There are times where I’m convinced that Beyoncé is an immortal being from another galaxy.
It’s not difficult to see why. The woman is a phenomenon.
But while watching her Netflix documentary, Homecoming, I was reminded that despite being the closest thing we’ll ever get to a demigod, Queen Bey is indeed human.
Not because the film takes us behind the curtain of her history-making Coachella performance. No.
But because we’ve been given a rare look at a different side of Beyoncé: one where we see her struggle.
As I’m assuming you already know, Bey gave birth to Sir and Rumi just months before hitting the stage as the festival’s first Black female headliner. This meant that she was not only expected to “snap back” after delivering twins, but she was expected to snap back and give the performance of a lifetime (which she more than did).
The doco shows Bey push through gruelling training sessions and wrangle with the concept of being away from her children, but the most extreme element of her preparation (in my eyes, at least) was her diet.
“In order to meet my goals,” she says in the film.
“I’m limiting myself to no bread, no carbs, no sugar, no dairy, no meat, no fish, no alcohol.
“And I’m hungry.”
Her words were conflicting for me. On the one hand, I was blown away by her commitment. And on the other, I was unsure how anyone could function – at any capacity, let alone at Bey’s level – on such a restricted diet.
So, I made the decision to try it for one week and find out.
Before kicking off the experience, I spoke with dietitian Emily Hardman who swiftly warned me that this way of eating “is unhealthy and potentially dangerous”.
“Cutting out this amount of food and whole food groups, leaves behind a diet that is unbalanced and missing many key nutrients,” she said.
“I would not recommend this way of eating to anyone.”
Mildly terrified, I went on to ask what kinds of side-effects I could experience as a result of the diet.
Hardman told me:
“Removing carbohydrates from your diet can have a number of negative side effects including headaches, weakness, feeling tired, irritability and poor digestion.”
She also explained that by restricting my body’s energy intake – “carbohydrates are the body’s main and preferred source of energy” – I was running the risk of slowing my metabolism.
Feeling nervous, and preemptively hungry, I held my breath and dove in.
These were my five biggest takeaways:
1. I was constantly starving
Usually, I’m not a big snacker. I know you’re meant to eat a bunch of smaller meals throughout the day, but I just can’t get into that habit. I eat three meals daily and sometimes, they’re much further apart than they should be.
During this week, I ate every two hours. I was a ravenous beast.
2. Planning meals got boring, fast
In preparation for this diet, I stocked my kitchen with loads of fruit and veg – obviously. But I also bought things like cashew-nut-cheese, protein powder and cauliflower rice for a little variety.
Within three days, I was sick of everything. Especially cauliflower rice. Just be rice or be cauliflower, man!
I tried to be creative with the dishes I made but didn’t exactly have the time to cook hearty curries each night, so often turned to scrambled eggs and a giant plate of greens. Yawn.
3. I was exhausted
I knew that my energy levels would take a hit during this experiment. But I didn’t expect it to be as severe as it was.
There were nights where my eyes were burning, and my head hung heavy by 8.30pm. I still went to the gym, but I often found my energy levels were shot afterwards.
Even concentrating on work became a challenge.
4. I felt awful
By the later stages of the week, I was a wreck.
I was getting headaches. I felt bloated and nauseated. I craved sugar. And I was emotional.
Friends even started telling me I looked worn-out – which we all know is code for terrible.
I barely felt like a human, let alone a Queen.
5. When it was over, I was scared to eat
This is probably the most concerning part of it all.
When the week was done, I was so worried about the state of my metabolism that I felt anxious about eating grains again.
It reminded me of being a weight-obsessed teenager. And that’s not a great outcome for anyone.
In a society that seemingly prioritises size over health, I think we need to pay attention to the kinds of trends that we encourage. And extreme, restrictive diets should be at the bottom of that list.
At the end of the day, this way of eating may have helped Bey achieve one very-specific, high-stakes goal, but it’s not for the everyday person, and it’s definitely not for me.
Reflecting back on Coachella in Homecoming, Beyoncé shared that the experience left her with a valuable lesson:
“I will never, never push myself that far again,” she said.
I only attempted a small fraction of what she did for a short time, and I’m more than comfortable saying the same.