History of The HOLLYWOOD Low-Carb Diet (UPDATED 2021)

The low-carb diet is widely used in both the fitness industry and the film industry. Kim Kardashian, LeBron James, and Megan Fox (1) eat a lot of proteins and fats, and low carbohydrates.

In my home country of Germany, magazines like Spiegel and Zeit debate the effectiveness of this type of diet. They have published and evaluated studies, but no one seems to be interested in the history of low-carb diets.

So, why is the low-carb diet so widespread in Hollywood? To understand this, we will need to take a journey through time!

Even 70 years ago, movie stars tried out different diets and looked for advice on health and fitness.

Vince Gironda: Fitness Guru of the Hollywood Stars

Vince Gironda (ca. 1950)

Vince Gironda built his gym near Universal Studios in 1950 [2], and thus met the legends of today.

Mr. Gironda was one of the first fitness gurus of the rich and beautiful. There were other experts in his time, but none were as famous or well-known as Vince Gironda.

He published courses and books, which attracted the interest of osteopathic universities, and often large orders were placed for the university libraries. (3)

Doctors all over the world contacted Vince and reported on his methods. (3)

Even action movie stars like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Clint Eastwood visited Vince, trained in his gym, and were critically examined by him.

What Was it Like to Train in His Gym? (2)


“Training at Vince’s gym is very like a guru-controlled meditation class in exercise. You think he’s not paying attention but don’t fool yourself—he’s on every move. If you’re true follower, he will lead you to victory or die trying, but if you’re an undisciplined schmuck out to waste his time, he’ll rip you like a piece of paper, leaving you only useful at a ticker-tape parade.”

—Denie Walter, Muscle Mag Illustration, August 1975

Clint Eastwood

In the 1930s, the film industry was characterized by the Western genre, due to which it received a commercial boom. The popularity of Westerns lasted until the 1950s! (4)

 

Clint Eastwood was the proverbial “father” of this genre, and one of the most famous Western actors of all time. He was neither too thin nor too muscular. His body stature resembled more of a hard-working, blue-collar man than that of a nine-to-fiver.

So, how did Clint Eastwood create this natural look?

The secret to his healthy and powerful appearance was weightlifting and nutrition!

“Clint was here when he was attending acting school and lived up the street. We used to have some great workouts together before he became famous. At that time, he was unemployed, and his wife was working as a model.” (5)

—Vince Gironda

Even Clint Eastwood had difficulties gaining a foothold in the film industry. Poor pay and unemployment plagued the still-unknown actor.

He received a weekly fee of $75 from Universal Studios to study at an acting school. At some point, this contract was also terminated [5], but he still regularly visited Gironda’s gym to gain motivation.

Even the most famous German-speaking actor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, visited Vince Gironda and asked for his advice!

So, how did the meeting come about?

After Arnold Schwarzenegger won the Mr. Universe bodybuilding competition in England, he received an invitation to a competition in Florida, which was advertised and organized by the American entrepreneur Joe Weider. [6]

Arnold accepted the invitation and flew to America, where he would later compete against bodybuilders Frank Zane and Don Peters.

Arnold knew it was not going to be an easy game! Frank Zane was known for his intelligence. Due to his profession as a chemistry teacher, he was nicknamed “The Chemist”.

As mentioned before, Vince Gironda was known for his nutritional supplements, diets, and unique training methods, as well as his direct, open-minded nature.

However, Vince Gironda was also known for his intelligence. He had an IQ of 150, [7] and he was one of the first to explain the relation between supplements and muscle-building based on science.

After arriving in the USA, Arnold Schwarzenegger made his way straight to Vince Gironda in the hopes of receiving constructive criticism on his body.

After arriving at Gironda’s famous gym, Arnold introduced himself. Vince evaluated his form with the words, “Arnold, you’re a fat piece of shit!” [7]

Arnold took his honest and direct answer as an insult and left Gironda’s gym without further ado.

