. Sohail

    It doesn’t matter how she got thin. Fact is that she is and she must be. She must have kept her body weight and fat maintained.

  22. Emilia Stevenson

    I hope she will be settling down to her new environment very soon and get her life back in balance. I wishing Kate all the best for her life.

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  25. It’s funny which you lastly spoke up! I’ve been waiting for a person to bring this out to the open! Anyway… great post. I will be back.

  26. Anthony Claydon

    for the average personal trainer client, who loses weight quickly they gain it again just as quickly, Kate has kept it off, mostly because she has a track record of looking after herself, she never had it to lose. Unlike a lot of Brit women, who are getting fatter faster than most of the rest of Europe up. Ho hum.

  27. Phillip & Charlotte Locke

    We are all sure that, given the circumstances it could be stress related! But realistically we can change the way we think about our weight and health if we get serious about it!

  28. kayus

    Doc,i want to say that anytime i get worked up and I don’t feel like eating and most of the time when i do take food,.i could be late in the afternoon,thus making my breakfast turn brunch.

    A friend of mine saw me recently and said i ‘m gaining weight while i think my inadequate eating will reduce my weight.what is happening doc?

  29. Julia Mulrad

    I also believe she was under a lot of stress and simply lost her appetite, I know I would if I had to marry a price…LOL.
    I wish to add to this conversation a nice short article I have just read about how to get thin

  30. Ionut

    The poor girl. She was in college (university, whatever). She was probably eating alot of fried foods, huge cheap breakfasts, beer and pub grub. In Scotland (where she went to school) there are tons of places that fry all their food – including candy bars and pizza. She’s probably just grown up some and stopped eating that shit.

  31. Chad O.

    Have you ever heard of consuming coconut oil as an aid in losing fat?
    [URL removed by moderator]

  32. Dee

    Very thought provoking. No doubt it’s a mixture of the two. I see a lot of brides at our wedding venue and speaking with them throughout the planning and actual day itself, many of them admit to brideorexia. As you say, who wouldn’t want to look their best – the girls are very conscious that their photos will mark that day forever and they really want to look at them and be able to love what they see – not wanting to have thoughts of “God I look fat!”
    [URL removed by moderator]

  33. fitinthemiddle

    It reminds me of the old cartoon where the bride is staring at the wedding cake saying, “Great now I can eat!” as the groom looks on aghast.
    Kate will probably remain thin as she will live in front of a camera where weight is amplified and she will have access to any and all diets.
    For the rest of us, diets are a temporary fix for a long term problem.

  34. Jan Peterson

    There’s no doubt in my mind that dropping a few dress sizes prior to getting hitched was something she wanted to do so the 2.5 billion people watching her would be impressed. I don’t doubt that she was under a certain amount of stress as well, which would have likely helped with her weight loss

  35. Andrew

    I’m not sure what kind of diet that she did but it’s normal for the to do diet when her married was watched by billion of people worldwide!

    It’s the sad truth that being princess means you have to do it all perfect.

    Admin
    http://60secondstoloseweight.com

  36. Steven smith

    Of course, we’re all different. Some people may respond to stress mainly with an appetite-suppressing fight-or-flight response, while others may have a cortisol-driven desire to calm down and eat.

  37. Anonymous

    I Agree with you, every diet system has to be a tools not a destination :)

  38. fred alvez

    I agree that the use of diet and physical year help reduce weight, but years ago I had an accident automotive that not I allowed move my legs, I started gaining weight, a family member I recommended getting my muscles useful quickly, this surprisingly made me reduce weight
    [URL removed by moderator]

  39. Phillip & Charlotte

    We agree that just about everyone wants to look good for their wedding, hence the need to lose weight quickly!

  40. ของชำร่วย

    I really love the way you discuss this kind of topic

  41. All American Pressure Canner

    I just do a fresh made vegetable juice every morning. That is made a big different on my weight and mostly I feel a lot better.
    jim
    [URL removed by moderator]

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  43. Beryl

    We all have different body types. Some people are carbohydrate sensitive, others are Protein sensitive. The idea is to find what body type you are then you will know what foods are best avoided and which ones to eat.
    Definitely exercise it will get you fit as well as toned. Combine this with eating right according to your body type, you are in for excellent results

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  45. Anonymous

    Regardless of what status you may have in the world diet and weight loss affect all. Sometimes we tend to forget the rich and famous have weight issues as well. Especially with the media and appearance is everything. Take your time eat right and stay fit.
    [URL removed by moderator]

  46. Jenn Linsdale

    I know that, at least in the USA, women often have an unrealistic view of their bodies when it comes to weight. I hope Kate is just a slim girl and she hasn’t fallen for this wildy “skinny” culture that seems to be pervasive. I just hope she’s healthy & happy.
    [URL removed by moderator]

  47. Tom Simms

    I would guess it’s the case of brideorexia. With that many people watching who wouldn’t want to try to look there finest, whether it be a wedding or not.
    [URL removed by moderator]

  48. Gerald McKee

    Lets face it all this talk is fine but she ate well before she lost weight. Just star to eat less junk and walk more and everyone can loos so weight. Walking is the best way to start moving.
    [URL removed by moderator]

  49. simon ealing

    Theres a pretty good chance that she wasn’t:

    A. Carrying much of an appetite for those upcoming weeks/months prior to the wedding.

    B. Had one hell of a personal trainer

    C. Both

    D. Went on one of those crazy zero carbs, chicken, beef and cheese diets the week before. Or employed a fat blocker or maybe she just stuck to a strict diet and eats sparse.

