Jennifer Aniston may be both beautiful and accomplished, but more importantly she always looks happy and healthy. And over the years, many people have asked her just how she continues to shine – and keep in shape – while now decades into her career. Fortunately for all of us mere mortals, then, the Friends star has spilled the beans, but one of the ways in which she maintains her incredible figure may not be what you’re assuming. It’s all to do with Aniston’s diet, in fact, although her approach to food is pretty unusual in itself.
Believe it or not, but Aniston is middle-aged now, as she actually turned 50 in February 2019. And in September of that year, she spoke about the milestone to InStyle magazine, saying, “Fifty was the first time I thought, ‘Well, that number.’ I don’t know what it is because I don’t feel any different. Things aren’t shutting down in any way.”
If you’re surprised by Aniston’s age, then, you may be wondering what she does to maintain her image. And her appearance hasn’t changed that much over the years, either. In fact, she doesn’t really look all that different to the woman who played Rachel Green in Friends – and as fans know, the much-loved sitcom ended all the way back in 2004.
Aniston was a relatively unknown actress, however, when she first started on Friends in 1994. She had starred in a few TV shows that were all cancelled pretty sharpish and had made an appearance she’d probably rather forget in poorly received horror flick Leprechaun. But, of course, when Friends came along, it changed the course of Aniston’s entire life.
The actress even became a fashion icon as a result of being on the show. Yes, the hairstyle that Aniston’s character sports – known, appropriately, as “The Rachel” – became a hit back in the ’90s. Women loved the look so much, in fact, that they poured into salons requesting the same ’do. And the stylist who created the cut, Chris McMillan, found himself much in demand as a result.
Aniston herself was not a fan, however. In 2011 she told Allure, “I love [McMillan], and he’s the bane of my existence at the same time because he started that damn ‘Rachel,’ which was not my best look. How do I say this? I think it was the ugliest haircut I’ve ever seen. What I really want to know is, ‘How did that thing have legs?’”
But getting “The Rachel” was only one part of Aniston’s transformation into a superstar. Before Friends, you see, the actress was less in shape than she is today. While speaking to Rolling Stone in 1996, Aniston revealed, “I ate too many mayonnaise sandwiches. Mayonnaise on white bread – the most delicious thing in the world.”
Aniston continued, “My agent gave it to me straight. Nicest thing he ever did… The disgusting thing of Hollywood – I wasn’t getting lots of jobs ’cause I was too heavy.” But in the end, she was glad about losing weight. The star added of her new physique, “It was amazing to see this thing emerge. I never knew I had this body in me.”
It seemed, too, that Aniston received advice on her looks from someone closer to home. While speaking to Rolling Stone again in 1999, she said, “My mom is very focused on beauty. I didn’t care about it as much. Now it’s funny – and pathetic – but her advice was always about making my features more than they were. ‘Always outline your lips, dear. They’re so tiny. Make your lips bigger.’ Or, ‘You have no cheekbones; you’ve got to contour in your cheekbones.’”
Unfortunately, this criticism had a major effect on the young Aniston. The star added, “You got to the point where you felt like you were the ugliest duckling on the planet. [My mom] definitely wasn’t great when it came to that kind of honesty.” And although Aniston went on to say that she knew she wasn’t “awful looking,” she had never forgotten her mother’s comments.
Aniston even took her mom’s advice by painting her face accordingly. “The makeup I’d wear was unbelievable,” she told Rolling Stone. “[But] then one of my first boyfriends in California said, ‘You are so much more beautiful to me without makeup,’ and I couldn’t believe it. Finally, I stopped wearing it.”
Aniston mused, “I don’t know what I was trying to prove [and] what I was hiding with all that stuff on my face.” At the same time, though, she worried about what her mom would think. The star added, “I didn’t want my looks to be my only ticket, because I didn’t feel I had that one to ride on. I don’t want to paint a shallow picture of my mother, but how you looked was so important.”
Meanwhile, when Rolling Stone asked Aniston about her diet, she revealed that she followed The Zone plan. This regime recommends eating three meals and two snacks every day with five hours between each meal. And while scientists have since denounced The Zone as ineffective, Aniston nevertheless sung its praises in the interview.
