Victoria’s Secret models must stay in tip top shape for their jobs. That involves a ton of rigorous exercise — according to Cosmopolitan, many models exercise twice a day when it gets close to fashion show time — and following strict diets. This combination helps them prepare to brave the runway — and the world — in their skivvies and heels.
Many people wouldn’t have what it takes to become a Victoria’s Secret model. In addition to the heels they need to avoid falling in as they strut down the runway, they also support those heavy — sometimes 30 pounds — sets of wings they have to wear during a fashion show.
Still, the diet alone may be enough to scare you away from attempting to join their ranks. So, just what do the lovely ladies of Victoria’s Secret eat to stay so thin and trim? Here’s a glimpse into their diet plans, detoxes, and overall eating habits.
Three square meals
Victoria’s Secret models are, as a rule, incredibly thin. More than that, though, many models are ripped. Naturally, they need a lot of fuel to get in that kind of shape. Stephen Pasterino, a New York City-based personal trainer who prepared two Victoria’s Secret Angels for the 2017 runway show in Shanghai, spoke with Popsugar about the women’s dietary guidelines.
"I’m not a fan of snacking," he admitted. "I like to focus on three main meals and occasional dessert spread out throughout the week." That’s right, the models may not get to snack much but they do get to eat dessert. Though the key word here, however, is "occasional."
Pasterino’s recommendation includes a light breakfast and a "normal" portion of both lunch and dinner. He shared his reasoning, saying, "This improves the immune system and heals the digestive tract. Time between meals can be anywhere from three to six hours," he explained. Three to six hours with no snacks? Sigh.
Bye-bye dairy products
Cutting out snacks and sticking to three sensible meals per day sounds reasonable enough, and it would be fairly easy to stick to, right? Pasterino’s advice didn’t end there, however. "Personally, I cut out dairy," he told Popsugar.
But what about ice cream?! If you’re going to be a Victoria’s Secret model, there must to be some sacrifices — and dairy is but one. "There are plenty of other options such as almond or coconut milk that I prefer and [these options] don’t bloat you," Pasterino reasoned.
Bloating is a common problem reported by women and many simply put up with the discomfort. But, as a Victoria’s Secret model, imagine both feeling and looking bloated while walking down the runway in nothing but your lingerie. Pasterino is justified to cut out dairy, even if he’s just opting to be on the safe side.
According to a study published in the European Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences, around 75 percent of the global population loses the ability to properly digest dairy products at some point in their lives and could be considered lactose intolerant. This intolerance causes stomach pain, bloating, flatulence, and diarrhea. And you thought bloating was the worst thing that could happen on the runway.
No "crazy diets"
Not all Victoria’s Secret models cut out dairy. After all, not all people are lactose intolerant. Model Stella Maxwell told Byrdie her philosophy on healthy eating, saying, "I kind of eat in moderation. I don’t think it’s good to cut anything out 100 percent or go on some crazy diet."
Instead, Maxwell advocates for portion control. For breakfast, she routinely enjoys having scrambled eggs with avocado or oatmeal, which she claims to love. Yogurt with granola is another one of Maxwell’s go-to breakfasts. Moving on to lunch, she sticks with proteins — anything from salmon to chicken — alongside a salad.
Maxwell, unlike Pasterino, believes in snacking. A sleeve of Oreo cookies, perhaps? The occasional pint of ice cream? No, not exactly. "I like nuts and those dried peas," she explained, "They’re really addictive." Okay so, her idea of snacking is a little different than the average American but then again, the average American isn’t a Victoria’s Secret model.
"Burgers and hotdogs and French fries"
Victoria’s Secret model Devon Windsor is similar to her colleague, Stella Maxwell, in that she doesn’t cut out food groups. Windsor, who considers herself a foodie, described her ideal day’s worth of food to Elle — and it may not be what you expect from someone so fit.