A little later, Arnold was onstage posing in Florida, and the audience was applauding nonstop.

The award ceremony followed, in which it was announced, “The title of Mr. Universe goes to… FRANK ZANE!” The audience was visibly disappointed and booed the jury. [8]

Arnold returned to the Gironda’s gym and sought out another conversation with Vince. The first thing Arnold said was, “I see what you mean.” [7]

Peter Lupus [5]

Peter Lupus from Mission Impossible trained with bodybuilding legend Larry Scott in Gironda’s gym. Larry Scott had won the Mr. Olympia bodybuilding competition in 1965.

Full of zeal, Peter took over Larry Scott’s training plan. However, the actor made no progress at all. On the contrary, he lost muscle.

Vince Gironda told him, “You cannot use the same training plan as Larry Scott! You have to adapt your plan to your needs!”

“My favorite exercises are usually specialized movements for particular body parts. I train at Vince Gironda’s gym in Studio City, which is the real Mecca for the top bodybuilders, and they and Vince are a great bunch of guys. We were particularly glad to see Don Howorth take the Mr. America title this year… he really deserved it.”.

—Peter Lupus [19]

John Saxon

John Saxon was known for his role in The Man with the Claw of Death. He fought beside Bruce Lee! Saxon also trained in Gironda’s legendary gym.

O.J. Simpson [5]

“O.J. Simpson was my student. I taught him how to clean and jerk the weight for The Superstars. Although O.J. is such a fantastic athlete, he only had a couple of lessons from me. He never gets a chance to practice, but the man is so marvellously coordinated that all you have to do is give him a true blueprint, and in his head, he can perform it!”

—Vince Gironda

Arnold Schwarzenegger is also a big fan and wrote in his German autobiography, Total Recall, “O.J. Simpson was at the peak of his athletic career, the best running-back in the National Football League.”

James Drury

James Drury became known for his leading role in the successful Western series “The People of Shiloh Ranch”. Before his breakthrough, he trained with Vince Gironda.

He went through Gironda’s crash diet and followed Gironda’s training instructions. Later, he landed success in the TV series “The Virginian”. [5]

Roddy Piper (Movie: They live)

Many know Roddy Piper from the film They Live. Besides his acting career, he was a wrestling star on TV. In 2007, he was inducted into the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame.

Clint Eastwood, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Roddy Piper were all influenced by Vince Gironda. However, the list of his proteges is endless. Vince Gironda worked on more movie stars than a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon!

To name a few more, here is a list: William Holden, George Hamilton, James Garner, Lou Ferrigno, Erik Estrada, Tommy Chong, Cher, Johnny Carson, Keith and David Carradine, Joe Campanella, Maud Adams, Brian Keith, Michael Landon, Sean Penn, Burt Reynolds, David Lee Roth, Richard Roundtree, Kurt Russell, John Schneider, Randy Quaid, Clint Walker, Carl Weathers, Denzell Washington, Marty Feldman, and Dudley Moore [7].

History

There are many stories and myths about who invented the low-carb diet, and even today, books are still published about it, attempting to reinvent the wheel.

William Banting

The principles of the low-carb diet were first drafted by William Banting (1797 -1878) in his book, Letter on Corpulence. The diet gained renewed popularity thanks to Dr. Robert Atkins, who published studies on it. [9]

However, Vince Gironda did pioneer work on the subject, and in my opinion, he is the father of the low-carb Hollywood diet. He trained and gave advice to stars long before they were successful and famous.

He also developed his famous concept of “creating an illusion”.

Gironda’s Cosmetic Program and Diet

(Note: The information contained in this article is for the reader’s use only as a guide to improve strength and muscle tone. Nothing here should be relied upon as medical advice. Not all exercises and diets in this article are suitable for everyone, and the reader should consult their physician before trying to perform the types of training and practices recommended here.)

Vince became famous in Hollywood for his Cosmetics Program, which created an illusion of a powerful body. Within 10 days, he transformed skinny actors into powerful guys.