The Zone, according to Aniston, was “not a diet [but] a way of life.” She went on, “It got to the point where I was so sick of gimmicks. ‘Oh, this week, I’ll have oil on the side, no butter – no fun.’ Like most women, I was fed up with having to look like something I wasn’t. It was too painful – not to mention a pain in the ass. Now I work out about three times a week for an hour and call it a day.”
Behind the scenes, however, Aniston went through some much-publicized personal troubles. Famously, her husband Brad Pitt – whom she’d married in 2000 – very publicly divorced her then embarked on a relationship with fellow actress Angelina Jolie.
In 2005, then, Aniston gave an interview to Vanity Fair in which she described her struggles following her separation from Pitt. She told the publication, “Am I lonely? Yes. Am I upset? Yes. Am I confused? Yes. Do I have my days when I’ve thrown a little pity party for myself? Absolutely. But I’m also doing really well. I’ve got an unbelievable support team, and I’m a tough cookie.”
Vanity Fair wondered, too, if Aniston was subtly getting back at her ex-husband with her photo shoot for the magazine. The author opined, “Far from pining away in seclusion, she appeared to be sending a far more spirited message – like ‘Eat your heart out, Brad!” Aniston suggested otherwise, though.
The Friends star explained to the magazine, “It’s literally two different people – the real me and the ‘Jen’ they write about, [who is] ‘fighting back’ [and] ‘getting revenge.’ [It’s] everything I couldn’t be farther from wanting to do.” She had also tried to stop reading gossip magazines, she said, because every comment about her looks hurt her all the more.
And although Aniston dealt well with the divorce from Pitt, that wasn’t the end of her relationship difficulties. In 2017, you see, she split from second husband Justin Theroux, to whom she had been wed for only two years. Through it all, though, Aniston’s troubles never seemed to show on her face – in public, anyway.
Perhaps that sense of well-being was all down to Aniston’s self-care routine, which included meditation in the mornings to calm herself down. And in a 2017 interview with Shape, the star added, “As corny as it sounds, I would always sit and watch the sunsets [to relax], because they’re so beautiful and it would just be a nice little time to chill out.”
But what is self-care, exactly? Well, in a 2017 article, the official website for Harvard Health Publishing explained, “Self-care means paying attention to and supporting one’s own physical and mental health.” The publication continued, “It is also a big part of treatment for many physical and mental health disorders. It’s so, so important.”
But meditation and sunset-spotting weren’t the only self-care methods that Aniston used. During the Shape interview, she added, “I have an infrared sauna that I fell in love with. My friend Courtney Cox – you may know her – had a portable infrared sauna that you go into. It kind of looks like a little igloo. It’s such a game changer in terms of your skin detoxification and cell rejuvenation.”
As to how she maintained her clear skin, Aniston explained, “Sunday is my spa day. I usually do a little mini facial time where I just give myself a good scrub, use a mask and then the new Aveeno hydrating facial. I leave it on overnight, and when I wake up I have that dewy, glowing, twinkling skin.”
Aniston took care with her diet, too. She revealed to Shape, “I make a quick shake with protein powder, spinach, maca powder, berries, and vitamin C powder I put in there that’s pretty good. I’m not a big breakfast person, but I made myself become a breakfast person. I was always one of those people that just didn’t eat in the morning, but, of course, you’re always hearing it’s the most important meal of the day – so I find that the shake is really good.”
Aniston added, “Sometimes I do a fasted workout and just have a cup of coffee and then go and work out. You actually have more energy than you expect and [burn more calories] because you’re dipping into the reserves as opposed to using the food you’ve just processed and ingested.”
So, Aniston certainly seemed to have her regime all worked out. In October 2019, though, the actress opened up once more and gave perhaps her most unusual health tip to date. In an interview with the Radio Times, she explained, “I do intermittent fasting, so there’s no food in the morning. I noticed a big difference in going without solid food for 16 hours.”
As Aniston had previously divulged in the Shape interview, she tended towards liquids for breakfast. “Today, I woke up and had a celery juice,” she told the Radio Times. “Then I started to brew some coffee, but I don’t drink coffee that early.” In fact, she preferred to spend time with her dogs, meditate and exercise before taking in any caffeine in the morning.
