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Kim Kardashian loses 56 pounds on low carb diet: Nutritional ketosis explained

Get the skinny on Kim Kardashian's diet.
Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Some people celebrate losing weight with a professional pedicure. Others opt for a new bikini. But if you're Kim Kardashian, you highlight your 56-pound weight loss on a high fat low carb ketogenic diet by going gothic, reported Hello magazine on July 21.

"Gothic keeks," she captioned her new look. She also posted a selfie showing herself at the gym, emphasizing her slimmer body by wearing only a bra top and leggings.

With a one-year-old baby, Kim is taking advantage of nap time for North to work out and maintain her weight loss. She summed it up with a post: "Gym time while my baby is napping," reported Us Weekly on July 20.

Proud of her slim-down success, Kim has posted numerous shots of her body in a bikini. Apparently her fans enjoy them, as she has more than 16 million Instagram followers.

Among those fans: Kim's new husband Kanye West. After spending more than 14 million dollars for his wedding, he wants to make sure the world knows how much he admires her.

Kanye recently told GQ magazine that he feels Kim is the perfect woman. Describing her body and face as fabulous, he noted, "And she's a nice person, and she has her own money and is family oriented," reported the New York Daily News on July 21.

The rapper said that all those factors make her comparable to a "fighter jet or dinosaur. And just as rarely seen." He hopes that together they can provide a healthy lifestyle for their daughter.

"We're going to fight to raise the respect level for celebrities so that my daughter (North West) can live a more normal life. She didn't choose to be a celebrity. But she is," he noted.

Losing weight under the media spotlight and public scrutiny is part of the celebrity life. Although it can make it challenging (Kim reportedly tried to hide in her house during her first phase of weight loss), Kardashians are known for keeping up with what they see as their obligation to strut their style. Kim succeeded in losing 56 pounds using a high fat low carb ketogenic diet based on the Atkins weight loss plan.

How it works: Nutritional ketosis (which occurs in this type of weight loss plan due to the restriction of carbohydrates and boost in fats and protein) occurs when you reduce carbohydrates and boost fat and protein. Your body stops using glycogen for fuel and uses fat for energy instead.

Two experts who examined the benefits of nutritional ketosis and how to achieve it are Stephen D. Phinney and Jeff S. Volek. They documented their significant body of work in "The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living: An Expert Guide to Making the Life-Saving Benefits of Carbohydrate Restriction Sustainable and Enjoyable."

For those who think that carbohydrates are essential for energy and health, Dr. Phinney has a message: "The concept that humans 'need a certain amount of dietary carbs for proper function of the body' has no basis in science. It is a myth perpetuated by the USDA and the dietetic establishment."

In one study challenging that "myth," two individuals consumed no carbohydrates for a year with no negative consequences while closely observed in a hospital. In another study, researchers "infused insulin into obese humans in fasting ketosis and demonstrated that they had no symptoms of hypoglycemia despite blood sugar levels that should have caused them to be in a coma," noted Dr. Phinney.

That latter study demonstrated that our bodies function just fine on ketones no matter what your blood glucose level. But what precisely is a ketogenic diet, and how does it work for weight loss while enhancing parameters of health such as cholesterol level and reduced risk of type 2 diabetes?

Dr. Phinney defines a ketogenic diet as one with total carbohydrates between 10 to 50 grams daily. The rest of the diet consists of fats (example: avocado, nuts and olive oil) and protein (example: chicken, cheese. beef, eggs, pork and turkey). Add to that copious amounts (5 servings per day) of non-starchy vegetables to provide important minerals such as potassium and magnesium.

"People on a well-formulated ketogenic diet maintain normal blood sugar levels because their bodies' learn to use much, much less blood sugar," Dr. Phinney explained. Morever, as their bodies become keto-adapted and burn fat for energy, "the liver can make enough glucose via gluconeogenesis to supply that small amount of blood sugar that is actually consumed."

In the book that he authored with Volek, the ideal ketogenic diet is high in fat, low in carbohydrates and moderate in protein. They advise consuming .7 to .9 grams of protein per pound of body weight.

Franziska Spritzler, a registered dietitian specializing in low carb diets, offered this explanation of how nutritional ketosis works in an exclusive interview: "When carbohydrates are restricted, the liver produces ketones to provide an alternative energy source to glucose. Once serum ketones rise to about 0.5, one is said to be in nutritional ketosis, which can be beneficial for weight loss because insulin levels remain low and appetite tends to be depressed."

A frequently asked question: What should be the percentage of fat to protein, particularly when weight loss stalls? "I would recommend decreasing fat and increasing protein in this case," said Spritzler. "Unless the meat is extremely fatty, ketone levels will be lower after a steak than after a large hunk of cheese. However, the meat will have a more beneficial effect on weight loss and body composition."

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