According to Vince, actors don’t want to be wide; they want to be slim. They want the body of a steelworker.

Vince discovered that if they chose a wide grip during the “Dips” exercise, then they would look wider without gaining weight.

Execution of the Dips [11]

The execution is also crucial for the illusion. Choose a wide grip, take a deep breath, and go down as far as possible. Now, push yourself up, but don’t fully extend. Vince recommends pushing up about 12 inches (30 cm).

However, if you still want to use your full range of motion, then Vince advised using a slightly tighter grip.

To give actors strong arms, he worked on the lateral aspect of their shoulders and triceps. He used the exercise “Bent-Over Triceps Pulley Extension” with a rope. Due to the cosmetic effect, Vince Gironda completely avoided the exercise “Squats”. [10]

Roman Chair Squat by Gironda

He was against squats because they widened the hips, but he recommended several substitutions: Sissy Squat, Roman Chair Squat, and Leg Extension, which also created an illusion. [10]

Vince felt that one-armed and/or one-legged exercises were worthless. He said that he tried to shape the left latissimus in accordance with the right one by training with a 175-pound (79KG) dumbbell for nine months and doing 20 repetitions, but he got no results.

The same principle applies to abdominal muscle training; the hips become unnecessarily wider. If you are preparing for a photo shoot, then Vince recommended dieting instead.

 

Vince developed an alternative to sit-ups: Ab Crunch Exercise (see YouTube).

Dieting [10]First, the best protein source are eggs. Gironda recommended eating eggs every three hours. He justified this by saying, “The bloodstream keeps the proteins for three hours. We should eat like babies. Parents feed their babies every three hours because they get hungry when the blood sugar drops.”

Bodybuilders of the 1960s would even go one step further. They would train in his gym for an hour, go to town for a short time to consume something high in protein, and then return to finish their training [11].

After eggs, milk takes second place, but Gironda warns against carbohydrates.

 “Only a handful of men like the award-winning Mr. Olympia, Larry Scott, can consume vast amounts of milk without getting fat, but most of us become fat.” [10]

—Vince Gironda

Will Carbohydrates Make Me Fat?

No! Vince Gironda said that it depends on the usage. The key is knowing how to use the right carbohydrates at the right time.

 “In my opinion, carbohydrates are necessary. Eat carbohydrate-rich foods every third or fifth day. It will replenish your liver’s glycogen stores.” [10]

—Vince Gironda

In his book, Vince recommends rice. [12] However, the combination of carbohydrates and sugar is not suitable, as this will make you fat.

After eggs and milk, Vince’s next-best protein source would be raw beef.

At a seminar Vince held in America, he said about his weight loss and protein consumption, “I lost 10 pounds in weight. I work out every day but don’t get heavier because I just don’t eat enough. I eat only 100 grams of protein a day.”

For anyone not active in sports, 45 grams of protein a day is fine. [13] 

High-Fat Diet [14]

In a column, a fan named Steve Orwell asked about the High-Fat Diet, and what he should consider to build muscle. Vince Gironda formulated the following plan for him.

Gironda outlined the above diet for a fan 35 years ago

 “Do not eat salad or vegetables. No chicken and fish. Eat beef. Don’t eat tuna, nuts, and protein whey with milk”.

—Vince Gironda

A fan over 40 had muscle-building problems, and Vince advised him, “20 eggs a day, plus cream (10-18% fat). Every 3-4, hours a cup of this recipe (236 ml = 8 oz. glasses). This will keep your nitrogen balance positive, and the male hormones up.”

Vince Gironda’s Research Studies [15]

Vince published an article called “Create an Illusion” in an American muscle magazine, in which he cited, “Tests of various hospitals showed that the egg diet has a healing effect and contributed significantly to the healing process. Many burn-unit patients with scar tissue of 30-60% showed amazing results when given an egg diet.”