Reese Witherspoon – Aniston’s good friend and co-star in drama The Morning Show – also spoke to the Radio Times in the same interview. And it emerged that she, too, engaged in intermittent fasting in addition to multiple workouts throughout the week. Witherspoon explained, “I just have a green juice and a coffee in the morning.”
Aniston and Witherspoon have been close for a while now – ever since they first met on the Friends set. In a 2019 interview with Natalie Portman for Harper’s Bazaar, Witherspoon said of that initial encounter, “[Aniston] was so sweet to me. I was really nervous, and she was like, ‘Oh, my gosh. Don’t worry about it!’”
And Witherspoon gushed over her buddy in the Radio Times interview. Regarding her own self-care regimes, the actress explained, “[Aniston] knows so much about health and fitness that I always defer to her. She’s great at well-being advice.” The Friends star replied, however, by saying, “Well, we want to thrive, right? We’re just beginning.”
But will intermittent fasting really help you thrive? Well, in a bid to find out, Health interviewed nutritionist Lauren Harris-Pincus in October 2019. And the expert told the magazine, “It’s suspected that the reason [intermittent fasting] helps people lose weight is that eating within an eight-hour window simply limits the total amount of calories consumed in a day.”
Harris-Pincus continued, “But ultimately, the only way to lose weight is to create a caloric deficit where you consume fewer calories than you expend.” And for those who really want to do the fasting diet, there are apparently a pretty strict set of rules to follow to ensure that you don’t end up worse than where you began.
Fellow nutritionist Tanya B. Freirich explained to Health that fasters should eat during sunlight hours, for example. She added, “This allows for the energy you consume during your eating window to serve your activities throughout the day. Plus, it’s in line with our natural circadian rhythms, presuming you wake up around 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m.” And if you eat during the evening instead, the expert argued, you could actually gain weight.
Health also questioned whether Aniston’s choice of celery juice was really that beneficial. And while Harris-Pincus admitted that aspects of the healing powers of the vegetable had often been exaggerated, it was nevertheless fine to have in the morning. She added, “Make half of your food volume fruits and veggies, and you’re good to go.”
It should be noted, too, that Aniston isn’t the only celebrity who swears by intermittent fasting. Scarlett Johansson took to the diet, for instance, when training to play superheroine Black Widow in the movie Avengers: Endgame. Johansson ended up fasting for around 12 to 15 hours every day depending on the schedule for the movie.
Actress Vanessa Hudgens does the diet as well. In April 2019 she told People, “I’ve been intermittent fasting a lot, because for me, I love pasta, I love pizza, and when I’m not eating carbs I feel like a little piece of me dies. Intermittent fasting is great, because when I am fasting… Those first two weeks are definitely rough, I’m not going to lie, but after that I feel more grounded and powerful in my workouts.”
And it’s not just female celebrities who fast; men do it too. Chris Hemsworth, another Avengers alumnus, told Men’s Health in January 2019, “I’ve been doing a lot of intermittent fasting now… I’ve found that once you get over the initial shock in the first week or two of not eating [as regularly], your body kicks into a different state. I’ve found myself eating less calories but not feeling starved.”
So what does Aniston actually eat, then? Well, back in 2016 she told Elle magazine that her lunch and dinner was “some form of vegetables or salad with protein – pretty basic.” But occasionally for breakfast she would have “puffed millet cereal with a banana or… oatmeal with an egg white whipped in at the end.”
And as for snacking, in 2014 Aniston told Women’s Health that she loved frozen grapes. The actress went on, “I like the red ones – they’re really easy and delicious. They give you that frozen crunch. I was at a spa one time, and they gave me a little cup of frozen grapes after my mud bath soak or whatever. It was sort of like, ‘This is genius.’”
But Aniston’s lifestyle isn’t for everyone. Indeed, Freirich told Health that she didn’t recommend intermittent fasting for pregnant women, athletes or people with low blood sugar, low blood pressure or diabetes. That said, the method certainly seems to be working out for the actress – who remains looking as enviably healthy as she did back in her Friends days.