Kim Kardashian looks fantastic after losing 56 pounds in six months on a low-carb, ketogenic-style Atkins diet that limited her daily carb intake to less than 60 grams.
The ketogenic diet has recently become very popular, buoyed by new scientific research indicating that unprocessed fat is not bad for you, but nutritionist Keri Glassman said you shouldn't follow the ketogenic diet if weight loss is your primary goal.
Not Technically Keto, But Extremely Low-Carb
"One topic that keeps popping up is Kim Kardashian’s 56-pound weight loss from what’s being called an Atkins and ketogenic-inspired diet," Glassman told Access Hollywood.
"Kim looks great, but extremes are never the answer. They often cause yo-yo dieting. Erase the word 'ketogenic' from your vocabulary unless you have a medical reason for following it."
Keri claims Kim's diet was not technically ketogenic because it was actually a bit too high in carbs. Glassman said Kardashian's diet should have limited daily carb intake to 18 grams (on 1,800 calories a day) to technically be ketogenic. However, it bears noting that most people can achieve ketosis by limiting carbs to about 50 grams a day, which is roughly what Kim's diet did.
Glassman is a proponent of a low-fat, high-carb diet — the very diet that has been recommended by nutritionists for the past 40 years, during which time obesity and diabetes have exploded in the United States.
Keri's low-fat stance flies in the face of recent scientific research confirming that dietary fat has been wrongly blamed for causing obesity and diabetes, when in fact a high-carb is the real culprit. Meanwhile, Glassman, a dietitian, continues to recommend making carbs the major portion of your diet.
Ketogenic Diet Speeds Weight Loss and Prevents Disease
Many medical experts disagree with Glassman's assertion that a ketogenic diet is unhealthy, or just for people with certain diseases like epilepsy, Parkinson's or cancer.
They say a ketogenic diet not only produces rapid weight loss, but reverses type 2 diabetes, stems epilepsy-induced seizures, and prevents cancer.
The ketogenic is a very low-carb, high-fat, moderate-protein diet with a macronutrient breakdown of roughly 75% fat, 20% protein, and 5% percent carbs. By drastically limiting carbs, we force our body to burn fat for fuel in a state called ketosis. Most people can achieve ketosis by limiting carbs to about 50 grams a day.
The ketogenic diet has been around for decades, but has only recently begun to find mainstream acceptance as a way to promote weight loss and prevent/manage disease. A ketogenic diet has already proven more effective than drugs at controlling epileptic seizures, and has been shown to reverse type 2 diabetes.
Neurologist Dr. David Perlmutter, author of Grain Brain, told me the ketogenic diet prevents ADHD, dementia and Alzheimer's. According to Perlmutter, a high-carb diet fuels blood-sugar surges, which cause inflammation, which in turn has a catastrophic impact on brain cells and the entire body.
"Carbs are devastating for the brain," said Perlmutter. "Even slight elevations in blood sugar have been shown to increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. The brain thrives on a fat-rich low-carb diet."
'Low-Carb Diet Is the Silver Bullet for Metabolic Syndrome'
Dr. Jeff Volek, a professor at the University of Connecticut, is sold on the many health benefits of the ketogenic diet. Volek is a pioneer in the low-carb, high-fat (LCHF) movement and the author of The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living, widely considered a seminal LCHF book.
He says the ketogenic diet can produce optimal health, for both elite athletes and the average sedentary individual. "There are very few people that a ketogenic diet could not help," Dr. Volek, a registered dietitian, told me.
By drastically reducing carbs in our diet and replacing them with unprocessed fats, Dr. Volek said we can enjoy weight loss, boost fat-burning, experience more stable blood sugar levels, and ward off degenerative conditions such as heart disease, dementia, and diabetes.
"Carbohydrate restriction is the proverbial ‘silver bullet’ for managing insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes," said Volek.
Because dietary fat has a negligible impact on insulin, it doesn't produce surges in our blood glucose and insulin the way carbs do. More importantly, unprocessed fat does not fuel inflammation, which causes aging and leads to heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer's and even cancer.
Ketogenic Diet Can Starve Cancer Cells
Cancer scientist Dr. Dominic D'Agostino recently told me the ketogenic diet can starve cancer cells because cancer is a metabolic disease, and cancer cells thrive on sugar.
"Most cancer scientists have historically thought cancer was a genetic disease, but only 5-10% of cancer is hereditary," said D'Agostino, who has a Ph.D. in physiology and neuroscience.
"When we restrict carbs in our diet, we can prevent pro-inflammatory spikes in blood glucose and blood insulin," explained D'Agostino, who has a Ph.D. in physiology and neuroscience. "Suppression of blood glucose and insulin spikes can be very helpful when managing many chronic diseases."
According to Dr. D'Agostino, we are only as healthy as our mitochondria, which are the power sources of all our cells, so if we keep our mitochondria healthy, we can stall the onset of cancer and other chronic diseases. An effective way to inhibit the growth of cancer cells is to follow the ketogenic diet and limit processed foods.
Today, there are about a dozen studies that are investigating the use of the ketogenic diet to manage all kinds of cancer. Those results will determine whether the medical community will adopt metabolic therapy to treat cancer in the future.
For now, Dr. D'Agostino is encouraged by the growing mainstream acceptance of the low-carb, high-fat ketogenic diet as a way to combat obesity, diabetes and heart disease, and is optimistic it will emerge as a useful tool for cancer prevention and treatment.
"Emerging evidence in studies of cells, animals and humans support Warburg’s original hypothesis that cancer is a metabolic disease," said D'Agostino. "It has been over 80 years and no one has disproven this hypothesis, so it’s time to exploit the sugar addiction of cancer cells with nutrition and other nontoxic strategies to treat and prevent cancer."