  50. Graciela Loss

    The simple fact of knowing who is getting married is stressful and beautiful to see that day increases the stresses. Well, if you will also be part of crown and royalty, is definitely to be more than excited and thinking about diets for weight loss, whether or not necessary to go through the mind of a beautiful woman who wants to be the star your wedding …

  51. naya

    i think not all bridal will have brideorexia. that would depend on how they look like. i am underweight woman. instead of losing weight, i’d gain my weight lol. anyway, nice information.

  52. Anonymous

    This is something that should be considered in your weight loss plan. How are you going to make your life better overall? How many ways can you approach “weight loss”? Do not make it your goal to lose so many pounds this week. Rather, set a goal to walk so many minutes, lift so many pounds, garden for so many minutes. That way, even if your weight does not change that much in that period or even goes in the wrong direction, you still know that your body is benefiting from the parts of your weight loss plan that you are still in touch with.

    [URL removed by moderator]

  53. Lucy

    When I was engaged, I had my wedding dress altered but before I got married it was too big. I had too much weight loss. A bad case of nerves and worry really makes a difference with some people causing weight loss while others may gain weight.

  54. Nikola

    Having had a nasty break up you are wondering how to get your ex back. Obviously you are not feeling very good about it. Your head is spinning and you can’t stop thinking about the break up, what might have been. If only you had said something different or did something different.
    I know how you feel…

  55. Bebs Tullock

    If a woman is into a very important event of her life say for example a wedding, she must see to it that she is perfect on the said day. A woman sees to it that she looks thinner on her special day but what if becoming thinner will make her not look good to the public?
    [URL removed b y moderator]

  56. welo

    very understandable, not only Kate, but any woman would want to look perfect in her marriage.
    need to remember that fat is not entirely evil, the human body also needs fat in a good level.
    technologies such as elliptical trainers can help you with a good workout
    [URL removed by moderator]

  57. Yoli Oliver

    Finally some information about our princess that is worthy as it can help a lot of girl, I got married about a year ago, didnt need to lose any weight but I lost 1 o 2 dress sizes , I did not diet, I think was a bit of everthing , I would like just to say that all brides would look their best on their wedding day basically because they are going to marry the love of their lifes we normally are glowing during the whole day.
    [URL removed by moderator]

  58. Donna Phillips

    Too Thin, how can you really tell, especially with celebrities or the the Royal Family…I would like to see Kate in person and then comment on if she is too thin?
    It’s a bit hard to tell from Photographs and TV? all I know is if you do need to lose weight you should do it the right way! no crash diets, fad diets are out! lifestyle changes are in
    [URL removed by moderator]

  59. andy

    I am a teacher of students in the age range 14-18 and I see only too often the effect and influence that the media has on young girls and women in relation to their weight and look.
    Too often the weight loss is drastic and I deal with many students who have developed psychological problems because of this.

  60. Jake

    Well, in my opinion, she’s been depressed to prepare the big wedding. Therefore, her body make some adjusment and this lead to her losing weight. Anyway, I love the wedding dress she wore on the royal wedding. And fortunately, I own a little fashion business [URL removed by moderator] so I have some knowledge about choosing best wedding dress.

    Great posting anyway, Peter!

  61. Anonymous

    I’m not sure if she was in diet or not, I assume she was anyway, it was so important event. But I have to say she looked and still looks brilliant, should I say beautiful!

  62. John

    Whilst I have to admit to actually watching the wedding one thing I noted at the time was that if one word could describe the crowd inside the Cathedral it would be “thin”. There were some exceptions but generally being thin was the order of the day.
    However I write concerning your comments about stress and its effect on weight. I try to understand it by relating to the Animal Kingdom where the process is still being used for its original purpose, ie survival. Stress causes the hormonal releases you describe which results in either flight or fight. After that the hormone mix facilitates maintenance where the body has to rest, repair and replenish its resources. Although we don’t do much fleeing or fighting (in the old sense) we still have to respond to those hormones, even though we haven’t really used up many resources.
    [URL removed by moderator]

  63. Anonymous

    If you are just looking to develop a decent and well defined physique, then you merely need to perform a scaled back version of the bodybuilding fat loss diet. And yes, the end result will be a very well defined look because even a small percentage of the body building plan will deliver great weight loss results.
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  64. ian

    Thank you for this post. Most weight loss can be summed up in three steps
    1 Eat less calories than your body burns.
    2 Eat healthy foods instead of empty calories.
    3 Exercise!

