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April 18, 2021

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Fans follow the stars to shed pounds

Chinese singer and actor Yin Zheng recently became an Internet sensation for his success in losing a significant amount of weight, and his recipes have become wildly popular with Chinese netizens looking to lose those extra kilos before summer arrives.

Yin had struggled with his weight for quite some time since he finished shooting the TV series “Winter Begonia” in 2020. He gained 6 kilos because the character he portrayed was someone who loved to eat. He even posted on his Weibo that: “It’s over, I think I was a disaster with the role of Shang Xirui, I’m too fat and ugly. What is to be done? I’ll be scolded when the show airs.”

The actor decided to lose weight and chose to be supervised by the public by logging his weight loss as daily vlogs on the Xiaohongshu app, recording his weight-loss meals bite by bite. His account soon became the No. 1 topic trending on the platform.

After a few months of hard work and more than 300 weight-loss vlogs, Yin lost the extra weight.

What became popular at the same time were the actor’s weight-loss meals and recipes. His fans decided to follow in his footsteps to log their weight loss progress and many were successful in reaching their goals.

Yin’s famous stew

In contrast to the more radical celebrity weight-loss diets that aim to shake off a considerable amount of bodyweight in a very short period of time, Yin’s diet didn’t compromise on the nutrition needed by the human body to function — fat and carbs were not cut off completely in order to achieve short-term results.

A healthy, everyday recommended diet includes appropriate amounts of cereals and grains, fresh vegetables and fruits, protein (meat, seafood, egg and dairy) plus some bean/nuts for healthy fats. Browsing through Yin’s videos, it’s easy to see that the actor has taken a whole-foods approach by choosing a wide range of healthy, natural foods. Yin’s recipes are composed of a large number of fresh vegetables such as broccoli, zucchini, asparagus, green beans and carrots; clean proteins such as chicken breast meat, beef, shrimp, fish and eggs; plus staple alternatives such as corn and sweet potato for the carbohydrates.

Juices, sweet beverages and desserts were taken out from Yin’s diet to control the free sugar intake. His recipes stood out for their easy accessibility and cooking process. The ingredients he used were cheap and available in any supermarket or farmer’s market, rather than the more expensive, novel “superfoods” with their expensive price tags.

“Yin Zheng stew” was trending on recipe platforms as the actor successfully lost weight, and many people started to see results after trying out his healthy yet delicious way of cooking vegetables and proteins, meals which triumphed over cold salads.

The stew features around half a dozen varieties of fresh vegetables and one choice of clean protein. For example, pairing shrimps with carrots, green beans, asparagus, shitake mushrooms, oyster mushrooms, lettuce and broccoli.

The cooking process is also very easy to follow. Simply stir-fry the root vegetables with a little bit of oil — an essential step as some vitamins are fat-soluble, and it’s a much healthier approach than boiling everything in water. Then add in the shrimps and vegetables that take a shorter time to cook. All the ingredients are sliced and cut into appropriate sizes to ensure even cooking.

When everything is added in the pan, season with a tiny bit of salt, add a little bit of water and cover with a lid. Cook over a low to medium heat for a few minutes (depending on the amount of food in the pan), open the lid to cook off the extra moisture, and serve with black pepper for extra flavor.

Many people who have followed the recipe posted rave reviews about how delicious the vegetable stew tasted, how easy it was to cook, and how effective it was to lose weight.

But the approach isn’t without its flaws, as it’s still a celebrity weight-loss diet that aims to achieve significant results in a few months. The amount of carbohydrates is strictly controlled, while people would need to consume more complete meals over the long term to maintain a healthy body and mind. Vegetables that are high in carbohydrates cannot replace staples because they don’t provide the same nutrition needed by the human body.

Another highlight of Yin’s weight-loss diet was eating mixed cereals and grains instead of rice and flour, providing more minerals and fiber. The proteins he chose were low-fat options such as shrimp and chicken breast meat.

Yin also exercised during the weight-loss period, so the diet and the stew were only part of the reason that he succeeded.

The celebrity diets

For job-related reasons, celebrities need to maintain a stricter diet and do more rigid physical exercise to manage their figures. From time to time, celebrity diets would trend on social media platforms when the celebrities show evident weight-loss results.

Last year, actress Guan Xiaotong’s sandwich recipe and her one-week diet was trending on Chinese social media. The highlight was a lettuce wrap sandwich that replaced the bread with lettuce to take away the carbohydrates. Inside there were tomato slices, egg and lean meat.

Her weight-loss diet was quick and effective, as the actress managed to keep a low body weight for her height, but nutritionally the low-carbohydrate diet could harm the metabolism, digestion and health in the long term. When one switches back to a regular diet after losing a few kilos in a week, the weight would immediately come back.

In 2019, singer and actor Li Ronghao trended after he lost 8 kilos in 30 days, and he posted his aggressive weight-loss plan on Weibo that stirred heated debate. Li wrote that he only ate one meal a day, which was a lunch of chicken breast, broccoli and boiled sweet potato. He cut out all refined starch (rice and flour), exercised for one hour every day and slept early, which he claimed to be more effective than exercising.

Many actresses also shared their weight-loss recipes composed of mostly low-carb vegetables such as cucumber. Actress Zhang Tian’ai was once famous for her cucumber and egg diet — she only ate one cucumber and one egg for breakfast and lunch, sometimes opting for tomato or apple, while skipping dinner.

These celebrity approaches delivered the results they needed for speedy weight loss, but would compromise on health. The huge nutritional deficit is especially harmful to females, and it’s not necessary for the public to follow in their footsteps.


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