She likes eggs Benedict, but instead of the traditional Canadian ham she opts for bacon. Her lunch is a sensible salad with protein, and for dinner she shared that if it’s nice out, she and her friends will "barbecue and have burgers and hotdogs and French fries, and then a coffee," she explained. Oh, and you can’t forget the snacks. She prefers either a smoothie or juice in the mid-afternoon. Depending on the weather, she might switch out the smoothie for some ice cream. Now that’s a diet plan.
Of course, Windsor then has to balance out all of her food choices to stay Victoria’s Secret model-thin. She does that with a combination of cardio and bodyweight exercises, like kickboxing. Needless to say, it’s working!
Drinking over a gallon of water a day
Prior to past Victoria’s Secret shows, many of the models, including Adriana Lima and Bella Hadid, followed a detox recommended by nutritionist Dr. Charles Passler. The goal of this particular detox is to lower body fat while increasing metabolism. That said, it’s not exactly easy. The key is having the right mindset, Passler explained to InStyle. Without it, failure would be sure to follow.
Although the detox only lasts around a week, there’s a lot involved. Passler recommends anywhere from seven to nine hours of sleep per night. Deal. The next step involves a lot of water — anywhere from two to four liters — according to Passler. Picture two big bottles of soda, that’s what you’d have to drink if you were to consume all four liters. That’s over a gallon of water per day.
Although the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (a division of the National Institutes of Health) indicates there’s no convincing evidence that detoxing will improve your health or even remove toxins, water isn’t necessarily harmful. If you plan to up your water intake to match that of Victoria’s Secret models, you should pace yourself.
No booze and only a few carbs
Like Pasterino, Passler also urges the models to avoid all foods that could contribute to both inflammation and bloating. That means cutting out gluten, sugar, processed foods, and — you guessed it — dairy. Passler also explicitly stated "no alcohol." This isn’t to say Victoria’s Secret models never drink alcoholic beverages (Windsor loves Moscow mules), they just avoid them during the detox.
Additionally, only limited carbs are recommended. According to Passler’s advice given to InStyle, carbs retain water and "prevent the lean look that is needed." So why not cut out carbs completely, then? Passler explained that carbs are needed for energy prior to workouts. During the detox, the models will only consume them pre-exercise.
So, what can the famous ladies eat? Lots of protein (fish, eggs, meat, protein powder), healthy fats (avocado, nuts, chia seeds), and, of course, a small amount of "good carbs" (quinoa, fruit, sweet potatoes), prior to their workouts.
The "80/20" rule
When the Victoria’s Secret models aren’t detoxing for the big fashion show, they still stay trim. Model Josephine Skriver remains conscious of her health the majority of the time. Unlike Windsor, who consumes hamburgers and fries, Skriver admitted to Byrdie, "I can’t live off of burgers!" Her travel schedule is hectic (sometimes involving as many as three red-eye flights in one week), so she prefers to "eat for fuel or eat to stay energized."
Skriver explained that she follows the 80/20 rule. This means that 80 percent of the time she eats healthy and works out. The other 20 percent is reserved for a more flexible approach to her food and exercise habits. She explained, "I stay on a schedule because I really am all about taking care of my body."
The 80/20 rule is, no doubt, a more realistic lifestyle to follow than being healthy a hundred percent of the time, but it isn’t something that changes your body overnight. Skriver also explained that she’s not a fan of dieting and "quick fixes." She added, "There’s no such thing as doing 30 ab exercises and then you get a six-pack." Bummer!
Snacking on carrots
Skriver may believe moderation is best, but she still has healthier snack habits than the rest of us. "For snacks, I love everything from fruit to carrots or nuts — like a little handful of nuts keeps me going or just a half a portion of what I ate earlier," she told Byrdie. Carrots as snacks? Eating goals.
In addition to the little veggies and nuts, Skriver always brings fruit with her in her bag to eat while she’s out, but that’s not all you’ll find her in bag. "Nut bars are good and easy to bring in your bag," she added. That is certainly true.