    [URL removed by moderator]

  65. Greg Todd

    Frankly, she looks fine to me. Now, if she were 45, with a couple or three kids, she would be too skinny. Nature never intended middle age mothers to look like 22 year old girls, and there’s nothing wrong with gaining a little weight over the years. In my case, I’ve gained a lot (I weigh twice what I did when I was 18), and I need to take a bunch off. [URL removed by moderator] I may never be as skinny as Kate, or my 18 year old self, but that’s my goal.

  66. Shreesh

    She looks perfectly ok to me more beautiful

  67. Monique Hawkins

    I think that Kate’s weight loss could be based on a number of factors. I personally think all of the stress and pressure had the biggest part to play followed closely by how its natural for all brides to want to lose weight. I do think Kate needs to put some weight back on. To me, she just looks too thin.
    Monique
    [URL removed by moderator]

  68. Marvin

    Duncan McNeill,

    If it is so easy to do by not eating toxins, then I guess it goes back to how you define “toxin”.

    mm

  69. Anonymous

    Maybe its genetics or the work of very good physical trainer.

  70. Meredith

    I’m a 68 year old woman who has had great success with the Tim Ferriss’ version (4-Hour Body) of the Slow Carb Diet. I also highly recommend that anyone interested in serious research regarding what makes us fat and how we can lose fat check out Gary Taubes’ books. There’s also a lot of emerging good Slow Carb Diet stuff online… And Kate is a bit too thin, for my taste… When I was young I was thin but not skinny. there’s a difference, I think…

  71. J. Duncan McNeill

    These way out programs scare the pants off me. To me, when you restrict any part of the diet, that is counterproductive and usually dangerous. If you restrict the whole diet (meaning calories) your body will fight you all the way so enormous will power is involved. You may be interested to know that I have just finished developing a weight loss plan that is based on superb nutrition and nothing else. Most people don’t realize the toxins they are ingesting when they eat what they thought was healthy food, which is most food from the supermarket. When you stop the toxin intake, weight loss becomes absolutely effortless with little or no will power involved. You will never be hungry, you don’t have to weigh, measure or count anything and you don’t have to exercise, yet your weight will fall away seemingly by itself.
    [URL removed by moderator]

  72. ciara

    I spent many years with a BMI that hovered between 16 & 17. I think Kate is probably at 18 or 19; she’s very thin but she’s at a weight that’s healthy. (I was not always strong enough to keep up with the rest of my crowd and don’t recommend intentionally dropping to a BMI that low. I ate over 4500 calories a day to maintain my underweight status! I don’t know why I was so thin, but I was.)

    Kate should not feel the need to compete with Diana and she should not worry about the press. The press will print what it wants (some do no research at all), so they are best ignored. She must not worry about her grandmother-in-law, HRH, whose taste in clothes gives me the creeps. (And what’s with the hats???)

    Kate can set her own style without going to the extremes Diana did (Diana always looked lovely, but in this time of economic stress, the British public may want to see the Princess wear the same gown more than once–especially if it came with a high price tag. Whether the designer gave the dress to the Princess is immaterial to people trying to pay the rent and feed the children.) She should not feel that every appearance in public calls for something new and dramatically different from what she was last photographed wearing.

    Kate appears to be a lovely young lady and I expect the British public will love her if she treats them as kindly as Diana did. (I don’t think anyone else in the “royal family” had done that before Diana, but that’s the behavior she needs to emulate.) She doesn’t have to run for office, so she doesn’t need to cater to any one group. If she gains weight, so what? If she stays at her present weight until she becomes pregnant, that’s also perfectly OK as long as she’s healthy–and she appears to be fine.

  73. Manny

    Well In my profession, pretty much all the couples I meet wants to loose weight before they get married. They want to look their best for their wedding pictures. If it was me, I would do what it takes to look my best. After all did you see how many cameras were pointed at her?
    And like the author said pretty much the same thing when it comes to diet method I think.
    [URL removed by moderator]

  74. Sony NX810

    This diet is pretty good, better than a lot of other ones.

  75. Phil Victor

    Kate Middleton’s sister Pippa Middleton and her looks have made an equally big impact on the blogsphere. Maybe its genetics or the work of very good physical trainer.

    • Sandra

      Because of Prince William, and was the same with other girl. So, i didnt see anything EXTRA SPECIAL here. Kate and his sister need, both of them, to Thank William for this, for the actual life :)

  76. Dan White

    I really appreciate what I\’ve seen…Better than a lot of programs I looked at.. Your material is helping me to proceed.

  77. Arleen

    A very timely and interesting article on Kate’s loss of weight. I’m glad she didn’t do the Duken diet as it seems extreme. Losing 2 dress sizes in 5 months would cause envy from those of us that are overweight. However, Kate’s weight seemed just right back in November.

    After the problems Di had with weight let’s hope Kate will not have problems with weight after the big event.

    [URL removed by moderator]

    • Em

      Who cares??? People seriously think like ‘Oh,Diana did this or that…is the new princess comparable…did you watch the wedding…etc’ Get a life!