What is the keto diet? Kardashian nutritionist, experts weigh in on the celeb food fad
Have you noticed how high-key people are being about the ketogenic diet?
The high-fat, low-carb diet has recently caught the interest of celebrities, and made its way to their social media feeds. Tim Tebow subscribes. Kourtney Kardashian wrote about how she detoxes in a state of ketosis on her app. Marie Claire UK linked the food program to Megan Fox, Adriana Lima and Mick Jagger, and Business Insider says you can also count Halle Berry as a fan.
And A-listers aren’t the only ones taking note. Searches for “keto” have quadrupled on Google in the last year, according to Google Trends. And Pinterest consumer PR manager Lara Levin says more than 69 million keto recipes have been saved since 2014.
“It’s low carb but high fat so that your body will break down the fat as the primary fuel source,” says Dr. Eric Kossoff, director of the Child Neurology Residency Program at Johns Hopkins. “If you keep carbohydrates low enough, that’s what the body has to do.”
Dr. Kossoff says those on a classic keto diet are “eating a lot of butter, and mayonnaise and oils and whipping cream. They’re eating lots of different fats, not just avocados and nuts and things like that.”
The classic keto diet has been associated with epilepsy treatment since the 1920s, according to Dr. Kossoff.
“It’s a very well-established, very mainstream therapy for epilepsy in today’s society,” he says. “Your body will create ketones, and either the ketones, or keeping your carbohydrates low, or probably something even more than that helps suppress seizures in people who have epilepsy.”
So, why the high-interest for celebs and non-epileptics?
“When in a state of metabolic ketosis, the body will shed pounds rapidly,” says celebrity nutritionist Philip Goglia, PhD, who calls Christian Bale, Khloé Kardashian Kim Kardashian and Kanye West clients. He says the plan is “used for temporary but quick weight loss.”
He also feels people are loosely using the term “keto” for Atkins. “It’s just so funny because people take (Dr. Robert Atkins’) brand and then re-brand it and call it something different and then add a slightly different slant to it,” says Dr. Goglia.
Dr. Kossoff has also witnessed people being liberal with the keto label.
“I have friends and neighbors who say, ‘Hey, I’m on your diet.’ I’m like, ‘What are you talking about? You have epilepsy?’” he shares.”Most of the time when I hear what they’re doing, they’re not. They’re on much more of a stricter Atkins diet where they’re pushing fats and that’s probably healthy — you just gotta be careful.”
Debating whether you should shun the forthcoming smorgasbord of carb-heavy holiday treats to give it a whirl? Like Dr. Kossoff, Dr. Goglia has concerns. He warns against diving in without taking family history and one’s health into account.
Just because Paul, your buddy, lost 15 pounds on a ketogenic food protocol, it doesn’t make sense that you just jump on it and start it without taking a look at a lipid profile for example and looking at your heart health history,” Dr. Goglia explains.
After a decade of ‘Keeping up with the Kardashians,’ these 10 memories may have slipped your mind, but they shouldn’t. USA TODAY
He says though a food program might help you lose weight, what determines if it is a sustainable diet depends on how well your body uses fats, proteins and carbs.
For example, Dr. Goglia says, “Khloé is very fat and protein efficient” while “Kim has a dual structure where she utilizes fat, proteins and carbs in a balanced way.”
Happy Hour isn’t dead when you’re on a diet! Weight Watchers is making a low calorie wine! Buzz60
Certified Registered Dietitian Lisa DeFazio also issues a warning about the keto diet. She says she would not counsel a client on the food program as “there are too many health problems that can occur.”
“It sounds good but the problem is it’s an abnormal way for the body to function,” DeFazio says. “It’s like putting fruit juice in your gas tank of your car and trying to make your car run off of fruit juice instead of gasoline.”
She mentions possible gnarly side effects, including kidney stones, fatty blood, dehydration and constipation.
Dr. Kossoff stresses the diet is “a real medical therapy.”
“It is not holistic or organic or alternative,” he insists.
DeFazio also doubts the sustainability of the diet someone who isn’t dependent on it for medical reasons. “It’s something that people do when they gain some weight and then they want to do that for a few weeks,” she explains. “Then the holidays come, or then they go to a wedding, or then you just get burnt out on it because you want a slice of bread.”