Skriver doesn’t rely much on carbs for snacks or meals because they make her tired. However, she does often eat two breakfasts a day. But the takeaway for most of us is probably to eat carrots for snacks and not second breakfasts.
Maintaining 20 percent body fat through customized diets
Skriver may choose to relax her healthy eating habits 20 percent of the time, but as a Victoria’s Secret model she maintains about an equal percentage of body fat. According to Passler’s comments to Elle, most of the models he works with are down to only 20 percent body fat, and that means a highly specialized and customized eating plan for each model he works with. That also includes a customized shake made from "powdered medical food and protein" for each model as well.
For body fat percentage comparison, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) suggests that 20-32 percent body fat is healthy for average women. While the Victoria’s Secret models use their customized diets to hover below the recommended threshold for average women, you have to admit that they aren’t exactly what you’d call "average" women in the first place. According to the ACSM, women who are between 12-22 percent body fat, like the Victoria’s Secret models, fall within the range typically seen in athletes.
While backstage at one of the iconic fashion shows, Victoria’s Secret model Joan Smalls told Elle, "I think to stay motivated, you have to think about how bad you want it. It is about discipline, not punishment." Sounds like an athlete mindset to us!
"An avo a day" keeps the doctor away
Similar to Skriver, Victoria’s Secret model Georgia Fowler follows an 80 percent rule of sorts, though her plan still manages to be a hundred percent healthy. "I try to keep it 80 percent fruit and veg, 10 percent fat, 10 percent protein," she told Women’s Health Australia.
She consumes one of her favorite fats daily. "I say an avo a day," she told the publication, reportedly laughing. If you’re an avocado-lover, that part is easy. Additionally, Fowler cuts out all unnecessary carbs, limits the amount of dairy products she eats and drinks, and doesn’t consume processed food. Those parts are not quite as easy.
Like many of her colleagues, Fowler cuts out even more leading up to the fashion shows to eliminate bloat. Still, it’s not about crash dieting, she explained "it’s about being healthy all year round really." Not that she can really slack off, anyway. "I’m always doing swimwear," she said, so she has to stay toned.
Not all of the models eat meat
It’s clear that protein plays a special part in the diet of Victoria’s Secret models. Eating meat, however, is not the only way to consume it. Victoria’s Secret model Bridget Malcolm, named PETA Australia’s Sexiest Vegetarian of 2015, balances her meals with fruit, vegetables, and grains, according to Vogue.
On Malcolm’s blog, she admitted that her diet involves more than just what she shares on social media when she’s training. "This seems to have perpetuated the myth that I only eat vegetables, protein shakes and gallons of water in a day," she wrote, adding, "I need to break this myth."
She then shared her average eating routine, which includes mostly organic foods. She prefers an avocado a day, same as Fowler. She also enjoys cherry tomatoes for a snack and eats a salad with every meal. She usually has one serving of both nuts and beans (protein) and an unspecified amount of vegetable-based starches. She washes it all down with a gallon of water — training or not. Obviously, no matter her circumstances, she still makes very, very healthy choices.
Timing is everything
Another aspect of Malcolm’s routine is fasting. "I leave a large window between dinner and breakfast," she wrote on her blog. "I am an accidental intermittent faster," she added, "I find it helps me sleep better if I am not too full, but still a little full. Goldilocks level of full."
Intermittent fasting has been credited with promising results, according to a study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. One researcher explained that if a person doesn’t eat for 10 to 16 hours, the body will look for energy in its fat stores. When that happens, fatty acids (ketones) get released into the bloodstream, which is good for the brain.
Another theory about the benefits of fasting — one that is much less scientific — is that a person just consumes fewer calories per day when they fast. Whatever the reason, Pasterino advises the Victoria’s Secret models he works with to fast intermittently, or at least to "never eat three hours before bedtime."