In addition, Vince shared his personal experience: “I trained and got the best results in my life with butter, eggs, and beef.”

When Did Gironda Use the Egg Diet? [10]

He wrote that in preparation for the Mr. Universe competition, he used this type of diet. “I lived on a base of fat, and later I had the courage to make the diet public, and that was the birth of my egg diet.”

Vince also suggests, “Three-quarter of a pound of steak and 3-4 eggs supply 103 grams of first-class protein fast and are easy to digest. I personally achieved the best shape of my career on this diet. I used this diet for nine months, taking no supplements, and with no adverse effects.”

Detoxification Diet for Film Stars [10]

Each of Vince’s protégés goes through his detox diet for the first 3-5 days. It contains 15 different vegetables and green salad with vinegar-and-herb dressing.

Vince Gironda developed this diet for movie stars and found it to be the best way to lose weight. However, this protein-free diet is only suitable for a few days.

Vince Gironda Loved Supplements [10]

In his fitness magazine articles in the 1960s and 1970s, Vince Gironda emphasized the intake of vitamins.

“Minerals are necessary, and the basic substance of hormones,” Gironda wrote. [10]

Vince was right. Without magnesium, we could not produce the hormones necessary to regulate our metabolism or our sex hormones. [16]

Very often, Vince praised liver pills. According to Gironda, liver pills literally melted away fat, while allowing blood-sugar levels to remain high. [10]

Using his training sessions with “Mr. America” Don Howarth as a baseline, Vince discovered that liver pills in combination with Vitamin B and iron resulted in better pump during training. [10]

During his diet, Vince tried to avoid Vitamin B because it stored too much water in his tissue.

Wheatgerm oil was also one of his favorite supplements, and Vitamin E was only used in combination with wheatgerm oil; otherwise, the supplement was worthless.

Adrenals are good blood-builders, but Gironda advised caution, as they are very potent.

 “I think you should take adrenaline no more than twice weekly.”

—Vince Gironda

Additionally, Vitamin C has a urinary stimulating effect, which means you can lose a lot of water with it. Vince recommended a daily dose of 500-1500 mg.

According to Gironda, zinc is a must-have, and he recommended it in combination with the supplement PABA.

He also claimed that bull testicles are one of the oldest rejuvenation methods.

The old standard for burning fat is kelp. Vince recommended 30 tablets daily to stimulate the thyroid for hormone production.

In his gym, Vince Gironda told his protégés to eat 10-30 eggs a day. They still had low cholesterol levels.

Summary [17]

Maximum pump during any workout doesn’t really build muscle. Pump is a sign of good circulation, but you won’t grow from it.

Maximum pump should not be followed more than once a week, as your muscles need 72 hours to rebuild tissue.

Sources

1.https://www.everydayhealth.com/ketogenic-diet/diet/celebrities-cant-get-enough-ketogenic-diet/
2. Muscle Mag Illust. August 1975
3. MMI v2 issue 3
4. https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Western_(Genre)
5. MMI v2 issue 2, Page 2
6. Franco Columbo’s Book ‘Coming on Strong’
7. 1993 Vince Gironda Interview – T.C. Luoma
8. Muscular Development, Vol 6, No 1, Page 6, January 1969
9. https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Banting
10. Muscle Mag May 82, Page 3
11. MM May 83
12. https://physicalculturestudy.com/2015/05/26/vince-girondas-definition-diet
13. Old Article , Title: Steak and Eggs Diet, Magazine ?
14. MMI May 1979 Q AND A
15. Old Article , Title: Create an illusion, Magazine ?
16. https://www.healthandscience.eu/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1729:magnesium-ist-gut-fuer-ihren-hormonhaushalt&catid=20&Itemid=316&lang=de
17.MMI sept 1974
18. Old Article , Title: Vince Gironda – The Man, The Master, Magazine ??

Thumbnail Picture from Vince Gironda’s Archive, edited by me

Leave a comment